In The Technofile Awards 2016, we implied that there are two ways to recreate vintage synths in software – modelling and sampling. However, that was then but this is now and, as ABC asked, why make the past your sacred cow? IK Multimedia certainly hasn’t. Instead they’ve devised a third way, by hybridising the first two, to produce Syntronik.
In developing Syntronik, IK Multimedia took the view that step A was to use their sampling expertise to painstakingly multi sample single oscillators and oscillator combinations (including sync and FM sweeps) from ‘golden’ examples of their 38 favourite synths and string machines.
The list of machines they sampled is pretty comprehensive, including, as it does, the Alesis Andromeda, ARP 2600, ARP Solina, Elka Rhapsody 490, Hohner String Performer, Micromoog, Minimoog Model D, Modular Moog, Moog Opus 3, Moog Prodigy, Moog Rogue, Moog Taurus I, Moog Taurus II, Moog Taurus 3, Moog Voyager, Multimoog, Oberheim OB-X, Oberheim OB-Xa, Oberheim SEM, Polymoog, PPG Wave 2.3, Realistic Concertmate MG-1, Roland Juno-60, Roland Jupiter-4, Roland Jupiter-6, Roland Jupiter-8, Roland JX-10, Roland JX-3P, Roland JX-8P, Roland RS-09, Roland RS-505 Paraphonic, Roland TB-303, Sequential Circuits Prophet-10, Sequential Circuits Prophet-5, Yamaha CS-01II, Yamaha CS-80, Yamaha GX-1, and Yamaha SY99.
Step B saw IK Multimedia inventing and applying its brand new “DRIFT” technology to the resultant 50GB library of 70,00 samples, in order to vary the phase, timbre and pitch, temporally, as a means of emulating the way that analogue oscillators behave.
Step C involved IK Multimedia using its modelling expertise to create circuit-level models of the Moog transistor ladder (from the Minimoog and Modular Moog), Roland’s IR3109 chip (from the Jupiter-8 and Juno-60), the Curtis CEM3320 chip (from the Prophet-5 and Oberheim OB-Xa) and the Oberheim SEM state variable filter, through which these DRIFted samples are controllable.
And there you have it, easy as ABC; but not wanting to make the past their sacred cow, IK decided that instead of merely offering facsimiles of the 38 machines they sampled, they would instead mash things up a bit by distilling them into 17 machines, some of which (such as the ‘T-03’ & ‘Blau’) emulate one specific synth (the Roland TB-303 & PPG Wave 2.3 respectively), others of which (such as ‘Stringbox’) combine the characteristics and samples of several similar machines.
Each of these 17 virtual instruments, though visually representative of the instrument(s) it emulates, offers a common set of controls…including a filter section that sports all four of the aforementioned filter models, plus a phaser, a formant filter and the SampleTank filter. This means that you can essentially play a Jupiter 8’s DRIFTified oscillator samples through a modelled MiniMoog’s filter, and a Solina’s DRIFTizzled oscillator samples through a modelled PPG filter.
Notice we said ‘and’, not ‘or’, as Syntronik allows you to layer/split up to four machines, making for some complex sonic possibilities.
But it doesn’t end there, as Syntronik also includes 38 ‘lunchbox’ style effects, some of which are derived from IK Multimedia’s AmpliTube and T-RackS, others of which, such as ‘Ensemble Chorus’ are new and exclusive to Syntronik; and up to five of these can be applied to each machine.
There is also an (up to) 32 step note/chord arpeggiator with some fairly deep options.
As for how it sounds? Exquisite! The samples are pristine, the DRIFT is convincing, the filters are some of the best software modelled ones we’ve heard, and the effects are every bit as good as one would expect, given their provenance. We would have loved the ability to select initialised instruments, instead of being forced to choose from presets, but in mitigation the 2000 presets sound fantastic and are eminently editable.
We think that Syntronik brings something genuinely new to the table by enabling the ‘DNA’ (as IK would have it) of 38 vintage instruments to be combined in new and novel ways. Programming is simple thanks to the common set of parameters, large friendly effects page, and easy to use layer/split/arpeggiator window; and the results sounds fantastic. It’s Driftification for D nation.
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