The Synths Of ‘Stranger Things’

Reader Nathan Bernier, a reporter at Austin NPR station KUT, let us know about this brief video look at the synth gear of S U R V I V E – the group behind the soundtrack to the summer sci fi hit series, Stranger Things.

Bernier caught up with the group as they were practicing in a garage for live performances. The video is part of a story KUT published on the Austin synth scene.

“I wish the video were more detailed and thorough,” notes Bernier, “but my photography department tries to produce short videos for a general audience.”

While the video doesn’t go into as much depth as Synthtopia readers might like, it offers an overview of the group’s gear, which includes some classic analog synthesizers, but also a lot of relatively affordable vintage synths and modern gear.

The Stranger Things soundtrack is available now in two volumes – Volume 1 and Volume 2 – via Amazon and other retailers.

20 thoughts on “The Synths Of ‘Stranger Things’

  1. I love this band!

    I like their ethic of use what is available. They have some good gear also, but its nice to appreciate even synths of lesser demand. 🙂

  2. Which of those vintage synths were “relatively affordable”? 🙂 amazing setup though and good to see this gear and people who use it properly getting the recognition they deserve..

    1. The SCI Six-Trak was… man prices are trending though. I know I’ve seen em go for as low as $400 a couple years ago.

      That sampler he mentioned is a Korg Micro Sampler and they can be had for around $200.

      Also is the implication that if something breaks down, they can swap and patch in something else that may not be the greatest.

      True though, there is some nice gear there as I would expect from the sounds in their recordings.

      1. Just about all the synths that they’re using are on the low end for vintage synths. I didn’t see any modular gear, vintage Minimoogs, big ARPs, Yamaha CS synths or Oberheim gear or anything like that.

        As vintage analog poly synths go, the Six Trak is about one of the cheapest (and most basic) ones around.

      2. korg microsampler is hardly vintage though 🙂 Im in australia so we pay a premium for EVERYHTING . a sixtrack in good nick could go for like 700-1000? I saw a broken one years ago for 400..

        1. He runs the Micro Sampler through the Arp filter thereby vintigizing it. 😉 I think they’re in a better market for picking up synths like Six-Track on a deal. My original point was just that I appreciate their use of what is available to them without having every piece of gear be the holy grail.

          I’m a little confused about the general criticism in some of these comments (not directed at you)… 🙂

          Are people living in the same universe that I am observing? I currently see popular music (in America at least) as proliferated by the Kanye West/Taylor Swift/Skrillex derivatives.

          Isn’t it good that a band focusing on instrumental vintage synth soundtracks gains popular momentum? Regardless of how much better you think yourself or [insert band] can do it, the point is that this should be a good thing.

          And yes, this band makes music besides the Stranger Things OST. Their new album RR7349 just came out a couple weeks ago and I think its pretty enjoyable (got the vinyl).

          Much success to these greasy Texans and their mid-range vintage synths.

  3. As a kid I grew up watching the original Outer Limits(amazing television music that inspired my own musical adventures), and at first I enjoyed the music in ST enough to tolerate snail pace of the show, but after enduring a few episodes it wasn’t enough to keep me watching, but good music aside from that.

  4. I’m amazed by how they managed to make all those great analog synths sound like plugins on the ST soundtrack… I very much prefer Benjamin Pinkerton’s sound track work for Dark Matter. Not the same style but much better use of synths IMO.

  5. Aaaaahhhh so frustrating – why would they NOT demo the synths they’re talking about? What a wasted opportunity – would love to hear some of the synths with recognisable patches from the soundtrack, or maybe whip up a quick demo of a few of them playing together!

    1. Really irrelevant comment.

      Whether or not you like the show or its music, the soundtrack is probably the most influential electronic soundtrack since Social Network.

      We’re going to be hearing a lot more synth soundtracks, which I think is great.

      1. Could also mean that in a couple of years the shows of today with the synth soundtracks will seem dated. In the end it’s not about the instruments used but how well the music and sound design supports the other aspects of the show. Besides: How many TV shows are there that do not have synth elements in their soundtracks? Or to put it another way, what is so special about this soundtrack apart from the media impact?

  6. Anyone interested in falling rice bags from china? They make such an interesting and rich sound. I wish they had loaded their MPC with such samples.

  7. Mid range for vintage synths? I was looking at the Impose mag photos… uh… Memorymoog, Jupiter-4, Prophet-5, PPG Wave 2.3, Polymoog, Roland SH-5, ARP 2600, etc… what’s your definition of high end?!?

  8. First of all: growing up on movies in the eighties, I can’t remember a single children’s movie featuring a brooding minimalist electronic score. The Spielberg productions all had orchestral or semi-acoustic scores. The synth stuff was mostly for horror and thriller movies. Like John Carpenter’s

    Second: Plenty of artists have been working in this style, and they do it much, much better. The ST soundtrack is nothing more than a cheesy Urban Outfitters rendition of a retro genre that’s been around for years.

    Some artists you should definitely check out: Steve Moore, Unit Black Flight, Smackos, Umberto, Vercetti Technicolor, Heinrich Dressel, Florenza Mavelli, Sammy Osmo.

    Here’s a good example (released 12 years ago!):

    Enjoy

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