EMS Synthi VCS3 Mk2 modular synthesizer circa 1978,

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Lot 95
EMS Synthi VCS3 Mk2 modular synthesizer
circa 1978,

Sold for £ 11,475 (US$ 15,780) inc. premium
Rock & Pop
EMS Synthi VCS3 Mk2 modular synthesizer
circa 1978,
in original wooden case with two panels providing controls for: two voltage controlled oscillators (VCOs), a low frequency oscillator (LFO), voltage controlled low pass/band pass voltage controlled filter (VCF), trapezoid envelope generator, noise source, ring modulator, voltage controlled spring reverb, 16 x 16 patch board matrix and 18 resistive connecting pins, joystick providing X, Y modulation control, reverse with power connector, headphone output, oscilloscope output, stereo output, two voltage control outputs, keyboard connector, two line level inputs and two microphone level inputs, trigger input, accompanied by a EMS manual and plug, approx 17in wide x 20in high (43cm x 51cm)

Footnotes

  • Electronic Music Studios, Ltd, better known as EMS was formed in 1969 by Peter Zinovieff, Tristram Cary and David Cockerell, mainly as a way to fund Zinovieff's experimental music studio. The Cockerell-designed VCS3 "Putney" (after the location of the studio) was the first commercial product. It was an attempt, at a time when the current offerings from early synthesizer companies such as Moog and Buchla were large modular systems that covered walls, to provide a compact (considered portable at the time) version of an electronic studio, hence the name VCS (Voltage Controlled Studio). The VCS3 was also modular, but utilized an ingenious patch matrix that alleviated the need for patch cables to connect the separate modules. The synthesizer soon found its way on to the soundtracks of popular television programs like Doctor Who and onto a number of popular albums of the day. It was prominently featured on tracks by Pink Floyd (such as the Dark Side of the Moon's "On the Run,") The Who (the "Won't Get Fooled Again" intro includes Lowrey organ processed through a VCS3), Roxy Music where it was played by original member Brian Eno who also used it on his solo albums, Led Zeppelin (played by John Paul Jones on "Four Sticks,") Hawkwind, King Crimson, Jean Michel Jarre, Tangerine Dream, etc.

    The VCS3 Mk2, known as the 'Synthi' remedied some of the issues of the earlier iteration especially regarding the oscillator instabilities and issues with the power supply and added envelope triggering on external audio through the input channel. This particular example was purchased by the consignor directly from EMS in the late 1970s and carefully maintained through the years. It's uncertain how many VCS3s were built, but some estimates put the number at 800. Doubtlessly, many of those had been discarded with the change of fashion that came with widely available digital synthesis and MIDI in the 1980s.

    This is a rare opportunity to purchase one of the legendary British synthesizers from the golden age of synthesis.
Contacts
EMS Synthi VCS3 Mk2 modular synthesizer circa 1978,
EMS Synthi VCS3 Mk2 modular synthesizer circa 1978,
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