MATRIXSYNTH: Functional and Audio Demos of the Ultra Rare Con Brio ADS 200R Synthesizer



Sunday, December 19, 2021

Functional and Audio Demos of the Ultra Rare Con Brio ADS 200R Synthesizer



Those of you who have been coming to the site over the years should be familiar with the ultra rare Con Brio ADS. There was a keyboard version and a remote, or rather desktop, version. They are identical in function and sound. There is only one known ADS 200R in existance and that is it in the videos above (and farther below). Note the placeholder image is the ADS 200 keyboard version but you will see the videos feature the 200R. Brian Kehew wrote in to let us know he is working on a website that will cover the history of this rare synth. He also made the set of functional and audio demos. Above are the functional demos and farther below are the audio demos. You will find video titles and descriptions for each video in the playlistbelow, but before that, here's what Brian had to say:

"I've been making a website for the Con Brio synth history. Will be ready in a few more months. But meanwhile I've uploaded some video of how the thing worked. Primitive now, especially to younger musicians. But for anyone who lived through the days of floppy discs and early digital synthesis will see how advanced the Con Brio's design was.

We still don't know much about the workings, as all known manuals are gone, and the designers can't recall everything of how it did work. Here are some simple explanations and demonstrations of the main functions.

It's also a true 16-bit synthesizer, which was rare and expensive at the time. It also used an iron output transformer (like good studio consoles) which somehow also helps it sound (in my opinion) better than the Fairlight, DKS and Synclavier designs.

The two instruments I had are now at the EMEAPP Archive Project in PA, they may be able to make better headway figuring out more of the system and it's operations..."

Be sure to see the Con Brio label for various bits of info that have come in over the years. Also see the exclusive label for the rare of the rare in the synth world.

Playlist: 1. Con Brio Synthesizer Instructional #1: Loading the O.S. and Light Show
This is the basic beginning, to load an Operating System for the Con Brio synthesizer from an 8" floppy disc. First, the Light Show disc is used, then the standard OS disc that allows for music synthesis.
2. Con Brio Synthesizer Instructional #2; Panel lights show relevance.
One of the most-brilliant and unique aspects of the Con Brio design is the implementation of panel lights; they guide you to work much faster and more accurately.
3. Con Brio Synthesizer Instructional #3: Loading Sounds onto the keyboard zones.
Finding sounds on the 8" floppy disc directories, and then assigning them to the two keyboards in various combinations.
4. Con Brio Synthesizer Instructional #4 - Speed of Disc Access
One of the notable aspects of the Con Brio systems is a custom-written code to make disc access practically instantaneous. This demonstration shows the rapid access speed when loading from the floppy drive.
5.
Further demonstration of loading sounds from disc and sequences to play them.
Con Brio Synthesizer Instructional #5 - Basic Loading 6. Con Brio Synthesizer Instruction #6 - Ensemble
Loading and using the Ensemble feature; the Con Brio could store a combination of sounds, layers, outputs, and sequences - and then save the whole set as an "Ensemble" preset - which loads nearly instantaneously.
7. Con Brio Synthesizer Instruction #7 - Loading and Stacking
Bringing in two sounds and layering them together.
8. Con Brio Synthesizers #8 - String Sequence with Tempo change
Basic Tempo control of a string sequence with the panel Tempo knob.
9. Con Brio Synthesizer Instructional #9 - Tuning and Synthesis modes experiment
As none of the Con Brio Owner's Manuals survived, it's very difficult to understand how they were supposed to operate. With a little guidance and help from the inventors, some methods produce results. This video is an experiment with saved alternate Tuning Tables and the Synthesis modes.




1 Con Brio Audio Demo One
A really nice wide-ranging set of sounds, changing across time, yet just a beginning demonstration of what the instrument could have done with more time and exploration.
2 Con Brio - String Section
Some string section sounds, very detailed and shimmering timbres.
3 Con Brio - Pipe Organ
Mussorgsky's Pictures At An Exhibition using a basic pipe organ program.
4 Con Brio - Wine Glasses
Digital synthesizers excel at this kind of crystalline ringing sound.
5 Con Brio - Sound 67
Playback of a sound with glitching, jittery elements; a fairly complex layered tone with some noise components, too.
6 Custom Con Brio Sounds
These tones are quite ahead of their time for 1980, and still sound quite modern. Easy enough to do them today, but back then, these were exceptional tones.
7 Random Number demo
Very similar to the randomness of a Sample/Hold on an analog synthesizer, but quickly becomes more layered and deep, a complexity that would take many analog synths to generate.
Con Brio Synthesizers #8 - String Sequence with Tempo change
Basic Tempo control of a string sequence with the panel Tempo knob.
9 Con Brio - Clear and Bright sequence
Demonstrates the sharp and detailed sound of these instruments.
10 Con Brio - Short Latin sequence
Just as the title suggests...
11 Con Brio - Dramatic
Dramatix, suspenseful set of sounds.

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