Poly is the new Mono

It’s all the rage these days. Anyone see this get announced yesterday? I’m on the fence. I currently own a Tetra/MoKey polychain set up. Kinda thinking of selling them for this. Dunno. Wish to hell it was yellow though. Looks all “pro” now. pfff.

I’m curiously un-interested in this as a companion to my tetr4 - if it had an extra touch screen dedicated to the sequencer I’d be ALL OVER IT tho… c’mon dave this is kinda boring

maybe if I played in a prog rock band?

4 notes when you can get 6 with the Ambika, not to mention future expansion possibilities in the form of a programmer from uncle frank.

Sure, the DSI has analog oscillators but to be honest I think the filter is what really counts and there’s so many more options with Ambika.

Support Olivier and Mutable and you are helping him create more cool stuff in the future.

Yes, i saw this, the 4th recycling of a P8 Voice… I’m really bored.

You are right, partially: its the filter that matters but with trashy oscillators you will never have something useful to filter. Don’t get me wrong, the P8/MoPho/Tetra/MoPhoKey/MoPho X4 aren’t bad Synthesizers. Its just nothing that excites me anymore owning Mutable Instruments Gear.
Oh, and who says I’m working on a Programmer - DONT LOOK UNDER THAT TOWEL THERE!

I agree. I’d love to see a new filter design. The big guys (Moog & DSI) are stuck in the LP filtering. Some HP/BP would be a great addition. My only reason for swapping out my current config for this is the keyboard (the mopho keys are absolutely amazing). That and it would all be in one unit, instead of having to deal with the mokey and the tetra. I could use the mixer channels for more stuff (like my Ambika, when it arrives!)

EDIT: I do like the DSI “sound”. While their oscillators aren’t the best, it still has a uniqueness to it that I love. Its a great tool to have. Although, I haven’t played with the Ambika yet. I may just sell the mopho/tetra and buy more MI stuff!

>6581, of course! Prolly gonna be spending a lot of money on MI gear over the next couple of months (already threw down a chunk of change for the Ambika project.

It was the P8 that brought me back to playing Keyboard but it disappeared from my WishList™ as i saw what an Ambika could do. Hearint the
Ambika the First Time i was 100% right… BTW is there any Job Description like “Mutable Instruments Evangelist” :wink: ?

>You are right, partially: its the filter that matters but with trashy oscillators you will never have something useful to filter.

Yes. But the filters and the resonance create lots of high frequencies which alias when done digitally. But the oscillators are generally at frequencies where the aliasing is easier to correct and less noticeable.

Millions love the sound of the C64’s SID chip (me included) and that was a digital/analog hybrid and not a very “clean” or sophisticated one.

Those craving full analogue sound are partly doing so based upon their love for old synth music where everything was analogue, the recording process, the distribution method.

(I’m sounding like a stuck record, but it is true). There’s a lot of really classic albums where it was the sheer expense of the kit and expertise that produced the great sound, the raw instrumentation could have sounded rather awful. These days we don’t generally hear music that has been recorded so painstakingly and at so much expense.

I don’t have a CEM3396 / PA397 to do a proof of concept, but 4PM style pole-mixing could be possible by buffering the signals at the four “filter cap to ground” pins of the chip and routing them to a “pole mixer” circuit. So there’s a path for DSI stuff to move to more filter responses. Not that I want to give ideas to DSI…

Mopho X4 - is a great news, actually. The last affordable, brand new analog polysynths on the market were Juno 60, PolySix and Prophet 600. And it was… in the 1982. I mean, a complete instrument - with keyboard and a handy interface.

I’m curious that Arturia will release a “PolyBrute” within two years?

This year is quite surprising when it comes to the synthesizers market: MiniBrute, Pulse 2, Mopho X4 and… Casio XW-P1. Not to mention about Ambika :slight_smile:

Not quite, the last affordable analog polysynth was the Alesis A6 Andromeda , 16 voices.

I’d sooner support Mutable than a bigger company.

I’m not Arturia but as a synth maker, I can tell you this wouldn’t be the right product to be turned into a poly.

First, because it won’t sound that good - people expect warm and deep sounds from a poly and a 12dB filter can’t really deliver that. A poly synth voice needs to be very “humble” and “clean” to work well for the sounds poly are reputed for (pads, strings, brass) - while a mono voice always needs some kind of edge (be it aggressivity, thickness, weirdness, presence…). You’ll see that with the Ambika - some of the grittier, weirder waveforms aren’t working that well when played in polyphony (they are still relevant here because they could be used in mono voices).

Then, because this is a fully analog product done with the “let’s directly stick a pot in the signal chain whenever there’s something to control” - the same philosophy that caused many synth manufacturer of the 60s / 70s to get caught in monophony. The revolutionary departure from that, design wise, was to make every single parameter CV controlled, and stick a MCU and CV distribution circuit between the pots and the voices - and this was introduced by the Prophet-5. Going this route with the minibrute would be tedious, because there are so many parameters and analog-controlled elements that it would need more than a dozen VCAs per voice (individual waveform levels in the mixer, ADSRs, LFOs) and tons of CVs. It would totally lose the cost-effective appeal, or if they go the “sane” route (make envelopes and LFO digital), it would lose its “all analog” appeal. In both case it would lose its “pots are directly influencing the sound” appeal. It would lose Yves’ design decision to avoid OTA/VCA chips for sake of serviceability (and cost?). That would be an entirely different product, and it would be a shameful marketing trick if they dare calling whatever poly they come with under these constraints “Polybrute”.

You can’t imagine how much Dave Smith is a smartass with his P8/Mopho/Tetra voice design. Only 8 CV-controlled parameter per voice, all going to one single voice-chip, and just 2 timer signals to generate to get pitch-accurate DCOs. 5x10 cm of PCB real estate. The only way to get close to that is the hybrid route, as I am doing on Ambika. Here is what a synth-voice with only one VCO, limited waveshapping, no CV control over resonance and mixing looks like (the long line of ICs and neighboring R/C parts in the middle of the board):

Adding CV/digital control over everything, converting it to SMT, and adding a second OSC would make this roughly the same size.

DSI is limited by what they build their devices from. Big DIP chips which can be easily replaced.

The Alesis A6 used SMD chips everywhere which is great for cramming lots into a box, hence 16 note poly but repairing it will be hard.

DSI is SMT too. The larger chip is the PA397, CV generation and distribution at the bottom, a few routing stuff on the left, a dsPIC for two voices, generating control signals and reset pulses for the DCO:

Alesis managed it through integration too - they crammed everything into a single custom chip (they are large enough and have the guys to afford custom ASICs) with the minimal number of external parts, to the point that it almost looks like digital!

But are the DSI chips common parts?

No. The PA397 is a stereo/SMT version of the CEM3396 - I am not even sure the fab still does them. Marion Systems and DSI were/are their only customers. They refused to serve Doepfer when he looked for a replacement for the CEM3394 in the Dark Energy. DSI has a “lifetime supply” of the part, which will eventually dwindle.

In both case, you’re doomed when it comes to repairs…

Probably another reason not to buy one then :slight_smile:

I wonder what the deal is with repairs out of warranty, send it to them or would they send you a chip?

It’s a bit different, but a guy contacted me for help with a broken MSR-2. He contacted DSI to enquire about the possibility of buying a PA397 and they declined. Oberheim no longer stocks the part.

The weaker link on my side is the SSM2164. At one point it seemed that AD would resume the production but I have seen no update about this. It’s still possible to buy tubes of the DIP chips on their site and I have done so a few times. CoolAudio is the only source for volume and they have no intention of discontinuing it. I’ll do before the end of the year a big purchase there.

I suppose it’s not their product so they’re not interested.

But the thing is, if you get good service you remember this and when it comes to buying something new it would certainly put them on the list of people to consider buying from.


Andromeda is not “affordable”. Over 3000 USD…


Yes, I agree. Arturia’s (hypothetical) polysynth should be a different kind of product.
I rather think about something like this: 1-VCO poly synth with sub-osc, “saw animator” and “metalizer”. Kind of Juno 60 / Polysix type instrument.

BTW, is MiniBrute really “all analog”? I read elsewhere that LFOs (or envelopes?) are digital.

Envelopes are analog. There’s an analog LFO. The LFO syncable with MIDI and arpeggiator is digital of course.