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New England Digital Synclavier II

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    Description
    The system evolved in its next generation of product, the Synclavier II, which was released in early 1980 with the strong influence of master synthesist and music producer Denny Jaeger of Oakland, California. It was originally Jaeger's suggestion that the FM synthesis concept be extended to allow four simultaneous channels or voices of synthesis to be triggered with one key depression to allow the final synthesized sound to have much more harmonic series activity. This change greatly improved the overall sound design of the system and was very noticeable.

    Keyboard controller

    Display and control wheel on VPK (1984)

    Synclavier II models used an on/off type keyboard (called the "ORK") while later models, labeled simply "Synclavier", used a weighted velocity- and pressure-sensitive keyboard (called the "VPK") that was licensed from Sequential Circuits and used in their Prophet-T8 synthesizer.

    Digital sampling

    STD: Sample-To-Disk interface (c.1982)

    The company evolved the system continuously through the early 1980s to integrate the first 16-bit digital sampling system to magnetic disk, and eventually a 16-bit polyphonic sampling system to memory, as well. The company's product was the only digital sampling system that allowed sample rates to go as high as 100 kHz.

    Tapeless studio concept

    Ultimately, the system was referred to as the Synclavier Digital Recording "Tapeless Studio" system among many professionals. It was a pioneer system in revolutionizing movie and television sound effects and Foley effects methods of design and production starting at Glen Glenn Sound. Although pricing made it inaccessible for most musicians, it found widespread use among producers and professional recording studios, competing at times in this market with high-end production systems such as the Fairlight CMI.

    Technological achievements

    When the company launched and evolved its technology, there were no off-the-shelf computing systems and integrated software and sound cards. Consequently, all of the hardware from the company's main real-time CPU, all input and output cards, analog-to-digital and digital-to-analog cards and all of its memory cards, and more, were all developed internally, as well as all of the software. This was certainly a monumental task at best in those times. In fact, the hardware and software of the company's real-time capability was used in other fields completely remote to music, such as the main Dartmouth College campus computing node computers for one of the USA's first campus-wide computing networks, and in medical data acquisition research projects.
    Images
    Architecture
    Type: Digital
    Synthesis: Additive, Frequency Modulation, Resynthesis, Sampling, Virtual Analog
    Oscillators
    Oscillators: *
    Waveforms: Additive, Sine
    Osc Modulation: Envelope, Keyboard, Knob, LFO, Oscillator, Glide / Portamento, Ribbon, Velocity
    Oscillator Notes:
    8 bit Synthesis Engine
    Sampling: 16 bit, Gated, Loop, One Shot (Phrase), Multi-Sample
    Sampling Notes:
    32 MB RAM
    Direct to Disc Sampling
    Variable 1 kHz - 50 kHz sample rates
    Envelopes
    Envelopes: *
    Evelope Paramerters: Delay, Attack, Decay, Decay 2, Sustain Level, Release, Polyphonic, Triggered
    Filters
    Filters: 1
    Types: Band Pass, High Pass, Low Pass
    LFO
    LFO: 4
    LFO Parameters: Envelope, Saw Up, Saw Down, Sine, Square
    Polyphony & Tuning
    Polyphony: 64
    Timbrality: 32
    Tuning: Atonal, Micro, Standard
    Modes: Polyphonic, Split, Unison
    Patches
    Patches RAM: 1
    Storage: Floppy, Hard Drive, Internal
    Editing: CV, SERIAL
    Arpeggiator
    Chord note sequencing
    Effects
    Chorus / Detuning
    Sequencer
    32 Track Sequencer
    Operating System
    New England Digital's 16 bit ABLE computer
    Case
    Case: Keyboard
    Case Details: Hand-rubbed African mahogny
    Keyboard: 61 keys, Weighted, Wood
    Rack Size: 19", Full
    Controls: Modulation - Audio Input, Buttons, Knobs, Sequencer, Pedal - Sustain, Switches, Pedal - Volume
    Display Type: LED, Numeric
    Dimensions (WxDxH): 32.5 x 12 x 6.75 inches
    Weight: 25 lbs
    Connections
    Audio Output Connections: 1/4" Phone Jack, XLR, Stereo Main
    Audio Output Count: 2
    MIDI Ports: IN, OUT
    CV Ports: CV IN, CV OUT, Gate In, Gate Out
    DAC Bits: 16
    Pricing
    List: $300,000
    Used: $4000
    Production
    Released: 1980
    Discontinued: 1983
    Used By
    Tony Banks, Joel Chadabe Suzanne Ciani, Chick Corea, Depeche Mode, Vince DiCola, Paul Hardcastle, Michael Hoenig, Trevor Horn, Mannheim Steamroller, Michael Jackson, Eddie Jobson, Mark Knopfler, Men Without Hats, John McLaughlin, Pat Metheny, Paul Simon, Mark Snow, Sting, Pete Townshend, Stevie Wonder, Neil Young, , Frank Zappa
    Design Notes:

    The original design and development of the Synclavier prototype occurred at Dartmouth College with the collaboration of Professor Jon Appleton, Professor of Digital Electronics, Sydney A. Alonso, and Cameron Jones, a software programmer and student at Dartmouth's Thayer School of Engineering.
    Manuals & Documents

    Product Links
    Company Product Sites:
    [+] www.500sound.com
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