His latest creation, though, is simply named the Metasonix S-2000 Vacuum Tube Synthesizer. And Barbour calls it “the most exciting instrument in the history of Metasonix”.
Here’s what he has to say about it:
The S-2000 is not merely a new repackaging of old designs. It is a revolution, and a game changer.
The S-2000 was made to be as easy to use as possible. Just plug in power, plug in an amplifier, wait 30 seconds for the real new-old-stock vacuum tubes to warm up, and start playing it. The built-in 400mm ribbon controller is instantly responsive, and needs no special treatment. No trimpots, no fiddling with MIDI interfaces or fighting with fistfuls of cables. The misery has been engineered out.
The simplicity might fool you. The S-2000 has enough controls and enough flexibility to keep the musician busy for years of sonic exploration.
Here’s an unofficial video of the Metasonix S-2000 in action:
- two all-tube oscillator/filter “operators”, with resonance variable from flat response to deep oscillation. Waveshape is variable from clean sine wave to a distinctive distorted square/pulse wave. Resonate both for FM sound effects.
- an all-tube VCA.
- three contour generators:
- C1 attack-release type feeds the VCA
- C2 attack-decay type feeds the operator-two sweep and optionally the VCA, and may be set to retrigger automatically.
- C3 is the same as C2, but feeds the operator-one CV input.
- A built-in and highly-sensitive ribbon controller, which triggers C1-C3 when the ribbon is touched. Two modes are available, continuous open for pitch bending (theremin-style), and single-touch for discrete held pitches. The ribbon gives more than 3 octaves of pitch range.
- By setting the two operators properly, it’s possible to get a range of classic synthesizer sounds. By setting them a little differently, you get sounds no one has ever heard before.
- The S-2000 is made for use anywhere. It weighs only 1.25 kg (less than 3 pounds). Use it standalone, or mount in a standard 19” EIA rack (it’s 3U high and protrudes behind the panel only 1 inch, or 25 mm). It runs from a standard 12v DC adapter (one is included that can work on any mains power source on earth).
- It’s built ‘like a proverbial tank’. The front panel is a massive anodized aluminum slab with legends deeply engraved and paint-filled, and the electronics are protected by a tough, fully-shielded steel enclosure with nearly indestructible powder coat. The tubes are very commonplace types, easily available from almost any vacuum-tube distributor. Metasonix offers a full set of replacement tubes, pre-tested and known good, via its distributors, at a very reasonable extra charge.
- The input connection for the SpectraSymbol ribbon is accessible, so that any size SpectraSymbol ribbon controller may be plugged in and used – right up to their 1-meter length. Need more resolution? No problem.
- External inputs and output are available. CV and gate outputs from the ribbon are accessible from front-panel jacks at all times. The CV-gate inputs can be used by switching the CV/gate selector switch (CV can be varied from 1.5v to 7v for more than 3 octaves of range, tunable with the front-panel tuning knobs, gate is 0-10v). The audio input feeds into operator one, so that both operators can be used as bandpass filters in series.
- It’s hand-made, in California, by real people.
The Metasonix S-2000 has a street price of about $1,500. See the Metasonix site for info and dealers.