$200,000 Synclavier Synthesizer Now A $200 App

arturia-synclavier-v

Arturia today introduced Synclavier V – a new version of the classic Synclavier digital synthesizer for OS X & Windows.

New England Digital’s Synclavier was originally introduced in 1979, and, back then, cost as much as a house.

But, because of its unique capabilities, the Synclavier quickly found its way into top studios, movie soundtracks and recordings, including iconic albums by Michael Jackson (Thriller), Sting (The Dream of the Blue Turtles), Pat Metheny (Are You Going With Me?) and George Michael (Faith). Frank Zappa even recorded the entirety of his final Jazz from Hell album using the Synclavier alone.

To recreate the Synclavier, Arturia partnered with original Synclavier co-founder and programmer Cameron Jones. Arturia tried to be faithful to the original instrument’s interface design, even as they added new ones.

“We even used part of the original code,” They note, “It doesn’t get more authentic than that.”

Here’s the official video intro:

The unique sound of the Synclavier V comes from its blend of additive and FM synthesis, with control over 24 additive harmonics on both the carrier and modulation oscillators.

Where the original instrument let you mix four uniquely programmed Partials Timbres in a Timbre preset, Arturia’s recreation has twelve, boosting your creative possibilities exponentially. The Time Slice engine allows complex evolutions of the sound over time—even several minutes if you want.

Here are the official video tutorials:

Key Synthesis Options:

synclavier-v-synthesizerTimbres consist of up to 12 Partial Timbres

Much of the magic of the original Synclavier owed to the ability to build Timbres (presets) by creating and layering four completely different sounds or Partial Timbres to realize massive, complex sounds.

With the Synclavier V, Arturia has upped the number of Partial Timbres to 12, dramatically expanding the creative possibilities. Since each Partial Timbre is a complete sound, that means that you can stack many different sonic elements into electrifying Timbres resounding with rich complex textures brimming with subtleties.

Partial Timbres are each compete synth engines

Each of the 12 Partial Timbres has two digital oscillators that combine the principles of both additive and frequency modulation (FM) synthesis. Rather than using filters to subtract harmonics from simple oscillators, additive synthesis builds up complex sounds by selectively adding harmonics in this case.

The Synclavier V goes way beyond that, combining these oscillators in an FM architecture where the carrier (main) oscillator is modulated by the second harmonic oscillator. The fusion of additive and FM technologies make for a diverse and unique universe of cinematic pads, epic leads, evolving bass lines and more.

Time Slices animate long passages

Time Slices allow you to specify up to 50 snapshots of the 12 Partial Timbres of additive and FM synthesis goodness, and animate through them over time.

For each Time Slice, you can set the volume, pitch, FM modulation amount, and delay.

The ability to set parameter crossfades of up to 30 seconds between Time Slices—over a total time of 5 minutes—makes it possible to create long evolving ambient pads and cinematic cues of incredible complexity.

Other Improvements

Where the original modulation oscillator was only a sine wave, now you can also choose sawtooth, square, or triangle—or graphically build your own waves comprised of 24 phase-controllable harmonics. These enhancements allow you to create outrageous textures never possible before.

Each Time Slice can now even have a separate FM modulator waveform. Variable bit depth between 4- and 24-bits, on-board effects, and a MIDI Learn feature are just some of the new options available in Synclavier V.

Features:

  • Software synthesizer playable through a MIDI keyboard
  • 450 presets sounds
  • Original programmer + original code = the original Synclavier synthesis engine
  • Powerful FM (frequency modulation) synthesis
  • Full additive synthesis:
    • Time Slice engine for dynamic additive synthesis
    • Additive waves for both carrier and modulator waveforms
  • Expanded number of partials to 12 (the original had 4)
  • Variable bit depths (original was only 8-bit)
  • High-quality output effects
  • Algorithmic reverb
  • Compatibility with the original Synclavier library
  • VST, VST3, AU, AAX, and standalone operation
  • Support for Native Instruments NKS format

Synclavier V is available now for US $199 or as part of V Collection 5. A demo version is also available.

40 thoughts on “$200,000 Synclavier Synthesizer Now A $200 App

  1. question,, since it is full blown computer should it not be called a program??

    an app is what goes on tablets

    Thumb up 13
    1. My thoughts exactly. Calling pc software apps began to creep in around the time of Windows 8 with their crappy store I never use.

      When i read the title i thought Arturia were trying the inflated ios app price scam Different Drummer launched with.

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      1. App is just short for Application. Computer programs of all types have been referred to as Applications since the dawn of the home computer.

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    2. I found this on the internet:

      A computer program is a set of instructions that can be executed on a computer.
      An application is software that directly helps a user perform tasks.
      The two intersect, but are not synonymous. A program with a user-interface is an application, but many programs are not applications.

      Of course this may be wrong. I’m also old and call this things “programs” 😛

      Like this comment?: Thumb up 2
    3. App is just short for application. People have been using that shorthand for decades. No need to get pedantic about it.

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    4. Cool guys launch apps, only nerds run programmes!… To be honest I wish it was an iOS app… I’d buy it then. It’s the same price as a nice analogue module or pedal… So if I’m paying out 200$ I’m buying one of those. If it was app for my iPad then I’d buy it because it’d be cheaper and I’d have a cool synth to mess around with.

      Like this comment?: Thumb up 0
    1. Yes, this is ONLY FM – NOT the sampling module!!!!

      So this is basically a multi-part FM synth. Not the mega fat sampler you might think about when you hear “Synclavier”.

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      1. Correct, this is the synclavier core module, no sampler, no sequencer.
        So, having said that, I may advice you to listen to the sounds on the Arturia site and try the demo. When you’re not amazed and satify with that I’d be surprised.
        The synclavie core is not “only an FM synth”. It has 12 partials each with its own individual frequency content (additive synthesis) and each with 50 different sets of those in time. In addition you can apply FM (or AM) each of these partials. With the 50 possibly repeating timbral steps in time you have a vector synthesizer as well.
        I played around with mine this morning and, theoretically, could now sell my D50 and Microwave 1 and maybe even the SY99 and instead run one instance of the Synclavier V for each of these.
        And allright, should Arturia at some point upgrade it with a sampler sequencer expansion I’d follow that too, but I do not miss it right now.

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        1. I am guessing Arturia saw no reason to include the sample and DTD functions because most people would be running it in a DAW – which provides the sampling and DTD functions already and much more advanced versions of that to boot. What they did was provide us with what was truly unique to the Synclav and that was its unique synthesis engine – vastly updated I might add.

          Basically, with your DAW and it’s DTD and audio editing capabilities, and a good sampler plugin, plus the Synclavier V, you already have the functionality of a fully loaded Synclav.

          Like this comment?: Thumb up 1
  2. Programs have been called “applications” for decades. Handheld devices don’t get exclusive rights to that term. On the contrary, I think we should call those things we buy in app stores and play stores “phone programs”. That will make us look really hip to the youths.

    That demo vid was very nicely done. Nice balance of info & historical context.

    I’m curious how this model compares to something like Rhino by BigTickAudio. It does additive and FM as well. I’m glad they felt free to add modern functionality and didn’t feel they needed to keep it wonky.

    Like this comment?: Thumb up 2
    1. A very good question!
      The sound creation in the Synclavier was completely software (and part of that, as Arturia states, is copied in their software). Significant difference between the Synclavier and this reproduction is:
      * The original had various hardware boards to assist in this, located in the instrument itself. You could play it standalone without the computer, diskdrives and other peripherals attached. The Arturia version uses the DSPs, DACs and Direct X in your computer. To play it standalone you would need the Arturia origin system.

      Like this comment?: Thumb up 1
    2. It’s funny but i never heard anyone calling programs apps before tablets and windows 8. Yes i know in coding terms you might say “applications” or “apps” but the general public/mainstream weren’t calling pc software “apps”.

      I used to code in assembly language back in the 80s. Bow down before me….

      Thumb up 8
  3. After having listened to the various sound examples on the Arturia site II’m impressed! It is yet another faithful reproduction going far beyond the average.
    One t hing I noticed is that a certain range of sounds can be similarly obtained by the Roland D50 and its many derivatives, as well as the PPG Wave and Prophet VS, which is not surprising since the Synclavier marked the start of an alternative way of synthesis and corresponding new sounds.
    Still the original synthesis method of the Synclavier is reproduced iin this software reproduction with an extension of the number of partials from 4 to 12. This synthesis method is capable of many more sounds than the range just indicated and appears to me somewhat easier to program yourself than the Yamaha SY, Motif and Montage range (due to the direct parameter access of this reproduction as opposed to the many-menu access on the Yamaha instruments).

    I haven”t seen it mentioned yet in comments or reviews, but there is also something missing from this first Synclavier reproduction, which you’ll find present in the software synths of Wolfgang Palm. The original Synclavier II (at least some of those, since it seems almost each oriiginal Synclavier had its own unique configuration) offered the option so sample sounds to disk, and load these samples as timbres in the Synclavier. They could then be played form the Synclavier and processed as iif they were created from scratch.

    Yet all in all a great Arturia quality reproduction of an awesome legend, still offering alternative and strong modelled synthesis today. I’ll get one for all of these reasons and, of course, since the Arturia software synths are usable stand-alone as well as VST

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    1. >> offered the option so sample sounds to disk, and load these samples as timbres in the Synclavier. They could then be played form the Synclavier and processed as iif they were created from scratch. <<

      yes the great resynthesis feature. They may offer that in a future version.

      Like this comment?: Thumb up 1
  4. Looks pretty amazeballs. Also a nice discount for existing Arturia customers that is good up until end of June. It’s going on my purchase list, especially with the recently added piano instruments in the V collection and looks like the VSTs are resizable now which is a big step forward!

    Like this comment?: Thumb up 2
    1. They greatly updated the UIs of all of their V instruments and they are a HUGE improvement from earlier versions. They are all resizable. The artwork of the UIs are beautifully rendered, 3D images. Very nicely done.

      Like this comment?: Thumb up 0
  5. I wonder how it would act as a Master Sequencer…
    *edit* yeeeah, ok it looks like they dropped the sequencer part of it… Shame

    Like this comment?: Thumb up 1
  6. that guy Cameron Jones crack me up when he talks, but the synth looks wonderful, nice to see a digital synth been recreated!

    Like this comment?: Thumb up 3
  7. Geez, I’ve been waiting years for this. I’m surprised that something like this didn’t appear years ago. The processing needed to do this isn’t that big a challenge for modern computers. I’m toked about this. Now with the Fairlight app on my iPad and this, not to mention all the other vintage instruments that have been recreated, I’m in vintage heaven.

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  8. After having listened to the various sound examples on the Arturia site II’m impressed! It is yet another faithful reproduction going far beyond the average.
    One t hing I noticed is that a certain range of sounds can be similarly obtained by the Roland D50 and its many derivatives, as well as the PPG Wave and Prophet VS, which is not surprising since the Synclavier marked the start of an alternative way of synthesis and corresponding new sounds.
    Still the original synthesis method of the Synclavier is reproduced iin this software reproduction with an extension of the number of partials from 4 to 12. This synthesis method is capable of many more sounds than the range just indicated and appears to me somewhat easier to program yourself than the Yamaha SY, Motif and Montage range.

    I haven”t seen it mentioned yet in comments or reviews, but there is also something missing from this first Synclavier reproduction, which you’ll find present in the software synths of Wolfgang Palm. The original Synclavier II (at least some of those, since it seems almost each oriiginal Synclavier had its own unique configuration) offered the option so sample sounds to disk, and load these samples as timbres in the Synclavier. They could then be played form the Synclavier and processed as iif they were created from scratch.

    Yet all in all a great Arturia quality reproduction of an awesome legend, still offering alternative and strong modelled synthesis today. I’ll get one for all of these reasons and, of course, since the Arturia software synths are usable stand-alone as well as VST

    Like this comment?: Thumb up 0
  9. Does anyone have a real Synclavier that can compare how close it is to the original? I know it being digital goes a long way to make this easier that simulating analog, so I’m hoping it sounds the same…

    Like this comment?: Thumb up 1
    1. I don´t have a real synclavier but worked with one back in the day. The original uses a hadware card for each voice, and each card have a variable sample rate for varying the pitch and give you different notes, then each card is analog summed in hardware. That is a great part of the sound, and I´m pretty sure they dont modeled or emulated that variable sample rate. Someone asked this question to one of the developers in an active forum but arturia never replied to that specific questions (but they replied a lot of questions before and after that one…)

      Like this comment?: Thumb up 2
      1. I was talking to a very knowledgeable friend about this while contemplating purchasing TAL Sampler (and discussing whether it could sound like a vintage E-mu sampler); he said that replicating individual sample rates for each voice would be impossible (or at least very difficult) in a softsynth environment. Apparently whatever sample rate your audio hardware is running at is what all virtual instruments must run at.

        In this case (and probably in the case of TAL Sampler), it won’t be 100% accurate, but still looks pretty great.

        Like this comment?: Thumb up 0
      2. Hi! Synclavier PSMT owner here. The problem with the sampling isn’t that you can’t model variable sampling rate. It can be done and as I understand it is currently in development. The problem is time, money, and equipment to make it reality. Arturia aren’t interested in sampling because there are already myriad samplers out there that are great and exceed what the Synclavier could do in practical terms. Ok, so you could sample 100k back in the 80s and most available tech can’t yet break the 96k barrier. So what? All that power is for naught if your average PSMT unit only has 32 MB RAM (mine has 64, but still…). And all that becomes irrelevant when your STM unit blows and you’re stuck with whatever you could fit on a 9 GB hard drive. While the sampling is great, in actual practice it was limiting compared to, say, Kontakt. The only lesson I wish would carry over to modern companies from NED would be ease of use. But we’ve evolved to the point that much of sampling involves getting massive sample libraries that someone else programmed. If you’re used to VSL, you would be very disappointed with the ‘clav. And if you’re more EDM-oriented, you’d be playing back drum and bass samples without resonant filters. Sure, you can add outboard fx that would do that, but you’d do so at the loss of “the SOUND.” In other words, you don’t get filter envelopes in the box, one for each voice like everywhere else. The way you would get this effect on the ‘clav would be if you sampled a source at 4 different cutoff frequencies and velocity-layered them. A marketable variable sampling rate instrument will HAVE to finish the job NED started and add at least a digitally controlled multi-mode analog filter to each sampling voice. Arturia and Jones and company can’t justify investing over $50k in “just another sampler,” and I think that is wise.

        Now, for the sequencer: Look, don’t be disappointed by the lack of a sequencer. The main draw for the NED sequencer was how easy it was to use. You dial in a sound, hit the track button, hit record, and blow yourself up. I remember using the Synclav for the first time after a few years with Logic. I was so confused, and then I realized how much simpler the workflow was next to the staggering learning curve of modern DAWs. And you can have up to 200 tracks of synths and samples. Super nice and convenient. The negative is that there isn’t one. Most of us are used to Cubase/DP/Logic/Reaper/Garageband/PT/whatever, so the real need is something that fits right in with DAW environments we’re used to. Why? Because it’s a pain to keep track of 32 tracks on the Synclavier, sync it with your DAW, and edit sequences in two separate locations. And on a real Synclav, you would do this via MIDI. A typical PSMT build would give you 32 channels of MIDI, allowing the Synclav to sit side-by-side with your other outboard gear plus virtuals. What makes it even more of a pain is that the ‘clav was conceived as a complete DAW itself. A typical PSMT build will give you 64 MIDI channels with all your externals triggered from the V/PK. In practical terms, you wouldn’t really want to divide that up between your DAW and the ‘clav. You’d want to run your studio from either one or the other. Most people are going with the DAW sequencer they’re used to, which makes a Synclavier sequencer redundant.

        Personally, I’d love to see something much more forward-looking in the same spirit as the 2nd gen Synclav design. First off, the audio: Make it 1-bit with variable sampling rate up to 5.2 MHz. Voice cards model the “old style” PSV cards AND offer modern accoutrements to include analog-modeled multi-mode filters a la Dave Smith (or Moog, or whatever) as well as sampling up to the equivalent of 192k and beyond. The synth voices: basically keep the same architecture and add the option of additive synthesis/FM up to 128 harmonic coefficients. Bring back spectral analysis (I noticed Arturia omitted this along with numeric input), AND add waveform drawing a la Fairlight CMI. The sequencer: Up to 200 tracks, AND it can host VSTs. Must include audio tracks a la Direct-To-Disk Tapeless Studio. And all that runs through the modeled voice cards so that song-length audio tracks play back with the same quality as samples.

        Hardware: Audio/MIDI interface that would also handle the DSP to take some of the load off the computer (think KYMA) and compensate for lack of 1-bit DSD compatibility. 32 channels MIDI in, 64 out, with two inputs and 8 outputs. 16 mic/line inputs for audio recording/sampling. And, of course, an improved V/PK with poly aftertouch–essentially identical but with a better keyboard design that can take more punishment than the original.

        And yes, I’d be willing to pay as much as $10k for that!

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  10. I wish they had done more more synths like this this would be a reason to buy the new v collection…

    Like this comment?: Thumb up 1
  11. Is it called a program or an app? Who cares.

    As for the Virtual Synth, I have owned Arturia’s V-Collection since v2. So I was pleasantly surprised when I saw they added a Synclavier VST to the line up. I played with it last night and, as always, Arturia has done as good a job as can be expected in digitally recreating a vintage keyboard. Does it sound like the original? Close, but nothing digitally modeled will ever fully match the sound of discreet electrical components.

    That said, if you were one of those that owned a 32 band graphic EQ back in the day and moved the 2k band fader 1 billionth of an inch and swore you could hear a difference, then any VST will drive you nuts. For the rest of us mere mortals, this is a faithful recreation that will be a very useful tool in our arsenals.

    As for the poly aftertouch keyboard…. there’s always the VAX-77. $3K plus $200 for the Arturia Synth and you’re at roughly 1% the cost of an actual Synclavier, and it’s portable enough to take on gigs, unlike the original full blown system. I say “SOLD”!

    Like this comment?: Thumb up 1
  12. A $200,000 synth is for $200? Not exactly. The original model was a synth only with FM and limited additive capabilities, like this app. It originally went for around $14,000 for an 8 voice FM synth model. It got to be in six figures when stereo sampling, hard disk recording, and other features were added. This app is not that full-blown system. Still this is cool. I’m glad they added the 24 harmonic option to the modulator.

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  13. According to the Web site, it is fully compatible with patches from the real Synclav. Does anybody know of any sources for patch files and how to get them into the V?

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  14. 199 euros is a waste of money.
    i’have bought it by mistake because i thought i would automatically get more soundbanks(NOT) after registering the product online.
    There’s virtually no volume or dynamic to the sounds. During 1 evening of studiotime it chrashed 4 times and even had to reboot my system because Cubase 8 froze up on me.
    Userinterface is over the top “spacey” and suggests a lot of tweakyness but it just is not.
    Don’t expect the real Synclavier experience, you will be dissapointed.

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  15. Any chance it will interface will the old Synclavier keyboard console.
    I have one.. and would love to use it!

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