Released in 2006, Korg’s Radias synth was the follow-up to the MS2000 (also worth a look) and their answer to Access’ Virus and Nord Lead ranges that were dominating the market at the time. It never seemed to quite gain the hype that it deserved though and they still seem to oat under the radar on the used market. The capabilities of this thing are immense. 24 voices, four part multitimbral, two filters per timbre, per-part effects plus master effects, two 32-step sequencers (or one 64-step), arpeggiator, vocoder, drums, modulation sequencing, tons of knobs for hands on control… I could fill a page with all the stuff the thing can do. So what was its undoing? Well, a lot of reviews said it didn’t sound analogue. Boringgggg. It may not sound like a CS80, but there are sound-sculpting capabilities for days here; you’d be hard pressed to not make a handful of sounds you don’t like. Their original RRP was over $2000 in Australia – expect to pay a fraction of that these days if you’re lucky.
The MC909 was Roland’s final ‘groovebox’ of the MC series; a last ditch attempt to pack as much sequencing, synth and sampling power into a box to convince people that you don’t need a computer to make music. With 64 voices, 16-part multitimbral, a unique four tone sample-based synthesiser engine, huge screen (for the time and now), sampling, plenty of hands on control, incredible effects and tons more, it was a solid alternative to the computers of 2003. But you can’t stop progress, especially when it comes to laptop power. With Ableton Live software coming into existence with its superior time stretching and various other exciting features for beat-makers, the humbler MC909 fell by the wayside. However, it still does a lot of really great sounds. Skip over the incredibly dated hardcore/ trance patterns, plug a MIDI keyboard in and get jamming – it’s particularly suited for cruisey, down-tempo and ambient music with some beautiful reverbs. Again, RRP was over $2000, but don’t expect to pay anywhere near that now.
ACCESS VIRUS B
The Virus B is another that floats under the radar, with most second hand buyers going for the better spec’d Virus C or TI; the B can be had for a steal. In its day back in 1999, the Virus was the absolute bee’s knees of synths, so there are tons of them around and they’re still a solid sounding and spec’d unit in 2016. With 24 voices, three oscillators + sub oscillators per voice, 82 simultaneous effects (gasp), two lters, ve FM modes, 16 part multitimbral; there isn’t much this bad boy can’t do.
In essence, it’s a ‘virtual-analogue’ synth, and does a pretty good job of your classic sounds and them some. The RRP was somewhere way in the sky, but these days, not so much. Happy bargain hunting!