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1. Verdicts
(The Subjective Part)

What evidence or feeling is behind my decisions leading to "verdicts" like crappy or superb? It's all contextualized. At the end of the day it all boils down to inspiration or the lack thereof. But the road leading to it is paved with many various factors. For example, the more hype a synth has, and the more expensive it is, the more I expect from it and the bigger chances of my disappointment (isn't that natural for everybody?). Sometimes I almost behave like a capricious child, but that's only because I also keep in mind the broad picture of the evolution of synths and I want to keep a healthy balance. If I went too far with rational & mature appreciation, I would get to the point when every synth could be summed up by the holy words "it is what it is, be thankful that it exists". Conversely, when I'm writing a review of a synth which is generally dismissed or dissed to death, I try to highlight its good sides, play the devil's advocate to some extent. Of course if a Roland JP-8000 was my first synth, or was given to me to be enjoyed on a desert island, most probably it (or the experience) would be superb. But this type of out-of-context, groundless theorizing is pointless in my view. Evaluating synths needs to be placed at once within all the spheres of fun, economy and art. I'm not a son of a millionaire. If I was, I would just have all the synths of the world brought to my feet and throw them away if I didn't like them. But there's the risk that with such a carefree attitude, it would all be equally cool or equally boring and pointless. I work, which means I exchange my life for money, which means I exchange my life for the synths that I buy with that money. The notion of cost is a strong fixture in my life and the landscape (thoughtscape;P) of my mind. Therefore, these verdicts should be helpful to those of you who see those connections and interdependencies in a similar way. So if a synth is superb, it is superb in its contextual entirety (features / price / efficacy / hype), not superb as a standalone set of molecules in the universe. Is free water, as an object to splash yourself with on a summer day, superb? Yes. Is it a superb deal to cut off and trade your arm for a bottle of water? No. If a synth is superb, it means that it superbly fulfills what it professes to fulfill, or gives me superb sounds, comfort, effectiveness, inspiration, etc and does it within rational boundaries of time & money. Of course some people will see this as an outrage that I mark the Alesis Ion as superb, while the Virus TI gets only a mere proper mark. "How the fuck is it possible that a $500 synth is better than my $2000 baby?" If your $2k baby lets you create everything you ever wanted, that's great, and I'm happy to drop out of the picture this very moment. Some people just need a fart sound and a Yamaha CS-5 will be superb for them, whereas the TI will be total crap because it cannot make such juicy organic farts. Again, I'd like to keep a healthy balance between looking at all this from a musician's and from a synth-freak's point of view, but it ain't easy. My advice: Don't take life and this site too seriously. Have fun. The only thing you can truly believe in is yourself.

 

 

2. Sound Evaluation / Grade Groups
(The Objective Part)

Depending on the kind of a given synth, you will come across several grades.
These grades describe how synths fare against each other.
I do not want to be any kind of self-appointed synth judge, but if you like what I like, and it happens that we think and hear alike,
you could find these numbers helpful. You might want to interpret it like that;

 

 

 

3. Division

The synths are divided into vintage and VA for obvious reasons. Comparing Korg Polysix and a Novation synth would be a horrific misunderstanding.