What's the difference between physical modeling and acoustic modeling? A lot it turns out. The most complicated portion of the VL1 the modeling of the driver, that is the energy creating system, is left out. On this, the WSA1 punts and uses samples. A loss in terms of mathematical purity, but a gain in terms of simplicity. The result is the VL1 has a polyphony of two, while the WSA1 has a polyphony of 64 easier on the DSPs.
The WSA1 still has modeled resonators, which are ultimately complex filters and are quite capable of imparting complexity and realism onto sounds. The overall model is often described as DriverResonatorSynth. The synth section being the somewhat standard array of filters and LFOs.
The WSA1 has an odd history. Technics makes consumer keyboards and pro turntables. Nobody expected pro synths from them. Nonetheless the WSA1 was previewed at the same time as Yamaha previewed VLl and Korg previewed the physical modeling the would end up in the Prophecy, Z1, and OasysPCI. When it got to market, the reviews were mostly good, except for the pricethis beast started in the neighborhood of $5000.
I doubt the VL1 sold well either, but Yamaha saw it as a technology preview, eventually to be cost reduced to the VL70m for $500. Technics was clearly hoping for enough sales to gain a foothold in the pro synth market. That didn't happen and Technics quickly cut their losses, dumped their remaining stock at firesale prices, and never looked back. Today, a WSA1/R can occasionally be found for $300-$400, but Technics barely admits to making it, so don't go asking for replacement manuals.
Sales were too low to have established much of an online community or support network. There are few freebie sounds out there, limited editor/librarian support. If you buy one and don't like the presets, you'll need to learn to program this thing. That said, it has pretty good presets and for $300-$400 it's a bargain as a work horse 64 voice synth. It does the entire orchestra pretty respectably, and can make some pretty cool sounds if you learn to program it.
Speaking of that, it was one of the first "big screen" synths and it makes navigating the sound design section pretty intuitive. I wouldn't trade my Kurzweil for it, but it is a whole lot cheaper.
I bought mine used on eBay, and it came without manuals. As best as I can tell, this thing came with four manuals, that I have tracked down from varios sources. The quality is questionable, but so far the best I have. They come courtesy of Dupuy David from virtualacoustic.free.fr and Joe Timoney. I would love originals. Please email me if you have any you would like to sell. g a @ x y . c x.
Basic Functions (pdf 1.5mb) It is the equivalent of a "Getting Started" booklet. It is 38 pages an too often sounds like a sales pitch (Note to future manual writers, I already bought it if I'm reading the manual, keep to the information. Read a Kurzweil or, better yet, a Mackie manual to get the idea.).
Practical Application (pdf 6.8mb) This is the 112 page reference manual, and steps through all the features of the synth, though in a fairly cursory way (God, I love the Kurzweil manuals.)
Reference Guide 1 (pdf 553k) This 20 page booklet lists all the stock sounds, all the samples, and the drum maps.
Reference Guide 2 (pdf 1.7mb) A 56 page booklet listing all the Effects available in the effects section of the synth. This also includes the MIDI implementation, including what seems to be fairly complete SysEx documentation.
As seem to often be the case, the best info on this instrument can be found at the yahoo group dedicated to it. The small population of the group probably reflects the small quantities sold. The files section of the group seems to have about the only collection of patches I've found.
As mentioned before, My copies of the manuals came from the following website which has a little more info:
This page looks like a good start for a WSA1 site, and has some pretty good information, but it was last updated in 1999.
There are a few other pages out there, but they mostly seem to be links to other WSA1 pages that don't exist anymore. If anyone finds substantive pages, I'd love to know. A couple of reviews go more in depth into the technology. Worth reading if you are considering picking one up.
"Acoustic Alchemy," Sound on Sound, December 1995
"Technics SX-WSA1R," Sound on Sound, December 1996
Sadly, Sound on Sound is about the only music magazine that has decent online archives.
I'll add soundsets here as I find them. At the moment I haven't had a chance to demo them all, so there may be duplicates or bad info. The first set of files are Supposedly from disks that officially circulated with the instruments in different countries. So they are semi official sounds from Technics or their regional distributors. All are ZIPed, in some cases I have converted original files to ZIP due to the ubiquity of ZIPs.
Demo 1 Lots of thick pads and synth stuff.
Modern 128 Sounds, some pretty off the wall electronic stuff
Synth Textures 128 Sounds, more Techno/Dance oriented
Get It On Top 256 Sounds, strong on session type sounds.
The rest are user sounds. I'll add attribution where I can find them.
dans.zip Dan Suter
acoost.zip Ted Dewan
gjs1.zip Geoff Stockham
myset.zip Michael Kalverkamp
wsa1set.zip Björn Bojahr: www.bjoernbojahr.de
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