In celebration of our review of the new ARP Odyssey, not to mention the new Moog modular and all the other retro madness going on, we look at eight other synth classics that should be remade for 2015. And who knows? One or two might already be on the cards…
Roland System 100
January’s NAMM show saw the return of the Moog Modular (and the arrival of dozens of other modular synths). Even at tens of thousands of pounds we reckon Moog will shift whatever they make of it, such is the kudos of owning a modular system, especially with the word ‘Moog’ on it. No other is better… unless of course, it has the words ‘System 100’ on it. This was the daddy of modulars, the daddy of synths, the daddy of everything. In years to come, children will say, “Who’s the daddy?” The System 100 is, kids.
Chances of being remade: Evens.
Chances of being remade properly: 1,000,000/1
Selected users: The Human League. The only band that matters on the only two albums that matter.
When we rounded up our 10 Synths Of Synth Pop a year ago we noted the ARP 2600 as being one of the “finest analogue synths ever produced” and received lots of feedback from owners and fans alike agreeing with us. We never thought it could be remade, but the arrival of the ARP Odyssey this month (see p68 for the review) could make that dream a reality. The Odyssey is a cut down and simplified version of the 2600, which has essentially been made for the masses. Now Korg has remade it and its own MS-20 semi-modular, the 2800, is surely a couple of designs and the odd solder down the line…
Chances of it being remade: Better than zero. Let’s say 20/1.
Lucky users: Brian Eno, David Bowie, Depeche Mode, Jean Michel Jarre, Kraftwerk, Ultravox, Vince Clarke
Some might say “why?” And others might say, “buy Native Instruments’ FM7 instead” and others, surely, will simply disagree agree with us that this is a synth to be remade. But let’s explain our reasoning. The DX7 sounded great. It did real sounds well, and it did imaginary FM sounds fairly well too. And those who knew how to use it could make it do spectacular things. But those who knew amounted to, well, Brian Eno really. But we reckon that there’s a remake to be remade with better controllers – perhaps like those on that fabled limited run controller, or simply anything that makes the damn thing easier to use.
Chances of being remade: 100/1
Lucky users: Anyone in the mid to late 80s.
With Harrison Ford back for Blade Runner 2 we can only hope that Vangelis is also on board to do the follow up to this classic movie. And if so, we can also only hope that he brings his Yamaha CS80 along to the studio. This eight-voice polyphonic beast not only soundtracked “the greatest movie ever made” but won many a fan (see below). Which ultimately means you can’t pick them up for much under five figures these days, so it’s probably about time someone remade them. So come on Yamaha, stop making so many motor bikes, boats and gentlemen’s trouser garments and get back on the analogue synth production line now!
Odds of being remade: 10/1
Lucky users: Bowie, Bush, Eno, Foxx, Gabriel, Jarre, ’Werk, Numan, ’Vox and ’gelis.
To say that someone – Roland even – remakes a digital rack that currently sells for barely £100 on eBay is not quite what we’re suggesting here. But we’ll explain, just after we’ve sold the original to you. Basically this was a packed-to-the-rafters sound module that you could expand by way of plug-in cards. You could create sounds quite easily considering the interface, it had effects, and loads of polyphony.
So why remake it? Well it’s one of the few synths left that could do with a software remake (whereas with all the others here we’re talking a hardware remake). Imagine a 1080 sitting in your DAW with plug-in options waiting in the wings. With us? Course you are.
Chances of it being remade: 2/1. And probably by some 12-year old developer living in Eastern Europe, if one hasn’t made it already.
Lucky users: MusicTech’s editor and everyone who read his magazines in the 90s.
We’ve clustered a load of other Roland synths together (see below) but the Jupiter 8 deserves its own slot in the ‘ready to remake’ Top 8. It might have boasted just eight voices of polyphony but it sounded much lusher, much bigger and, well, just incredible really. It could be made again under the Aira brand but with System-1 limited to emulating monophonics, that’s unlikely until a System-8 is released. We’ve seen a new Roland that attempts to create the character of the original but we really, really, really want the real thing. Now, please.
Chances of it being remade: 2/1. If Roland doesn’t make this within two years, we’ll knock one up in the MusicTech shed, okay?
Lucky users: Heaven 17, The Crisis, OMD, Moroder, Duran, Dolby, A-ha, Talk Talk, Tears For Fears, Simple Minds, Devo, Flock Of Seagulls.
Axel Hartmann’s Neuron synthesizer was a brave step indeed. Coming at a time (between 2001 and 2005) when few were making hardware synths, let alone new ones, Hartmann’s synth was as expensive (circa $5000) as it was baffling. Using a complex model to create sounds from samples it was bloody complicated – indeed it took one magazine that reviewed it a mere eight pages to try and explain the process. But the results were superb (when you got them right) and the process lives on in software to this day.
Chances of being remade: In hardware? About 1,000,000/1. And certainly not by Axel who had to file for bankruptcy last time. However the time could be now as we’ve had a decade to try and understand the original so now we’re maybe just about ready for v2…
Lucky user: Hans Zimmer of course (but is there a studio item this man does not own?).
Various other Roland analogues…
The JX-8P, Juno 106, Juno 60… the list goes on. They’re all B+ rated items of studio hardware and we’d like to see them all come back. Roland launched the AIRA range to do classic hardware so could well do it under that monicker. But the company decided AIRA was for other gear (hence the AIRA mixer/Live controller announced at NAMM) so where that leaves the future is anyone’s guess. System-1 will see more mono synths but there’s plenty more gear in Roland’s arsenal that we’d like to see. JX-8P packed quite a sound when it came out but it was a bugger to program, so the optional PG-800 was a must-have for hands-on control.
Odds of being remade: Evens (we’re bound to see some of them, somehow)
Selected Rolanders: Blancmange, Bronskis, Jean Michel Jarre, Trevor Horn, Numan, The League, OMD, Pet Shop Boys, A-ha, Depeche Mode.