Date: Thu, 24 Apr 1997 04:31:55 GMT Server: Apache/1.0.3 Content-type: text/html One organist's choice of synths

Last update: 3/20/97

Current gear

So what synth attracted me first?

The time was 1990 when I first decided I had to have some kind of synth. There were lots of options, but the sounds of the Ensoniq VFX-SD were most attractive to me at that time. The main attractions were:

It was generally better for less "imitative" sounds, but did okay with some of the basic imitative sounds.

I got a lot of mileage out of the thing. At church, it played "contemporary" music with a bass in the left half, and various other things ranging from brass to strings to electric pianos in the right half.

I did a wild version of the Bach Passacaglia on the sequencer as my first "Switched-On Bach" style realization. It was easy to make things sound a LOT more flexible and less rigid than the original SOB (even the recent re-make has some of that dynamic flatness and rhythmic rigidity of the original), but the sheer whimsy of the original was very much my goal!

I also did some things with the synth on my organ programs at Annunciation, such as the Wagner "Pilgrim's Chorus" with some sonorous pads and biting sawtooth-wave "brass." In a room like ours, it was quite successful.

More Programs/projects/recordings with the VFX-SD

Current synths

A theft of the VFX-SD (from the church, no less) just before Lent 1996 forced me to upgrade. Fortunately, insurance coverage was good. Unfortunately, Ensoniq had just discontinued the TS-10, and the keyboards based on the new and fantastic MR rack were several months away.

By the end of the Easter 1996 season, I didn't want to be without something, and I bought a used TS-10. This is/was a very fine instrument, continuing the interface niceties of the VFX-SD with substantial upgrading. As it turned out, this was a very good move, because the fancy new MR-61 is very different, and like all such changes, there are gains and losses.

Yes, the new MR-61 arrived in late June 1996, with a fabulous 64-voice synthesis engine, but much weaker as a performance controller and sequencer. Its synth engine is deep enough that you have to edit it with a computer program (custom profile for Mark of the Unicorn's Unisyn). Its biggest expressive loss is the lack of polyphonic aftertouch -- like most synths on the market, pushing into the key at the bottom of its travel affects all notes being held.

Nonetheless, it is a fine instrument with its own awesome advantages, and I retain most of the subtle points I like when controlling it from the good old TS-10.

Here are some patches for the MR-61. These are easy to put on, since the keyboard saves them in PC/DOS format. Later I'll get Giebler's Ensoniq Disk Manager to put on some TS patches for you.

Under construction.... more to come