Wednesday, January 09, 2008

Future Retro XS Semi-modular Synthesizer

In 1996 father and son duo Jon and Jared Flickinger burst onto the synth scene as the fledgling Future Retro company, and a touting a stunning first product, the FR777 monosynth. The FR777's fame hinged on its analogue design and integrated step sequencer, which were able to imitate the famed TB303 so well many claimed there was, for all practical purposes, no difference in sound (though the unit was capable of far, far more than simple imitation, I assure you). Now Future Retro has quietly released another individually hand built marvel, the XS Semi-modular synth.

The XS is a true analogue synth featuring an array of impressive features, including a whopping seven inputs and eleven outputs! It sports two voltage controlled oscillators with individual programmable sub-oscillators that can be 1/2, 1/4 or 1/8 of the oscillator's frequency, plus a wide variety of waveforms and modulation methods, including ring mod, and a white noise generator. Each can be independently modulated by both internal and external signals, as can the 2-pole multimode filter. The LFO can run free or in synch via MIDI to create stepping analgoue-style arpeggios, and the filters are described as self-oscillating, with independently overdriveable inputs and outputs. It accepts both MIDI and CV, and can act as a converter for other devices further down the chain as well. The depth of programming sounds stunning, and the audio demos back it up. It even comes with a universal power supply, for use in countries outside the US and Canada.

As a small, independent company, Future Retro has the ability to create synthesizers of extremely high quality without the design constraints often evident in synths designed by larger, mass production-oriented companies, leaving them free to pursue their own unique vision of what high quality synthesizers should be. This results in innovative units that push the envelope every single time, and the XS is no different in that regard. Take a trip to their website for a full rundown of this unit's features as well as some stunning audio demos. Like the FR777 and the Revolution before it, the XS is sure to be an instant modern classic. The unit has just started production, and carries a price tag of $1299 American. Like the FR777, the number of units made may well be limited, so get yours while (and if) you can!

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