Friday, November 3, 2017

Moog Multimoog synthesizer reference sheet, 1980




Moog Multimoog synthesizer reference sheet from 1980.

I  reference info. The more data the better. And this, and the other reference sheets deliver. Gorgeous photo on one side. Gorgeous info on the other. Yum.

While recently flipping through old blog posts I noticed I never finished off my 1980 Moog reference sheet family. Well, time to fix that!

For someone who gets distracted as easily as I do, I'm surprised I had already managed to get five of them up there, including, in no particular order (click on the images to go to their respective blog posts):

  
  

The Multimoog is probably the Moog synthesizer I'm least familiar with. And at first glance, I had mistaken it for its baby brother - the Micromoog. Looking at the two reference sheets its easy to see why.

And those similarities are not just cosmetic - as noted in the November 1978 Spec Sheet write-up for the Multimoog:
"Moog synthesizer: The Multimoog features two audio oscillators, an LFO, fully variable waveshaping, a 3.5 octave keyboard, switchable single or multiple triggering, a pitchbend ribbon and a modulation wheel. The keyboard also has a force sensor in it, the output of which can be used to control pitch, LFO speed, volume, etc. The Multimoog is basically an expanded version of the Micromoog and features many more open-system features not included on the Micro, such as glide output voltage on-off, ribbon control voltage routing, and keyboard triggering control. Norlin Music. 7373 N. Cicero Ave., Lincolnwood, IL. 60646."
I have to say, I love the variable waveshaping on the Micromoog (waveform control knob that moves gradually from saw through square through narrow pulse waveforms rather than clicking to each individual waveform), and its looks like its implemented the same on the Multi.  Sweet.

One other feature mentioned in the spec sheet got my attention: the "... more open-system features...". A few Google searches later and I'm on Muff Wigglers reading:
"Multimoogs can be chained together. The back panel has a generous I/O system which lets a synth be a master or a slave unit."
Whaaaaaat? Chaining Multimoogs? That's awesome. The back page of the reference sheet does list the jaw-dropping number of in's and out's the Multimoog ha, but unfortunately I couldn't find any videos of two Multimoog's joined together. Dang.

But I think anyone who has been hanging around vintage Moog forums and Web sites will agree its most outstanding feature is it's "force-sensitive" keyboard, now more commonly known as pressure sensitivity. A nice - and rare - feature for a late 1970s synthesizer.

As such, the Multimoog's pressure sensitivity played prominently in the Multimoog's advertising campaigns. Chick Corea called it "a very expressive addition". And the


There are a number of Multimoog video demos on Youtube that show off it's pressure sensitivity nicely. I'll end the blog post with this one. What a lovely growl that Moog filter creates...



Yum!

Tuesday, September 26, 2017

Sequential Circuits "Choice of the month" ad, International Musician and Recording World, 1982



Sequential Circuits "Choice of the month" centrefold colour advertisement featuring the Prophet-10, Prophet-5 and Pro-One from page 42 and 43 in the May 1982 issue of International Musician and Recording World.

Wow. Just wow.

I was doing a bit of research in back issues of some magazines for a lawyer last night and while casually flipping through one of those mags, this suddenly appeared before my eyes.

I've never seen it before. Ever. Time for a quick blog post!

In my defense, it's not in the advertising index of this magazine - a technique I use to quickly reference and log some synth ads. Another SCI full page colour ad that appears on page 36 *is* in that index. But not this one. There also doesn't seem to be a reference elsewhere in the magazine as to why SCI became the "Choice of the month" for the magazine. There was a "Special Focus: Keyboards" article this month. So, I'm guessing it was supposed to be related to that.

It actually looks more like a poster image that's been re-used for this "Choice of the Month"  image. There is no ad-title or text. And the image itself doesn't stretch to the far right and far left of the pages - there is white space at both ends. I've left the white in the scan to make the point.

But its a poster or image I've never run across. I haven't seen it in other magazines and I haven't seen it hanging on the wall in the background of any of the Dave Smith demo videos.

The main image of a hand playing a Prophet-5 keyboard is very reminiscent of SCI's Poly-Sequencer advertisement that appeared a few times in Keyboard Magazine from 1981 to 1983 (a long shelf life for any ad!). The hand in this ad and the one in the centrefold illustration are even playing the same chord. It was definitely an inspiration for Nicholson, the artist who's name appears vertically near the top right of the image (just underneath the also-vertical Prophet-5).

The rest of this wonderful illustration consists of a Prophet-10, Prophet-5 and Pro-One used to frame the main image.

While comparing the Poly-Sequencer ad and the centrefold, I noticed something. Did you notice it too?

The fingers are playing the exact same notes, but in the illustration, there is a lot more space between the thumb and index finger. It took me a few seconds for my brain to figure it out. In order to even out the fingers in the illustration, Nicholson took a bit of liberty (and warped reality) by adding AN EXTRA KEY into the octave.

That takes balls. And makes this illustration even more unique to me.

But it may be why the image hasn't been seen elsewhere.

Saturday, September 9, 2017

Roland D-50 "A new technology is creating a powerful storm...", Keyboard 1987


Roland D-50 "A new technology is creating a powerful storm in the world of sound synthesis" four page colour introductory advertisement from pages 89 to 92 in the June 1987 issue of Keyboard Magazine.

Happy 9/09 day!

I had a lovely 909-related post ready to rock and then... BOOM! Roland announces their new D-05 Boutique module based off their 1980's best selling D-50 synthesizer. Luckily I had been saving this draft of the D-50 four-page introductory advertisement for a special occasion. And I can't think of a better one right now.

(And bonus! I have a 909-related post ready to go for the next 9/09 day!).

Roland introduced Keyboard readers to the their new D-50 synthesizer in the June 1987 issue with this four-page ad. Its not often you get to see a four-page advertisement in Keyboard magazine. And its definitely not often you see it run for four months in row. That's a lot of advertising dollars. And then Roland just pared it down to a two-page ad and continued to run it.

Although Roland began advertising it in June 1987, its possible the first time that readers of Keyboard were introduced to its existence was two months earlier in Ted Greenwald's winter NAMM article that appeared in the April issue. The D-50 received top billing!
"For a couple of years it took small American companies such as Sequential and Ensoniq to prove to synthesizer players that there is, indeed, life after the DX-7. So it was a surprise to see the big boys grab the spotlight this time around with some exciting new instruments."
Ted goes on to write about Roland,
"The indefatigable Roland led the way with the D-50 Digital Synthesizer, the obvious highlight of their prolific new offerings, and possibly of the entire show". 
Side note: I'm not sure if "indefatigable" is a word, but it definitely described Roland's push of new gear both during that time period, and now with the announcement of so many Boutiques.  :)

The D-50 really did take the synth world by storm in 1987. Ted Greenwald drew the lucky straw and also got to write the Keyboard Report that appeared in the September 1987 issue.

Ted opening paragraph really packages history up nicely and is one of the reasons I love reading through old synth mags. He points out that MIDI was invented to do patch layering and talks about the "sonic richness that could be obtained by combining two" separate synthesizers. He goes on to write:
"While Sequential and Oberhaim addressed the problem by designing polytimbral instruments (the Six-trak and the Xpander), and Roland and Yamaha started packaging two synthesizers in one case (DX-5 and the JX-10), New England Digital gave the Synclavier the ability to layer four sounds, either synthesized or sampled, under one key."
What he was saying is that Roland's D-50 allowed synthesists to add a little sparkle of "Synclavier" into their productions at a fraction of the cost.

The three-and-a-half page Keyboard report gets into all the aspects of the synth including the basics of linear arithmetic synthesis, how the samples are incorporated into the synth, the effects (reverb and delay in a synth?!?!), and the front panel interface. On that last topic, its noted that programming can get complicated with all the menu diving, but luckily Roland decided to keep the tradition of pairing programmers with their synthesizers and offered up the PG-1000 programmer right out of the gate.

Ted concludes his review with some pretty good predictions...
"LA synthesis is a success, and we expect that the D-50 will be as well, even if some corners were cut to get it into such a competitive price range. ... An instrument this capable for under $2,000 would be a strong contender for Keyboard Of The Year even if it didn't include reverb, delay, chorus and EQ effects. In the coming months, we're expecting some of the factory patches to become as ubiquitous as that blasted DX-7 Rhodes sound. Keep your ears open".  
He definitely got that right.

And with the D-05 Boutique I'm expecting and looking forward to a resurgence in those patches! I was a resurgence in Enya cover bands using that Pizzagogo patch. And yes, I'm evening looking forward to hearing how the Digital Native Dance patch is going to be incorporated into synthwave.

Now time to enjoy my 9/09 day!

Friday, September 1, 2017

Roland Alphabetical Retail Price List, September 1978




Roland Alphabetical Retail Price List for September 1978.

I had recently come across this price list and thought it was interesting enough to share. Don't really have much to say so I'll just start typing and see what comes out.

Well, gotta say it's a great list of historic gear that includes price lists for Roland's early synthesizers, drum machines,effects units and a wack of other things.

One of the highlights for me is seeing the retail prices for the System 100 synthesizer:
  • S-100 Synthesizer System - $2,425
  • S-101 Synthesizer - $795
  • S-102 Expander Module - $650
  • S-103 Mixer - $360
  • S-104 Sequencer - $495
  • S-109 Monitor Speaker Set - 149.50
Also, seeing prices for the System 700 and in particular the Laboratory system is kinda cool.
  • S-700 System Synthesizer - $13,500
  • S-700L Laboratory System (Blocks 2 & 8) - $3,100
  • S-700M Main Console System (Blocks 1 & 2) - $4,995
The pricing for the individual S-700 blocks is also there, but because the list is in alpha order, I almost missed 'em because they are on other side of the page. 

Block 1 Main Console - $4,495
Block 2 Keyboard Controller - $650
Block 3 Sequencer - $1,695
Block 4 VCO Bank - $2,795
Block 5 VCF, VCA Bank - $1,995
Block 6 Interface/Mixer - $1,195
Block 7 Phase Shifter / Audio Delay - $1,150
Block 8 Lab Console - $2,565

Keep looking and you'll find pricing for the early TR drum machines and the SH- family of synthesizers. The RE-101, 201 and 301 Space Echos are also here. And those cute early Boss mixers.

And see those asterisk symbols by the TR-33, TR-55 and TR-700? Those indicate that the units were recently discontinued, giving us a fairly accurate date of when these early drum machines were taken off the market. Roland Canada's drum machine history page tells me these only came on the market in 1972, giving the three machines less than a two-year life span.

This list is pure gold.

Friday, August 25, 2017

Roland SVC-350 "Have a say in your sound" ad, International Musician and Recording World, 1980


Roland SVC-350 vocoder "Have a say in your sound" full colour advertisement from page 91 in the July 1980 issue of International Musician and Recording World.

No offense to my first love - Keyboard Magazine - but lately I've been spending a bit of free time flipping through some of my other magazine archives. That's how I came across that CR-68/78 ad I posted earlier in August.  And now I've got this lovely vocoder ad.

This ad doesn't have the same sense of humour as the previous one I posted, but I gotta say I find it just as interesting. Full disclosure - I own an SVC-350 and *love it*. So, you may wanna take my interest with a grain of salt.

So, one of the most interesting things about this ad is summed up in that ol' saying: "You can tell a lot about a person by the company they keep". In this ad, Roland has chosen a photo of the SVC-350 pulled out of a rack that includes some of their other rack gear - a guitar pre-amplifier, stereo flanger, pitch-to-voltage synthesizer, digital delay and Dimension D. Together, Roland has named these and a number of their other effects, the "Roland Rack" system. I hadn't heard this term used to officially describe their rack gear before.

The word "system" was a buzz word that appeared in many gear-related ads during the 70's and 80's. For example, Korg used it in their 1984 "The Korg MIDI System" ad that included their Poly 800 and EX800 synthesizers, RK 100 remote keyboard, KMS-30 synchronizer (a personal favourite) and computer software.

Oberheim used the term "The System" in a 1982 ad to describe the proprietary multi-pin technology used to get their OB-Xa/OB-SX/DMX/DSX gear to work together. They continued using it in 1983 when they swapped out the synths for their OB-8.

Even earlier sightings can be seen in a 1978 ad where the Oberheim SEM teamed up with 360 Systems' Slavedriver to create their own "The System". And it wasn't just in ads - just look at the name of some of Roland's early synthesizers like the System 100, 100m and 700. Or Moog's System I, II and III modulars.

One more thing I noticed. After reading the ad-copy over a few times, something was nagging at me and I couldn't figure it out for the longest time. Then it hit me. At no point does Roland mention the model number of their vocoder in the ad-copy. Its always just referred to as the Roland Vocoder.  It would be like calling your synthesizer "Roland Synthesizer" in the ad-copy of a JX-8p ad.

I checked the ad for the pre-amplifier that is part of the rack system which ran prior to this one, and its model name - SIP-300 -  is referred to multiple times. Maybe because there are other Roland preamps but only one vocoder?

Curious. Probably just to me. :)