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  Phattytron At a Glance
Picture needed arrowReleased: 1998  Specifications
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Robert Edgar writes:
A little history first. I met Eric Barbour, creator of the Phattytron, online in an emusic group. Turns out he lived nearby (both of us live in Silicon Valley), and he had a prototype of a tube-based synthesizer he wanted to produce. I asked if I could try it out, and he lent me two over the next few months. Note: Eric notes that the circuits in those I used are identical to the production instrument now available.

I'd used roomfuls of Moog synth before, but from the beginning, all voltage-controlled synths were solid state. At last, Eric has produced the first synth!

The synth has a MIDI input, which I drove using my Roland GR-09 guitar synth. I spent hours experimenting with patches and settings, noting the elastic, full sound and feel of the output. I ended up producing the short Multitracked piece "Klezmer Surfers", using the Phattytron for a thick bass track and a complex analog texture spray. The sounds speak for themselves.

This synth isn't for everyone: it's not the keyboard synth you would use to quickly dial between instrument samples or traditional instrument emulations. It COULD certainly be used on stage. However, I believe it's place is in the studio, where someone can work with it to create the unique sounds it can deliver.

On the down side, the MIDI input is limited, and the pitch range (of the fundemental) has a maximum of 2.5 octaves. However, those 2.5 can be tuned to anywhere in the audio spectrum, so you can use the synth for bass, then retune it for upper spectrum work.

On the upside, it is very expressive, pitch stability is excellent, and Eric is great with technical support. The release models come with a variety of options that you can check out at the Metasonix site.

Eric is a nonstandard guy, and the Phattytron is a non-standard synth. If you're in a cover band, its probably not what you want. If you're looking for something unique, check it out. Its the only tube synth I've ever played--or heard of.

Comments About the Sounds:
This is an old-fashioned analog, voltage-controlled modularized synth...except that it is a vacuum-tube synth! The synth that history skipped. Sounds are as to be expected with a high-voltage, tube-based system: extremely rich, bassy, rubbery sounds available.

(Thanks to Robert Edgar for this info.)

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