JPS Harmonic Synthesizer – The Sound Of Jarre’s ‘Oxygene’ – Gets Virtualized

Jiggery Pokery Sound has introduced JPS Harmonic Synthesizer, a software recreation of the extremely rare RMI Harmonic Synthesizer. 

Produced in very limited quantities for a very short period in the mid-1970s, the RMI Harmonic Synthesizer is best known for its prominent role in Jean Michel Jarre’s Oxygéne. It was it was used extensively on Oxygéne (often through an Electric Mistress flanger) for basses (Parts II and IV), leads (Parts IV and V) and sequences (Part V).

The video demo for the JPS Harmonic Synthesizer is a cover of Oxygene IV, live on the JPS Harmonic Synthesizer and Combo 310U. 

Here’s what they have to say about the cover:

A recreation of Jean Michel Jarre’s seminal Oxygene Part IV, solely in Reason, using virtual recreations to replace the original RMI Harmonic Synthesizer, Eminent 310U and Korg Minipops used. The main saw lead is provided by Thor.

The aim here was not to create a literal copy of the original sound (otherwise one might as well just play the original recording!) but it’s more a demonstration in the spirit.

However near-accurate recreation of the Harmonic Synthesizer should be possible with some patient adjustments and a similar effects chain. The chorus lead settings used here are taken from video footage of Jarre playing the RMI, but note that since the exact volume curve of the JPS harmonic sliders may not match the RMI (as we had to guess and therefore chose to create a nice, sensible curve that works) additional tweaking by ear would be necessary.

The JPS Harmonic Synthesizer models the original schematics of the RMI Harmonic Synthesizer, adding some new tricks to fill in the gaps of, and vastly extend, the original feature set. JPS also includes an Acidman FX Array for quick effects programming, including the all-important flanger, and a chorus based on their Chenille Chorus Ensemble.

Sixteen harmonics may not sound like very many compared to later additive hardware and soft-synths which offer 256 partials or more, but unlike those devices, the harmonics on the Harmonic Synthesizer are not pure sines: each “harmonic” was actually quite rich in other harmonics. So what looks like a limitation actually offers its own benefits—lots of harmonics but with easy programming and tweaking, making using the instrument simplicity itself to create dirty saws, all of which contributes to the raw, slightly lo-fi and truly vintage sound.

In addition, the Harmonic Synthesizer included four preset harmonic tones. In the original instrument there were 4 presets on Oscillator 1, and 3 on Oscillator 2, plus a dedicated Pulse wave generator per oscillator. What is interesting in the schematics is that it appears there was space in the design for an additional preset on each oscillator. So for the JPS RPS invented an extra preset per oscillator. You now also have “Strings” on Oscillator 1 and “Complex” on Oscillator 2, both offering more saw-like tones with an improved low end from that available via the original Reed preset alone.

Features:

Two oscillators

  • Classic RMI Digital Harmonic Generators with an all-analog audio path
  • Modeled logarithmic, resistive potentiometers
  • 16 harmonic level faders per oscillator allow precise harmonic adjustment
  • New Shape fader allows the waveform to be adjusted from the bit-limited, rectified RMI default to a sine
  • Additionally, the original design of 5-bit generators can be adjusted down to 4-bit for an even more lo-fi tone, or up to 8-bits to provide a pure (or at least, an 80’s era) sine when minimizing the Shape control
  • Full analog ADSR envelope generator, with adjustable curves
  • Note Off triggering option for Oscillator 2 allows you to play the note with an AHD envelope after it has been released
  • Oscillator Filter, Octave Select and Tuning, and Volume level
  • Oscillator 1 can now directly Ring Modulate Oscillator 2
  • Independent oscillator panning
  • Mono Retrigger, Mono Legato, and Polyphonic voicing options. (Up to 64 voices can be set, but they recommend 6-12 voices)
  • Up to 8x oversampling removes aliasing

Multiple Presets

  • Use the harmonic generators directly by adjusting the harmonic faders, or via presets. Multiple presets can be used simultaneously
  • Modeled parallel resistor network
  • Oscillator 1 features a Pulse generator, the four original RMI presets, plus a new and exclusive preset, “Strings”
  • Oscillator 2 can be Synced to Oscillator 1, and you can select from a Pulse generator, three original RMI presets, plus another new and exclusive preset, “Complex”

Tremulant Modulation

  • Separately adjustable vibrato and tremolo
  • Syncable or free-running, mono or polyphonic LFO
  • Additional CV LFO inputs can be used to over-ride the internal LFO to those targets. Combinator presets for Malstrom LFO output and a selection of third-party LFO devices are included

Automatic Sequencer/Arpeggiator

  • Both of the RMI sequencer modes, “Up” and “Random”, are available, and for the JPS can be free-running or synced, with key hold (which in the original keyboard was obtained by literally shoving wooden sticks above the keys and into the case to hold them down!) and they also added a polyphonic gated mode!

Noise Modulation

  • Colour-adjustable noise generator (pink to white) which can be used to frequency modulate the oscillators for a wide range of classic noise effects like percussion, traps, wind and thunder

Dynamic Filter

  • The RMI Filter is modeled using an advanced Zero-Delay Feedback analog filter, and supplies mixable Low-, Band- and High-Pass outputs
  • Q/Resonance amount
  • A Filter Frequency control has been added for more precise operation
  • Sinusoidal LFO modulation (with external LFO over-ride option)
  • Up/Down envelope sweep, with adjustable curve
  • Oscillator 2 can be internally routed to the filter
  • The original monophonic external audio input into the filter on the Oscillator 1 channel is also available

Pitch-Bend

  • The RMI features both portamento and an attack-envelope shaped pitch-bend with adjustable curve
  • The JPS adds a pitch-wheel with a dual-direction range setting on each oscillator for complex and unique pitch-bend range programming; send Osc 1 pitch UP and Osc 2 pitch DOWN with just a pitch wheel up movement!

Everything Automation­™! (CV Galore!)

  • All front panel controls can be automated via sequencer and Remote™, and there is a CV input for all the Harmonic Synthesizer controls, including dedicated LFO inputs to over-ride the internal LFO to the five internal LFO targets

JPS Harmonic Synthesizer is available now in the Propellerhead Store for US $79.

21 thoughts on “JPS Harmonic Synthesizer – The Sound Of Jarre’s ‘Oxygene’ – Gets Virtualized

    1. As opposed to what? Pirate copies of old versions of Abelton, Cubase or Pro Tools? Its probably the lack of cracked versions of Reason 6 upwards that make people bitter.

      1. Hey Deezo, you are spot on. Totally agree with your statement.
        What amazes me the most though that dajebus’s comment got so many ignorant ticks of approvals…

      2. It has nothing to do with piracy. As opposed to VST and AU, Reason’s plugins just do not work in any other host (Ableton, Cubase,Pro Tools or FL Studio). Most of us does not run Reason and wouldn’t even buy it just to run plugins via Rewire. Is this what makes you bitter?

    2. Reason rocks! I’ve spent plenty on Rack Extensions and I’m going to purchase this one.
      On another note, I actually pay for my software.

  1. love the work!… the sound is “almost perfect!” … maybe some small detunings here and there ….
    I remember in the old days Reason as one of my first and main tools to have virtual instruments inside the computer. Sometimes I want to return to that simple and fun way to do things inside that app and these demo probes that for sure I’ll be fun.

  2. As rare a synth as a Reason user today ????
    The chorus sound is the same as in the “live in your living room” but not the same as the one in the original track from 1976

  3. I’m enjoying all the butt hurt comments made by non reason users about JP releasing this synth as an RE only. I’m sure JP did this so that they can actually make money from legitimate paid for copies of their work. Not much chance of it being stolen to be used on a cracked version of Reason. 😀 😀 At the end of the day, the vast majority of music listeners don’t give AF as to what DAW they are listing to. Keep all the negative comments flowing. I’m enjoying reading them.

  4. JPS harmonic-synthesizer reminds me of that good old Gotye – State of the art video clip of that cool organ, same time know it’s a synth though just the look of the layout and from what I’ve heard when trailing the RE reminds me of this.

    It’s a treasure for sure, can’t blame people who are not using Reason for been jelly we get another good synth for our Reason rack. The thing is Reason has dropped in price over the years, I started with Reason 4 and I remember paying $760 for it at the time and with the updates I’ve bought I know I’ve paid about $1400 or so.

    Anyone new to Reason since the Rack extensions where introduced would of saved a lot of money and not to mention even got a few free Rack extensions and enough sounds to last for years. (while I can understand if you already have bought Vst format and see it in Rack format for $X amount, why some may be bitter, but there are many of Rack Extensions and you can trail the RE and give them a go for free for about 1 month)

    I’m not at all bitter, just pointing out the fact that some new to buying Reason are getting a fantastic deal, that said I don’t really regret paying for the updates when I’m seeing all the end product of a Amazing music tool.

    Trail it, see if it’s for you if you’re curious, no need to hate software developers efforts to give us options when it comes to recording your music.

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