Frustrated by the lack of imagination exhibited by today's synth manufacturers?
I've sketched some "concept-drawings" of synths I wish existed. The UAPS "Ultimate Analog Performance Synth" to the left is
just ONE such synth. Scroll down to see "Tomm's Grab & Go Worksation Keyboard", the "Rhythm Section" Drum Machine and my other designs. If synth manufacturers won't produce them maybe we can
"crowd-fund" them into existence
via the "Synth Project" below! ( -ABOVE ) UAPS SYNTH DESIGN
Tired of the same yawn-inducing keyboards shown at each succeeding NAMM Show? HAD IT with the boringly predictable "me too" designs "The Big 5" ( i.e: Roland, Korg, Yamaha, Casio and Kurzweil ) dish out every year? If so, then check out the concept-sketches below. They're "different". Question is: Would you buy them?
Below are some design concept sketches I've done over the years. They're drawings of synths and electronic music products I wish existed today -but don't. They reflect my frustration with the "Synth Establishment" who insist upon giving us the same safe, boringly predicable "me too" designs every year. My concept drawings ( below ) fill specific niches the "Big Five" have completely ignored.
If you like what you see, mention the Synth Project designs ( -below ) on the Facebook pages of the following manufacturers: ROLAND, KORG, YAMAHA, CASIO, KURZWEIL, BEHRINGER . If enough people do this maybe they'll pay attention. If they decide to manufacture any of these designs maybe they'll cut me in on some of the profit. That would be nice indeed! However, I'm not holding my breathe. If you e-mail them be sure to
include this link: http://creativetechnerds.jimdo.com/synth-project/ in your Facebook post -so they can
visit this page and take a look at my drawings.
If enough keyboard enthusiasts do this, perhaps they'll listen and consider making at least a few of these. If they don't -would you support a Go Fund Me Campaign to get these designs put into production?
Encourage your synth and keyboard-oriented friends to visit this page and "weigh-in" on the matter. If I see there's a market for them -I'll go forward with this Go Fund Me campaign. LET ME KNOW!
A compact, lightweight AC/ DC ( AA-battery operable ) 128-voice workstation keyboard small enough to slip
in a gig bag and take anywhere! Weighing under 5 lbs and having the same dimensions as Yamaha's "ReFace" line, this full-featured unit is perfect for touring keyboardists ( -weary of lugging around big, bulky 15 -35 lb. "boat-anchor" workstations ). It's also ideally suited for project-studio use ( -where space is limited ).
Boasting a sample set of over one-thousand high-quality ( 24-bit/ 96 Khz ) samples ( -culled from the best analog synths, keyboards, organs, string machines and tape playback instruments ) and including classic basses, guitars and twelve built-in studio drum kits -covering a dozen music genres -this "grab & go-sized" workstation has all of the classic and vintage rock instruments you'll ever need in one keyboard!
The unit's built-in ( 24-bit/ 96 Khz ) eight track digital-audio recorder and rear-panel ( XLR/ 1/4" ) combo jacks allow you to record both internal voices as well as EXTERNAL instruments ( -like electric guitars, basses, drum machines, miked vocals and media players ). Something that "sequencer only" workstations can't do! The unit's eight drum pads ( -right of the keyboard ) allow you to tap in your drum parts "live" or via step method. The pads can also be used to trigger recorded sounds or phrases for recording back into any "open" recorder tracks ( -all in pristine 24-bit/ 96 Khz quality! ). And recorded sounds can also be stored as "user sounds" ( -and be played chromatically across the keyboard just like any of the unit's OTHER sample-set sounds! ).
A large jog-shuttle dial based operating system and expansive LCD window provide quick and easy programming, mode selection and utility functions. The front panel knobs and parameter grid allow for quick, intuitive sound programming and tweaking of internal sample-set sounds. Built-in left and right ( 3-watt ) speakers provide easy "in-the-field" monitoring while the beefy pitch-bend/ mod wheel allows for easy expression. A premium quality, three octave ( mini-key ) keyboard with a velvet smooth "synth-action"
keybed ( -like the one used in Yamaha's "ReFace line ) complete this "grab & go" workstation's
Initially conceived as a way of transforming IK Multimedia's "Syntronik" synthesizer software into a "hybrid"
( hardware ) synth -similar to Use Audio's now discontinued "Plugiator", this compact desktop instrument could just as well be based upon the same sample set memory chip used in the ( -above ) "Grab & Go Workstation".
In this case, the "Syntronik" instrument labels ( i.e: "Memory V", "MiniMod", "PolyMorph", etc. ) would be replaced with "Analog Synth", "Classic Organs", "Classic Keys", "Vintage Basses" and "Vintage Guitars" sections reflecting the various instrument samples contained therein. Each instrument group's parameter grid of ( 14 ) knobs, ( 3 ) multi-position switches and ( 69 ) parameters would allow for in-depth programming and tweaking of these sample set sounds.
The large jog-shuttle knob and monochromatic LCD display near the top left corner of the folded-metal chassis would give synthesists visual feedback when programming/ tweaking and storing sounds or when scrolling through presets, various modes and utility functions. Underneath there is a 64-step sequencer complete with LED note-step lights, function buttons, transport controls and ( 4 ) sequencer "loop" modes.
Rear panel MIDI In, MIDI Out, MIDI Thru as well as 1/4" left and right ( audio ) line out jacks, a rocker style "on/ off" switch, an AC power socket and a ( 6 x AA-battery ) compartment finish out this "Hybrid Vintage Synth's" feature complement.
Definitely NOT your dad's drum machine! An entire "rhythm-section" in one box. The unit incorporates ( 12 ) drum kits ( -covering twelve different musical genres ). In addition you get a selection of Classic Era electric bass samples ( -i.e: Fender Precision, Rickenbacher, etc. ), electric and acoustic guitar samples ( i.e: Fender "Strat", Gibson "SG", Martin D-28, etc. ) as well as a selection of synth bass sounds ( -all taken from the above "Grab & Go" Workstation's 24-bit/ 96 Khz sample set memory chip ).
The unit's guitar chord selection panel allows you to quickly enter chords into your compositions. It includes authentic-sounding "guitarisms" ( -like slides, pitch bends, hammer-ons/ pull-offs, capoed notes, chiffs, etc. ) for added realism. In addition, you can superimpose six different "strum patterns" onto your guitar parts
giving you the dynamics and articulation of actually "playing" a real guitar!
The unit's ( 16 ) ergonomically arranged, velocity-sensing pads ( -whose "touch" can be user adjusted ), make for comfortable, expressive "live" pad play or precise step entry. The unit's large jog-shuttle dial based operating system and ample LCD display allow for quick, intuitive programming, sound tweaking and mode selection. Twelve built-in effects ( -including compression, reverb, phaser, flanger, chorus, delay and stereo panner ) allows users to employ up to three effects simultaneously ( -allowing control of up to two para-meters per effect ).
This synthesizer expander module allows you to "fatten-up" your synth's sound with beefy sampled sounds ( -taken from "Tomm's Dual-Sample Oscillator Work-station" ). You can even "mix-in" sub-octave waveforms to augment your synth's low-end girth. Turns your wimpy sounding synth into a ground-shaking "monster"!
The "UAPS" takes live performance synthesis to a new level. The "UAPS's" "Multi-Hand Controller" ( A. ) allows the synthesist to simultaneously control ( 27 ) synth parameters from one hand ( -as their OTHER plays the keyboard ). Finger Groove Capacitance Sliders ( C. ) allow control of another ( 16 ) parameters in realtime ( -and serves double-duty when programming and tweaking sequencer note data ). A 360- Degree Soundfield Tracking Ball ( B. ) allows for 360-degree panoramic panning of the soundfield. A "Pitch-Controller Strip" ( D. ) and built-in Theremin ( E. ) add even more live-performance options. Finally, synthesists and sound-designers have instantaneous control of over ( 27 ) synth parameters for unprecedented live-performance expression and lightening fast patch-programming in an all ANALOG synth!
The "Desktop Workstation" combines the features of "Tomm's Dual Sample Oscillator Workstation" with his "Rhythm Section" machine for an "all-in-one solution". You'll find the Dual Sample's LCD screen ( -now divided into Sample Osc. 1 & 2 sections ), all of it's voices and polyphony, it's parameter programming matrix, a built-in 16-track digital audio recorder plus effects along with the "Rhythm Section's" drum kits/ pads, guitar-chord matrix, guitar strum-patterns, vintage bass and guitar samples + bass synth samples. It includes a pair of ( XLR/ 1/4" ) Combo jacks on the back panel allowing you to record external instruments ( -like electric bass, guitar and vocals ) along with your internal Sample Oscillator and "rhythm section" parts. The "Desktop Workstation" is an "all-in-one" solution that makes the rest of your gear ( -except for a MIDI keyboard ) pretty much expendable!
* NOTE: Check out Zack and his band's ( 22-song ) "Underground Radio" rock opera. It's really pretty amazing! LINK: "Underground Radio" Rock Opera
Photos of Electronic Music Work's production line. This Brazilian synth manufacturer has developed some of the most intriguing synth and modular designs you'll see! Unfortunately, the multinational "Synth Establishment" ( i.e: Roland, Korg, Yamaha, Kurzweil, Casio ) are "clueless" when it comes to design innovation -much less listening to and developing synths their customers actually want! Their "tone-deafness" helped to inspire this "Synth Project". Thanks guys! -Tomm. ( -ABOVE ) EMW's BRAZILIAN DESIGN INNOVATION. AN "ALIEN-CONCEPT" FOR THE "BIG 5"!
Since it's unlikely the "Big 5" ( i.e: Roland, Korg, Yamaha, Kurzweil, Casio ) will ever produce these designs, I'm thinking of starting a "Go Fund Me" Campaign to finance their production. However, before I do that I'd really like to know if there's a market out there for these synths. Therefore, I'm asking synth and keyboard nerds worldwide to "weigh-in" on whether they'd actually buy these synths if they were manufactured.
Drop me an e-mail and let me know! Would you buy one of these synths if they were produced? And if so, WHICH ONE ( S ) appeals to you the most? Your "feedback" on these questions will help me to determine if this campaign is worth going forward with ( -and if it is, WHICH designs to tackle first ).
If the "Synth Project" becomes reality, we'll need skilled synth designers ( -with a proven track record ) to translate my "concept-drawings" into actual working "prototypes". Printed circuit board design, component selection and sourcing are but a few of the skills that will be required. Along with the "out-of-the-box" design philosophy these synths demand. If this des-cribes YOU and you'd like to participate in the project, "OUT-OF-THE-BOX" SYNTH DESIGNERS NEEDED ! drop me an e-mail.
Let me know WHICH of the ( above ) designs you'd like to participate in developing. Send me a realistic "ball-park estimate" of what you'd charge for designing it ( -along with any problems or challenges you forsee with the design ). This will help me to estimate HOW MUCH to raise in our "crowd-funding" effort should we go forward with it.
Obviously, if we go forward with the "Synth Project", we'll also need to locate skilled and reliable printed circuit board manuf- acturers, electronic assembly plants and woodworking shops ( -to etch our circuit WANTED: SKILLED AND RELIABLE USA SYNTH ASSEMBLERS! art into functioning PCB's, to form and punch-out chassies and control panels and to precisely cut and finish our synth's wood end caps ). And I'd really like to put American firms to work doing this! But here's the rub: Most of these synthesizers will be produced in very "limited runs" of ( 10 ) to maybe ( 100 ) units at a time. If you want to be part of something "truly special" ( -these are limited "one of a kind" units that will probably never be produced again ) and your operation can handle such low "minimum runs", drop us an e-mail. Give us your realistic "ball-park estimates" of what you'd charge to supply: TEN, TWENTY FIVE, FIFTY ( or ) ONE HUNDRED units ( i.e: either etched PCB's, populated and soldered PCB's, punched and formed chassies + control panels, etc. -which ever it is that your operation specializes in ). We'll keep you in mind if we go forward with the "Synth Project".
*P.S: Any printed info ( -along with past references ) you could supply us with regarding your operation would be helpful. We'll supply you with the mailing address to get it to us. Just mention this in your e-mail.
If you've gotten this far down the page -why not check out the rest of our website? We're probably new to you, so take some time to browse our article links below ( -along with those at the top of this page ). If you like what you see, tell your friends about us. The more the merrier!
CREATIVE TECH NERDS is the "Creative Technologies Zine". If you're into Synths, Sci-Fi and Spacerock we've got you covered! If you use today's technology to CREATE your own music, films, ( or ) computer-animation, we speak your language. Check out some of our articles ( below ): *SYNTHESIZER REVIEWS *PROJECT-STUDIO GEAR REVIEWS *INTERVIEWS WITH PROGRESSIVE, SPACEROCK & POWER-METAL BANDS ( -AND REVIEWS OF THEIR MUSIC! ) *REVIEWS OF COOL SCI-FI FILMS *REVIEWS OF INTERESTING DOCUMENTARIES *INTERVIEWS WITH TODAY'S MOST CUTTING-EDGE SYNTH DESIGNERS...
Here are some links to a few of our recent articles. Enjoy!
A review of Electronic Music Work's amazing "desktop monster", the "WCS-1x Synthesizer". This tiny synth has a decidedly "Moogish" sound character, costs around $300.00, is "Brazilian-made" and ab-solutely rocks the house! While you're at it, be sure and check out the Paulo Sergio dos Santos Interview to "get inside the head" of the WCS-1x's designer. A truly inspiring and fascinating interview with a brilliant Brazilian designer ( -that most American synthesists have never even heard of before! ). Start paying attention to him because this cat has some phenomenal designs!
EMW's "WCS-1x" DESKTOP SYNTHESIZER
A fascinating Interview with Arjen Anthony Lucassen . "Concept album mastermind" and guiding-force behind "Ayreon" -one of Europe's most innovative Spacerock franchises. Arjen does it all! ( -guitarist, keyboardist, lyricist, album coordinator -you name it ). And he does it all very well too! American rock audiences are missing out not hearing his music on FM rock-stations in the USA ). A real shame! And check out our review of "Ayreon's Universal Migrator album". "AYREON'S" ARJEN ANTHONY LUCASSEN It ranks right alongside of Pink Floyd's "Dark Side of the Moon" ( -in terms of concept originality, musicianship and "studio-craft" ).
Our Behringer B-1 Condenser Microphone Gear Review is typical of the Gear Reviews we do. It's an affordable ( $100.00 ) Microphone that gives you the "Biggest Bang for Your Buck". We love breaking convention and bringing you reviews of gear that performs and sounds like it should cost much more! The B-1 favorably compares with mics ( -like that well known German brandname that starts with an "N". Only their's cost over 30 x times the B-1's price! ). And check out our Behringer Xenyx QX1202USB Mixer Gear Review for another astounding piece of gear that even the most "cash-strapped" project-studio owner should be able to afford! ( -ABOVE ) BEHRINGER'S AMAZING B-1 CONDENSER MICROPHONE.
If you're looking for a sci-fi thriller that will "keep you on the edge of your seat" all the way through -read our Movie Review of Oren Peli's "Area 51" . This low budget, little-known film really delivers on pulse-pounding, adrenelin-pumping suspense and action -giving you a "go along for the ride" view of what it might be like to penetrate the perimeter of Nevada's top-secret "Area 51" base. Great film making. Just watch the movie's "trailer" at the bottom of the page!
( -RIGHT ) "AREA 51": IMPRESSIVE LOW-BUDGET FILM MAKING!
Are you a Spacerock fan? Then, by all means check out our "Music Review" of: "Hawkwind's Levitation" ( -Expanded Edition ) album. It's a terrific "compilation album" ( -that includes plenty of obscure extra tracks ) that every diehard Spacerock fan should own!
-LEFT ) CD COVER ARTWORK FROM HAWKWIND's "EXPANDED ED. LEVITATION" ( CD COMPILATION ).
That'll give you a taste of what we'rte about here at "Creative Tech Nerds". Peruse the top article links if you want to read more of our Gear Reviews, Designer Interviews, Artist & Band Interviews, Music and Movie Reviews, etc. And be sure to check back for our upcoming articles and reviews! -THANKS! -Tomm, Editor.