The Synclavier systems

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The Synclavier systems

Post by VCO8 » Sun Nov 30, 2014 9:23 am

Can anyone explain the sonic differences between an early '80 - c.'83 model vs. the more popular later models?

Here's what I know.

New England Digital released the Synclavier II in 1980. It was an 8-bit FM/additive digital synthesizer with a 32-track sequencer.
-In 1982, they added a 16-bit sampling option which predated the Fairlight CMI III's 16-bit system by three years.

-After 1984, MIDI, a black weighted keyboard, a 16-bit system (PSMT), Direct-to-disk, a guitar interface and a few other options were added.

Now back to the questions...

I'm assuming the sound differences were due to the introduction of the 16-bit stereo PSMT in 1984. (and the sampling option in 1982).

There was also the 3200/6400/9600 systems - how did those differ to the PSMT of 1984?

Examples: A demo from 1981.

A demo from the mid-80's.

...distinct sound differences, I'd say.
Last edited by VCO8 on Thu Dec 10, 2015 10:53 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: The Synclavier systems

Post by ppg_wavecomputer » Mon Dec 15, 2014 5:25 pm

I think it's less a difference in sound rather than a difference in concept. The early Synclavier (i. e. the S2) was a computer-based FM synthesiser before Yamaha even knew what FM was all about. Sampling and sequencing were added at a later stage because there was a way to implement this. I found the sound of the FM engine rather interesting but the sampling option was always a bit, erm, crude-sounding.

Later systems were elaborate sampling-based systems which didn't focus on synthesis in the first place but on as many voices and as much memory as could possibly be implemented -- this, plus novelty features like direct-to-disk recording, elaborate timecode and sync options, MO drives for mass storage etc. The 3200/6400/9600/Post-Pro/DTD were the first studio-in-a-box solutions which would wipe the floor with the Fairlight not only in terms of performance but also in terms of price (not only with the Fairlight but also with the Waveframe and the PPG).

The early S2 was more aimed at adventurous composers and sound designers whereas the later Synclavier was more aimed at film-scoring, post production, and music production studios that wanted to get rid of all the hardware hassle -- which, e. g., Kraftwerk did.

"Like the light from distant stars, Stephen Parsick's music has existed for some time, but is only now reaching us on Earth." Chuck van Zyl

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