Crumar Multiman-S / Orchestrator

Crumar Orchestrator Image

In 1977, Crumar introduced the Orchestrator (called the Multiman-S in Europe), a fully polyphonic orchestral string machine. It has five basic sounds: Brass, Piano, Clavichord, Cello and Violin. The keyboard is split in the middle allowing you to play one combination of instruments with the left hand, and another combination with the right.

All five sounds are available at all times, you simply adjust how much volume you want of each sound. Feature just a single instrument, or create your own orchestral ensemble—you are the Orchestrator! With the keyboard being split, there are five separate instrument volume sliders for the left hand (lower split) and another five for the right hand (upper split).

There is also a sixth sound: Bass. The Bass sound has its own volume slider as well, but it is assigned to only the bottom 27 notes of the keyboard. It is also not the greatest of Bass sounds either, and can sometimes muddy the sound.

There is a filter section but only for the Brass. It uses some pretty old-fashioned terminology: 'Emphasis' for resonance and 'Contour' for cutoff. There are also Attack and Decay controls for the filter. There is another filter for the Cello and Violin string sounds called 'Timbre' which can adjust between a 'Mellow' to 'Bright' sound—basically it's a highpass filter. There is a 'Vibrato' effect section, basically the LFO, with 'Speed' and 'Depth' controls. The only global envelope control is a 'Sustain' length slider.

The Orchestrator's best sounds are its Brass (probably because it is the sound with the voltage controlled filter) and the Strings. In fact the Strings sound very similar to the famous ARP Solina. Unfortunately there are no built-in Ensemble effects to really sweeten them up...but that's what outboard gear is for!

Like most synthesizers of its time, the Orchestrator was built with the performing musician in mind. It is its own flight-case! Its casing is very tough and durable, it has a handle and a cover/lid to keep it protected during transport. And if it looks heavy, it is! Additional options for the Orchestrator included an organ-like 13-note (G-G) Foot Pedal Board, Sustain Pedal, and a Foot Expression Pedal controller for the filter cutoff. There are no CV/Gate options, just connectors for the external pedal controllers.

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31 Visitor comments
March 14, 2013 @ 11:02 am
I played one of these in the Marine Corps back in the mid 80's. I've been researching my old pics to try and remember what keyboards I actually played only to be reminded that I played some really cool stuff back then, and took it all for granted. "Forgetting more than most know" does not even begin to describe what it was like back then with how rapid things were changing.
I remember the Lionel Richie stuff sounding really, really good on this though!
February 1, 2013 @ 6:24 pm
Just wanted to back up Grant's assertion; the brass reminds me much more of the Yamaha CS series than anything I could get from my Opus 3, MiniMoog, Rogue, or filter module. Very easy to summon Blade Runner on this. I really like the electric piano on this too. It's has a delicate character but carries a full low end. Really too bad they didn't include a chorus though - necessitates purchasing a JC120 to play it through.
October 23, 2012 @ 11:22 am
The FM vibrato creates some nice modulation, I love the sustain for strings and the stock expression pedal for the brass filter has a broad range, moving through the cutoff nicely.
The review mentions the Solina, but its brass sounds also bear a resemblance to the Juno series or the big Yamaha CS series.
There are minor build limitations. The epoxy used on the keys is cheap and I've had to do some repairs. The contact springs inside the machine can get stuck if the keys are pressed too hard. However mechanical repairs are no sweat, because of how accessible the guts of the machine are.
Ethan Parsonage
May 26, 2012 @ 3:18 pm
I've owned one of these for years, and the top note is stuck on (but only for the strings). Does anyone know who repairs these? And/or if there's an easy way to fix it yourself, or just kill that key?
May 21, 2012 @ 7:40 pm
That lowest octave of brass is just MEAN sounding, especially if you re-amp and mic it!!! Strings are also great (though a simple envelope would be nice). Piano/clav are painfully bad, but when mixed at low levels with the other sounds, they add a nice texture.
Not a very versatile synth, but it definitely has a sound and character all its own.
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User Rating

Rated 3.38 (154 Votes)

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  • The link above will take you to an eBay search for this synth to see active listings. If you don't find it there, try looking in our forum marketplace or post a wanted classified.
  • Specifications
  • Polyphony - 49 notes
  • Multitimbral - 6 Sounds: Brass, Piano, Clavichord, Cello, Violin and Bass
  • LFO - Vibrato with Speed and Depth
  • Filter - Brass Filter with Attack, Decay, Cutoff, Resonance. Highpass String Filter.
  • Envelope - Sustain length
  • Effects - None
  • Arpeg/Seq - None
  • Keyboard - 49 keys
  • Memory - None
  • Control - Expression Pedal for the filter. Accepts Crumar's 13-note Foot Pedal keyboard.
  • Date Produced - 1977

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