Original Solaris Prototype pictures

Discuss John Bowen Synths - Solaris
John Bowen
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Original Solaris Prototype pictures

Post by John Bowen »

I came across some of the old Solaris prototype photos, and I thought people might enjoy seeing them!

We introduced the Solaris at the Frankfurt Musik Messe at the end of March 2007. The original design features 2 rows of knobs below the Envelope section, so that you could easily adjust filter and amp envelopes without having to select them individually. (Note there are only 3 EG select buttons, as the idea was to select them in pairs.)

The wood sides were more rounded, as you can see these were quite nice, but a bit too expensive for production. The graphics of the front panel featured a design from my childhood friend, John Heisch (viewable on the left side). Also, the original silk screen for the front panel was not to my liking, so I requested an 'emergency' job from Axel Hartmann to revise the graphics look for the show (which he did just 2 weeks prior to the show!).

We went through 5 prototype stages, arriving at the production version you know now. It was quite the journey!


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urge
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Re: Original Solaris Prototype pictures

Post by urge »

There was a tremendous amount of development on the Solaris that continues to this day. IIRC the prototype no longer works?
stefanovic
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Re: Original Solaris Prototype pictures

Post by stefanovic »

I used to think that beginning to design simple sounds might be best with two direct accesses to amp and filter env, to quickly test and understand the interactions between the two env.
So, you considered having two rows of encoders for the two 'main' env...
What made you change your mind? consistency? cost? a will to depart from 'usual' synthesis?
John Bowen
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Re: Original Solaris Prototype pictures

Post by John Bowen »

urge wrote: Sat Feb 06, 2021 3:34 pm There was a tremendous amount of development on the Solaris that continues to this day. IIRC the prototype no longer works?
I have the original cabinet, of course, but the circuit boards were used for the engineering units. I don’t have those.
John Bowen
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Re: Original Solaris Prototype pictures

Post by John Bowen »

stefanovic wrote: Mon Feb 08, 2021 10:12 am I used to think that beginning to design simple sounds might be best with two direct accesses to amp and filter env, to quickly test and understand the interactions between the two env.
So, you considered having two rows of encoders for the two 'main' env...
What made you change your mind? consistency? cost? a will to depart from 'usual' synthesis?
We found in response to use that the way of selecting them in pairs was confusing to some. There was also a change in the way the values were displayed, which was an overall functional decision I made after working with the original system. Imagine 1 display, but for 2 different envelopes. For the envelopes, there were no paging buttons, and the top line showed values for one of a pair, and the bottom line the other. This actually worked fine for the envelopes. The labels for the parameters were silk screened/printed on the front panel, instead of being in the display, and if you look closely at the front panel, you will see the Main/Mod buttons selected from 4 different options - Times, Mod 1, Mod 2, and Shape. But for the other sections of the synth the paging buttons originally moved the active cursor from the top line to the bottom line. This was great in concept, but really frustrating in actual use - I often would be editing the wrong parameter! This was most embarrassingly apparent when I took the early prototype to Hans Zimmer, just showing him how it worked!!
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