SYNTH GEMS 1 is a gorgeous coffee table book full of analog synthesizers

Originally published at: SYNTH GEMS 1 is a gorgeous coffee table book full of analog synthesizers | Boing Boing


Mmm, vintage beep boopers. I love their looks even if I have no idea what they do/how they work.

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If you have this coffee table book it’s legally mandatory that your coffee table be modified and equipped in a manner analogous to the below.


MIke is a dear friend, a PhD in nuclear physics, and a great writer. He’s also done a ton of editing work on many of the other Bjooks books. This one’s his baby, but he’s had a huge hand in all of them.


If you’re looking to get into synthesis I can thoroughly recommend the Autria MicroFreak 'experimental synthesizer". Lots of knobs and flashing lights.

It has 14 digital emulation engines of classic synth techniques and an analogue filter on the output, sequencer, arp, virtual patch bay and a weird capacitance touch sensitive keyboard. Connects to old tech and new.

One of it’s best features is an incredibly well written manual that is both a thorough how to, as well as giving a historical background to each of the synth engine types. For example the FM synth technique made famous by the ‘unprogrammable’ DX7 released in the 80’s goes back to the late 1960’s!

Also every so often they will give you a free firmware update and a totally new synth engine. The last big one turned the headphone jack into a mic input for it’s new vocoder engine! Daft Punk away!

Did I mention it’s incredibly cheap for what it does.


The book has a section that explains how analog synths work.


Here is a link to the MicroFreak manual (I have no affiliation):

Conceptually there is no real difference whether an oscillator is produced by digital or analogue means. Yes a Moog (pronounced moge) oscillator sounds fantastic but you’re looking at $75K to line your wall with this tech!

The start of chapter 6 gives a good understanding of the basics of what an oscillator does, human audible sound.

Chpt. 7 goes through LFO’s which are to slow to hear but are used to transform/modulate an oscilator, vibrato and tremolo are a typical use.

Chpt. 8 describes how a ‘filter’ works typically at the end of the signal chain. Think of the way EQ filters the tone of a sound - the wah-wah guitar pedal is a sweeping filter. I like to think of the filter as the ‘fun knob’ and it is usually emphasized in the design - just look at that beautiful big orange knob in your illustration.


I still have The Synthesizer 2nd Edition, a Roland publication. Very informative on analog synth basics. (I picked it up when I purchased the JX-3P with its PG-200 programmer way back.)

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Also relevant:


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