Synclavier

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Synclavier I

The Synclavier System was an early digital synthesizer and polyphonic digital Sampling system (musical instrument), manufactured by New England Digital Corporation, Norwich, VT. The original design and development of the Synclavier prototype occurred at Dartmouth College with the collaboration of Professor Jon Appleton, Professor of Digital Electronics, Sydney A. Alonso, and Dartmouth, Theyer School of Engineering student software programmer, Cameron Jones. First released in approximately 1975-1976 [1] it proved to be highly influential among both electronic music composers and music producers, most notably Mike Thorne, an early adopter from the commercial world, due to its versatility, its cutting-edge technology, and distinctive sounds.

The early Synclavier Digital Synthesizer used FM synthesis. The system evolved in its next generation of product, which was released in early 1980 with the strong influence of master synthesist and music producer Denny Jaeger of Oakland, CA. It was originally Jaeger's suggestion that the FM synthesis concept be extended to allow four simultaneous channels or voices of synthesis to be triggered with one key depression to allow the final synthesized sound to have much more harmonic series activity. This change greatly improved the overall sound design of the system and was very noticeable. The company evolved the system continuously through the early 1980s to integrate the first 16-bit digital sampling system to magnetic disk, and eventually a 16-bit polyphonic sampling system to memory, as well. The company's product was the only digital sampling system that allowed sample rates to go as high as 100 Khz for full digital sound quality, which was unsurpassed and frequently complimented by leading sound design and music recording engineers, who make up the Who's Who of modern music and sound effect recording. Ultimately, the system was referred to as the Synclavier Digital Recording "Tapeless Studio" system among many professionals. There is absolutely no doubt that the Synclavier System was "the" pioneer system in revolutionizing the movie and television sound effects and Foley effects methods of design and production starting at Glen Glenn Sound. Although pricing made it inaccessible for most musicians, it found widespread use among producers and professional recording studios, competing at times in this market with such high-end production systems as the Fairlight CMI.

Synclavier PSMT & VPK

When the company launched and evolved its technology, there were no off-the-shelf computing systems and integrated software and sound cards. Consequently, all of the hardware from the company's main real-time CPU, all input and output cards, analog-to-digital and digital-to-analog cards and all of its memory cards, and more, were all developed internally, as well as all of the software. This was certainly a monumental task at best in those times. In fact, the hardware and software of the company's real-time capability was used in other fields completely remote to music, such as the main Dartmouth Campus computing node computers for one of the nation's first campus-wide computing networks, and in medical data acquisition research projects.

New England Digital ceased operations in 1993, the bulk of the assets purchased by Fostex of Japan. Though Synclavier is no longer manufactured, around fifty systems are still in use today.

Notable Synclavier users

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