When intrinsic value is surpassed by emotion... (EMS Gear)

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When intrinsic value is surpassed by emotion... (EMS Gear)

Post by Hybrid88 » Sat Jun 06, 2015 9:51 pm

I've been thinking a bit recently about the whole reissue situation and the impact it's had on the prices of my original MS-20 and Arp Oddysey, and also a bit about why the EMS stuff has gone up so damn much in the past few years. Also looking at the prices of synths in old magazines from 1984 and having a laugh at how the TR-707 cost quite a bit more than a TB-303 when new.

It got me wondering, the EMS Synthi AKS is a pretty simple machine when you look under the hood, just three boards, a bog standard reverb tank, a couple of tinny speakers and a very shite plastic case that bends and cracks if you look at it funny, not to mention a keyboard that a toy Casio would put to shame. So how and in what world can anyone justify paying upwards of 12k for one? I mean you can make the argument that a Monet is just some canvas and wood all you like, and yes it's more than the sum of its parts I agree, but when things start going for insane amounts over what the parts and intellectual property would cost you have to start wondering.

But anyway my point is, even if you did justify the outlay, what's to stop situations changing and they come back into (decent levels of) production at a fraction of the price? I don't see why it isn't on the cards with the popularity of these things, never made any sense to me to be making them piecemeal like that. In fact I'm pretty sure the privileged few people that actually are getting new AKS's after waiting like 15yrs are paying less than half of what they are going for on the used market now.

Any thoughts? :)

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Re: When intrinsic value is surpassed by emotion... (EMS Gea

Post by tim gueguen » Sat Jun 06, 2015 11:46 pm

The funny thing about the EMS stuff, minus the Synthi 100 of course, is that it was the budget end of the pool when it first appeared. The VCS3 sold for 330 pounds when it debuted in 1969, a time when even the cheapest Moog modular configuration went for a lot more than that.
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Re: When intrinsic value is surpassed by emotion... (EMS Gea

Post by ppg_wavecomputer » Sun Jun 07, 2015 12:13 am

The EMS requires a completely different approach than a Moog or an ARP. This yields different results. This is what makes Buchlas and Serges equally desireable and expensive -- they are niche products and hence more rare than a mainstreamed synthesiser like a Moog or ARP or Roland or Korg or...

The EMS is a piece of equipment which has played an important role in the musical socialization of people now in their late 40s or early 50s. They now have got the money to buy a piece of their musical youth and not only own but also use it themselves. Nostalgia is a strange thing, and being able to buy back a piece of one's own youth seems to be priceless to many. That's why Dodge Challengers and Plymouth Hemi Cudas have become expensive as well.

330 Pounds was a heap of Money in 1970, at least over here in Germany (roughly 3,500 Deutschmarks -- a new Volkswagen Beetle was 4,750 Euro).

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Re: When intrinsic value is surpassed by emotion... (EMS Gea

Post by ian » Sun Jun 07, 2015 7:17 am

I was thinking along the same lines recently and I find it frustrating. I think part of it is that synths have come to the forefront of popular music and their collective perceived value has become inflated (after being deflated, for the most part). Same thing happened with tube amps. Part of my frustration is that I have a complete lack of prescience; sure, Poly 6's will always sell for @ $500... I can always buy a Twin Reverb for $250.... No need to get it now, better to take my ex- ex- ex- ex-girlfriend out for sushi.... Hahahahaha. I also blame the 90's ; the internet, NAFTA, guys singing like their mouths are full of marbles, Annoying DJ's making records cost a million times as much as they should just cuz someone used a 6 second sample from one of them.

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Re: When intrinsic value is surpassed by emotion... (EMS Gea

Post by Hybrid88 » Sun Jun 07, 2015 7:47 am

^ Yes, I'm a bit sad I didn't get a Jupiter 8 when they were averaging 4k (AUD) a few years ago, some guy just listed one on Aus eBay for 12k, guess it'll never happen now (and I'm a massive Roland fan) :cry:

I guess like with the JP8 and 808 I just don't see the EMS being worth that, and in fact even while I admit it's an awesome machine, I still don't see how anyone could think it's a safe purchase unless they had money to burn, but does any musician *really* have money to burn? :lol:

It's a luxury for sure, oh well ho hum, on goes the music world with more accessible machines, no time for hipster-priced rarities ;)

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Re: When intrinsic value is surpassed by emotion... (EMS Gea

Post by bochelli » Sun Jun 07, 2015 9:29 am

Arp Odyssey I see no price drop they seem to be ok, I do see now plenty of Korg ones up for sale after only a short while of ownership why ?
The Korg ones within a year will be around boxed for £400 or lower , someone up to their eyeballs in bills then perhaps £250 for a quick sale,Korg MS20 have taken a dip peaking in the UK a few years ago just under £1400,
EMS gear looks simple to re make not worth the money they go for only a matter of time before China copies flood the market .
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Re: When intrinsic value is surpassed by emotion... (EMS Gea

Post by ian » Sun Jun 07, 2015 9:44 am

Fetishization is a double edged sword; for sure. With something like an 808; all those exact sounds are available for almost nothing in software/newer and cheaper hardware form, but people crave the shiny box. Something like a Crumar Spirit; OK, I touch the Douglas for that.
1) because people tell me how cool it is, I'm easily impressed upon, and most modern synths don't sound as "Good" (as what I'm told).
2) because I will never lay my hands on one.

So, is the mix "they don't make em like they used to" and "I want it cuz I can't have it" ? For me, sadly, yes.

With something like the EMS; you see it for what it is, ups/downs, but now it's gotten all puffy, which is kinda booty, I understand the feeling... why can't people calm down and stop making everything out to be "amazing" and, by proxy, elite?

On the reissue thing: I think Dave Smith has a better mission than does Korg, in that he's making bangers like the Prophet 6, which are better than what came before and realitively cheaper. I'll amend that, Korg is doing a very cool thing by making affordable what many of us crave, to boot adding modern routing options and pricing it so it's within reach. What DSI is doing is moving it along beyond just a reissue. Not many people can easily drop the cash for a prophet 6 but back in the day not many people could afford a synth, period, and I just think it's cool that someone took it this way and kept the motor runming. I don't know what effect companies realization that consumers crave real analog will have on the prices of the OG synths.

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Re: When intrinsic value is surpassed by emotion... (EMS Gea

Post by HideawayStudio » Sun Jun 07, 2015 11:06 am

...yes it sometimes feels a little crazy when you could go out and seek all of the original parts and build your own faithful clone of a classic synth for less than a real one!..

but... just like the housing market.. much of this is simply due to supply and demand...

There is no doubting something like the VCS3 has a very special sound. It is a basic synth but indeed everything it does is steeped in character and is an instantly recognisable design classic for sure.

At the same time there really aren't that many around on the market with most examples staying firmly in the hands of collectors and musicians and so anything that does turn up is going for top dollar quite simply because it can ie. the number of people seeking these instruments vastly outweighs the number in circulation and so someone will pay...

Interestingly there are other instruments that are also rare and yet are grossly undervalued - it remains to be seen whether these are rediscovered (or indeed discovered at all!) in due course...

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Re: When intrinsic value is surpassed by emotion... (EMS Gea

Post by Hybrid88 » Sun Jun 07, 2015 2:26 pm

HideawayStudio wrote:...Interestingly there are other instruments that are also rare and yet are grossly undervalued - it remains to be seen whether these are rediscovered (or indeed discovered at all!) in due course...
Yeah I've been thinking a bit about that too, but really apart from newly made stuff I really don't think anything vintage analog is going to take off like they have already, it's all been found out. Thanks to the internet the secrets are no more. The only thing I can think of is perhaps the Alpha Juno's. But to me it will be the V-Synths, AN1X's, Nord Lead 1/G2's, Kawai K5000s, Ensoniq Fizmo and other digital wonders that will start to appreciate more noticeably in the future. I'd be interested to hear other peoples predictions though? :)

With the EMS and supply vs demand, yes I agree but not entirely. For example if I search for an EMS Synthi on eBay right now there is three that come up (all around 12k), whereas if I search Jupiter 8 I get only one, if I search Yamaha CS-80 there is nothing. So there is a bit of a false economy here where people trying to sell will only sell if they get at least as much if not more than the last one sold for, leaving units sitting for sale and people wanting to use them without. It's almost like the housing bubble that we're seeing in property right now, where the market is so fierce that people are forced to pay whatever stupid price sellers ask just to own it. I mean unreasonably stubborn sellers really are the achilles heel of economics... and every time some idiot relents and pays the asking price it just reinforces the cycle. It's all a bit stupid when you think about it. :x

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Re: When intrinsic value is surpassed by emotion... (EMS Gea

Post by meatballfulton » Sun Jun 07, 2015 2:33 pm

tim gueguen wrote:The funny thing about the EMS stuff, minus the Synthi 100 of course, is that it was the budget end of the pool when it first appeared.
Marketed as the Putney in the USA, the VCS3 sold for a mere $800 here when MiniMoogs (and Volkswagen Beetles) were $2000.
Hybrid88 wrote:
HideawayStudio wrote:...It will be the V-Synths, AN1X's, Nord Lead 1/G2's, Kawai K5000s, Ensoniq Fizmo and other digital wonders that will start to appreciate more noticeably in the future. I'd be interested to hear other peoples predictions though? :)
Prices have been rising steadily for the ESQ-1 and SQ-80 (no longer the bargains they used to be), Radias (now selling for more than I paid for mine new) and even the AN200 and DX200 (used prices have almost tripled). These might level off at some point but by comparison V-synth prices continue to fall today.
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Re: When intrinsic value is surpassed by emotion... (EMS Gea

Post by Hybrid88 » Sun Jun 07, 2015 3:16 pm

Oh yeah I know the V-Synth is still on the decline, but I really think like the 303 in time it will be appreciated much more than it is now. It really is criminally undervalued at the moment, I would't mind getting a second sometime...

Yes I've noticed the SQ-80 going up a fair bit recently, which is both good and bad for me cause I have one I'm not super keen on. Just don't know whether to hold off or ditch the thing - would be good to sample and try some user patches out before I sell but who knows if I'll ever get round to that :lol:

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Re: When intrinsic value is surpassed by emotion... (EMS Gea

Post by Hybrid88 » Sun Jun 07, 2015 3:25 pm

bochelli wrote:...EMS gear looks simple to re make not worth the money they go for only a matter of time before China copies flood the market .
I hate to say it but maybe that would be for the better, it worked for boutique guitar pedals (more or less) ;)

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Re: When intrinsic value is surpassed by emotion... (EMS Gea

Post by HideawayStudio » Sun Jun 07, 2015 5:57 pm

Hybrid88 wrote:
bochelli wrote:...EMS gear looks simple to re make not worth the money they go for only a matter of time before China copies flood the market .
I hate to say it but maybe that would be for the better, it worked for boutique guitar pedals (more or less) ;)
It would never happen... well ok it might and it might even look like the real thing but very quickly indeed people would discover it just didn't sound the same.

The one thing I keep experiencing first hand these days working with so many vintage synths (analog, digital, hybrid and tube) is that half of the sound so many cherish is due to the vintage components within them - not meaning that they are ancient and knackered but there is no question a discrete amp section full of 1960s germanium transistors or a first generation 741 op amp in an oscillator has a sound all of its own as does a discrete 8 bit convertor. You replace these with squeaky clean modern components with brutal slew rates, rail to rail swings, ultra low noise perfect linearity and before you know it a large chunk of character, soul and musicality has just been thrown in the dumpster. Remember... these things are not HiFis - there really is no benefit from rendering the perfect waveform in a classic subtractive synth.

Remember.. a mathematically near perfect sawtooth is just that - mathematical ie. the same as any other by definition - ie. absolutely just the thing you don't want in a living breathing musical instrument. Its why I sometimes feel my blood boiling when I read some nerds going on about how they've upgraded all the op amps and capacitors in their modulars like somehow those immensely dull waveforms emanating from their oscillators are somehow going to become any better that way - nothing is straight in nature - why do we expect our sawtooth waveforms to be? :mrgreen:

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Re: When intrinsic value is surpassed by emotion... (EMS Gea

Post by bochelli » Sun Jun 07, 2015 6:11 pm

HideawayStudio wrote:
Hybrid88 wrote:
bochelli wrote:...EMS gear looks simple to re make not worth the money they go for only a matter of time before China copies flood the market .
I hate to say it but maybe that would be for the better, it worked for boutique guitar pedals (more or less) ;)
It would never happen... well ok it might and it might even look like the real thing but very quickly indeed people would discover it just didn't sound the same.

The one thing I keep experiencing first hand these days working with so many vintage synths (analog, digital, hybrid and tube) is that half of the sound so many cherish is due to the vintage components within them - not meaning that they are ancient and knackered but there is no question a discrete amp section full of 1960s germanium transistors or a first generation 741 op amp in an oscillator has a sound all of its own as does a discrete 8 bit convertor. You replace these with squeaky clean modern components with brutal slew rates, rail to rail swings, ultra low noise perfect linearity and before you know it a large chunk of character, soul and musicality has just been thrown in the dumpster. Remember... these things are not HiFis - there really is no benefit from rendering the perfect waveform in a classic subtractive synth.

Remember.. a mathematically near perfect sawtooth is just that - mathematical ie. the same as any other by definition - ie. absolutely just the thing you don't want in a living breathing musical instrument. Its why I sometimes feel my blood boiling when I read some nerds going on about how they've upgraded all the op amps and capacitors in their modulars like somehow those immensely dull waveforms emanating from their oscillators are somehow going to become any better that way - nothing is straight in nature - why do we expect our sawtooth waveforms to be? :mrgreen:
A friend of mine has tried the new Korg Odyssey in a London store , bar the smaller keys he liked it, he is after the Arp one but they are thin on the ground in the UK, A new EMS with a playable keyboard would cost peanuts to make ask Korg.
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Re: When intrinsic value is surpassed by emotion... (EMS Gea

Post by Bitexion » Sun Jun 07, 2015 6:32 pm

*writes email to sales@korg.com*

"Hey gais you should TOTALLY make a miniEMS synthi!!!1111"

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