In a stunning nod to its illustrious past, Korg has unveiled the PS-3300 FS, a meticulous reissue of one of the most mythical beasts in the synthesizer kingdom. This announcement has set the music technology community abuzz, as the PS-3300 FS promises to bridge the gap between the storied history of analog synthesis and the modern producer’s studio.
A Glimpse into Synth Royalty: The PS-3300’s Legacy
The Korg PS-3300, a behemoth in its time, was a marvel of engineering that pushed the boundaries of what was possible in sound design. With only 50 units ever produced (and sold for $7,500 in 1977)., it became the stuff of legend, a rare treasure that was as elusive as it was revered. Its users were among the synth community elite, and its presence on a track was a statement of sonic excellence. The PS-3300’s lush landscapes and unparalleled polyphony made it a coveted instrument for those lucky enough to experience its majesty.
How does it sound? Here is a cool short video with Will Gregory from Goldfrapp:
Here below you’ll find a Bandcamp playlist with some (sometimes not exactly musical) recordings made with this rare instrument:
Unpacking the Beast: Main Features of the PS-3300 FS
The PS-3300 FS is not just a reissue; it’s a homage to the original, with a heart that beats in pure analog. The new model boasts 49 keys and 49 voices of polyphony, surpassing its predecessor by one. It houses three PSU-3301 synth units, each a powerhouse in its own right, culminating in a staggering 147 analog synth voices. Imagine the richness of sound, the depth of texture, and the sheer force of creativity that this setup can unleash.
Each voice is a symphony, with three oscillators, filters, envelopes, and amplifiers at the player’s command. The modern musician will appreciate the nods to contemporary needs: USB/MIDI connectivity for seamless integration into digital workflows and a librarian app that makes preset management a breeze. The PS-3300 FS includes a new panel memory function, offering 16 programs per bank and 16 banks, resulting in 256 slots for storing patches.
Also, among the differences between the reissue and the original unit, it’s worth mentioning the Resonator Circuit. The original PS-3300 used a cadmium sulfide circuit for its 3-band resonator. However, due to safety and regulatory reasons, this has been replaced with modern components in the PS-3300 FS.
Last but not least, each PSU-3301 unit in the PS-3300 FS has its own microtuning knob, a feature not mentioned for the original model.
The Price of Time Travel: Availability and Cost
The PS-3300 FS is a time machine with a price tag to match its prestige. At around $13,000, it’s an investment in history and sound. Korg is crafting these units on a made-to-order basis, ensuring that each synthesizer is a carefully constructed masterpiece.
Later this year, the first of these modern classics will roll out, destined for the studios of the most discerning (a.k.a. richest) “synthophiles”.
Brace yourself for a wave of envy as Instagram and YouTube videos showcasing the KORG reissue start to appear. Just remember to breathe deeply and relax as you immerse yourself in them.
Digital Homage: Software Alternatives
For those who yearn for the PS-3300’s sound but face the constraints of modern budgets, the digital realm offers solace. I fondly recall my early days in music production when I first encountered the sound of the KORG PS-3300 through some samples for Logic’s EXS24 sampler. Fast forward to the present, and Cherry Audio’s virtual instrument stands as a love letter to the PS-3300, beautifully capturing its essence in the digital realm.
This software emulation replicates the functionality, layout, and sonic characteristics of the original, including the six-waveform oscillators, two modulation generators (LFOs), dynamic lowpass filters, envelopes, and amps. Cherry Audio has expanded the panel with continuously variable CV control of level, per-channel panning, bend range, and studio-quality integrated effects for chorus, delay, and reverb. The software also includes over 360 expertly designed presets and versatile MIDI capabilities.
The Cherry Audio PS-3300 is available for approx. $/€59, a significant reduction from the original Korg PS-3300’s price of $7,500 in 1977! The software has received positive reviews for its rich, dynamic, and layered sound, clever and powerful patching system, expanded features versus the original, and very accessible pricing.
Full Bucket Music’s FB-3300 plugin extends an invitation to all, free of charge, to dabble in the sounds of a legend. It simulates the behavior and controls of the original hardware, including three independent polyphonic synthesizer blocks, band-limited oscillators, classic two-pole lowpass filters, and a resonators section plus two Modulation Generators per bank.
Conclusion: Korg PS-3300 FS, a Statement Of Dedication
The Korg PS-3300 FS is more than a synthesizer; it’s a statement, a piece of history, and a tool for artists who understand the power of sound. Its reissue is a testament to Korg’s dedication to its heritage (unlike some other brands… erm). For those lucky ones who will own it, the PS-3300 FS is not just an instrument; it’s a legacy encapsulated in knobs and keys, ready to sing once more.
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