Con Brio ADS 200

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The Con Brio ADS 200 can be considered one of those rare Holy Grail pieces of vintage synth technology. Released in 1980, the ADS (Advanced Digital Synthesizer) 200 was well ahead of its time - yet only two were reportedly made and at a price tag of $30,000 each! The ADS 200 followed up on the heels of the original ADS 100 of 1980 (only one made, never sold) which was a very large and high end analog synthesizer consisting of a dual manual splittable keyboard (microtonally tunable), programming interface, a separate TV monitor (for envelopes) and roll-around 'control cube' disk drive with computer hardware. The ADS 200 sought to become more commercially viable by combining the whole package into a single (but very big) all-in-one version. The original ADS 100 was most notably used for making some of Star Trek's motion picture sound effects.

The ADS 200 featured 64-oscillator additive synthesis and real-time sequencing via four track sequencer combined with CV and gate interfaces, phase modulation (CZ-like), frequency modulation (FM with 256 operators in any configuration), nested phase and frequency modulation and a 16 stage graphic envelope for both frequency and amplitude. Its display also supported musical notation. Wendy Carlos said that it was the most sensible human interface yet seen on a digital synth. Only one of the two ADS 200 units was ever sold, and has been used by the Moog Cookbook but is currently owned by Brian Kehew.

In 1982 Con Brio released the ADS 200-R, a 32 voice version (expandable to 64) featuring a 16-track polyphonic sequencer with 80,000 note storage capability and editing functions available from the scoring screen. The dual-manual keyboard was replaced by a single manual of 61 keys. Pricing was also reduced to about $20,000, but only one of these models was ever built and sold (also currently owned by Brian Kehew). Con Brio's days came to an end once the digital synthesis revolution (like the much cheaper Yamaha DX synths) took over.

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ConBrio ADS200 lightshow
Brandon Daniel


Polyphony - 64 max
Oscillators - 64 (upgradable to 256)
Effects - None
Arpeg/Seq - Various arpeggiators. In the "R" version there was a 16 track polyphonic sequencer (80,000 notes).
Keyboard - 2 manuals (61x2)
Memory - 32 patches ; 32 performances
Control - CV / Gate
Date Produced - 1980-82

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Images from Kevin Lightner, Brian Kehew and Obsolete.

Additional info provided by Filippo Leddi.

Reviewed November 2007.