Philips PMC 100

Philips PMC 100 Image

From the designer of the SFX peripherals for the Commodore 64, came this curious little box — the Personal Media Composer (PMC) 100. It's got a Yamaha two-operator FM chip, a membrane keyboard (flat, but not capacitive like the EDP Wasp) and its most striking feature, the built-in cassette deck. This allowed you to save your compositions as either sound or data, or it could function as a Walkman or dictaphone. The PMC 100 came in black or (a much rarer) white.

The main voice is monophonic, with simple preset accompaniment rhythms (with 15 options for the rhythm's voice) controlled by the 'Gling' safe-note system. This heavily limits its potential as a solo instrument, not only because the beats are laughably thin but because the accompanying voices are fixed in their patterns.

There are 100 preset melody voices, mostly the standard Yamaha PortaSound two-op noises, but there's also a surprising amount of useable sound effects and slow, evolving (but moving in very obvious digital steps) pads. It's charming in its own incredibly lo-fi way.

The real area where it shines, though, is the step sequencer. It's visualized on an LCD screen in full stave notation with rock-steady tempo, adjustable to insane degrees! Notes can be edited in or out of the sequence at will. If this thing had MIDI out it would have become a cult classic.

Sadly, though, it was a flop in terms of sales. It's not that hard to understand why; even by the mid-eighties this thing would have been considered comical and there's little hope of understanding the architecture without a manual. Still, it's a great curio to have in any synth collection and can even be useful for some styles or when buried in a mix.

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12 Visitor comments
lightman
April 8, 2013 @ 3:27 am
Now that I've used my PMC as a sample source for several projects, I really wish there would be a way to control/sync it externally (MIDI, etc.), there's something to it that simply can't be reproduced by sampling alone. Route it over an analog filter, a noise gate/denoiser and a proper EQ and you'll get a fresh and vibrant sound that's difficult to reproduce with modern gear. Good stuff.
Keith Kemper
March 26, 2013 @ 2:05 am
Why isn't this Virtual
lightman
October 19, 2012 @ 11:33 pm
Now that I own a white PMC (got an offer I couldn't resist), I have to take back some things I said about it, it has a surprisingly powerful sequencer and a nice 8bit-video-games sound that can be used in modern electronica productions straight away. May look like a toy but actually it's too advanced for that, I know/own some toy-"synths" of the era and they don't even have half of its features, it's more like a miniature FM workstation, a digital 202 on steroids, if you will. Well worth checking out if you like oldschool 80s sound.
Samuel Cameron
July 21, 2012 @ 7:49 am
I have one of these and I made an extensive bank of instrument presets on it in Emulator
X format to see what can be done with such limited resources in a sampler.
If anybody wants this I can provide it. You can play the patches even if you dont
own the relevant vst as creative professional still provides a free version of Proteus-
Proteus VX that can be used.
oneoff
May 20, 2012 @ 8:26 pm
I've sold mine 2 years a go,i have to say i really liked the looks of it ,it is a nice strange looking keyboard even today :)
but other then that this is a toy, it sounds very cheesy and just like most of the pcm mini keyboards of the mid to late eighties. very noisy as well. to program this thing was a real hassle . sooner or later i thought that i'd better let it go for the 150$ i got for it rather it'll
sit on the shelf gathering dust...
 
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  • Specifications
  • Polyphony - 1 playable voice, 3 non-playable accompaniment voices
  • Oscillators - Two FM operators per voice
  • Waveforms - 100 preset main waveforms, 15 preset accompaniment waveforms
  • LFO - Preset operator modulation
  • Filter - None
  • Envelope - Preset volume envelope
  • Effects - None
  • Sequencer - Complex programmable sequencer
  • Patterns - 13 accompaniment rhythms, each with one of four accompaniment voice patterns
  • Songs - Three preset demo tracks
  • Keyboard - 25-key membrane buttons
  • Memory - One internal sequence / cassette data storage
  • Control - None
  • Date Produced - 1986 - 1988

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