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.

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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
gridsleep
February 8, 2011 @ 5:16 am
There should be some mention here of the Darkstar XP2, which adds the earphone jack in addition to a second pair of audio out a stereo in jack, all 1/4" now instead of RCA jacks. The XP2 replaces the Program button in the lower right with a wheel as do most modern synths, and moves the Audition button next to it where the Bank button was, leaving room for the newly added Master Volume now down at the bottom left. I do not understand how the original Darkstar functioned without a volume knob. Was it at peak volume all the time?
Nate
January 6, 2011 @ 5:08 pm
I used this unit for a few months and thought I was interesting. Like everyone has said, it has it's own sound. I opened a track named entitled "Darkness" with it and sliced up samples of licks for the durration of the song. You can check it out at...

http://soundcloud.com/pulkrabek/darkness

Aloha.
Brandon Nightingale
November 15, 2010 @ 2:41 am
Got one of these (XP2) the other week for 45 quid!, after owning some 'Heavyweights' which I have bought and sold faster than you can Imagine, This will fit in well with all my car boot and half broken stuff, which in truth sound more unique than any run of the mill roland, korg, moog etc. anyday. (Think Casio CZs, MTs and Half Broken Jen synths.
and If you think this one sounds flat try adding some sub-bass underneath.
relic
November 1, 2010 @ 4:53 pm
found mine under my bed today. like-new in the box with manual. now i know why i put it away. I had lost the power supply. found it today and remembered it was under my bed. a hidden gem! be patient..good things happen.
Swen
September 25, 2010 @ 9:13 am
Absolut perfect VA-Synth. Stable Chassis, good and easy to maintain/repair inside. It is extremly easy to use and sounds outstanding good within its pricerange. People often mock around about its sound would be thin, but i think those should get themself better recording equipment. Fact is that this one can truly use an Limiter because it can produce extrem bassfrequencies while sweeping the filter in Lowpass-Mode. An Beast and a real Beauty at once. I love mine, and would never ever give it away because besides of sounding good, it also has a special sound of its own, and I don't believe it is a "love-it-or hate-it" timbre, but just a little "personality".
In my humble opinion the best VA-thing to get under 150€/200$ in 2010.
 
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  • 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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