The second synthesizer I ever bought was a Crumar Orchestrator “string synth”. String synths like the Arp Solin (Gary Wright “Dream Weaver”), Crumar Performer (Duran Duran “Planet Earth”), or Eminent (Jean Michel Jarre “Oxygene) are sometimes called “string ensembles” or “string machines”. They’re similar to the big polysynths of the day but with some notable differences:
- Fully polyphonic – you can play every note all at once
- Built in chorusing ensemble effect – this always-on effect gave them their shimmering tone
- Limited programming – the degree to which you could change their tone color was very limited
- Single envelope generator for volume (and sometimes filter) – this means that although you could play all the notes on the board they all had to share the same attack and sustain. For example, if you set a very long attack time and played one note it would slowly build in volume. However, if you pressed another key before releasing the first, the second the note would jump right it.
I played this particular Crumar for quite a while, particular in a college band called “Hookah”. So why does it look so bad. Three reasons:
- It was in poor shape when I bought it.
- A cat knocked if off it’s stand once and banged it up pretty badly.
- A tornado ripped the the roof off the building where it was being stored and then rained on it all night.
That last calamity pretty much spelled the end for my Orchestrator. It’s insides were totally corroded. I do have some samples I made of it years ago but their not the same. The Orchestrator was one of the best string sounds I’ve ever had. Much better than an Arp Solina and noticeable better than a Crumar Performer. I’ve tried the GForce recreation but it doesn’t quite capture it to my ears. Hmm. Someday I’ll have to track another one down.