Back in the early 80's, digital synthesizers began to emerge. One of the early classics was the New England
Digital Synclavier II. With a price tag of over $20,000.00, this synthesizer is an exotic blast from the past!
With it's red mahogany case the Synclavier II was one of the nicest looking digital synthesizers to come
out of the 80's. This particular Synclavier is a 16 voice additive/FM version suited for live performance.
Here is the "shoe box" that makes up the actual sound generation. For each 8 voices there are 5 large
circuit cards, one controlling the sounds of the 4 identical sound generators. So in the 16 voice system there
are 10 different sound generation cards, helping to give the Synclavier it's huge sound. The CPU inside is named ABLE
and was also used by NASA and was labeled "classified computer equipment" in the early 80's.
The Synclavier II boots it's operating system from a 5 1/4" floppy drive. These single sided double density
disks could hold the OS, 64 preset sounds, and 5000 notes for sequences. At about 180K, that was quite a bit of storage back
For real-time control the Synclavier II has one large spring loaded knob for pitch bend, vibrato, or changing
any of the parameters by pressing the associated red button. There are also two pedals for added control.
The Synclavier II can still do a few tricks . The built in 16 track sequencer can loop seperate
track at different points, for changing sequences. And with the push of the transpose button the keyboard transposes the entire
sequence for some erie playing techniques. There are foot switches for hold, polyphonic glide, and even an arpegiator.
A plus is that without MIDI, it does not have the 128 step CC rule, as most of the digital paramaters have
over 1000 steps of resolution.