Final Look

Discuss John Bowen Synths - Solaris
synthman1
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Post by synthman1 » Sat Dec 13, 2008 1:03 pm

John Bowen wrote:
synthman1 wrote:Hey wait a minute. The existing ribbon controller IS a touchpad! (I think I gotchya John). Dano
Ummmm, actually, this is a new technology, not your standard 'touchpad', so I will have to disagree! :-)

john b.
Hey wait a minute. If the technology is new, then you have further convinced me this is the way to go over a joystick! (just havin' fun now) :wink:

In all seriousness, it sounds very interesting. I cant wait to learn more about it and try it out.

Also, I didnt mention it in my original post, but the inclusion of the Prophet VS and user definable waves is stellar. (I've been asking for user definable waves on a certain VA for years!) The Prophet VS is still one of my all time favorite instruments.

I always felt the best part of an analog synths was its filtering and the best part of a digital synth was the use of definable waveforms in addition to standard shapes. Thats why I've always been attracted to instruments such as the Korg DSS-1, Prophet VS, Evolver and well, the Solaris.

Dano

John Bowen
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Post by John Bowen » Sat Dec 13, 2008 1:32 pm

With the ribbon design we have chosen, there are no "moving parts' to wear out, so this is a big advantage over the older touchpads and ribbons out there. It's also a sort of 'multi-touch', providing 2 ribbon output values simultaneously.

john b.

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Post by John Bowen » Sat Dec 13, 2008 8:02 pm

I wanted to add some additional thoughts and comments to dano's post:
synthman1 wrote:...$4000 is a lot of coin for a synth. There is simply no way many can or even would consider the Solaris at this price, including me - especially in this current global economic crisis when there are comparable synths such as the Virus in the $2500 range to say the least. Afterall, the Solaris is a VA, not a true analog which could have accounted for some of the price difference.

While I'm sure there are feature the Solaris has that other synths don't offer, you can go back and forth all day and find features in other synths at lower price points that the Solaris doesn't have as well such as a more robust effect section and 16 part multitimbral.
Dano
Certainly you are correct in your second paragraph, and the Virus at $2500 has been the strongest product out there for some time. While in my mind it is not comparable in terms of technical specs (we run 4 oscs and 4 filters at 96kHz and never reduce quality to gain polyphony), many do point to the Virus as the 'gold standard' in VA products (and after 10 years of refinement and development, that's a fair evaluation).
Not in any stretch do I expect to sell in the numbers that the Virus has - I'm more interested in producing something that reaches for the highest sonic quality possible, and I know this is not the primary goal for most mass market instruments. The Virus delivers a well-rounded set of functions, an extremely popular sound, and at a price that clearly makes it one of the most successful synths in the last decade. I have a lot of respect for Christof Kemper's work - he's done a phenomenal job, one that really can't be beat (which is not my goal anyway).

SepticStudio
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Post by SepticStudio » Sun Dec 14, 2008 2:23 am

One cannot compare a mass product like the Virus with a product that will be made by only a few 100 maybe in the first year of release. Take all those displays for instance, not very cheap to implement imho.

Not to forget that I think the first batches of Solaris will be almost handbuilt..

Although the virusTI is a very nice synth, I think it is in another league in comparision with the Solaris...
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scope4live
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Post by scope4live » Sun Dec 14, 2008 9:43 am

Well I wonder if Tiger Woods uses GOlf Clubs from Sears?

Why do people spend extra money on RME when M Audio and Creative have such cheap " great sounding " cards? 8)
I guess people who make money on their sound quality want Solaris, and also extreme synth hobbyists.
Too bad Guitar Center won't have a wall rack w/ a Solaris for demo'ing.
Then guys might understand the value of having such a beast.
Then again there's always the Nords, Virus's and Ion's to keep the consumer synth crowd happy.
Hey 60 voices and 500 presets...............Gotta have it. :roll:
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synthman1
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Post by synthman1 » Sun Dec 14, 2008 12:15 pm

The Solaris is no doubt a top of the line, high quality, professional range VA. The Virus is also a high quality, top of the line, pro range VA used by many professional musicians (maybe even Tiger Woods). It has also won many, many awards over the years as I’m sure the Solaris will as well. That not the point of what I was going for here though.

The dialog I’m trying to open up is there are different ways to implement the Solaris DSP synthesizer into a form factor beyond the existing design that would appeal to perhaps a broader or include a different base of users for various reasons including cost and space constraints.

By using a more refined and streamline form factor, there may be people such as myself who don’t want another 61 note synth, but would be interested in a rackmount version for instance simply do to cost, ergonomics or space constraints. Other reasons are more pragmatic. As I said, I don’t view having 6 displays as a benefit, but rather a liability and unnecessary feature that adds to the cost, size and weight of the final design that I could live without and actually prefer not to have.

Maybe I’m just looking at this in a practical manner but, selecting say the OSC or Filter section by hitting a button which utilizes the same global LCD display and global set of editing knobs rather than an individual display and unique set of knobs for those specific parameters isn’t that big of a inconvenience - especially if there are clear trade offs like reducing the cost and size of the form factor. As long as the desired results are achieved in an intuitive manner with relative ease and there are a set tactile knobs to modulate and interact with the sound, it really doesn’t matter to me if the knobs double in functionality. While I love fooling around with and creating different sounds on synthesizers as much as anyone, the real intent is to make and perform music with it. So hopefully most of the time will be spent with hands on the keys and not the knobs.

How many knobs can one adjust in real time anyway? One if you are playing the keyboard, maybe two if your aren’t?

That said, I do understand what John Bowen is trying to achieve with this synth both conceptually and in it form factor implementation. The idea here isn’t necessarily just to offer suggestions for the Solaris keyboard design in its current keyboard form, but rather a discussion for maybe other incarnations of the Solaris including a lower cost rackmount version or even “lite” keyboard version.

Dano

scope4live
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Post by scope4live » Sun Dec 14, 2008 1:36 pm

Good points no doubt.
But as you said you've been watching for a while.
Then you'd know this has all been discussed by memebrs here, who have been involved in the design.
So it is a possibility still.
But for live performers the LCD's are quite necessary, and there are ways to play a synthesizer w/o having to twist the knobs while playing. The updatable LCD's are large and under 1000 watt PAR Lamps real time information is vital.
There's a hardware unit that live performers use called a MIDI Solutions F8. It has 8 x 1/4" outputs for Expression and Footswitch pedals. Sustain and on/off Portamento pedals can usually cover the Keyboards pedal needs.
So for those of us who were involved in designing this from day one, this is what the first 100 guys wanted.
I actually wanted one w/o a keybed myself.
But the large LCD's are crucial if you perform live.
Players could get by w/o the LCD's but this was a deciding factor while it was in developement.
Maybe in 2010 there could be a rack.
With an F8 and a well designed controller it will work just fine.
But as a veteran performer I am happy that Solaris was designed for our needs.
The thought of no LCD's in MultiMode.............Most Painful.
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matocaster
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Post by matocaster » Sun Dec 14, 2008 1:44 pm

A Solaris lite. No thanks! I applaud JB for sticking to his guns. He wanted to make the best synth possible. To cut corners just to sell more units is defeating the purpose of it. Before we try and redesign the Solaris, let those of us who spent our hard earned dollars to pre-order it, get our hands on those knobs someone wants to get rid of.

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Post by John Bowen » Sun Dec 14, 2008 5:57 pm

Let's keep this discussion calm - synthman1 is only offering his opinion about what would make it more appealing and affordable to people like him. At least he is paying attention here, and I appreciate the interest in Solaris.

john b.

scope4live
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Post by scope4live » Sun Dec 14, 2008 9:35 pm

Arrrrffff !! 8)
Sorry for being brash.
Discussion is a good thing.
I tend to get defensive when someone wants to cut my sons hair.
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matocaster
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Post by matocaster » Mon Dec 15, 2008 5:43 pm

John Bowen wrote:Let's keep this discussion calm - synthman1 is only offering his opinion about what would make it more appealing and affordable to people like him. At least he is paying attention here, and I appreciate the interest in Solaris.

john b.
Understood. It would be interesting to see what would come after the Solaris.

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Post by John Bowen » Mon Dec 15, 2008 6:06 pm

Whatever I do, it would certainly be stripped down from what the Solaris is...or it might even be a completely different synth. Definitely not as complex.

But first we've got finish this one!

-john

scope4live
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Post by scope4live » Tue Dec 16, 2008 5:27 pm

Can anybody here say ProWave ?
That would be the ticket for a simpler powerful syntheizer IMHO.
Rotor's, Waldorf Oscillators. VS. etc. etc.

I love ProWave 1.2, if that had PolyGlide features that would give me a serious Woody. :lol:
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Post by John Bowen » Tue Jan 27, 2009 4:50 pm

For those who don't know - the ProWave is another software plug-in I make for the Scope platform :D
It resembles (and is derived from) a deluxe version I used to sell of a Prophet 5 emulation, but adding sample playback and wavetable oscillators.
-jb

seamonkey
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Post by seamonkey » Wed Jan 28, 2009 11:17 am

While this forum is focused on the Solaris and it's features, John has a wealth of history in synth design, both hardware and software, unfortunately many folks in the synth world weren't exposed to his software instruments because they were designed to be used in the Scope platform, therefore, they weren't available in the popular VST format.
Prowave is from his software chapter and if the mp3 demos are any indication of what we can expect from Solaris, we are all going to be very happy synthesists.

Here is a link from John's Zarg music site with demos featuring the Prowave and other soft synths for the Scope platform. They are at the top of the page.
http://www.zargmusic.com/html1/index.html

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