John Bowen’s Solaris Mega-Synth Available For Order

John Bowen Solaris Synth

Former Sequential Circuits designer John Bowen has announced that that the first production of his Solaris mega-synth is now planned for late September 2008, with delivery shortly thereafter. Pre-orders for the second series of production are available now, with a $1000/800 EUR deposit, and the $3599/2400 EUR final price.

Bowen is best known for his work on pioneering keyboard synthesizers at Sequential Circuits, but he’s also been very active creating software synths.

“While I certainly enjoyed many good years at Sequential Circuits, working as an independent plug-in developer for the Scope platform over the last 7 years has allowed me the freedom to explore concepts and designs that I would have been unable to do elsewhere,” comments Bowen. “Solaris represents the pinnacle of this development, and for several years I’ve had plans to turn it into a hardware version. Finally I can say, it is here.”

More details on the Solaris below.

Solaris Specs:

  • 4 Oscillators, each with several types available: MultiMode, WaveTable, CEM, WAV (sample playback), VS (single cycle waves), SuperSaw
  • 4 Filters, each with a dedicated Mixer. Filter types are: Ladder Lowpass, 24, 12, 6, dB, Highpass 24, 12, 6 dB, Bandpass 24 dB, Comb (2 types), State Variable 12 dB LP, HP, BP, and Notch
  • 2 Vector Mixers, 2 Rotors (special 4-step waveshape sequences), 2 AM sections (includes Ring Mod)
  • 6 DADSRs, 2 8-stage loopable envelopes
  • 4 free LFOs, 1 Vibrato LFO. Each has delayed start, fade in, and fade out times, key sync and Phase control
  • Phaser, Chorus, Flanger, Delay, Overdrive, 3-band EQ effects

John has teamed up with Holger Drenkelfort and Juergen Kindermann (SonicCore GmbH) to produce the Solaris synthesizer.

“We had all worked together in the development of the Creamware Scope system, which as a development tool I found to be sonically superior to any other available native ‘synth construction’ programs on the market,” said Bowen. “However, I needed a new and more powerful system to produce the Solaris properly. Using their expertise, SonicCore has created brand-new hardware and operating system software – there is nothing inside based on the Scope system. Also, we brought in a talented dsp programmer to write completely new algorithm code specifically for the Solaris. However, now that SonicCore has acquired rights to the Creamware dsp library, I will be able to incorporate their special modules as well in Solaris. I’m also discussing licensing other algorithm work for future dsp expansion packs. It’s my plan to have the Solaris act as a capable ‘host system’ for a wide variety of synthesis types, while still providing an ease-of-use factor.”

Notes Hans Zimmer, “If anyone out there can take what we love about the elusive quality of analogue synthesizers and add the inventiveness and versatility that we get from digital, it’ll be John. There is no question in my mind he understands that fundamentally the sound has to be true and uncompromised for a bunch of circuits to turn into a musical instrument. There are many synths out there that are fun and even inspiring. But it takes a certain magic and voodoo, a certain set of ears and sonic heart to build something lasting, something timeless.”

via GearJunkies

8 thoughts on “John Bowen’s Solaris Mega-Synth Available For Order

  1. I’m sure it’ll sound incredible, but I’d love to hear at least some audio demos that don’t involve a whole f*ckload of resonance! Or just something a bit wider and warmer sounding. Everything there was just very cheesy, grating and 70s sounding.

  2. wow.. this must be the dream-synth.
    im speachless… lets see what this can do in the hystory of synths, on future music composing and in hardware development, now other companies will have to level their standarts,will be amazing companys killing each other to see who will make the best synth with 4 osc, 4 lfos, 6 fx independent channels, if they want to play thats the way….
    just speachless :)looking foward to work whit one of these!!

  3. evolution creativity use of new/better hardwares and processing its the key to make better products and sometimes the released product isnt like we think it will be in the first place but they tried hard …

    but other companies a lot of time don’t think in user and in make better products they think in make money,whit what they came up is in fact worst than the ancestor product a lot of times…

    Solaris seems to be doing it right.. inovating using new resources, inteligence…with OS updates, new algorithms, floating point processor a lot of new interesting stuff…and of course a lot of horse power on its specifications. in the demos by John its show some pretty basic examples of what it can do…just make some search he will be posting more complex demos any day.

  4. Tim – thanks for the feedback.

    I suspect that Bowen’s synth is a lot more impressive than the demos suggest.

    Some guys, like Bowen, are great synth designers, and others are great at making cool demos. Maybe Bowen can hook up with a great sound designer for some future audio demos.

  5. i agree it must be a lot more impressive than its demos….and yeah anytime good demos will be posted, its a pre-release so a lot of stuff will shows up yet …programming in one of this must be wicked 😀

  6. Sorry I’m ‘late to the party’ here….


    Two of the first 4 audio things I posted didn’t even use filters (the AM and the Panning Mod). The other have resonance by request – people asking for ‘high res filter sweeps’….so I will plead ‘guilty’ to those.
    Of the other examples, the ‘Weird Rotor’ things do not have much res, but the Tube Filter does, of course (you can check them all here: But “cheesy, grating, and 70s sounding”!? (Well, the Prophet 5 PolyMod sound is from the late 70s, admittedly)….cheesy could be my playing style – and there’s no big production here, just playing the synth in realtime. I’m not a sequencer user, so I don’t have any typical ‘song demos’ done yet, but Stephen at did make a quick multitracked example here: .

    Hopefully there will be more posted after January, once the initial users have had their units.

    john b.

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