Synths that don't exist but probably should

Anything about hardware musical instruments.


Okay, let's get this one out of the way right off the bat. Roland will NEVER produce a "modern day Jupiter 8." It's never going to happen. Roland is a completely different company from what it was back in the glory days of the Jupiter 8. There are probably more web developers on staff these days at Roland than engineers who know anything about analog synthesis.

If you want a "modern day Jupiter 8," may I politely direct you to the Black Corporation website to check out their fabulous $5,000 ISE-NIN "Jupiter 8-inspired" module.

But what about a modern day Waldorf Microwave with a knobby interface that has double the polyphony and a lot of the features that made the Microwave II/XT such a great synth?

Whoops (as I say that sheepishly,) that synth does actually exist in the form of the "M." So kudos to Waldorf for bringing that beauty back to life!

But what about an "great-sounding 8-voice VCO poly for under $1,000"? Do we really need to wait for Behringer to release something like this? Oh yeah, Behringer did actually release the Pro-800 8-voice VCO poly for, get this, $400!

Okay, I'm really not making a very convincing case that there are desirable synths that don't actually exist in the marketplace.

But I still think there is plenty of room for an amazing-sounding 8-voice, 3-oscillator VCO poly with an advanced synthesis engine (4 envelopes - at least one "multi-stage," 4 LFOs, dual analog filters, 16-slot mod matrix, support for digital waveforms and wavetables, etc.) in a standard 3U rack/desktop enclosure with a large OLED display and oodles of knobs for under $1,000. Or maybe $1,500 if we are being gracious.

Is it really "impossible" to build that synth? Would it really cost $5,000 or more?

I suppose if Groove Synthesis could have built that synth they already would have. But that's the kind of breakthrough "moonshot" hardware synth I would like to see. I don't need gimmicky motorized faders, btw. Just high quality encoders (and not pots). If these encoders had lighted rings in the style of the Nord Lead 3, that would be "extra awesome."


Simple answer: no.

Because hybrid synthesizers require enormous development costs both hardware and software, require large processing power, and the expertise to pull it off.
<list your stupid gear here>


egbert101 wrote: Sun May 26, 2024 6:25 am Simple answer: no.

Because hybrid synthesizers require enormous development costs both hardware and software, require large processing power, and the expertise to pull it off.
I'm honestly not trying to be argumentative. But the best we can do is the 3rd Wave for $5,000?

That actually makes me really sad. Because as powerful as plugins are (many, many of which I use on a daily basis,) they leave a lot to be desired in the sound department, IMO.


Not to beat a dead horse, but if Behringer can release an 8-voice VCO poly (the Pro-800) that is surprisingly well-built for only $400, how much of a stretch would it be to add a couple of extra software-generated envelopes and LFOs and a wavetable oscillator for a grand total of $1,000? As I understand it, those extra envelopes and LFOs would cost "next-to-nothing" as they would be generated in software.

And a basic LCD display would have been super cheap to add to the Pro-800. The dumb, Prophet 600-inspired ribbon button interface on the Pro-800 is more a failure of imagination on the part of Behringer than a cost-saving measure. In fact, it might have actually been cheaper to include a display (although the software development costs to add support for patch names and the like would have been higher).

So I'm not convinced that it's 'impossible" to develop a $1,000 8-voice VCO/digital synth along the lines I have described. But it would probably take a company like Behringer with its economies of scale to pull it off.

But there is no way such a synth would cost $5,000. Not even the 24-voice 3rd Wave hybrid desktop costs that much. The Waldorf M doesn't even cost that much.


One further "data point." If IK Multimedia of all companies can profitably produce the fantastic-sounding "UNO Synth Pro X" with 3 VCO oscillators, 3 envelopes, 3 (?) LFOs, terrific-sounding dual analog filters, a 16-slot mod-matrix, and great-sounding built-in FX, for $400, is it out of the realm of possibility that they could produce an 8-voice version with a wavetable oscillator for $1,500?

Yes, the UNO Synth Pro X is all-plastic and doesn't include the most extensive set of knobs on its surface. But it still includes more knobs than lot of synths punching above its weight. And the build quality isn't "cheap" by any stretch of the imagination.

So I don't think this is that hard. It's just that there is a gap in the market between ultra-affordable monos and much more expensive polysynths. The only synth that currently seems to fill that gap is the Sequential REV2. If the 8-voice version of the REV2 had a better sounding analog filter and a wavetable oscillator, it would be pretty much what I'm describing. So again, not at all impossible. It's just a failure of the will, IMO.


Oh, one "further, further" data point. The Michigan Synth Works "Xena" reissue of the Mutable Instruments 6-voice analog/digital hybrid "Ambika" synth costs only $435. Yes, it doesn't feature analog VCOs (or even DCOs). And it has only one 6-voice analog filter per unit. And perhaps most importantly, the Xena is built into a small (metal) enclosure with just a handful of knobs above and below the display. So it most certainly is not a "knobby" synth in a "standard 3U rack/desktop enclosure."

But damn, the Xena sounds awesome! And even more impressively it costs only $435 direct from Michigan Synth Works. That's an insane deal considering how advanced the synth engine is and how good the synth sounds.

If Michigan Synth Works were so inclined, I'm sure they could build a VCO/digital oscillator hybrid in a knobby enclosure for under $1,000. And Michigan Synth Works is a tiny boutique synth manufacturer with none of the economies of scale of Behringer, for instance.

So again, it doesn't seem "impossible" to develop, manufacture, and profitably sell a synth similar to the one I am describing. Hell, I have a background in Product Management, know several Electrical and Mechanical Engineers, and more UI Designers than you can shake a stick at. So I might just try to develop something like this myself. You can always count on big, dumb, incumbent manufacturers to routinely miss good ideas like this.


Not sure there's that much of a market for it. I'm hoovering up a studio full of Behringer's monos and esoteric weird synths and have an insatiable appetite for more, but tbh not so much interest in the polys. There are PolyD and Monopoly, but for me I rarely play the Monopoly as a 4 voice poly. It's the other features that attracted me to it. Similar money for a PolyBrute as a Matrix, but the Matrix interests me far more than a PB. Same for a big poly - if I was to go for one, I'd go for a proper big one, as 16 voice is much more achievable nowadays. Then I think back to the middle ground polys that I had over the decades...Junos, JXs, Poly6 etc...they're kinda meh, and don't get my juices flowing nowadays. 8 voice is a bit middle-schmiddle in value terms imo. Then there's also the hybrid thing...probably quite a few users similar to me who don't really want to dilute their analogue with digital. I don't dislike all digital by a long shot, but if I want digital, then I want it to sound really digital and not be a pretend analogue ( so I buy Wavestate, Opsix, that kind of uniquely digital sound).

I dunno, but I get the impression the smaller Behringers sell well, as do niche analogue stuff like modular, but not so much the mid sized synths, whereas these 16voices that Behringer are going for are going to also sell like hot cakes. Prophet price themselves up into a very niche market corner. I don't see them as an example to follow, though maybe in the US it's different. Elsewhere I don't see Prophets taking over the world. :shrug: . I can afford 'em easily, but I refuse to pay NZ$7k for 5 or 6 fkn voices of anything. Wavetables put me off, so anything 8voice would have to pack in something amazing for me to pay attention. It can be done for sure. Just not sure the market wants it.


Addit: A poly OSCar would interest me absolutely. But then I have to remark that a Novation Peak is pretty similar to what a poly OSCar might have been, but still never made me wow enough to buy one. But if Behringer followed through on their tease from years ago to make a proper black'n'yellow knobby OSCar...I instabuy. A 8 voice OSCar I might possibly buy. A 16 voice OSCar and I bite yer fkn hand off in one loud gulp. :hyper:
Last edited by kritikon on Thu May 30, 2024 4:35 am, edited 1 time in total.


In analogue, a super jupiter 16v keyboard, with inbuilt programmer and any half decent Roly multi fx engine.


That's pretty well what Behringer have planned, except for the extensive FX. I'll instabuy it when it's out - I'm still dithering about a UBXa but won't hesitate when the Bupiter comes out.


IDK is Korg is dumb, but they already have an analog, 16-voice synth. It is called the Prologue and it is a flawed but beautiful machine.
They could make a "Prologue +" with 2 lfos, after touch, a bigger screen and more controls for user-created effects/oscillators. They could give it a mod matrix like the Pro 3 has... Perhaps even a state variable filter...
But I dream


kritikon wrote: Thu May 30, 2024 4:35 am That's pretty well what Behringer have planned, except for the extensive FX. I'll instabuy it when it's out - I'm still dithering about a UBXa but won't hesitate when the Bupiter comes out.
Was more thinking with the mpg-80 programmer style rather than jp8 layout.


OK. I might be imagining it, but I thought Behringer said they will likely at least do a desktop Jupiter, though prolly an identical version but without the keys, same as they did with UBXa. So not really an mpg type thing. TBH I dunno why they don't put FX on some of their synths - they're in the same stable as Klark-Teknik and TC so it shouldn't be difficult. I have a B mixer with the Klark Teknik FX and though they're basic they're actually pretty good. They showed they can do it with Deepmind. For some reason they just don't seem to like the idea. Probably it's to keep the cost down to as low as they can get?


I'd settle for a delay and reverb.
Probably cost, though there's may well be some not wanting to completely drive away the electronic instrument anoraks.

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