Metasonix S-2000 Vacuum-Tube Synthesizer ‘A Revolution’


Usually at NAMM time, Metasonix head Eric Barbour is introducing something like the Fucking Fucker, the Assblaster, the Wretch Machine or the Scrotum Smasher.

His latest creation, though, is simply named the Metasonix S-2000 Vacuum Tube Synthesizer. And Barbour calls it “the most exciting instrument in the history of Metasonix”.

Here’s what he has to say about it:

The S-2000 is not merely a new repackaging of old designs. It is a revolution, and a game changer.

The S-2000 was made to be as easy to use as possible. Just plug in power, plug in an amplifier, wait 30 seconds for the real new-old-stock vacuum tubes to warm up, and start playing it. The built-in 400mm ribbon controller is instantly responsive, and needs no special treatment. No trimpots, no fiddling with MIDI interfaces or fighting with fistfuls of cables. The misery has been engineered out.

The simplicity might fool you. The S-2000 has enough controls and enough flexibility to keep the musician busy for years of sonic exploration.

Here’s an unofficial video of the Metasonix S-2000 in action:


  • two all-tube oscillator/filter “operators”, with resonance variable from flat response to deep oscillation. Waveshape is variable from clean sine wave to a distinctive distorted square/pulse wave. Resonate both for FM sound effects.
  • an all-tube VCA.
  • three contour generators:
    • C1 attack-release type feeds the VCA
    • C2 attack-decay type feeds the operator-two sweep and optionally the VCA, and may be set to retrigger automatically.
    • C3 is the same as C2, but feeds the operator-one CV input.
  • A built-in and highly-sensitive ribbon controller, which triggers C1-C3 when the ribbon is touched. Two modes are available, continuous open for pitch bending (theremin-style), and single-touch for discrete held pitches. The ribbon gives more than 3 octaves of pitch range.
  • By setting the two operators properly, it’s possible to get a range of classic synthesizer sounds. By setting them a little differently, you get sounds no one has ever heard before.
  • The S-2000 is made for use anywhere. It weighs only 1.25 kg (less than 3 pounds). Use it standalone, or mount in a standard 19” EIA rack (it’s 3U high and protrudes behind the panel only 1 inch, or 25 mm). It runs from a standard 12v DC adapter (one is included that can work on any mains power source on earth).
  • It’s built ‘like a proverbial tank’. The front panel is a massive anodized aluminum slab with legends deeply engraved and paint-filled, and the electronics are protected by a tough, fully-shielded steel enclosure with nearly indestructible powder coat. The tubes are very commonplace types, easily available from almost any vacuum-tube distributor. Metasonix offers a full set of replacement tubes, pre-tested and known good, via its distributors, at a very reasonable extra charge.
  • The input connection for the SpectraSymbol ribbon is accessible, so that any size SpectraSymbol ribbon controller may be plugged in and used – right up to their 1-meter length. Need more resolution? No problem.
  • External inputs and output are available. CV and gate outputs from the ribbon are accessible from front-panel jacks at all times. The CV-gate inputs can be used by switching the CV/gate selector switch (CV can be varied from 1.5v to 7v for more than 3 octaves of range, tunable with the front-panel tuning knobs, gate is 0-10v). The audio input feeds into operator one, so that both operators can be used as bandpass filters in series.
  • It’s hand-made, in California, by real people.

The Metasonix S-2000 has a street price of about $1,500. See the Metasonix site for info and dealers.

via automaticgainsay

18 thoughts on “Metasonix S-2000 Vacuum-Tube Synthesizer ‘A Revolution’

  1. Has anyone done any comparisons on these valve synths to plain old analog? Some how it doesn’t seem to me that the valves would have that big of an impact. I guess it couldn’t hurt the sound, but I can’t imagine it would make it much warmer… I’m sure I’m missing something.

    1. The valves add harmonics/distortion rather than simple analogue warmth. Like there other products. Check them out. An acquired taste rather than traditional.

      1. you can hear the tone is nothing like “plain old analogue”. As far as I’m aware no other synth sounds like a guitar through a tube pedal.

        1. I have an Egnater valve amp and basically any thing passed through it sounds pretty awesome. So I guess I’m just interested in where the Metasonic ends and the Orange begins. I can certainly understand putting a valve stage near the output as a build in overdrive circuit, but I’m not sure what it does as a VCO that a regular VCO doesn’t do. I’m gonna have to do some more research.

  2. It would be great to hear more actual sounds and see more knob twiddling than see playing a ribbon controller. For the same sounds you could get a drone lab from Casper Electronics, based on what I heard in this video.

  3. Yeah, this demo is not impressive in any way whatsoever. Ribbon controllers aren’t anything new. Does this thing make more than one sound? For a synth that “has enough controls and enough flexibility to keep the musician busy for years of sonic exploration”, it sure is a terrible video.

  4. I don’t think people really here would get this sort of thing. It does things that nothing else out there can really do. Sure many things make groany dying noises, but why not go balls to the wall with tubes? And give the guy some credit, he put up videos of an instrument that was unveiled at NAMM.

  5. This video is more about the orange amp than the synth. I guess the synth on it’s own sounds pretty weird and thin. Metasonix gear is not really about good sounds. 😉

    1. I cannot say anything about the sound quality of Metasonix products but what I hear in the video sounds like something you can just about get from any sound source connected to a suitable overdrive/distortion. I recorded things like this using a tape machine with a digital sine wave from an old Roland keyboard into the overdriven input stage, adding some tape echo, voila! I bet there are some qualities to tube based synths, but I have yet to hear or see them.

  6. It says “unofficial demo” I think people are overreacting waaay too much to the video not being good. I would just hold off your indignation until you get an official video. I’m glad to see an bad unofficial video over no video. We’ll see how this thing actually sounds. the controls at least look rather interesting to say the least.

  7. metasonix are not a company to go with if you’re buying on a budget. we have a d-1000 and it is rarely used, but when we need it, it brings something to the sessions that nothing else has. tube analog is an acquired taste and may well be simulated by other means but i like what they do.

  8. sounds like a dying dalek! I love it, but not sure what I could use it for except for special effects, and its a lot for $1500, but if money was no object I’d have one, just to piss everyone in the world off when I cranked it up!!

  9. Elitism. Trying to profit from the “tube frenzy”. Just put a tube plugin on every sound you use and get it over with. Or buy a proper tube processing rack and process the sounds through it. Even better – for the price of this, you can buy a bunch of old very respected gear that you can process your sounds with. I can guarantee you you’ll be satisfied. Very.

  10. What ignorant comments. Metasonix gear contains circuits that are way different from just “tube warmth” amps. Their oscillators and filters exploit the nonlinearities of tubes in strange ways and sound like nothing else. It is not about sounding good, it’s about sounding different. And sometimes crazy. I don’t have the S-2000, but the S-1000, the D-1000 and the KV-100. They are wonderful beasts, very organic, doing things no other instruments do. You don’t have to like it, it doesn’t fit everone’s ears. But it’s just plain stupid to dismiss it. This is hi-end gear of a very specific nature.

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