by Robin Vincent | 2,3 / 5,0 | Approximate reading time: 4 Minutes
Abstrakt Instruments VS-1

Abstrakt Instruments VS-1  ·  Source: Abstrakt Instruments


Four years after it went live on Kickstarter, the VS-1 Polyphonic Analog Synthesizer, an OB-X inspired machine, is now shipping.


VS-1 Update

Kickstarters don’t always go to plan. Four years ago, people hoped their $995 would buy them an 8-voice kit or a completed synth for almost $3k. They were originally slated for a July 2020 delivery, but the first kits are finally being shipped out.

According to an update on the Kickstarter page the first 100 kits shipped on the 21st of January. By way of explanation, Brian Castro from Abstrakt Instrument wrote:

I would like to mention that it was very labor intensive to provide Full Parts Kits (thousands of man hours). I wanted to provide them directly so that we could control the sourcing of all parts, and provide all new parts from first sources (major distributors) and new-old-stock parts from reliable obsolete component distributors. This will be a huge bonus when it comes to building the kits and having the correct parts. The initial intent was to maintain a bigger team to delegate some of this busy-work. However, with all the delays and having to slim down operations we just had to put our heads down and push through. In addition to myself, we currently only have a software engineer and a part-time technician. I will be looking to expand in the near future, but for now I wanted to thank everyone for being so patient. We will most certainly be looking to work with a 3rd party to provide parts kits in the future.

This is great news for all the DIY-empowered backers. However, there are still no confirmed shipping dates on the completed retail version. But fair play to Brian and his team for sticking with it and I hope it’s as good as it looks.

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From 14th Januray 2020.

They are aiming to fuse vintage analog sound with modern features. They want to keep all the quirks, all the drift and deliciousness of analog. Combining the discrete analog design the Oberheim OB-X voice card with the digital control and clean interface of a modern 3U rack synthesizer.

They did this before, sort of. In 2018 they produced OB-X voices cards and were able to fund them successfully via Kickstarter. This time around they’ve developed a whole synthesizer around these voices cards to offer a more complete product. That’s fabulous!

Each voice card contains two VCOs with saw and pulse waves, cross-modulation and hard sync. There’s white and pink noise. A classic 12dB OTA filter with multiple modes and a dedicated ADSR envelope. Panning VCAs with spread control.  A dedicated ADSR for the VCA plus a global DADSR envelope with 20 destinations. There are two analog LFOs and two digital LFOs.

The modern part runs on 600MHz ARM-Cortex-M7-based System. It has a 16-bit DAC that updates the CVs 4,000 times a second. It has single, split and layer modes playing either a single program of up to 8 voices or two parts of 4 voices. There are alternative tunings built-in and an “Autotune” function while lets you either leave it a bit dodgy like the OB-X or pull it into line a bit more with perfection. There’s a 64-step polyphonic sequencer, an arpeggiator and chord memory. It has aftertouch support although full MPE compatibility is a stretch goal.

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The look of the box matches the OB-X although it’s also reminiscent of something Black Corporation might produce.

The sound demos are awesome and Abstrakt Instruments believe with some minor adjustments they are pretty much ready to go. They are looking to raise just over £60k and are a third of the way there already.

There are a range of preorder options starting with the 8-voice kit at $995. It comes with everything other than the components which you will have to source yourself. For $2,795 you can get a 4-voice version of the VS-1, £2,995 gets you 6 voices and $3,195 gets you all 8 voices. But there are Early Bird prices and so get in there quick to take advantage of the discount.

There seem to be many Oberheim OB-X based synthesizers that pop up and then never reach the light of day. The VS-1 looks like it’s well on its way to becoming a reality.

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Abstrakt Instruments VS-1

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One response to “Abstrakt Instruments VS-1 Polyphonic Analog Synthesizer ships four years later”

    Justin says:

    Brian forgive to mention that no one knows when the full built samples will be delivered… All of us who paid more than 3000 bucks are never answered when we ask him by any way we find… That is a shame!!!

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