My Favorite non-DIY Instruments

I won't publish my gear list here, but maybe, when you're interested in my DIY projects, you might as well like to know what commercial synthesizers I like. This is no "dream list" of what I'd love to own, but it's a selection of synths I have, or used to have. So, here's my "Desert Island" selection:

My favorite Polysynth

Oberheim OB-8.
In my opinion, the most practical allround analogue polysynth that was ever produced. I wouldn't trade it for a Prophet,
a Jupiter, and not even for a Memorymoog. The best hybrid of analogue and digital technology. Everything that is important for the sound (from real VCOs to fast ADSRs) is analogue. The front panel allows acess to all parameters that are important for a powerful analogue polysynth like the OB-Xa. And then there is a multitude of add-on digital functions, and a 2nd page mode for the front panel knobs to control the exotic stuff. The way the knobs respond in edit mode is brilliant. Just as the whole ergonomic design: A front panel that is not over crowded makes a real difference!

My favorite Solo Synthesizer

Yamaha CS-50.
Though it is actually a polysynth, too, I use it for solo lines most of the time. There is no "Unison" switch, but with Sustain Mode II selected and decent release times, you have multiple VCOs at one key, and gliding together when Portamento is activated. What really makes the CS-50 a superb performance synthesizer, is its extensive real time control. If there is a synthesizer that is as expressive as an electric guitar, then it's the CS-50. Like a guitar, it should drive a chain of FX boxes for best results. My current setup is CS-50 -> Amdek Delay Machine (BBD-Delay) -> MAM Resonator (Clone of the PS3100 Resonator section) -> Delta Lab Effectron (digital delay) -> Stereo Phaser (diy).

My favorite Modular Synthesizer

EMS Synthi AKS.
Ok, the modular stuff is a diy domain for me, because here I can build any module and funtion that comes to mind, and I was never tempted to buy a Moog or Emu or ARP modular system. Serge stuff does impress me (and has influenced a lot of my own designs), and there are several interesting new Modulars coming up at the moment, most notably Paul Schreiber's and Grant Richter's stuff. Nevertheless I chose to name the EMS here - you can't beat that amount of functions and power in such a compact enclosure. That's why I built a Clone. (I don't own a real one.)

My favorite Digital Synthesizer

Yamaha VL7.
Forget the fake "analogue" sounds. This instrument's strenght are the "fake acoustical" sounds. I always loved flutes, and I always found sampled flute sounds ridiculous. So the VL synths were the answer for me. The only thing I regret is that I haven't bought the 2-voice version (VL1).

My favorite Analogue Delay

Dynacord SRS 56.
Large 19" 3U box with many knobs for immediate contol. The perfect overall stereo delay. Long delay times (for a BBD delay), and very "warm" sounding.

For more information, please contact
Juergen Haible
All drawings copyright J. Haible (C)1996