by Rob Puricelli | 4,8 / 5,0 | Approximate reading time: 6 Minutes
Cherry Audio PS-3300

Cherry Audio PS-3300  ·  Source: Cherry Audio

Cherry Audio PS-3300

Cherry Audio PS-3300  ·  Source: Cherry Audio

EMEAPP KORG PS-3300

EMEAPP KORG PS-3300  ·  Source: Cherry Audio

Cherry Audio PS-3300

Cherry Audio PS-3300  ·  Source: Cherry Audio

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In their continuing effort to bring top-quality synths to the masses at amazing price points, Cherry Audio’s PS-3300 delivers a software recreation of one of the rarest and most desirable Korg synths ever.

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There is rare. And then there’s rare. KORG’s PS Series of synthesizers topped out with the legendary PS-3300. Allegedly, only around 50 were ever made. By comparison, Yamaha made almost three times as many DX1’s. For every one PS-3300 built, KORG built 5000 M1’s! So yes, the PS-3300 is up there with the most unobtanium synths ever made. Not only is it rare, but it was also totally bonkers for its time. Three independent synthesizers feeding into a master panel that houses a mixer, extra modulation capabilities and more envelope generators.

KORG PS-3300 History

It was big, bold and brash. It was also fully polyphonic. The specifications were insane and would melt your brain today, let alone at the end of the 1970’s when these were being made. Each of the three signal generators had 12, independently tuneable divide-down oscillators. They also had discrete VCF’s and, get this, a VCA PER NOTE. Fully polyphonic with independent articulation on every single note. It’s like KORG’s engineering department went to the pub and six hours later returned to design a synth. Opening up a PS-3300 revealed a mass of cables and circuitry that would make you weep. Add to all this the ability to patch in and between all three modules, as well as the master panel and you have a synth that even Dr. Bob Moog called “…the best synthesizer for fat sounds…”.

The KORG PS-3300 originally sold for $7500 in 1977. Today, a restored, working example can fetch at least $100,000, maybe more. If synthesizers were cars, the PS-3300 would be a ’58 Ferrari 250 Testa Rossa.

A PS-3300 for Everyone!

Whilst there have been attempts at recreating this classic in the past, most notably Full Bucket Music’s FB-3300, Cherry Audio’s latest offering promises to be the closest and maybe prettiest yet. As their source, Cherry Audio went to Philadelphia, PA, home of EMEAPP. The Electronic Music Education and Preservation Project owns one of the finest, working collections of vintage synthesizers and related gear. This collection is used for education, research and creative endeavours and is a charitable, not-for-profit organisation. It is their PS-3300 that Cherry Audio has used as the baseline for their plugin.

EMEAPP KORG PS-3300

EMEAPP KORG PS-3300 · Source: Cherry Audio

Everything from the original has been recreated in the plugin. But why stop there when technological advancements can help bring the design into the 21st century?

Cherry Audio PS-3300 – The Same, But Better

It’s all too easy to recreate a classic, be it hardware or software, and just let it be that. Sure, you have to slap in a few things to make it usable today. But you shouldn’t just leave it there, and Cherry Audio never do that. Whilst their version of the PS-3300 is faithful to the original, it adds more than just the obvious. For example, each synth section now has both a PS or MS filter style selection, tempo sync, and temperament tuning presets. One thing extra you can do with this version of a PS-3300 is to copy and paste settings between panels! Want to control the filter cutoff on all three units at once using your MIDI controller? Simple. Use MIDI Learn and you can do just that.

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These improvements continue over on the master signal mixer. Things like bend range, per-channel panning and levels can all be controlled by continuously variable CV. And it would be silly not to cram in a selection of effects too, right? So it’s great that Cherry Audio has done that too, giving you reverb, echo and chorus FX that are all able to be controlled via a patch cable from such places as the Mod Generators. And pretty much every control can be MIDI mapped to your controller or device, with mappings on a patch or global basis. Patch cables are easily connected and can be completely hidden if you start knitting something resembling your grandmother’s cardigan. There’s a whole option panel for cable behaviour!

Cherry Audio PS-3300

Cherry Audio PS-3300 · Source: Cherry Audio

As Pretty As It Is Thunderous

Cherry Audio always do great panel designs and the PS-3300 is no exception. Beautifully detailed but clear and easily navigable. They’ve even included the chunky umbilical between the keyboard and the main unit. But this is all secondary to the sound. Now, with only 50 of these ever made, and probably less than that still in existence, you won’t be surprised to learn that I can’t compare this to an original. The best I can do is speak with people lucky enough to have used or owned one.

There’s a great video of Goldfrapp’s Will Gregory on YouTube that shows him using his PS-3300. Whilst I didn’t attempt to recreate any of his patches, I was able to get sounds that were better than ballpark with this software recreation. As with any synth of this vintage, effects really do help and so it’s great that the Cherry Audio version has these built in. It’s worth pointing out that whilst the original hardware was fully polyphonic, i.e. if you held every key down on the keyboard, all 48 notes on each of the three synth modules will sound, the software version maxes out at 24. I don’t think this will cause anyone but the most finicky users an issue!

Cherry Audio’s PS-3300 comes with over 360 presets built in, designed by the likes of Drew Schlesinger, James Terris and INHALT. There’s also a bonus bank of presets based on the patch sheets supplied with KORG’s original manual. A further bank of 100 patches by James Dyson is available separately via Cherry Audio’s shop.

Cherry Audio PS-3300

Cherry Audio PS-3300 · Source: Cherry Audio

In Conclusion

Cherry Audio’s PS-3300 is a thing of great beauty. It seems to capture the power and madness of the original perfectly and is truly unlike any other plugin you’re likely to have in your sonic arsenal. Scale the gorgeous UI to fill your screen and you can very quickly get lost in this thing. It both looks and sounds hugely impressive and continues Cherry Audio’s incredible streak of great synthesizer plugins. I’m beginning to run out of superlatives when it comes to this company and their work.

It’s too easy to say, “You must buy this, it’s only $49”. To buy Cherry Audio gear simply because it is low-cost is completely missing the point and quite possibly insulting to Dan and his amazing team. You should be buying these synths because they sound fantastic, because they encourage sonic exploration and they add something to your palette that you probably don’t already have.

And if you needed another incentive to buy this, for the rest of the month of October, Cherry Audio are donating 10% of all PS-3300 profits to EMEAPP. There is also an option when buying on the Cherry Audio store to donate an amount of your own choosing to EMEAPP.

Cherry Audio PS-3300 is available for Mac (10.13+) and Windows (7+) as an AU/VST/VST3/AAX plugin and also standalone. Price is $49 USD for a limited time. MSRP is $69.

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Cherry Audio PS-3300

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2 responses to “Cherry Audio PS-3300 – The Affordable Rarity”

    nine says:
    0

    glad to hear your thoughts on the CA version!

    g. says:
    0

    I know it’s not the same, but maybe someone is interested. UVI has already created the Korg PS 3200 sound collection (UVS 3200).

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