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Thoughts on a Synclavier?

Posted: Mon Jan 19, 2015 9:57 am
by Kevinloy
...along with debating over putting together a modular system (which I inquired about in a different thread), one of the things which has been on my mind lately, especially seeing how 'affordable' they now are ('affordable' being in contrast to how much they were 30 years ago), is the possibility of buying a refurbished Synclavier system.

Does anybody out there have experience with them, and if so, what are your thoughts on these beasts? Good, bad, and everything in between. If I bought one, the system would be used for a combination of creating serious electronic compositions (I'm finding the tidbits I'm reading on resynthesis to be rather intriguing) and realizing orchestral-based works...without, you know, having to pay orchestral-based fees each time.

Thanks in advance

Re: Thoughts on a Synclavier?

Posted: Mon Jan 19, 2015 3:59 pm
by synthroom
I've had that thought as well...

There's a mostly complete system on ebay now. It will take some work and parts to get it going though.

Before you buy one, check with Chris and Ed. It's my understanding that Chris and Ed worked at NED back in the day.
Chris is ebay seller CJM7

I think they can build nearly any kind of Synclavier system you want - you could see what they would charge for a similar system.

Re: Thoughts on a Synclavier?

Posted: Tue Jan 20, 2015 5:08 am
by Kevinloy
Thanks for the information. I've already had some brief contact with the guy who sells systems here:
but since the seller you mentioned seems to be based on the east coast, that might prove to be a better solution if a Synclavier turns out to be the route I should take.

One of the things which would concern me about buying a used Synclavier is all of the variables which mentions on their Synclavier page:
It should be noted that there are all sorts of 'sub-revisions' of the hardware component of the Synclav II, and these make each version capable/incapable of doing certain things. Some lower-end versions are not capable of using the 'Timbre-frame' timbral scanning programming method. Others are not capable of handling a MIDI retrofit. And all of these have different 'top versions' of the OS that they can handle, making the purchase of a used Synclav system a dicey affair. You can't always be 100% sure of which variation you're buying without some extreme care being paid to which hardware it has and what versions of the OS it's capable of running. You could therefore be buying anything from a high-end sampling/sequencing workstation unit to a rather complex 12-op FM/additive synth, and several possibilities in between.

Re: Thoughts on a Synclavier?

Posted: Tue Jan 20, 2015 3:58 pm
by synthroom
I understand your concern about all the different variations! I know very little about the differences with the different models myself. (I know Fairlights much better!)

Chris and Ed are in the New York area, I think. My friend has a VP/K keyboard and we contacted Chris and Ed about getting a basic system - one that did sampling and FM with Midi. We had no interest in hard disk recording systems. They had the stuff needed to put together a system with those specs. And the price (quoted 3 or 4 years ago) was not too bad - less then $4000 (Keep in mind we had the keyboard already so that was just the mainframe part).

Check with Chris and Ed and ask what they have. Synhouse has been around forever so you might want check in with them as well.

Re: Thoughts on a Synclavier?

Posted: Tue Jan 20, 2015 5:15 pm
by sequentialsoftshock
Yea, 917 is NYC.

Re: Thoughts on a Synclavier?

Posted: Fri Jan 23, 2015 10:02 pm
by Kevinloy
Can someone explain the outputs on the back of the keyboard a bit more? The manual states the following:
Keyboard and filter outputs can be used to connect the keyboard to outboard filter units, oscillators, envelope generators, and so on.
From looking at a picture, the keyboard outlets (gate, trigger, ribbon and CV) appear to be for controlling a modular synth...but what about the filter outputs (high pass fc, low pass fc, bandpass fc and bandwidth)? I apologize for the naivete of this question...I'm just trying to discern something aproximating the full extent of a synclavier's capabilities without actually having direct access to one.

Re: Thoughts on a Synclavier?

Posted: Fri Jan 23, 2015 11:27 pm
by synthroom
Running a monosynth from a Synclavier would be the last thing I would probably ever try! But why not, it seem like it could be a cool thing to do.

As I said before, I don't have one and I've never used one, but would it not be a CV that reflects the state of the filter? Fc is the cut-off frequency for each of the different filter types.

I did find a photo of them online: ... 44960.html

Re: Thoughts on a Synclavier?

Posted: Sun Jan 25, 2015 1:37 pm
by moremagic
the cutoff, bandwidth, and pitch bend jacks are cv inputs, yall. that way you can use the gates & kbd cv outs to control another unit, and if its modular, patch it back into the synclavier. thats probably what NED was thinkin youd want to use the synclav to control a monosynth for