John Bowen Synth Design

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The build quality is superb. It really feels and plays like a top pro instrument should. Compared to many of the other product-of-the-moment workstation synths being sold by Yamaha, Korg, and Roland that feel like you are playing a PC with keys (the Jupiter-80 is an embarrassment and a real sign of where those big companies' priorities are), the Solaris really has the feel of a true musical instrument that draws you in. I feel like I'm learning how to coax the potential of the machine out through practicing with it rather than being forced to learn how to program a new computer. You did an amazing job refining the interface that captures the middle ground between the one knob per function panel of a vintage synth and the tremendous depth over sound shaping possible only with a digital synth.

I think the best thing I can say about my Solaris in the short time I've had it is that when I think about what instruments I'd compare it to I don't think of other DSP machines like Virus or Waldorf Q and how well or poorly I think they do "analog", but instead think directly about my Memorymoog, Jupiter-8, and Matrix-12. Not because of the sounds necessarily (although I love the analog-like saturation the Boost parameter in the VCA section adds) but in terms of the Solaris feeling like you're interacting with a real musical instrument. Again, the sounds are incredible (and I admit it's fun doing A/B comparisons of Memorymoog vs. Solaris w/ 3xCEM saws and Mini VCF) but the really impressive part is the interface that presents so many options without impeding creative workflow. In some sense the Solaris out-VSes the VS and out-waves the Microwave because it provides those instruments' defining characteristics much more intuitively than the original front panels of those synths ever could.

I'm looking forward to other oscillator and filter models that you may implement. In particular, any talk of getting the Creamware Odyssey models in there? Or how about emulation of the Yamaha CS-80 VCOs and VCFs? I don't think about the Solaris as a direct replacement for any of those (nor a replacement for my Memorymoog, or my real VS and Microwave for that matter) but having those models in the Solaris would be such wonderful raw material.

Arturia had a great and intriguing idea with the Origin hardware synth, but the execution was wrong. It ended up being a computer that felt like a computer. It's great to see how right you got it with the Solaris, how it allows you to forget it's a computer and instead invites you to explore a modern synthesizer with the same transparent connection between creativity and sound that makes those vintage synths I've mentioned above so classic and sought after. Congrats again for pulling it off.

- Howie Shen