Update October 10, 2023: the synth has been revealed: it’s a marvellous recreation of the Korg PS-3300.
PS-3300 is an exactingly faithful virtual analog emulation of the colossal and ultra-rare semi-modular analog polyphonic synthesizer released by KORG in 1977. Cherry Audio has pulled out all the stops to accurately recreate and update this mythical monster synth, from its massive stacked sonic character and signature multiple‑resonator sweeps to the considerable patching capabilities that distinguished the PS-3300 from all other polysynths of the era.
Before releasing its renowned line of MS monosynths, Keio Electronic Laboratories (under the KORG brand name) introduced its Polyphonic Series of analog synthesizers. The largest and most expensive was the massive PS-3300, a legendary synthesizer produced between 1977 and 1981. It is widely considered one of the most rare analog synthesizers ever made, with around 50 units produced. With its semi-modular design, flexible architecture, and a propensity for rich, sonically evolving timbres, the PS-3300 is often regarded as the holy grail of polyphonic analog synths.
PS-3300’s unique architecture set it apart from the handful of polysynths available at the time. It had three independent “signal generator” panels, each essentially a complete polyphonic synthesizer. Each of these synth panels included 12 independently tunable divide-down oscillator banks as well as independent discrete VCFs, envelope generators, and VCAs for every note. This enabled all 48 keys of the external keyboard to be simultaneously played with independent articulation. Dual LFOs and triple voltage‑controllable resonators for each generator further shaped its signature tone. A dedicated master panel featured a mixer with VCAs for each of the three voice panels, sample & hold, an additional envelope generator, and two control voltage processors. It also delivered extensive modulation possibilities through an astounding 67 front-panel input/output jacks. Taken as a whole, the PS-3300 was so powerful and revolutionary that even Bob Moog was impressed, stating that it was, “the best synthesizer for fat sounds.”
The PS-3300’s high production cost meant that only the wealthiest musicians could afford it, thus adding to its rarity and mystique. Its broad and bold sound, described as an orchestra of synthesizers, has made it a highly sought-after instrument by professional musicians and collectors alike. Its adoption by groundbreaking artists such as Vangelis, Jean-Michel Jarre, Aphex Twin, Kraftwerk, Klaus Schulze, Keith Emerson, and Space has further bolstered its popularity over the decades. Korg introduced the PS-3300 at $7,500 in 1977, and it is now so rare and coveted that one sold for nearly $100,000 in 2021!
Into the Vaults of EMEAPP and Beyond
Cherry Audio collaborated with the Electronic Music Education and Preservation Project (EMEAPP) to meticulously study and reproduce the exemplary PS-3300 in their collection to celebrate the legacy of this preeminent piece of synthesizer history. EMEAPP is the steward of a privately held curation of rare vintage electronic instruments and stage-used gear whose mission is to “share the history, artists, sounds, equipment and technology of electronic and rock music, keeping it relevant and accessible for future generations.”
Once again, Cherry Audio has faithfully preserved the soul of a classic instrument while respectfully updating its feature set for modern studio environments. The PS-3300 virtual instrument replicates the functionality, layout, and sonic characteristics of each of the three PSU-3301 signal generator panels, including the six-waveform oscillators; two modulation generators (LFOs); dynamic lowpass filters, envelopes, and amps; its distinguishing triple-peak resonators; independent per-note “temperament” tuning knobs; and patchable jacks (with virtual cables) for signal routing. The voice panels have been expanded with additional faculties including PS- or MS-style filter selection, tempo sync, copy/paste between panels, and temperament tuning presets.
Similarly, the master signal mixer replicates the PSU-3302 sample & hold, a general envelope generator, and jacks for advanced sound-shaping and control. Cherry Audio has elegantly expanded the panel with continuously variable CV control of level, per-channel panning, bend range, and studio-quality integrated effects for chorus, delay, and reverb. With exceptional touches such as a lush interface with the Focus zoom-in feature, unlimited cables per jack, over 360 expertly designed presets, and versatile MIDI mapping, PS-3300 is sure to satisfy both vintage synth enthusiasts and today’s music producers.
Introduction the Charry Audio’s PS-3300 (Tim Shoebridge)
Any idea what synth has been recreated by Cherry Audio this time? “….A weapon of science!” “Incredible, unstoppable titan of terror!” “You may wish to deny it, but your eyes tell you it’s true!”
“This is what caused everything in the first place, don’t you see that? And it is going to send us back to the stone age! You have no idea what’s coming.”
Join Cherry Audio for a live YouTube Premiere heralding the release of a giant kaiju of synths on Tuesday, October 10th at 10:00 am PDT USA (1:00 pm EDT USA | 5:00 pm GMT | 6:00 pm UK)