The Ambika is a fantastic little synth with a huge amount of power at a relatively low price. It can be six-part multi-timbral or, as I'm using it here, polyphonic. (Though, if you look carefully, I forgot to switch voice six to the same setting so this is five note polyphony!)
If you have the money, I can definitely recommend the Ambika. It holds its own against synths that cost four or five times as much. Seriously wild.
Yesterday, I caught the train up to lovely, leafy Sheffield and had fun wandering around Synthfest UK 2016.
Now, pretty obviously, there were many synthesizers there. Rare old analogue beasts like this EMS Synthi:
And the latest digital doodads like this nifty Modal hunk:
There were three areas, all of them packed with geeks playing and prodding and eyeing the stacks of modules available for sale. I had a play on the above Modal synth as well as fiddling with various modular setups as I passed. It was just *beautiful* to be able to see so much gear, much of it esoteric, in one place and there to use.
I felt a bit stunned, to be honest and I'm sure more than a few fellow geeks I passed had the same glazed expression. We were like tiny, tiny children who'd been let into a toyshop and told we could play with anything. Where do you start?
The main hall was filled with the most incredible burbling, bleeping, warbling cacophony of sound. It sounded like Bebe and Louis Barron scoring a Krell riot.
The most popular bits of gear had lengthy queues of fidgety suitors, the least popular had a couple of people sitting behind a table, issuing the occasional desultory squawk.
I got to meet a couple of Sound On Sound peeps which was lovely, actually putting faces to names. We had lunch and ranted about various things but I admit, I indulged in a lot of shop talk because, hey, music tech geeks! I couldn't resist!
Then, later, I bumped into my old mate Stephen Bennett who I know from waaay back when I was living in Norwich. And he introduced me to his mate Jarrod, from I Monster. We coffeed and, again, argued vigorously about music tech. It was lovely to catch up with Stephen and meet Jarrod. Got to love someone who can appreciate a fine organ.
Then, back upstairs and back to the stridulations and twiddling. Oh, so much twiddling.
By the time I left, I was knackered and slightly deaf thanks to some geezer doing really heavy tweaking of the Oberheim at the GForce booth. But I was very happy to have been at such a vibrant event, crammed with gear and geeks. There's a Flickr gallery here that will give a tiny slice of the day.
I wonder what they'll do for Synthfest UK 2017? :-O
I spent the evening mucking around with my new D1 and it really is a beast. I would say, in some ways, it beats my Voyager for sheer sound design capabilities and it even gives my modular serious competition.
The key is that there is very little to no menu diving. Little things like trigger type, multi or single - that's a menu function on my Voyager but a front panel button on my D1. Which means, it's eminently tweakable while I'm playing.
It also helps that everything is very logically and ergonomically laid out. The VCO section is beautifully simple and accessible, the same with the filter. This is crucial, not just when you're building a new patch but for those mid-song tweak times where you want 32' for a break or need to switch in some nasty digital cross mod.
So far, I've been so spoilt with the complexities of the D1 that I've spent little time evaluating it's less convoluted sounds. But I have worked on a couple of 2 and 1 VCO patches and it does stand up to scrutiny here too. Some synths rely on baroque modulation matrices to cover up what is actually quite a thin and uninspiring sound. Not the D1. Just set up one oscillator, sawtooth or square, filter wide open and you will love that sound.
My favourite patches so far are, however, the batshit crazy insane 3 VCO ones where each VCO is modulated by it's own LFO / envelope and there's FM mod going on and there's filter mod too. With the D1, it's possible to construct buzzing, swarming terrors that ooze and wobble, reel and collapse. But oh so beautifully!