School me on 70s-80s synths

I’ve always been more into samplers, but I’ve been having a ball with my new MS-101, and it’s got me excited about synths for the first time.

I came across this tutorial on the PBS intro, and I realized that’s the synth aesthetic that I love. This turns out to have been originally done on an EMS VCS 3.

I’ve always associated this kind of sound with Boards of Canada and I’m wondering what other synths have this kind of vibe. With so many old synths being remade at affordable prices, I kind of want to know what poly synth I should keep my eye out for to accompany my MS-101.

How about the Prophet 6 or Jupiter 8?

While I had sworn off buying soft synths, in a moment of weakness I bought the Arturia V collection since it’s 50% off and I had another $50 off coupon from them. I figure it might be able to help me figure out what synths match the sound I’m after.

BTW, the EMS synth in here has a definite BoC vibe! One of my favorites so far.


I guess you mean the jupiter x ?

regarding BOC I know they used a SH101 and yamaha synths, the cs70m was mentioned to be their trademark synth

I used to be strictly a groovebox-dude (RM1X, DX-200, AN-200 etc.) until one saturday in 2010 I went to a thrift store and saw a nice condition 1981 Korg Polysix there underneath a pile of random clothes and jewellery. I asked the shop owner ”How much is this large organ?” Trying not to give away that it’s an expensive vintage synth. He paused for a thought and said ”Is 30 euros ok?” I ran all the way to the ATM to get cash money and bought it instantly. Maybe a year after that a friend phoned me: ”Hey there’s a synthesizer of some kind going to the trash bin at my work. Are you interested? It’s a Monopoly or something like that.” In a short time I had acquired two classic synths for the total cost of thirty euros.

The sound of those two was just unbelievable and all my previous gear sounded tinny compared to them. From there started my vintage analog period. I sold all my digital gear and bought myself a good collection of vintage analog. I had Roland SH-2000, Juno-6, SH-101, Korg MS-20, DW-8000, DW-6000, Poly-800 and a huge amount of other cool stuff like three identical Boss KM-60 mixers. My ultimate dream was owning a Jupiter 8. After maybe 6-7 years I eventually got tired of always repairing that batch of 30-40 year old hardware and sold most of it.

Now I’m a happy owner of V-Collection, a couple of Elektron boxes and some good rack gear. The software synths have come a long way in the last ten years and I don’t miss having a roomful of vintage gear. The closest I’ve ever gotten to BOC type of sounds have been on a Waldorf Blofeld and on the Biosphere sound packs for my Analog Keys.


Yeah. I guess more than looking for Boards of Canada exactly, what I’m talking about is the sounds from those old 70s and early 80s films and TV shows, like the PBS logo I uploaded.

While I haven’t dived into it yet, I hear that the old Leonard Nimoy show “In Search Of” is filled with great old-school synth sounds.

I would totally be 100% with you about avoiding old synths if we weren’t in an era where they are being recreated and sold at really affordable prices. Behringer is currently working on a Prophet 600 clone with a boutique builder called Gligli, and I have seen rumors from Behringer that they are also working on a Jupiter 8 And EMS VCS3.

While I find the V collection interesting as a learning tool and very cool on its own, I would much prefer to own a couple of analog synths. The subtle modulation and drift on my MS-101 has exactly the BoC vibe that I love.

I’m also a huge fan of guitar amps from the 70s. Despite how far software has come, and probably sounds just as good in a mix, my old tube amps are just a joy to use, and instantly have the sound I’m after.

I think it’s probably just my age. At 44, nostalgia has set in, so I long for simpler days and old gear represents that in a way.

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I played with a Jupiter 6 for a few weeks. It’s definitely great!

But! I would say a decent poor man’s J6 would be an Akai AX60. Some people hate it; some people love it.

Why I love it: 1.) It was designed to be a Juno killer, which makes it the perfect compainion to the Juno! It has soooo many features the Juno doesn’t have but almost never replaces the classic sweet spot of the Juno :handshake: 2.) The damn frequency modulation is killer. There’s a Youtube video actually showing off what’s going on. The voltage is designed to go beyond the chips recommended specs making some ridiculous harmonic bending sounds :drooling_face: 3.) Ever wanted a Juno with Unison? You got it :+1: 4.) Juno is DCO, AX60 is VCO :sunglasses: AND SO MUCH MORE!


Awesome. I’ll definitely check it out!

As I mentioned before I never had a whole lot of love for synths, although I have owned a number over the years including a MicroKorg, DS Evolver, Juno 106, and Roland SE-02.

I was recently watching this video and realized I liked the sound of the Pro-1 more than the Prophet 600. Since I have so little experience with polysynths and have not bonded with any of the other synths I’ve owned but the MS-101, I’m wondering if I’d get along with polysynths. I think for me to bond with a synth, it will have to be something with not only the sound I love, but a layout that is intuitive to me and easy to work with (like the MS-101). I can’t stand the matrix style editors like the microkorg or DS evolver.


I know this synth.
I just was wondering because you talked about modern versions.
This one will cost you more than 10k I assume

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I think there might be an affordable clone in the works. I guess at the moment I’m trying to figure out what sound I like, rather than looking for a synth to buy.

If you like the Jupiter type of sound, I would say check the Roland system 8


TBH, I don’t really know if I like the Jupiter sound. My hope with this thread was for someone to tell me what synths to look at for the type of sound I was describing. For example, which ones were most used for that kind of work back in the 70s and early 80s, and what analog polysynths have a similar character.

Part of the problem is that I’m still looking for good examples of what I like beyond that PBS video I posted and the BoC stuff. I’ll post more examples as I find them on YouTube.


I don’t think polysynths were very common until the early to mid 80’s - the Jupiter 8 came out in the early 80s I think, although the Yamaha Cs80 was out in the late 70s. So a lot of 70’s style synth stuff would mostly have been done with monosynths like the minimoog, vcs3, ms20, and various modular systems (I think! Not a great synth historian).

If you want poly and vintage, the Jupiter 8 has a great sound - if you just want to try it out and see whether a System 8 might be good for you, you could try out the Roland Cloud version first.


Cool. This helps! I’m still trying to get it all straight in my mind - match the sound to the synth and what not.

I’ll mess around with the Jup-8 in the V synth collection I just picked up today. I have to say this is proving to be $199 well spent! I’ve been playing around on it for hours and it’s incredibly fun.

So far I’m loving the VCS3, the Arp2600, and the minimoog. I have yet to really scratch the surface though! This is worth the price for the educational and fun value, let alone for use in my music projects!


Since you are still a sample type guy you may want to consider pairing a nice mono with a poly capable sampler. Lots of BoC type sounds are sample based as well.

If you’re masochistic enough perhaps a period correct sampler may be what is in order.

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Not a poly but if you get a Mini-Korg 700S that’s had a full service, it will probably not need anything for many years and will give you a sound which is 100% unavailable anywhere else. They cost a lot but… there’s a reason that they do… so if you’re looking for an amazing analogue that pairs INSANELY well with a BBD delay and a good reverb…

It’s also the only synth I’ve ever used where the very highest pitch range sounds absolutely beautiful and completely organic, like it’s an animal producing the sound.


not sure about the CS-70m (they’re rare, and I’ve never played one). but I owned a Jupiter 4 for a while and it always screamed BOC to me. especially if the voices are just slightly out of tune from one another (which is common, and easy to do yourself).

oh and definitely the SH-101. but less for bass I think, more for leads.

yes and no. still some vintage gems to be found that aren’t insanely priced. and which are pretty reliable. I think the Polysix is one of these. only a few gotchas to watch out for and they’re usually much cheaper than a Juno 106/60, and WAY cheaper than a Jupiter or Oberheim.


I’d say this was a good move. It’s got loads of classic synths and you’ll get an idea for the history of the technology. Just take it one step at a time because there’s a lot to learn.

PolySix is a good synth, just be aware they have a propensity to eat their own CPU board if the internal soldered battery hasn’t been changed. I’ve a feeling the same issue might affect the MonoPoly too. It’s not a deal breaker as a few companies offer replacement CPU boards. KiwiSix is possibly the most advanced in terms of offering improvements over the original (miles more memories etc) as they also use an upgraded CPU. I put their kit in my P6 and it’s a great bit of kit.

You could look out a few more poly’s at the more affordable end of the market too. Roland JX3P and JX8P can be had for reasonable money and IMO they both sound great. Another couple are the Korg DW6000 and DW8000. Digital oscillators but lovely creamy analogue filters. On a similar tip there is the Ensoniq ESQ-1.