Crumar GDS and DK Synergy

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Crumar GDS and DK Synergy

Post by saw » Fri Jul 20, 2012 1:05 pm

I'm doing some research on these and wondering if anyone can provide some clarification. From what I gather, DK is the 32 voice Additive/FM synthesizer while GDS is a sort of software environment used to program sounds on the Synergy. And this software ran on a standard computer system back in the early 80's called Kaypro. Is this close to being correct? I also read their was a sort of mini Synergy keyboard that could work with the GDS, so I'm wondering if the GDS could make sound on it's own without a full fledged Synergy connected?

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Post by usw » Fri Jul 20, 2012 3:07 pm

They're different instruments, the Synergy was designed later as a more affordable preset box with a keyboard, almost no synthesis controls but great expression fine tuning options, that could be fully edited with a computer.
The GDS costed something like 30000$ when it was released in 1979, the sound engine consisted in some rackmount hardware and the keyboard hosted many programming controls (I don't know whether a computer was needed as well or not, I'd say most likely).
Those synths were not only capable of additive synthesis with individual frequency and amplitude complex eg's per oscillator but also phase modulation with various algorithms, imo the most interesting/well thought out digital synth ever designed.

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Post by saw » Fri Jul 20, 2012 9:49 pm

Thanks for the explanation. That makes a lot more sense that they were separate. I did read that GDS was developed as a joint project between Crumar and DK so that would make sense that GDS got slimmed down into the Synergy later on. Very hard to find in-depth information on this online.

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Post by MindMachine » Sat Jul 21, 2012 12:21 am

The GDS was a much more developed system. The Synergy took a lot of waveform drawing and computer editing to even get any variance of sound. It was thinner than a Casio sound wise. I think Laurie Spiegal did some nice work with one (and maybe the GDS too). It must have taken days to get a few varying sounds from it. The GDS work that I have seen on line /heard from Wendy Carlos was really good. I think Klaus Schulze used a GDS too. I am not familiar with his work at that point.

HUGE EDIT: Just realized the synth I am referring to and thinking of was the Alpha Centauri Synthesizer w/ Apple II. Similar but way different. My apologies. I have no history w/ the Synergy. It was the Alpha Centauri that was thin sounding and tedious to use.
Last edited by MindMachine on Thu Aug 02, 2012 10:31 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Post by ndkent » Sat Jul 21, 2012 1:32 am

Sorry I'm doing this from memory. Tangerine Dream used a GDS (Thief) as did Schulze (Dig It).

The first Synergys were not programmable and had their sounds prototyped on the GDS, which stood for General Development System. So they were like the presets only (via cartridge) consumer versions. Then later, maybe with the Synergy II? the Kaypro "portable" computer gave you a voice editor. Then I think there was a II+ with more voices or something. Finally they put out the Mulogix Slave 32 in tiny numbers as a rack expander

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Post by doombient.music » Sat Jul 21, 2012 4:36 am

I´ll have one each, please.

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Post by MindMachine » Sat Jul 21, 2012 10:03 pm

ndkent wrote:Sorry I'm doing this from memory. Tangerine Dream used a GDS (Thief) as did Schulze (Dig It).

The first Synergys were not programmable and had their sounds prototyped on the GDS, which stood for General Development System. So they were like the presets only (via cartridge) consumer versions. Then later, maybe with the Synergy II? the Kaypro "portable" computer gave you a voice editor. Then I think there was a II+ with more voices or something. Finally they put out the Mulogix Slave 32 in tiny numbers as a rack expander
Then I must be recalling the Synergy II. My friend was tasked with writing the user manual and we had a prototype at his house. I am pretty sure that he failed to get the project done. He had just moved and bought a synth repair service. He was also doing work for Leo's music so he was in too deep. I remember thinking it was too much effort for too little sound. We were not forward thinking I suppose. It was hard to be when your friends house was full of Tom Costers Polymoog and Patrick Moraz 8 voice, etc.

HUGE EDIT: Just realized the synth I am referring to and thinking of was the Alpha Centauri Synthesizer w/ Apple II. Similar but way different. My apologies. I have no history w/ the Synergy. It was the Alpha Centauri that was thin sounding and tedious to use.

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Post by Morley » Sun Nov 17, 2013 5:04 pm

I am just getting my synergy II+ repaired. I think these are incredible synthesisers and with the Kaypro the editing is great. I really enjoyed using it when I first got it. As far as I recall, there is no real difference between the GDS and the synergy 2 The synergy 2 plus can be edited from the Kaypro and you have access to all of the parameters that the GDS had. There may have been differences but I have heard that it is identical. Klaus Schulze used the GDS and Wendy Carlos used a few synergies. In any case it is certainly one of the most interesting digital synthesisers that I have used.

Some info from the web.

The Synergy has 32 digital oscillators that are allocated to notes as they are played; voices which use more oscillators per note have less polyphony. Each oscillator can play a sine or a triangle wave. The Synergy is primarily known as an additive synthesizer, but you can also do FM on it (although to avoid ticking off Yamaha, Digital Keyboards didn't make a big deal about that feature at the time.) It seems underpowered compared to later additive synths, such as the brilliant Kurzweil K150, which has a bank of 240 oscillators. Yet, the Synergy often sounds just as impressive, if not more. I think that's primarily for four reasons:

On the Synergy, you actually specify two complete sets of rates and breakpoints for the envelopes, and the Synergy can smoothly interpolate between the two based on, for instance, velocity information. On something like the K150, the velocity has much more limited control. This is much more complex than a simple crossfade.
On the K150, each partial can be set to non-harmonic frequencies, but each partial is then locked to that frequency. On the Synergy, each partial can have its own independent frequency envelope.
The envelopes are quite flexible, with up to 16 stages, for both amplitude and frequency. (The Kawai K5000 had only give 5 stage envelopes.)
Wendy Carlos went nuts on the Synergy, and spent years refining its voice library. Most of her voices only use two or three oscillators, yet they sound incredible. The fact that she tuned them all by ear - i.e. no FFTs or phase vocoders used! - is remarkable. Synergy has 32 digital oscillators that are allocated to notes as they are played; voices which use more oscillators per note have less polyphony. Each oscillator can play a sine or a triangle wave. The Synergy is primarily known as an additive synthesizer, but you can also do FM on it (although to avoid ticking off Yamaha, Digital Keyboards didn't make a big deal about that feature at the time.) It seems underpowered compared to later additive synths, such as the brilliant Kurzweil K150, which has a bank of 240 oscillators. Yet, the Synergy often sounds just as impressive, if not more. I
:tu: think that's primarily for four reasons:

On the Synergy, you actually specify two complete sets of rates and breakpoints for the envelopes, and the Synergy can smoothly interpolate between the two based on, for instance, velocity information. On something like the K150, the velocity has much more limited control. This is much more complex than a simple crossfade.
On the K150, each partial can be set to non-harmonic frequencies, but each partial is then locked to that frequency. On the Synergy, each partial can have its own independent frequency envelope.
The envelopes are quite flexible, with up to 16 stages, for both amplitude and frequency. (The Kawai K5000 had only give 5 stage envelopes.)
Wendy Carlos went nuts on the Synergy, and spent years refining its voice library. Most of her voices only use two or three oscillators, yet they sound incredible. The fact that she tuned them all by ear - i.e. no FFTs or phase vocoders used! - is remarkable.

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Post by Dragonslair » Tue Dec 17, 2013 2:36 pm

Generally, Morley has it right, the original Synergy was a preset version of the GDS
Here is a brief overview of the Synergy

The Synergy is a fully digital keyboard-oriented sound synthesizer that incorporates many innovative features. The precision provided by the controlling computer and 32 completely digital oscillators allows the creation of extremely natural timbres in addition to standard synthesizer sounds. Individual strings with the "scratch" of the bow, plucked harps, and struck xylophones of unparalleled realism are available to the synthesist.
A 74-key velocity sensitive keyboard is used to control both the amplitude and timbre of the sound. A pair of "sensitivity" controls - one for amplitude and one for timbre allow the dynamics of the keyboard to be continuously varied. The synthesist can therefore adjust the touch of the keyboard as desired. The timbre controls allow variations in the timbre - such as the "depth" of a leslie, speed of an echo, or brightness of the sound - to be determined by how hard the keys are struck, independent of the amplitude sensitivity.
A unique feature of the Synergy is the capability of playing up to four different timbres from the keyboard at the same time. Sophisticated program logic provides several modes for conveniently controlling the assignment of timbres to the keys.
In Unison, a note for each active timbre is started when a key is struck. In Rolling, each new key "rolls" to the next timbre in the selected sequence, round robin style. First Available facilitates voice, leading by selecting a timbre based on the number of keys currently down. Floating Split splits the keyboard into two ranges, but rather than having a fixed split pooint, moves the position of the split so that each timbre "tracks" the movement of one hand up and down the keyboard.
Split allows the synthesist to select a fixed keyboard split point with a timbre on each side of the that point. Several hybrid modes are also available. In addition to the 24 pre programed timbres included with the instrument, a "cartridge" slot - much like that found on home video games (IIRC, the older Atari cartridges used the same housing as the Synergy) - allows additional sets of 24 timbres to be available at the touch of a button. As new timbres are developed they can be played by inserting new cartridges into the slot. Storage for up to 8 complete setting of the instrument ("programs") is included. This allows the synthesist to prepare desired settings of timbres. etc. in advance and store them for immediate recall during a performance. (requires a Synergy II Plus and Kaypro)
The Synergy includes a fully digital built in four track event recorder, that allows the preparation of back ground accompaniment or simple recordings. Each track is polyphonic and polytimbral, and can be set to play through or loop continuously.
The format is designed for easy overdubbing, and up to 1860 notes can be recorded. Because the sound is re-synthesized on playback rather than just recorded various parameters can be changed dynamically, such as timbre balance, vibrato, transposition, speed (without altering pitch), and even the substitution of a fixed metronomic rhythm for the original rhythm.The Synergy has stereo outputs. Each timbre can be individually assigned to either the left, center, or right channels, or be set to "alternate" between the left and right channel when keys are struck. "Intelligent" polyphonic portamento can be set on each timbre, that gives the player the ability to control the sliding of many notes simultaneously. Notes can slide in any order, and in any direction, even "crossing' each other as they glide Three types of portamento are available: smooth slide smooth slide without re-triggering of the envelopes and semitone slide (glissando). In addition to the timbre and amplitude sensitivity controls described above, a variety of parameters can be adjusted individually for each timbre. The depth. rate and initial delay of vibrato or random pitch fluctuations; speed and type of portamento; transposition; stereo channel assignment. and monophonic/polyphonic state. Other features include a programmable pitch bend, which allows the player to set the maximum range of the control, and a "modulation" stick that introduces vibrato under fingertip control. The instrument includes a sustain pedal and a sustenato pedal, which functions like the center pedal on a piano. Normally eight notes are playable simultaneously though this varies according to the number of oscillators required for each note of the active timbres (there are 32 oscillators and most timbres require four oscillators). Up to sixteen notes are possible with 2 oscillator timbres. The state-of-the-art computer technology incorporated into the Synergy provides a quality of sound and degree of flexibility not available with analog synthesizers.

There where two versions of the keyboard, the Synergy and the Synergy II+. The original Synergy was a preset only version of the GDS. With the advent of the Kaypro II computer, they came up with a set of expansion boards that where retrofitted into existing Synergy's (now the Synergy II Plus) which added midi and a serial interface that could be hooked up to the Kaypro II computer which basically turned the Synergy II Plus into a GDS.

My Synergy is one of the original versions, no serial or midi so it can only play presets.
I contacted Stoney Stockel (one of the original designers) about 15 years ago, and he sent me all the information and software he had for the Synergy, so I now have all the manuals, voice files and cartridge files along with the Kaypro II software. I "cloned" the cartridge pcb and made up a few of my own cartridges I then designed a pcb for 12 "cartridges, selectable by a standard keypad, along with a LCD display so you would know which cartridge was selected.
I also have the Kaypro software running in a Z80 emulator, so I can compile my own custom voice cartridges, I can't do any voice editing yet, but I have a line on a dead Synergy II Plus, if I can upgrade mine to a II plus I'll be able to edit or create my own voices.
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Post by doombient.music » Tue Dec 17, 2013 6:37 pm

I envy you.

Stephen

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Post by mmp » Wed Dec 18, 2013 8:17 pm

I used to own two Synergy II+ s with Kaypros.

I think the coolest thing about programing these was that you program two voices for the patch, one for the highest keyboard velocity and another for the lowest. The instrument then smoothly interpolates between those bounds through all the velocity values each affecting all 32 partials and their respective amplitude & frequency envelope stages. Very powerful & musical.

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Post by EMwhite » Thu Dec 19, 2013 2:00 pm

My friend's Dad (Tom Piggott) worked with Wendy getting the Synergy up and running and I remember well how that thing sounded. Never met Wendy, but there was a Synergy in Tom's home studio and I remember marveling at all of his gear, all of which he would let us play with EXCEPT for the Synergy. It was his baby and hands off!

We loaded that thing into his van and drove up to Massachusetts where Tom would perform each year at a small town beauty patent. Not exactly a portable instrument, definitely underrated and most definitely ahead of it's time.

But it was TOO good, meaning that cost of engineering, components, and build put it squarely it in the category of Fairlights, Kurzweils, and other synth rocketships. They just didn't have the distribution model of what was to become a massive Japanese lead synthesizer industry.

If the original Oberheim 4-voice/8-voice was killed by the Prophet 5, the Synergy was taken out by every digital synth to come during and after it starting with the DX7. Not exactly an apples-to-apples comparison but not too far off considering the state of the industry at the time.

I also met Stoney once or twice, he was instrumental in helping to develop the GDS and Synergy. I was just a teenager at the time and didn't realize that some decades later I'd have a room full of my own 'vintage' synths. And no, I don't have a Synergy; closest I have from that era is a K250 : ) Not in the same league but at the time, it was a technological marvel.

If you want to read some really good cover about the Synergy and GDS, have a look at the link below and scroll back to pg. 206, or just by the book (worth it's weight in GOLD).

http://books.google.com/books?id=tNci9y ... gy&f=false
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Post by Hideaway Studio » Sat Oct 18, 2014 4:15 pm

Sorry to resurrect this old thread but I thought at least some of you might be interested in my current major restoration... Klaus Schulze's old Crumar GDS which is now up and running again in my workshop.

It is one of only 10 ever built at $30,000 a piece in 1979.

This example is the instrument used to record his album Digit. You can follow my restoration blog here:

http://www.vintagesynth.com/forum/viewt ... =1&t=77037

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Post by dadek » Sun Oct 19, 2014 12:18 pm

Amazing, thanks for the heads up. Will be following. :yay:

I think Edgar Froese had one as well, featured on the 'Stuntman' album.

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Post by doombient.music » Sun Oct 19, 2014 12:47 pm

TD had one but I am not sure about the use of it on "Stuntman" -- this album is more or less a showcase of the PPG 360 Wave Computer and PPG 350 Computer Sequencer.

Since I wasn't around when it was recorded, I can't tell for certain, of course.

Stephen

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Post by abstraktor » Sun Oct 19, 2014 12:51 pm

Just reading the restoration blog - thanks for sharing Hideaway. Absolutely fascinating - I came across the system in Mark Vail's book, but I'm in total admiration of the meticulous attention to back-up and archiving you are working on with this instrument.
Would you recommend Hxc as a system to replace floppy drives on Emu samplers?

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Post by Hideaway Studio » Tue Oct 21, 2014 2:18 pm

abstraktor wrote:Just reading the restoration blog - thanks for sharing Hideaway. Absolutely fascinating - I came across the system in Mark Vail's book, but I'm in total admiration of the meticulous attention to back-up and archiving you are working on with this instrument.
Would you recommend Hxc as a system to replace floppy drives on Emu samplers?
Yes, very much so - I was one of the early adopters of this superb system and it works beautifully with the EII.

I was the first to install HxC on the Kaypro II used in conjunction with the DK Synergy having transferred all the voice files, OS and system over. It utterly transforms the use of so many machines of this age and is so easy to back up.

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Post by Hideaway Studio » Tue Oct 21, 2014 2:23 pm

dadek wrote:Amazing, thanks for the heads up. Will be following. :yay:

I think Edgar Froese had one as well, featured on the 'Stuntman' album.
The other GDS owned by a TD member was in fact owned by Chris Franke and I'm in contact with the current owner.

Only two GDS systems were ever sold outside of the US. In the case of KS's unit here it's very obvious to spot as the spindle motors in the huge 8" drives are 220V 50Hz ie. they were built to order for the European market.

So in a way these two examples are the rarest of them all.

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Post by cornutt » Tue Oct 21, 2014 2:31 pm

Hideaway Studio wrote:Sorry to resurrect this old thread but I thought at least some of you might be interested in my current major restoration... Klaus Schulze's old Crumar GDS which is now up and running again in my workshop.
Wow. It is my understanding that the GDS was originally intended to have multiple operating systems and application software written for it, but the Synergy OS was the only one that was ever finished. (Sound familiar? Same story for the Fairlight.)
Sequence 15 -- sequence15.blogspot.com

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Post by cscairney » Wed Oct 22, 2014 1:47 am

The Synergy is such a lovely synthesizer! It has a very unique character from any other synth. I miss mine very much. Anyone know of anuy studios in California with a working one?

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Post by BKehew » Thu Dec 25, 2014 8:16 pm

So there are now two working GDS systems going again, and one interested user who may also have another that can be helped by this work. When it's back here, I'll try to shoot some video and explore the system better...

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Post by DiscoDevil » Tue May 19, 2015 6:37 am

Synergy n00b here. I am about to take possession of one. It has a single Wendy Carlos cart with it. I have never seen any of the carts for sale. Is there a resource somewhere to track these things down?

Thank you

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Post by DiscoDevil » Wed May 20, 2015 8:28 am

Votek_Mendo wrote:Send me a PM ;)
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synergy I

Post by patrickdafunk » Thu Jun 04, 2015 2:16 pm

Dragonslair

hello,
I found you on google after searching hours about information about DK SYNERGY 1 synthesizer. I was hoping to find some advice. I can get a Synergy I with the Kaypro computer for a good price. But I don't know if it's possible to edit sounds. I saw your posts on Muff wiggler that you are planning to work out a way in editing your Synergy. Have you found success?

Would love to hear from you. Thank you kindly!
Regards,
Jasper

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