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.
- 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.
XV-5080 v1.25 / SRJV80-04 / 128MB - Roland's most
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
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
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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 noteâ€a
low pass and high pass filter, for example. As a result, the onboard
voices deliver more punch and expression.
Add a creative edge to your music by plugging an external audio sourceâ€such
as a microphone, CD player, or even another synthesizerâ€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
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.
WAVESTATION SR - PCM Workshop
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
PCM Loops : a step in the right
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
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...
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.
# of Samples
(adds piano, drums, sax, more VS waves, etc.)
# of Effects
vocoders, compressor, pitch shift)
# of Multisets
*Upgradable to 3.19, without EX PCM
ROM Program card with sounds featuring the new EX PCM
Analog Inputs, Balanced L/R Outputs
Multiset FX Bus settings
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 thats
built for comfort and speed. The original limited edition Indigo revamped
an entire industrys 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"