Inside The Classic Synclavier Synthesizer

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In his latest video, composer, synthesist and sound designer Anthony Marinelli meets with Synclavier guru Kevin Maloney, and takes a look at the hardware inside a classic Synclavier.

Video Details:

We discuss the basic hardware and software components, how to boot up the system with a 5.25″ floppy disk and some special features that were later added. Remember this is an early computer and it’s physically a lot bigger than what you would expect to see today. You’ll see how it’s built and connected together by ribbon cables with big connectors. Also the available memory was a lot less than what we have come to expect today. The early floppy disks held no more 128 kilobytes of data and the early internal 5 megabyte hard drive sold for $20,000.

Here is a list of the features in this system:

-additive synthesis
-FM synthesis with 32 voices
-5 MB Hard Drives
-monophonic sampling
-8 channels of MIDI
-filter switches
-SMPTE sync code
-2 floppy disk drives

This is the latest in series of videos that Marinelli has shared that discuss sound design with the Synclavier. Here’s a deep dive by Marinelli & Maloney into the creation of the iconic Beat It intro sound:

Here’s a vintage demo, featuring Kevin Maloney demonstrating the then-new Synclavier:

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