One of the few remaining EMS Synthi 100 synthesizers sees new life.
Electronic Music Studios’ Synthi 100 modular synthesizer was first released in 1971, and it is most notable for its use by the BBC Radiophonic Workshop on their score for Doctor Who serial “The Sea Devils”. Like many of the modular synths of the era, the Synthi 100 is rare: EMS only made 30 before the company went into liquidation in 1979.
Australia’s ABC News reports on one of possibly the three remaining Synthi 100s in its original, working condition.
Leslie Craythorn, the outgoing senior technical officer at the Melbourne Conservatorium, has spent his last days working on restoring a Synthi 100. He first worked with the machine in the ’70s and ’80s, when it was the centerpiece of the Conservatorium’s electronic music studio.
Melbourne University mothballed the Synthi for 20 years before deciding to bring it back to working condition. Mr. Craythorn then removed each of the Synthi’s 84 circuit cards and 185 dials, “cleaning them using specialty lubricants and an ultrasonic bath” and tracking down replacement parts with help from EMS technician Robin Wood.
The instrument is now more than 90 percent operational and is scheduled to be used at a concert in late March. Head to ABC for a gallery of pictures of the synthesizer.
For more tales of equipment like the Synthi 100 and the BBC Radiophonic Workshop, check out FACT’s feature on 50 Years of Doctor Who‘s influential music and SFX.