XILS-lab has released miniSyn’X, a soft synth emulation of Elka’s Synthex analog polysynth from the 80s. miniSyn’X is a multi-format (AAX, AU, RTAS, VST), 32- and 64-bit polyphonic, duo-timbral virtual analog synthesizer plug-in for Mac (OS X 10.5 and later) Windows (XP, Vista, and 7/8) that claims to faithfully emulate the sound of the Synthex, an eight-voice programmable analog polysynth independently designed by Mario Maggi and built by Italian home organ manufacturer Elka.
Jean-Michel Jarre, whose well-known Laser Harp performances still emanate exclusively from a Synthex patch produced by one-time UK demonstrator/ programmer Paul Wiffen and audible in isolation on Second Rendez-Vous from Jarre’s Rendez-Vouz album of 1986. The Synthex did not sell well during a four-year, three-stage (50-, 800-, and 1,000-unit) production run, with one last post-production unit being built especially for Stevie Wonder.
With 30 knobs, six sliders, 80 switches, and a joystick — replacing traditional pitch and modulation wheels to allow greater variable realtime control over the two LFOs (Low Frequency Oscillators), oscillator, and filter modulation — spread across its spacious front panel, the Elka Synthex had some unique features for its time, including two stable DCOs (Digitally-Controlled Oscillators) per voice, oscillator cross-modulation of pulse width, multimode (Low-pass 24dB/octave, 1st Bandpass 6dB/octave, 2nd Bandpass 12dB/octave, and High-pass >12dB/octave) filters, separate envelope generators, chorus effect, and dual or layer keyboard modes.
While what falls out of fashion’s good graces once in a while rises back to prominence, the truth is that the musical appeal of the Elka Synthex never really went away as far as Jean-Michel Jarre’s analogue-attuned ears are concerned, so his excitement at hearing that the instrument in question had been authentically resurrected in software as a convenient, cost-effective package by XILS-lab is inevitable. Indeed, as the French synth wizard himself says, “Thanks to XILS-lab for giving everyone the opportunity to play with it.”
XILS-lab’s miniSyn’X is available now for €45 and comes in the following flavors for Mac and PC: AAX, AU, RTAS, VST. miniSyn’X owners can upgrade to the full-featured Syn’X multi-layered synthesizer plug-in with eight fully-independent voices for an introductory discounted price of €99