Vintage Synths (a flashback my story)

The First Workstation Synth I used and learned MIDI Sequencing and Electronic Music from... the Ensoniq VFX-SD ... thank you so much...

Music Production … Studio Production … Audio Engineering… Music Technology… Synthesis … these has  always been a passion for me and time after time I keep on searching for the best and producing the best results I could possibly get from what tools are available to me.  It all started in 1991, when I met an American professor at Silliman University in the Philippines when he brought with him the first workstation keyboard I came across in my life… the Ensoniq VFX-SD.  Big thanks to Prof. Danford Byrens who introduced electronic music to me and synthesis.  I did from cover to cover read the operations manual of the Ensoniq for about 6 months and trained myself to sequence in MIDI using 24 tracks on its on board sequencer.  This was the only workstation keyboard I know which does 24 tracks on board as a sequencer, the quantization was not as accurate as computer sequencing softwares now a days but the sound up to this time is amazing. Polyphony was a problem as well because it limits the number of instruments you can add up to that sound you want and the layers you love (if you know what I mean). It was 21 then upgraded to 32 voice polyphony meaning when you have 33 fingers in total when you played the 33rd note at the same time it will not sound.   As well as note capacity… the saving was done using a floppy disk as well.   I then progressed to find local studios to record my vocals on a four track tape recorder (analog) then progressed to digital recording to a four track MINI DISC Sony Recorder.   Later, got hold of a Korg O1W/FD (floppy drive) synthesizer sequencer (not mine) and same thing limited to 16 sequencing tracks and the piano sounds were not as good as the Ensoniq.  Oscillators – 48 MB ROM using AI2 synthesis system (digital). 32  sounds, 32 oscillators (single mode); 16 sounds, 32 oscillators (double mode). from Vintage Synth Explorer.  Because I was facinated with the sounds of the Ensoniq there was a time when I got to use an Ensoniq TS10 and TS12 these are samplers this time which got far superior sound quality than the VFX and the KORG o1W/FD.  There was a Songwriting Competition in my City and the Radio Station who was sponsoring that event asked me to be their musical arranger and director so this time I again explored to use a Yamaha SY85 sequencer and an SY99.  I couldn’t afford to buy one for myself so, my technique was to be friends with  the sales/store manager and sales staff so they let me play on their display synths and samplers. Everytime I was in the malls I  got my floppy disk collections and loaded my own sound patches that I’ve created and played my compositions.   It was a songwriters/musicians struggle until I got hold of my own Roland MC50 sequencer which was slightly cheaper than the workstation keyboard.  Then a friend got into trouble with debts and sold/swap with me his Roland XP50 workstation keyboard.  This was 2nd hand but it was mine… and he did an album using that workstation (Freestyle Band)  as well as me (Vangel and Rico)… along with Cool Edit and a Pentium 3 PC… hahaha…  I looked after that workstation and did a lot of projects with it and when I left to UK my brother unfortunately left this keyboard in a taxi cab and we never got it back and never had found it again.  What a heartache when you loose something you have worked hard for … for years… the lesson was know that,  ” Other people won’t care and value things if they didn’t work hard for it … and sacrifice for it  ”  for me it was a treasure but for them it was just a synth forgotten.   Anyway…

I got a loan in UK,  a car and guess what ?  A Korg Triton Extreme 76 keys… wow brand new a dream come true… two sets of monitor speakers from M-audio and a condenser mic.  And while playing live on weekends I got to use a Yamaha Motif XS workstation keyboard… Also, this time the sequencing was done using a combination of two popular platforms used in the USA and the EUROPE and the world.  Which is Pro tools and Cubase.  I still kept my synth and used it as a controller keyboard for projects but over all… I guess I did travelled a long way with Synthesis, Electronic Music Production and Studio Production. I hope you got something out of this learning experience …enjoy the journey…


2 responses to “Vintage Synths (a flashback my story)

  1. G. Konstantinidis

    It’s very important that you can find nowadays on ebay and other online stores a lot of hardware synths in very cheap prices!

  2. Ya theres a lot of them you can get from ebay… and the list is so long I still want to get hold of an Ensoniq VFX SD or the SD1. or even the TS10 or TS12 they are just top synths and workstations. I have started from the vintage synths and the Yamaha DX7 has the best electric piano so far… Kurzweil Micropiano has a good piano as well… Roland D50 for your Brasses… but now a days… the Yamaha Motif XS or SF they are top… the Roland Fantom G or X Series …. Korgs Oasys too dear though…

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