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  alphaSyntauri At a Glance
Picture needed arrowReleased: 1980  Specifications
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David Vesel writes:
Billed as the first digital synthesizer for under $2000 at the time it was released in 1980, the alphaSyntauri has nearly been lost to the mists of time until it was briefly mentioned in Mark Vail's book Vintage Synthesizers. This hardware/software hybrid system uses an Apple IIe as its CPU, plus a dual-card 16-bit digital oscillator board, keyboard interface card, full-sized keyboard, and lots of custom software. The stock sounds, aside from a serviceable organ, are unimpressive, but the Waves software that comes with the system allows you to draw your own digital waveforms and import them, giving you a lot of great possibilities. As you might guess, its 8-bit digital sound is gritty and cold, and programming sounds is a challenge. The alphaPlus performance software lets you edit 16 parameters via the Apple II keyboard, plus pressing keys displays bars on the monitor not unlike the alien landing scene in Close Encounters of the Third Kind (though they seem to serve no other purpose than to look cool). It's rare to find a complete working system, and piecing one together is nearly impossible, due to the extreme scarcity of the keyboard interface cards. The alphaSyntauri (and it's cousin, the Passport Soundchaser) may be rare, but it isn't particularly valuable, nor is it a compelling instrument. But if you just like weird, one-off synths -- or you are a hardcore Apple collector -- it just might be worth the hunt.

Comments About the Sounds:
Gritty 8-bit digital sounds without the benefit of any analog processing. Allows you to draw your own waveforms and import them, so there's a lot of potential here.

(Thanks to David Vesel for this info.)

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