When the legendary pioneering synth company, Sequential Circuits, folded, Yamaha bought what was left, but Korg hired most of the engineers. The last Sequential synth was the Prophet VS which used what they called Vector Synthesis. As a result both companies came out with their own vector synths, but Korgs effortthe Wavestationwas far more substantial and long lived.
Vector Synthesis is cool though not necessarily that revolutionary. At it's core it is basically a Sample/Subtractive instrument. Most Sample/Subtractive instruments allow the layering of individual voices to create more complex sounds. These voices may have their own amplitude envelopes, or mixing could be determined by key velocity or controller like the mod-wheel. The vector synth just takes this a step further, and lets you put voices at the top, bottom, left and right of a X-Y grid. Mixing can then be controlled by a three dimensional envelope (X, Y, time) or in performance with a joystick.
More unique in the Wavestation line is what was known as Wave Sequencing. Rather than playing a single sample, or layering samples simultaneously, Wave sequencing allowed each voice to play a sequence of up to 255 samples, with specific timings. On one hand this allowed for cheesy drum kit simulationsone key would trigger an endlessly repeating rhythm section. On the other hand, unique effects could be created that couldn't be duplicated on any other synth.
The Wavestation line over time consisted of 4 instruments. The original keyboard and the upgraded EX keyboard were very similar and only differed in their ROMs. The SR was a rack with very limited interface and no joystick. It wasn't really meant to be programmed had many more banks of preprogrammed sound. The A/D was the original rack version of Wavestation, and is still considered the best design.
It's unique feature was an analog input that provided a couple of unique features. For example the input could be patched through the effects unit, which included a vocoder effect. More unique was the fact that the input could be routed into the synth engine as a sort of live sample, subject to all the filters, envelopes and whatever else in the synth engine you wanted.
By far, the best Wavestation source is Dan Phillips page:
Dan works for Korg and was on the design team for both the Wavestations and Oasys. For the time being I will not try to mirror all his work. Let's just hope he doesn't go offline anytime soon.
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