Trent Reznor & Alessandro Cortini Discuss The Virtues of Analog / Modular Hardware Synths

Here’s an  interview with Trent Reznor and fellow Nine Inch Nails member Allessandro Cortini, courtesy of the good people behind the I Dream of Wires modular synth documentary .

In the video Reznor discusses the evolution of the synthesizer from the big, analog synths he grew up with through the digital do-it-all synths of the eighties and nineties and then the emergence of the world of virtual instruments to the re-emergence of the modular synth, and  how working with real, analog hardware can yield benefits not limited to just the sound itself. We also get some input from Cortini on what the discovery of hardware synths has meant to him. Definitely worth a watch – so I thought I’d share it here.

To order your copy of the I Dream of Wires documentary, visit

Kebu Covers Deadmau5!

Talented Finnish artist Kebu (who I’ve mentioned here before) is someone we’ve come to associate mostly with 70s and 80s style vintage electronic music – like what you’d hear on an old Jean Michel Jarre or Vangelis album. Kebu doesn’t just compose and produce music in this genre, he also covers a few of the classics from time to time.

Here’s something a little different, though: a cover of Deadmau5′ The Veldt. Using his good ole Korg Mono/Poly and Polysix synths, a few classic Roland pieces and some tasty effects, the results speak for themselves: this is a great sounding cover. I personally think Kebu’s expert use of those warm analog synths of yesteryear along with a nack for identifying musicality is what does the trick here. Check it out:

Complete list of equipment used:

Korg (Mono/Poly and Polysix), Roland ( TR-808, Juno 60 and Alpha Juno), Electro Harmonix Small Stone Phaser, Boss DD-3, Lexicon (MPX500 and MPX110), Allen & Heath GS1, Tascam (38 and DX-4D) and Alesis iO26. Mastered with Izotope Ozone 5.


Roland SH-2 Demo from Syntza

The Roland SH-2 is a classic analog monosynth from the late seventies that is both simple to use and sounds great to this day. Two fat oscillators and a juicy Roland filter allows you to make some rather obese sounds that tend to come dripping with the electronic syrupy audio-goodness that makes old synths command higher and higher prices in the second hand market with every year that passes.

Orbital, one of my favourite electronic bands of all time, used the SH-2’s little brother Sh-09 for many years, but have now “upgraded” to the SH-2  – and for good reason. The ’09 – as fat as it is – only has one oscillator (in addition to a sub-oscillator) and is therefore not capable of the fatter, detuned sounds that this beast can make.

This synth has a resonant 24 db lowpass filter that self-oscillates, a three octave keyboard, no MIDI and – unlike the younger SH-101 – no arpeggiator either. It is a very simple synth that is highly regarded by professionals but still easy enough to use for beginners looking to get some fat, real analog synth sounds in their arsenal. It is especially well known for the thick powerful bass-sounds it makes. Some people object to its looks, but I personally think it looks pretty cool – this is a classic instrument in both looks and sound as far as I’m concerned.

Second hand prices for these monsters hover right around $1,000 at the moment, and as this is a rare and highly sought after synth I expect them to go even higher in the future. All factors considered (including the fact that these seem to be fairly reliable and easy to fix in case something goes wrong) this is a good buy in my opinion.

For the demo, Syntza sampled the sounds of the synth into his Akai MPC-1000, and also added some effects, so this isn’t the “purest” SH-2 demo you’ll come across, but I think it’s a great demonstration of some of its capabilities – and don’t be surprised if the beats makes you tap your feet. The drums you hear are coming from the Boss DR-660 (as used by such electronic music luminaries as Jean Michel Jarre and Squarepusher), and the effects used come from the Ensoniq DP/4, Roland RE-201 and Dynacord DRP-20.

This isn’t the first Syntza demo featured on this site – check out his very different demo of the Roland JV-1080 as well, if you like. For even more of his demos, you can visit his YouTube Channel.

Tour of The Universe – Analog Modular Synthesizer Journey

Here’s a treat for modular maniacs. In the video, David Baron goes through a bunch of vintage analog modular synthesizers one by one. And not just any vintage modulars: on display here is the Moog Modular, EMS Putney, Emu Modular, Roland System 700, Arp 2500, Serge, Fenix, Roland 100m and the Arp 2600. Enjoy.