Red Sound Systems DarkStar

Red Sound DarkStar Image

British company Red Sound System's first synth, the DarkStar is a table-top 8-voice polyphonic synthesizer suitable for anybody who wants affordable analog sounds for use in most any style of electronic music. Analog sounds are created by DSP-based analog modeling which means you'll get reliable and clean analog-type synth sounds in an economical and professional instrument. The DarkStar features 2 oscillators per voice, 5-part multitimbral set-up, joystick mixing for oscillators, ring modulation, filter resonance and pink/white/blue noise generators.

Its unique look is modeled after RSS's other DJ tools. There are 14 knobs, all of which transmit MIDI data and provide instant hands-on access to the filters and envelopes. The two LFOs and two envelope generators provide plenty of modulation abilities for the oscillators, pulse-width and filter. The filter offers high-, low- and band-Pass filtering with a 12dB/oct slope. It's not spectacular, but it is fairly flexible since both the cutoff and resonance can be modulated by either LFO and EG for a wide range of filter-sweeping effects.

Red Sound DarkStar Image

The DarkStar has a simple yet powerful upgrade system as well. By simply plugging-in an EPROM chip into a compartment on its underside you can get an entirely new synth such as a vocoder or mega-mono synth. The DarkStar certainly has some interesting concepts and good sounds at a very affordable price, though this low price may be noticed in the construction and design of the machine. Still it may just be too good to pass up if you're on a budget!

Red Sound DarkStar Vocoda Image

An optional upgrade kit converts the DARKSTAR into the VOCODA - a fully featured vocoder with five operating modes. Featuring 11-band filtering / noise generation, this simple EPROM chip D.I.Y. upgrade will allow you to combine external sounds (voice or loops) with an external sound source for classic vocoder sounds, that's the Standard Vocoder mode (1). Use the DARKSTAR's internal osc. and 'S' detector for true 'robotic' style vocoding (2). The Filter Mode (3) can be used to process any stereo signal through the 11-band stereo filter for cool filter sweeps. The Sequence-coder Mode (4) and Synthesizer Mode (5) use the 8-step formant sequencer to control the vocoder filters on external sounds or the internal oscillators. Additional MIDI envelope control, vocoder phrase step-recording, 15 preset vowels via sound palette, and more! Upgrade kit includes VOCODA decal for DARKSTAR.

Lookup Red Sound Systems DarkStar Prices

The link above will take you to an eBay search for this synth to see active listings with more images, specs and information. If you don't find it there, try looking in our forum marketplace. Our marketplace gets thousands of visits every week so make sure to check back often if you want to buy or sell a synth.

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Are you looking to buy or sell a Red Sound Systems DarkStar? Post an ad in Gear For Sale or a request in Gear Wanted. For spare parts and repair services check out Gear Services & Other Goods. Our forums also has a Buyer’s Guide section where you can ask for advice on buying synthesizers.

34 Visitor comments
December 22, 2013 @ 6:19 pm
I've started a Dark Star thread on the forum:

I recently obtained one of the earlier versions. Black case with the red buttons.

I'll be posting some more info about it, as I experiment with it, and get it set up and working with my midi keyboard and DAW software. If you have a Dark Star and already have it connected to your computer and DAW, please chime in and tell about your setup on the thread I started.
December 6, 2013 @ 9:16 pm
OK, so this is not a mainstream cool synth. BUT, you can get some wild, crazy (and musical) sounds out of this baby. Here's my Youtube vid to give you an idea...

...we're talking 24 MIDI syncable LFOs in one f*ckin' patch!!!!

Man, if you can't do anything with THAT, then you shouldn't be working with synths!
Derek Revell
September 22, 2013 @ 10:45 am
I have a spare chip, funny thing is I was trying to get hold of a Vocoda chip without success, maybe we can do a swap or something, I'll have a word with Mark Thompson MD of Red Sound, and see if he can still supply EPROM's, I have a device that can Read and Write 27128 EPROM's but I don't know if that's what's used in the Dark Star.
Mad Radiator
August 4, 2013 @ 3:05 pm
Misplaced the original synth chip after installing Vocoda chip a few years back. Was always able to get unusual sounds out of this puppy that were very unique. Would have preferred 1/4 outs instead of the RCA that live on the back. Fun to run thru a Kaoss unit. Will probably never part with it. If anyone knows where I might get the original chip, I would be forever grateful.
June 21, 2013 @ 6:02 am
Theres a mint darkstar on the old ebay here ?pt=UK_Musical_Instruments_Pro_Audio_Synthesisers_CV&hash=item2ec8ad0fce

...J ust to let you all know, not that im selling one or anything...
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Rated 3.65 (315 Votes)

  • Check Price
  • 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 - 8 voices
  • Oscillators - 2 per voice (Osc 1: continuously variable between Sawtooth and square/pulse; OSC 2: Formant or pink / white / blue noise); hard sync-able
  • LFO - 2 with separate speed and delay controls (Ramp, Triangle, Square, Sine, Pulse, Sample & hold, Random waveforms); MIDI sync-able
  • Effects - Auto-Panning, Tremolo, Fixed frequency Ring Modulation, Portamento
  • Filter - 12dB/oct resonant with low-, high- and band-pass
  • Keyboard - None
  • Memory - 64 patches
  • Control - MIDI (5-parts)
  • Date Produced - 1999

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