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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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
HanzVolt
March 14, 2013 @ 6:52 pm
hey "twat with darkstar" whats your email address I can answer your Darkstar questions. Ive owened my darkstar since 2000 or '01 and I will never sell my Darkstar....I wish I could acquire an evelata
twat with darkstar
March 6, 2013 @ 3:50 am
hi,
can any of you answer the following questions for me
1) how do you use a Redsound Darkstar?
2) what equipment/ cables do i need? (i have tonnes of MIDI cable however they do not produce sound)
3) will it work with audacity and how?
4) will it work with a Roland E-09 arranger?

i also have other questions which i hope you could answer:
1)how do you connect a Roland E-09 to audacity?
2) will and Korg Electribe ES-1 also work with cables and audacity?

thank you for reading/answering all these questons.
Lars
March 3, 2013 @ 10:52 am
I've had 3 XP2s over the years. This last one I am holding on to.

I have been buying, playing and selling synths for almost 30 years. The XP2 is probably the most unique. Like one reviewer said, it is a beauty and and a beast at the same time.

I sold the first one after being turned off by the raw sound of it. The second one I purchased I ran through some external effects, and boy did it shine. Adding chorus, reverb, or delay is really needed to tame this beast!!!

Anyway, if you have the chance to buy one (the XP2), do it, and give yourself some time on this one, it is worth it.
Mecanikill?
August 15, 2012 @ 10:03 am
I have had one of these for 6 years now. I have almost sold it through the years 2 times but I am so glad I did not. It really takes a while to learn the intricacies of this machine but once you do it's quirky sound and nature make it like no other synth I have or have used. I have not had any issues with synching or midi as described here by some so I think they may be broken. I think one day this will be looked back on as a "Fizmo" type of quirky synth that just didn't quite work as everyone would expect but is very capable of having as I call it happy accidents with it that no other can do.
lightman
July 19, 2012 @ 7:57 am
Well, this is not one of those instant-gratification boxes and certainly not a first-synth type of gear. It's great for lo-fi and 8bit-ish video game sounds, eerie soundscapes, drones, basses, stabs and weird pads. The filter is a strange beast with a not too healthy sounding resonance but gives the machine lots of character.

I've used an XP2 on a couple of recordings and always liked its crossover-style sound between FM and analog. It's digital but in a good way. If you invest some more time in it than just an hour or two, it will start to shine like a cold star in the dark...
 
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  • Check Prices on eBay
  • The link above will take you to a 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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