The studio's peripheral area is formed exclusively by synthesizers. Each synthesizer is a 'functional organ' and has been chosen to respond to a particular need in terms of sounds creation. Synthesis history is marked by several technologies and various sound generation methods which are all available among the current synthesizers present in the studio : Sampling, Sound Modelling, Wave sequencing, Additive synthesis, Granular synthesis, etc.

The Flagship and most advanced tool in the studio is a sound design system, probably the most sophisticated available nowadays. This instrument allows one to infinitely chain processing and synthesis modules which are all run in real time thanks to an external multi processor computation engine (without using the computer's resources). This piece of equipment has a 24bits 100KHz resolution and uses firewire and timecode standard with 8 MIDI channels. One of the most interesting side of this instrument is its capability to alter the sounds spectrum in real time or to perform morphing.

Instruments :

KAWAI K5000R v4.03
YAMAHA CS6R v1.61- PLG 100VH - PLG 150AN
ROLAND XV5080 v1.25 - SRJV80-04 - 128MB

KAWAI K5000R v4.03 - The advanced Additive Synthesizer

Kawai's additive synthesis system -- Advanced Additive -- is more sophisticated than that offered by the company's '80s vintage K5. A Single (in Kawai speak) patch is formed from up to six Sources -- 'oscillators' and each Source can be additive or chosen from a collection of 123 attack waveform, transient and loop samples. The more Sources you use in a patch, the less of the 32-voice polyphony is available, and dynamic patch memory will also fill up more quickly -- there are nominally 128 memories in each of two banks, but there's not enough patch RAM to allow you to save, say, 128 six-source patches in each. Luckily, a two-bank memory expansion is available.

Advanced Additive is built around the additive Wave Set, a collection of 128 sine wave-based harmonics available in two groups of 64 (harmonics 1-64 and 65-128, so use two Sources if you want access to all 128), each with its own level and 5-stage looping amplitude envelope. Further filtering is provided for each additive Source, in the shape of a 128-band formant filter, and this can itself be controlled by envelope generators or LFOs. Whether choosing to use additive or PCM Sources, each is equipped with a comprehensive set of synth parameters, including pitch envelope generator, resonant filter, filter envelope and digitally controlled amplifier. The whole works are passed through four effects processors (offering preset configurations from a list of 37 effects, including delays, flanging, distortion, and so on), reverb (11 types) and EQ.

There's actually a lot of parameters; fortunately, Kawai have provided some short-cuts, especially when it comes to managing the additive harmonics, their envelopes and the formant filters. For a start, no need have to work on each individual harmonic or formant filter band. Kawai allows one to work on groups of harmonics (labelled Bright, Dark, Even, Odd, and so on), and allows to work on groups of filter bands. The so-called 'Morf' display offers another short-cut, whereby the K5000R creates new harmonic shapes using four Sources selected from other patches.

There's just one other programming level on the K5000R : the Multi, of which there are 64. Up to four Single patches can be layered, split, or assigned to separate MIDI channels to form a Multi. There hasn't been so much variety in the world of synthesis for a long time.

ROLAND XV-5080 v1.25 / SRJV80-04 / 128MB - Roland's most powerful and
best-sounding digital synthesizer to date

The XV5080 is Roland's most powerful and best-sounding digital synthesizer to date. It can cover almost all sound-generating requirements and it was hard to resist…

Unlike older Roland synths, the heart of the XV engine uses stereo PCM waveforms and, with well over 1000 multisamples, the XV5080 offers more than four times the ROM of the previous 'JV' models. This includes all the JV2080 waveforms, many waves from the respected JD990 module, and still more from Roland's extensive sample libraries. With huge editing potential and literally hundreds of Patches, Performances, and Rhythm Kits taking advantage of these waveforms to take us quite some time to fathom the depths of this synthesizer.

The XV5080 also offers extensive sample replay options. I expanded the internal memory with 128Mb RAM, and use this to load Roland S-series samples, Akai S1000/3000 samples, WAVs and AIFFs.

Other physical feature become apparent on the XV5080's rear panel, which has two additional analogue outputs, plus digital S/PDIF and optical outputs. There are also two MIDI Ins, a SCSI port, a word clock input, and Roland's proprietary R-Bus interface for direct connection to its V-series digital mixers.

The inclusion of the RSS Algorithms is a big step forward. Also the inclusion of the Roland's COSM guitar modelled effects, first seen in the V-Guitar, make the guitar simulations in the XV5080 far more authentic than those of any previous Roland synthesizer or sampler.

The XV5080 As Sample-Playback Machine : Akai Samples, WAVs & AIFFs

Powerful, high-quality synthesis. Sample-replay capabilities. Generous display. Decent multitimbrality. Eight expansion slots. Good-quality effects, including COSM-modelled guitar effects. Eight analogue outputs. Digital I/O

I added the SRJV 80-04 Pcm expansion, providing the XV5080 with a batch of vintage analog waves.

YAMAHA CS6R v1.61 & 2x PLG150-AN

20 Multitimbral Parts
With 64-Note Polyphony Both the CS6x and CS6R provide support for up to 20 different voice parts (16 internal + 2 plug-in + 1 A/D input + 1 phrase clip), allowing you to produce fully arranged songs. And with 64 notes of polyphony, you can create thick-layered sounds and complex rhythm arrangements without worrying about voices dropping out of the mix.

Digital Effects
Effects are an important part of the sound creation process, and to ensure you have all the signal processing power you need, the CS6R feature an advanced DSP chip that allows up to 5 independent effects to be used simultaneously. Over 100 high-quality digital effects are provided, ranging from spacious echoes and reverbs to special effects such as Auto Synth and Beat Change.

Individual Outputs
In addition to their main stereo outputs, the CS6R have two individual audio output jacks, allowing you to process specific voices, or even the A/D input signal, through an external effects processor or separate channels on a mixing board.

Phrase Clip
Not only do the CS6R feature a killer selection of onboard voices, they also allow you to sample your own sounds, making them the ideal tool for dance music producers, DJs and remix artists. Both synths feature a generous 4MB of sampling memory for creating drum loops, sound effects and other phrase samples. Once a phrase is sampled, you can use the Loop Remix/LoopDivide function to create new sample variations without using up additional sample memory.

Multi-Mode Filters
The CS6R feature some of the fattest, most dynamic sounds available in a synth today. To achieve such an incredible sound, these synths employ multi- mode filters in their voice architecture, allowing a combination of resonant filters to be assigned individually to each note—a low pass and high pass filter, for example. As a result, the onboard voices deliver more punch and expression.

A/D Input
Add a creative edge to your music by plugging an external audio source—such as a microphone, CD player, or even another synthesizer—into the CS6R and running the signal through the onboard digital effects processor. For even more creative versatility, you can use the A/D input in conjunction with the PLG100-VH plug-in board to add powerful harmony or vocoding effects to your voice.

Smart Media Storage
The CS6R is equipped with a SmartMedia memory card slot, allowing you to store keyboard data, including phrase clips, SMF sequences, voices and performance setups, conveniently on SmartMedia cards. A SmartMedia card can also serve as an extra voice bank for a wider selection of onboard sounds.


Expansion :
The CS6R in the studio has been fully expanded with two identical PLG150-AN boards. 'AN' stands for Analog :the CS6R offers in its current configuration additional tools for creating warm analog sounds. By Using two PLG150AN Boards, the CS6R is capable of playing 10 additional analog modeled notes ( 20 oscillators in all ) that can be dispatched over 2 multitimbral parts ( 5 notes per part )in perfomance mode. See below for the PLG board description :
The Ultimate Analog-Synth Board - reproduce the fat and resonant sounds of vintage analog synthesizers. On top of its full array of wave algorithms, resonant filters, LFOs, and envelope generators, it also has distortion and a 3-band equalizer. Adds physically modeled analog synthesis to the Modular Synthesis Plug-in Systems. Offers 256 voices: from vintage sounds to the newest dance sounds. Tone Generation System Analog Physical Modeling: 2 VCO(OSCILLATOR & FM), Ring Modulator, Noise, VCF(FEG), VCA(AEG), PEG, 2 LFO, Arpeggio/Step Sequencer Generator, 4 Track FreeEG. Polyphony 5 notes maximum.


The wave sequencing
This type of synthesis was exemplified, in different forms, by the Fairlight CMI, the PPG Wave series, the Sequential Circuits Prophet VS, and the Yamaha SY22, which was designed by the Sequential team for Yamaha after Sequential's demise. At the end of our last exciting episode, the ex-Sequential personnel had parted company with Yamaha and had been taken under Korg's wing instead, where they continued to develop their concepts further with the Wavestation.

Crossfade to wave sequencing
The transition from waveform to waveform in Sequential's Vector Synthesis, first seen on the Prophet VS, was a simple crossfade, and although two of these crossfades could be controlled or programmed by the joystick which was so integral to the Vector Sythesis system, the maximum number of waveforms which could be involved in a single sound was four. However, the San José-based team's next development -- termed Wave Sequencing -- allowed up to 255 different waves to be involved. This innovation was introduced on the Korg Wavestation, which still featured joystick-controlled Vector Synthesis, but added the much greater potential for transitional synthesis that wave sequencing gives.

The closest precursor of wave sequencing was the PPG system of wavetable synthesis, where related single-cycle waveforms were stored in a group of 32. The user could pick a starting waveform and then use an envelope or LFO to move around in the wavetable, causing timbral changes as the waveform being read out changed. Differences between adjoining waveforms were fairly slight, so the degree of timbral change was determined by how far and how fast the readout moved from the original starting point.

In the case of wave sequencing, coming 10 years after wavetable synthesis, there was much less economic restriction on memory for storing waveforms. As a result, instead of access being limited to 32 single-cycle waveforms, full PCM samples were available, and up to 255 could be 'on-line' for use by an oscillator in a sound. Each stage in the wave sequence could be occupied by a PCM sound radically different from the one before or after it in the sequence. The potential for striking sonic change is therefore much greater in wave sequencing, especially since the PCM waveforms can be deliberately moved around by the user to contrast as much as possible with their neighbours.

PCM Loops : a step in the right direction
The Ensoniq VFX, while not offering the flexibility of wave sequencing, can give you a taste of the possibility of using a string of PCM waveforms as part of your sound. Although you cannot determine the order of the PCM sounds, which is strictly governed by the order in which they were loaded into ROM by Ensoniq, you can set the sample from where the string of samples starts reading out and how many samples will be included. There's no potential for looping each individual sample and setting how long it lasts, let alone crossfading between one sample and the next, but it is possible to set the string of selected samples to loop. Looping allows you to start to create rhythmic patterns which can be used either as the basis for a patch, or as an element to fade in and out via an envelope. As the percussion samples are all stored together, it's quite often possible to find some really neat loops in this area of ROM. Some of the areas with brass and woodwind samples produce loops which sound like the worst sort of avant-garde jazz, but by messing around with the start point and the number of steps in the loop, you can come up with some unexpectedly musical results, especially if you want to create sounds which evolve and change their fundamental nature over time.

Not only can the number of steps in the wave sequence be up to 255, but at each step the user is also able to determine not only the PCM or single-cycle waveform that is to be played, but also the duration of that wave and of the crossfade to the next wave. As a result, a greater degree of fine-tuning is possible than in any preceding form of transitional synthesis. Of course, this also means that it can take a great deal of time to create a really complex wave sequence.

The cycling of the steps still does not exhaust the possibilities of wave sequencing. Once the wave sequence is set, complete with crossfades and loop if required, the point at which playback of the wave sequence starts can be controlled by a variety of modulation sources. These include velocity, which can be set up so that harder keystrokes start playback from early in the wave sequence and gentler ones later on. This technique can be used with wave sequences which include harsher, brighter wave "The real power of wave sequencing is that timbral changes can be as sudden or as gradual as you like." forms in the early steps and softer timbres in the later ones, to create a natural increase in harmonic content on faster keystrikes and a gentler sound on a lighter stroke. Alternatively, you can set a dynamic modulation source like mod wheel or aftertouch to change the step number of the wave sequence. In this case a start step is specified and this stage of the wave sequence is held until the modulation source is activated. Then the movement within the wave sequence is controlled by the mod wheel or aftertouch, so that timbral changes can be introduced as a real-time expression factor. It is this type of facility which makes wave sequencing such a powerful form of synthesis, especially for lead synthesizer work.

More fun with the waves
Wave sequencing is only one of the techniques available on the Wavestation synthesizers. The instrument can be reduced to the simplest of analogue-style architecture, with just one or two oscillators playing back single-cycle waveforms through standard subtractive synthesis filters, but complete with specialist analogue techniques like Hard . However, the number of oscillators can be set to four, and then they can be mixed, either in the normal way, or by using Vector Synthesis via a live joystick or the Mix Envelope, which stores this two-dimensional mix as an envelope over time. Add to this the fact that any or all of the four oscillators can be set to play back wave sequences with their own filters and envelopes and you can see how complex each Patch can become (if the programmer has the time to set it all up). And since the Wavestation is multitimbral, it's possible to combine up to eight Patches into a Performance or 16 Patches on different MIDI channels in a Multi. At Patch, Performance or Multi level, the entire sonic result is passed through two effects, which are as good as those available on any synthesizer at the time .

Although the sales of the Wavestation series of synths never challenged the success of straight PCM-based machines such as the Korg M1 or its successors, as many other people , I would now declare the Wavestation to be one of my favourite Korg synth. It certainly has the potential to be an inexhaustible source of inspiration for real synthesis, allowing access to traditional subtractive synthesis, vector synthesis and wave sequencing.

The PCM Workshop

For a long time, the Wavestation range only depended on their internal ROM available for Wave Sequencing. The Wavestation SR (the latest type issued by Korg after the Wavestation, Wavestation EX and Wavestation AD) takes benefit from the Korg 01W technology used for reading of optional Wave PCM Data Cards. A software has been developped later when the Wavestation production was ended to help musicians in making their own PCM cards. This software permit to compile binary files into PCMCIA Cards. These files, once stored in the PCMCIA card, can be read on the Wavestation SR and Korg 01W instruments only.

"PCM Card Workshop" is the actual Windows program that allows one to add aproximately 33 seconds of new sample data into the synth : The maximum amount of RAM that can be read via the Wavestation SR PCMCIA Slot is 2Mb. The maximum frequency reading is 31.25KHz and the resolution is 16 bits in mono format. All Wave files can be compiled once they are saved in a PCM intel format.

The studio integrates this very interesting feature. Few PCM cards in hands, I can build my sounds and wave sequences into the Wavestation using any kind of external samples...


Wavestation Compare-O-Matic
This chart shows the major differences between the four Wavestation models, at a glance. The Wavestation SR look very small (only 1U rack) and very simplified compared to its predecessors. But its the most advanced one in the Wavestation family in terms of sounds storage, effects routing and considering the PCM Workshop facility.





2 MB

4 MB

# of Samples


484 (adds piano, drums, sax, more VS waves, etc.)

# of Effects

55 (adds vocoders, compressor, pitch shift)

RAM Banks



ROM Banks



PCM Card Type


# of Multisets




64x240 Graphic

2x16 Text

Pedal Inputs






Latest OS





Special Info

*Upgradable to 3.19, without EX PCM
ROM Program card with sounds featuring the new EX PCM
Analog Inputs, Balanced L/R Outputs
Multiset Names,
Multiset FX Bus settings

ACCESS VIRUS INDIGO 2 - The 'Silver Speedster'

The Access Virus Indigo 2 is a powerfull Virtual Analog synthesizer. It decimates so far all other sampling based synthesizers when it comes about analog sounds. And it doesn't envy anything from its true analog predecessors. I owned polyphonic synths like the Korg Polysix few years ago and I'm pleased today when playing the Indigo.
I found a lot of presence in this synth. My set of synthesizers would be lacking something without the Indigo. The Virus Indigo 2 is a fomidable opponent to play the best dance and techno basses, pads, leads, 'supersaws' etc. If the original Indigo was a Virtual-Analog Roadster, this baby is a stunning Silver Speedster. The new Virus indigo-2 offers everything to produce high-octane sonic masterpieces in a compact package that’s built for comfort and speed. The original limited edition Indigo revamped an entire industry’s concept of supply and demand. Equipped with a new front-panel, aluminum side panels and blue LEDs, the indigo-2 packs power, portability and the legendary virus sound into a stunning presentation with the style and substance

Recent Virus Series awards:"Best hardware synthesizer" / Future Music Platinum Award / Future Music Editor's Choice / Remix "Best hardwaresynth in 2002" / Future Music reader's poll "Best hardware synth in 2000" / Keys readers poll "Best hardware synth in 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003" / Future Music "Gear of the year 2002" / Future music reader's poll "Synth worldcup 2002" / Energy UK Reader's Poll 2003 "Best hardware synth for dance productions"

Specifications :

  • 32-voice polyphony with 16-part multitimbral capability 1024 programs (256 User / 768 ROM / 128 Multi)
  • 4 oscillators per voice. 3 main plus one sub [when all oscillators are in use, polyphony may decrease, but not by more than 6 voices.]
    Pure Tuning adaptive tuning (based on Hermode Tuning)
    Sawtooth, variable pulse, sine, triangle + 62 additional spectral waves
    FM [Frequency modulation] with or without external Input signals
  • 2 filters selectable as lowpass, highpass, bandpass or bandreject
    4 filter configurations (serial/ parallel) for up to 6 poles [36 dB]
    Alternative Mini Moog Style resonating Filter with 1,2,3 or 4 poles.
  • 3 LFOs with 68 LFO shapes
    Loop or Envelope LFO modes with midi clock sync
    2 ADSTR envelopes [T=Time]
  • 16 independent arpeggiators with numerous arpeggiator patterns and real time parameter access/modulation including swing & note length.
  • 98 simultaneous DSP effects: Reverb [w. pre-delay sync to MIDI-clock] / 3-Band EQ per program/part [low/hi shelf + parametric mid] /Retro Phaser [6-stage stereo phaser with 24 filter-poles /Multiple independent distortion/saturation/Lo-fi FX per voice, including multiple distortion/shaper characteristics and variable gain. /Chorus/Flanger with rate sync to midi tempo /Simple or "Groove" Delay [preset polyrhythmic patterns] /32-band advanced vocoder /Ring Modulator /Analog Boost for true vintage tonal characteristics

    Internal master clock that drives all arpeggiators, LFOs and delay times; automatic sync to external midi clock
    Advanced Modulation Matrix with 6 source and 9 destination slots.
    Complete control via MIDI (CC/Polypressure/Sysex) with "Adaptive Control Smoothing" for ultra soft parameter changes and no zippering.
    MIDI Tempo sync capabilities for virtually every time-based parameter
    Full 24-bit processing; 24 bit D/A, 18 bit A/D
    6 individual high quality outputs
    2 audio inputs to process your signals through synth filters, envelopes, FX, vocoder, FM, ring modulator, and more
    Flexible "auxiliary" model of internal audio routing for processing/reprocessing internal/external signals through the synth engine and and effects of other voices
    True Surround sound capabilities