Panoptigon Sample Playback Instrument Now Available

The Panoptigon – a modern take on the Optigan and Vako Orchestron optical sample playback instruments of the 1970’s – is now available.

Both vintage instruments use optical sample discs, which have concentric rings that encode the samples for each note of the keyboard. The intent of the design was to accurately reproduce the original sounds, but the 70’s mechanical technology gives the samples a haunting, warbly effect when played.

The Panoptigon updates the original technology in many ways, letting the discs be played back at higher fidelity, while still retaining the strange essence of the original.

The original Optigan program discs, which came in many popular styles, have been re-released, and many new discs, from both vintage and modern recordings, are also available.

Here are some examples of the Panoptigon in action:

Pricing and Availability

The Panoptigon is available now from Quilter Labs and its retail partners for US $3999.

via matrixsynth

13 thoughts on “Panoptigon Sample Playback Instrument Now Available

  1. The iOS app plus all 40 of the additional discs cost me like $10. More than enough optigan to meet my needs,
    versus $4,000 unit plus $89 for each additional disc. Went thru and listened and sampled about 10 of the $89 disc demos on their site, for me in terms of sonic use and fun I could buy 10-20 iOS apps that would give me infinitely more sonic fun and exploration than one of these $89 discs. JMO.

    1. Well said, about the immediate value and ability to recreate the sound via IOS right now. And I think you’re totally on point for many/most people that may like this sound in the short term but don’t need it around in the long run (outside of samples).

      I do think it’s worth noting, as someone approaching 50 that has seen a few generations of virtual instruments come and go, that virtual instruments are great in the immediate domain.

      But in 15-50 years from now, it will likely be very challenging to recreate the environments in which they work.

      Comparatively, I’d rather deal with hardware maintenance and repair on this in 20 years from now, and still be able to get the exact sounds I wanted, over trying to work with emulations and virtualized hardware to recreate an ancient app or VST.

      Not everyone will care or want re-play-ability in 40 years. Most won’t. I get that. So I’m not really arguing. I think you speak for a lot of folks that are just enjoying themselves and want to explore their possibilities.

      But I do think that a 18-25 year old someone reading now, should be presented with the idea that preserving how you create your music may be an important factor you in the future. Hardware is the most viable solution for that concern.

      1. Thanks for your mature thoughtful reply. I just turned 59. In my twenties I ran the keyboard dept in SF guitar center for a few years I grew up in the golden age of synths. No offense to anyone who would buy this and the discs at $89 a pop, but IMHO this is pretty much a one trick pony, again JMO and for me my ‘crappy” iOS app fulfills any needs I have for noisy lo-fi recordings. TBH if I need “County Fair” samples for its more fun to go the fair and record my own samples and tweak them to my heart’s content in Soundforge. Again JMOs and thanks again for your thoughtful responses.

        1. Understood. Not offended, and no offense intended. I think you are totally fair. And clearly, you have greater years and experience on the matter. Just felt like the right place to peacefully soapbox.

      2. You make a fair point but I’d wager keeping one if these going for 50 years after a fair amount of use would be less viable than loading iOptigan onto an iPad (doesn’t have to be an expensive one, keep a few spares around and it would be still way less expensive) and using that.

        I’ve had hardware, I wouldn’t fancy dropping 4 grand on this and expecting it to last.

        I admire that it’s been made though and the general philosophy of keeping the old sounds alive.

    2. Why buy a violin, and organ, a Moog One or any instruments when you can just sample it from a Youtube video and then play it in a cheap IOS app? Well, why go to a fine restaurant, when you can just stick something in the microwave? Why go to the park and fly a kite, when you can just pop a pill?

      1. Wow? Seriously?
        My Korg Triton studio serial# 000536 I bought when it first came out and I filled every expansion slot I think it cost me close to $6000, my 1971 baby grand was about $22,000, my Kronos X88 cost about $4,000, my bass guitars and guitars are worth 10-15 grand, I have a TD-20 custom setup that I added another TD-10 for extra cymbals that back in the day cost me close to 10 grand. I have a Jupiter 80, JP-8000, Karma, Triton Rack, Triton Pro, Triton Rack, TR-Rack, all the original electribes, etc., etc.

        Geezus, if I wanted to I could buy this new Panoptigan and every disc in the library, I could also buy the Schmidt if I wanted, the fact is I don’t want or need either. YMMV.

        As for the melodrama of violins and walks in the park lol whatever, feel free to spend 4K on this if you want and hundreds more on the discs, for a one trick pony like this my crappy iOS app satisfies all my optigan needs. Again JMO.

        1. The joke went over your head (its a Seinfeld quote). I also would never buy something like this and I love IOS music apps enough to have two ipads. But I also love that something like the Panoptigon exists and that people are still making Mellotrons and synths like the Schmidt, and I won’t be dissing them because I understand that they are not for me.

  2. I want
    This as well
    My children and
    Grans kids
    What wonderful device an investment in future weird tech and the passion the developers put into this is pure inspiration

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