Where Have All The Synths Gone?
By James Grahame
Back in 1985, every keyboard player had a stack of synthesizer keyboards and modules connected by a spaghetti of MIDI and audio cables. Something new and exciting was introduced every six months. Fast-forward twenty years and the average electronic music studio looks more like the computer shop, dotted with flat panel monitors and a PowerMac or two. The synths are all simulated in software these days, and it's getting hard to find real physical instruments.
That's why I was excited when veteran synth designer Dave Smith (of Sequential Circuits fame) added a genuine keyboard synth to his company's lineup. The Poly Evolver is based on a little synth module he released several years ago. It has 4 voices (each with analog *and* digital sound generation circuitry) and sounds amazing. But -- best of all -- it offers 77 knobs, 59 buttons, lots of blinky lights, and weighs a cool 23 lbs (9.5 kg). A rack-mount version is available if you don't want knobs (hah!).
They're not cheap at $2,699.00, but they'll last a few decades and run without a computer. Try that with a soft synth.