Farfisa Soundmaker

In our archives we found some old International Musician magazines (the German version, as well as the UK edition) from the 1980’s. These magazines tell us a lot about the synthesizer technology at that time. Such as the Farfisa Soundmaker. A nice advertisement says it is only 3498 …. DM (Deutsche Marken) which is approximately € 1750. Beware: that was the 1980 price (42 years ago).

Farfisa Soundmaker Review

In the same issue of International Musician there was a review of the Soundmaker. The OCR and translated version can be found below the scanned images.

Farfisa Soundmaker Unverb Retail price approx. DM3,500

Although Farfisa has made a name for itself with Rock’n’Roll Kevboards , the newer products from this company are more intended for use at home or in small clubs . The latest model, the Soundmaker, is probably mainly intended as an additional instrument for organists in bars or small clubs. However, it is also worthwhile for other musicians. to take a closer look at this instrument, which is out of the ordinary . especially if they are interested in things like I am. Which do not necessarily follow the general trend. And the Soundmaker undoubtedly has its little idiosyncrasies. Someone once said. that a camel is a horse designed by a committee and the soundmaker is a kind of camel. Synthesizer and string effects, polyphonic and monophonic presets, all in one device. The individual sounds that you can get out of the Farfisa. while all of them can probably be better if you use a pure synthesizer, a real piano or whatever, the Soundmaker has the great advantage that you can have two or three different sounds all at the same time . Fans of programmable polysynths often look down on instruments of this type with contempt, but forget how practical they are. when you can layer several instruments at the same time for smaller gigs and also for recording sessions for which you don’t have much time, money and only a few tracks available . The Soundmaker’s manual covers five octaves and ranges from C to C. The entire manual can be used polyphonically with piano, harpsichord. Honkv-tonk or strings presets can be played. They all have an acceptable sound. albeit a little thin. With the strings, however, it is different. You have a choice between 8″ and 4″ and there are sliders for attack, sustain and brilliance. Built-in reverb gives the string sound considerable depth and it ‘s impressive. how full it is even when playing softly . To my knowledge , this string effect has not been used on any other Farfisa model and I must say that it easily rivals other string effects . Mixing in some piano or cerrbalo to the strings gives excellent full-sounding effects, and brass and strings together sound equally terrific. There are also twelve presets for monophonic sounds, tuba, trombone. Trumpet.Saxophone, clarinet, oboe. Flute, flute piccolo, fiddle, accordion, bass and guitar and this brings me to the slightly more complicated side of the instrument. The mono key switches only affect the top four octaves and when “split keyboard” is on you can only get monophonic sounds from middle F up . The sound of the 29 tones on the lower half of the manual is then determined by the polyphonic presets. This arrangement makes it possible. that you ‘re playing a solo with your right hand, in, say. Trumpet setting, and an accompaniment with piano or brass instruments. Volumes and tone controls are available separately for monophonic and polyphonic. I hope You still understand everything – there is still more to come. Next to the presets there is a button switch labeled “Free”. It turns on a number of other controls that allow the preset sounds to be modified considerably. Firstly, an oscillator can be switched on and, above all, it allows vibrato to be added and it can be changed in speed and intensity with the help of slider controls. This is especially useful if you want to give the string effect a little more weight. And then you can improve the whole thing again. by pressing an “oscillator” switch, which means that the vibrato only occurs then. if you press the keys C it sounds like at the end of an E flat there are even more effects. that react to the strength of the attack. More brilliance occurs when you hit harder and when you have “mono qlide” switched on. a slight increase in the note just played occurs with a harder attack. The Oscillator produces either a square wave that creates a regular vibrato. reminiscent of a pulse beat, or a sawtooth vibration. the vibrato a little less. makes appear abruptly. Second, mono play can be qeq-smoothed by it. that one switches on portamento. It determines then. how far one note leads up to the next. Third, ADSR can be turned on to determine the progression and duration of a sound. And vienens qib e still changed the influencing of the harmonics. All of these switches allow you to extensively modify the original preset sounds, more so than is the case with lower priced preset synths. It is thus avoided with the Soundmaker. that you never use any presets. because they don’t ring qanz correctly, but you can’t do anything about it. Oddly enough, the variation possibilities. listed in the instrument’s operating instructions do not do justice to the performance of which the Soundmaker is capable. Most sounds require more settings than specified in the book. For example, I found it strange that the oboe clan is not recommended. round off the attack. using vibrato or portamento appropriate to the strength of the attack. It then sounds a lot more like a real oboe. However, you could find out all that for yourself. You can get a really good sound out of the instrument. when you play a quten monophonic Klanq along with a polyphonic preset and strings. If the “Free” and “Poli in Mono” switches are also pressed, the mono effects also apply to the polyphonic part. To the left of the switches is an “Env. (Envelope) Trigger” that can be used to play other instruments through the Soundmaker. You can plug in your guitar and you’ll sound like Jimi Hendrix on acid. On the back of the device, there are outputs for “Poli”. “Mono+Poli”. headphones and a footswitch. With its many possibilities, the Soundmaker is an attractive offer. At a retail price of around DM 3500.- it is certainly good value and especially worthwhile for musicians. who play in smaller clubs. especially if you work mainly with the orquel. The shape of the Soundmaker suggests this. that he is meant to. to sit on an (if possible Farfisa) orqel. I had considerable difficulty fitting the unit into a multi-keyboard set-up. Still, other kevboard players should try it if they have some easily controllable strings, brass, and piano to add to the instruments they already have. A footswitch is included, but you have to pay extra for the detachable legs if you want to use the soundmaker alone. Finally, it should be commended that the Farfisa Soundmaker comes in a hard, shock-absorbing case. which is tailored precisely for this instrument and which may well be lifted

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