Pellegrino's Synthi AKS


THIS AUCTION is for a Synthi AKS Music Synthesizer made in England by E.M.S. (London) Ltd. It’s an analog synthesizer with a unique design for functional communication that is achieved via a patch matrix. Signal and control inputs are found along the vertical axis and sources, treatments, and the joy stick controller are found along the horizontal axis. What that means is that every function in the system can communicate with every other function in the system. And it came be done quickly; all it takes is inserting a patchpin in the matrix. The upshot is that it’s an instrument that encourages experimentation by communicating well internally as well as externally by way of a row of jacks across the top that accept both line level and mic level audio signals as well as providing both signal and control outputs.

INCLUDED in the sale are the original set of 22 patchpins, 2 of the orignal “Presto Patches”, and 12 pages of schematics that cover everything from the power supply to the dynamic keyboard.
Also included is a custom-built travel case for the Synthi designed to withstand the rigors of the road especially the baggage gorillas. It was built by an old-world case builder in San Francisco pointed out to me by Gordon Mumma, a collaborator and electronic music pioneer.

THE INSTRUMENT has been in my care (Ron Pellegrino, pioneer in the electronic arts of sound and light - ) from the beginning. Early in 1973 I acquired the instrument to be part of my road performance system that included two Synthi AKS synthesizers, an ARP 2600, and a specially designed box of Buchla 200 Series modules. You can see that system on my site at That was a system designed for ease of cross-patching so that the final sound product would be unique rather than identifiable as a sound from any one particular synthesizer. The expression “Sound Design” did not come on the scene until the 1980s but that’s exactly what was happening in the 70s under various names - I called what I did “instrument design” because I thought of the result as a higher order instrument. The flexiblity of the Synthi was perfect for my needs, both as part of larger sonic synthesis system and as a generator of the audio signals that drove my laser animator.

MY LIFE IN MUSIC SYNTHESIS started with analog synthesizers - the huge studio Moogs, the ARP 2600, the studio Synthi, and others. The Synthi AKS was the only analog synth I continued to play through the late 1990s. and that’s because it had features none of the others did. It’s portable so it became my regular carry-on airline companion. It has rock-solid stable oscillators with 5-turn pots which means you can finely and precisely tune to beats that go out to many seconds. The Filter/Oscillator generates a perfect sine wave which together with the stable oscillators made the Synthi the best instrument for driving the laser animation system of my visual music work. The Synthi is a tight, fast, accurate, and performable synthesizer that has fans across the music spectrum.

As with all my instruments - one owner; one player.

The Envelope Shaper functions as it should except that its lamp no longer lights up; that does not effect the control voltage it generates. The spring reverberation unit is not working possibly because I thought the “boing” sound it made was cheesey and I never used it ;-) Even as late as the early 1970s there were only two types of reverberation - the spring and a microphone picking up a speaker in a hall or room. Springs are springs and they always go “boing” which quickly became boring.

What’s called a keyboard is really a capacitance plate with a 2 and 1/2 octave piano keyboard painted on it. What I did and still do is use my fingers to drum on it to record and playback while I work the pots on the main body of the Synthi to change frequency, amplitude, and waveshape. What’s happening with the “keyboard” now is difficult to describe because it’s predictable only after you record and hear it. I personally prefer it that way but I’m obliged to say that it’s not functioning the way it was designed to function. It produces control voltages and triggers but they seem to have more of a mind of their own than of following dutifully your commands. Every other function on the Synthi is in perfect working order.

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