The love/hate relationship I’ve had with this beast … I think it’s one of the best, most complex synths out there. It’s built well, has a great big keyboard with after-touch. But programming it is a bitch. Trying to get access to this hugely complex system through a tiny screen must be like keyhole surgery. I did so much menu-diving I got the bends. And that just hinders creativity. Which is why I sold it.
I started making music in the mid 90s and this came out in 1997. When I first heard it in my local music store I was blown away. This thing made all the right noises, typical of the 90s electronica and ambient music I was listening to back then. Of course it did a lot more than that 😉 but I was hooked. And when I saw this picture on the back cover of Future Music with Andy Hughes from The Orb ! – my all time favourite electronic band – hovering above it, surrounded in a haze of psychedelic lighting like some kind of synth wizard, I had to have one !
But there was no way I could afford it, I think it was something like $3000 when it first came out. So I tried to forget about it. This store guy was also a Korg rep and he also loved the Z1 and just kept it in his shop for ages. Until years later, this cool little store sadly went bust (he probably should have sold more stuff than keep it for himself) I called him up and offered him 450 Euros for it and he said yes, come and get it. I felt excited but also a bit like a vulture. But I just couldn’t pass up on this chance. Even though this synth went ‘out of fashion’ and out of the public eye for years .. I needed it ! It almost didn’t fit in my old Honda 🙂
If I could design my perfect synth, I’d take the Z1s digital front-end, with it’s powerful synthesis and modulation capabilities and combine it with an analogue filter and output stage. Then stick a bigger screen on it, add more knobs .. perfection !
When I see this video I regret selling it. But I won’t get another one, not because they are expensive, they are dirt cheap ! It’s just that damn menu .. the horror … the horror 😉