Rare EMS Synthi 100 Synthesizer Restored By Melbourne University


Australia’s ABC reports that the Melbourne Conservatorium of Music’s has largely restored their classic EMS Synthi 100 synthesizer.


When Leslie Craythorn, shown in the first photo above, retires as the Melbourne Conservatorium of Music’s senior technical officer this year, he will leave behind a rare instrument. Mr Craythorn has spent some of his last months on the job meticulously restoring their rare Electronic Music Studios (EMS) Synthi 100 modular synthesizer.

Delivered to the university from London in March 1973, the Synthi 100 became the centrepiece of the Conservatorium’s electronic music studio.

It was used to create Electronic Music, a vinyl LP released by the university in 1975, which was edited by Mr Craythorn.

The record includes ground-breaking work by Peter Tahourdin, Three Mobiles, featuring ocean-like wave noises, rapid-fire beeps and UFO sounds.

“It demonstrates that the composers in that 70s decade were very much focussed on pitchless, beatless music,” Mr Craythorn said.

The University had kept the rare synthesizer in storage for 20 years, because focus had switched to digital synthesis. With the resurgence of interest in analog synthesizers, students were interested in using the classic synthesizer.

Here’s a short audio demo of the restored EMS Synthi 100 in action:

About 30 of the EMS Synthi 100 synthesizers were made, and Craythorn estimates that only about three of the remaining Synthi 100’s are fully operational.

via ABC, Simon Leo Brown

46 thoughts on “Rare EMS Synthi 100 Synthesizer Restored By Melbourne University

    1. jack dangers from meat beat manifesto had one that he restored a few years back so i’m assuming he still has it…? i believe it was used (very, very well) on the album, R U O K ?

        1. …but I have to add that calling one “fully operational” is a slippery slope…. Billy Corgan had like 3 guys working on it FULL time…… not for the faint of heart!

          1. And isn’t there some Billy Corgan / Flood / Mute Record / MBM connection? Could very well be the same unit. /end total speculation.

            1. No, obviously these things are not that “portable” :), Billy’s is in his personal studio… he and flood are friends obviously, but I don’t think it has been going over the pond and back for Flood’s Node project! and I know he got his recently (last 2 1/2 years or so), …… speculation still open! 🙂

    2. On a recent interview one was spotted at Richard D. James’ studio, so there might be actually four operational units.

  1. I’ve have the privilege to experience a real Ems Putney before but nothing as complex as the 100. The cv & audio patch bays alone look daunting & would keep an artist occupied for years!! These are experimental machines & not for the faint hearted – no patch memories & no midi sync here boys n girls….. lovely:)

  2. yup, in a blind listening test there is no way you can tell the difference between a EMS Synthi 100 versus the Timbre Wolf! 🙂

  3. Jack Dangers bought his from Adelaide (also in Australia) in the late 90s, from one of the original EMS guys who retired (and died a few years back) here.
    I’m amazed to hear about this one though, as it’s at the Uni just down the road from mine.
    I need to ask about this and see if i can play with it, this is amazing news.

    1. I have worked my b– off to refurbish 3010 to refurbish the beast and to pass on the creative and interactive potential of the Synthi 100 to Interactive Composition students if you don’t believe me I invite you to bring your I-phones to Albert Park Lake (GPS monitored) a contemporary experiment where the GPS DATA would be converted to CV information to create a work that would emancipate you from your I-phone dependency. LesC.

      1. Not sure if that reply was intended for me but I wasn’t being sarcastic and I certainly believe it was a lot of work. It’s an amazing thing to accomplish and that you’re leaving the next gen of students with access to it is quite the pre-retirement victory.

        1. Hi Will, It has been a lot of work, thank you for that. (Now that I have had some sleep!) In the remaining months I would like to propose lots of different interactive methods to control the Synthi such as. pressure mats in public places, IR beams, even I-phones/I-pads as a control surface, the ideas are endless. LesC.

    2. Hi Will, thanks for your comment (in reflection a kind comment) “What a cool swansong project—-” Yes it was my last year, it was a year transition to retirement at 0.6 in 2014/2015 and in March 2015 we had barely got the Synthi 100 over the functional line, I gave a talk and demo for the VCA “both sessions were booked out” A year later I presented the first Synthi 100 concert live and (interactive with live musicians) at the MRC “two shows sold out” Engineering Heritage have awarded a heritage plaque for the restored 100 and MCM/MRC would like to have me and the 100 back in August 2017. Its all unfinished analogue modular/Synthi 100 business from the seventies. Officially I am a retired honorary but the reality is that I am as busy as ever! Check out EMS Synthi 100 University of Melbourne also Leslie Craythorn on facebook.

  4. The 3 “working” Synthi 100s I believe are, Billy Corgan’s, Richard D James has one, and the one listed in this article. Maybe 1 more even.

  5. another one in germany, studio für elektronische musik in cologne. Stood in front of it less than half a year ago, not sure if fully operational as it was not hooked up. looked well treated, tho.

  6. Hi guys, I did say restored to original condition and that’s a tough call. Also the restored to original count maybe only three but I will be thrilled if the count is four or five by mid 2015 LesC.

  7. there are 3 in the stuttgart area; one that belongs to wolfgang dauner, one which i think is not working properly at the hochschule für musik in stuttgart and one which is in the studio of the band metabolismus and in use a lot, it can be heard for example on the latest record “sus”

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