Thursday, July 19, 2007

CatSynth 1st anniversary - but where's the site?

Well, we were all set to host our one-year anniversary today at CatSynth, but instead we find that our site was down today. Turns out our ISP neglected to renew our parent domain "". Seems kinda ironic that it would go down today, it's been a great year. Thanks to all those in the synth community who have supported CatSynth by reading, linking and most gratifying of all submitting your own cat-and-synth pics.

We should be back up tomorrow...

Thursday, July 05, 2007

The Performance Music Systems Syntar

Title link takes you to a new website I just finished dedicated to The Syntar. Some cool photos and some interesting behind-the-scenes info awaits.

"Years ahead of its time in terms of live player control, the Performance Music Systems Syntar is very much a "hidden gem". Still unparalleled in many ways!"

Korg's R3 - Affordable Portable Formant Recordable

I needed something portable so I could play over at friends' houses without the hassle of disturbing/deconstructing my studio setup. Enter Korg's R3 - for a portable poly, its the buisiness!

It has an extremely easy to use User Interface - LED rings show current knob position (ala Nord 3) and little displays over each knob show its current function (ala Remote SL). The UI is probably what contributes to its highish price but, to me, represents good value for the money, especially if you like programming your own patches. For the ammount of space it takes up (or dosen't), this is the best "small" UI I have ever used! Nice to have something this classy on a so-called "cheap plastic synth".

The R3 has a great little sound engine with enough parameters to really get a huge variety of sounds going on. Mostly it has a VA/Subtractive architecture though with some unusual and useful extras. I was able to get some really decent EPs and "standard synth" sounds though its certainly capable of evolving/morphing pads, basses and dirty leads as well - I wouldn't pigeonhole it to a certain kind of sound. Here's the killer for some - If you didn't like the MS2000's sound, you might not like this beast either as their overall timbre is fairly similar, though I must say the R3 is "thinner" and "brighter" to my ears. It seems to be a perfect clone of the Radias engine with a different (maybe better) UI tacked on. I cranked the pitches really high on a number of patches to try to induce aliasing to no avail...very nice! However, If you actually want aliasing, there is a decimator in the FX section. There are a lot of features in a tiny space but not so many that its a bitch to edit.

Having three octaves of full-size velocity-sensitive keys is perfect. Two just isn't enough for me but three still makes this extremely portable. Wish it had aftertouch, one of my only niggles, the other is that there's only 128 program slots. The only other thing that bothered me, though not too badly, was that most of the presets are "dancy/trancey", thankfully they're overwriteable.

I thought it would end up being an awful gimmick, but the "Formant Motion" recorder turned out to be a blast to play with and you can get some unusual timbral changes you won't hear from anything else except the Radias. Ditto on the vocoder, I thought it would be cheesy but was pleasently suprised...having the dedicated mic included was very handy as well - though you can use the external input instead if you want to mangle external audio...drum loops and things with lots of noise are cool to smunch.

I wouldn't actually get rid of any of my synths for this thing but, for a portable board, its featureset is very compelling and, personally, I like its sound, though its a tad thinnish. Its one of those borderline boards where the fun bits outweigh the so-so bits. We'll see how long this one lasts.