SYNTHiC4TE | March 11 2017 | 367 MB
In 1984 Dave Smith and his team at Sequential Circuits released the Six-trak which was one of the first instruments not only to feature the then new MIDI control system but was an early multitimbral offering. This was quite a technically advanced feature to be seen on what was a relatively affordable synthesizer in those days. Although we all know Dave Smith as a master of analog synthesizer design, whilst working on his designs, I am often left thinking that in fact he really should be better praised for his programming skills! Fitting a whole multi-timbral synth control system with patch recall, an arpeggiator, a sequencer, a stack facility and an extremely full midi CC implementation into a humble Z80 microcontroller running at 4MHz with its code residing on one tiny 16Kbyte EPROM is really quite accomplishment!
Although very much overshadowed by the infamous Prophet 5, the Six-trak offers 6 real VCOs and analog filters courtesy of Curtis (CEM3394) which much to my delight self-oscillate in such a controlled manner that they can easily double up as second oscillators with a bit of careful programming.
As is so often with my ever growing collection of vintage synths at Hideaway, Six-trak number 1551 came in dead and was singing sweetly again after a few days of attention on the slab armed with the oscilloscope and soldering iron.
Having rescued this little beasty from the grave I was confronted with an empty patch memory so I set about programming up 100 new patches which resulted in a mammoth sampling session rendering over 4Gbytes of material that was auditioned in Kontakt. Having cherry picked some 70 or so of my favorites I set about looping some 870 or so samples and programming up 100 new instruments in Kontakt.
I have to say I was quite surprised by what I managed to get out of what on paper is quite a humble 1-OSC per voice polysynth. I think there are a few reasons for this – firstly I found the Six-trak to have quite a dark nature to its sound and the filters are great with the whole self oscillation thing launching it into sometimes complete instability but on other occasions rendering bells and percussive sounds aplenty. The way the VCAs are also setup permits the filter to be somewhat overdriven which adds another dimension to its sound.
The decision was made to capture almost all of the material directly from the Six-Trak as the instrument has quite a warm nature right out of the box. A small handful of the patches were post processed by feeding the audio through the wonderful triple chorus stage of the 1972 Eminent 310U to impart an extremely rich texture.
It is worth noting, as with all of my sampled vintage synth collection, that although the raw captured material is totally authentic many of the instruments in the library explore many new avenues. That said, I think many would be quite surprised what I managed to conjure out of this little wonder.