Technics WSA1r

 

Sometimes I forget that the purpose of this joint is to celebrate the weird and unusual in the 1990's rack. That mission statement is clear, but it's also clear I need at least a few items that actually make sounds you'd want to hear twice. To make the money to buy the racks, or to eat or something.

 

But having suited myself for many months I feel you deserve a return to form, and here it is in giant chunks. In 1995 Technics made a professional synthesiser, by 1996 they discounted it by 75%, trying desperately to recoup what must have been an epic disaster. Given the great rarity of the device I think most then went into landfill somewhere in Arizona.

 

The seller wanted $1200 for it, on the basis that it's uncommon, but things have to have some kind of reputation for that game to work. They were back soon with a bid from zero. I was surprised when it moved out of the $100 or so level, but I felt that it's a quality box and really was a curio that we deserve and chased it all the way up to just under $400. Thank me later.

 

OK so a real modelling synthesiser like a Yamaha VL works by a driver hitting a resonator and causing interesting systems of wave interference. So for example, a hammer hitting a metal plate. The first bad sign of the WSA1r is that the drivers are samples. and not good ones. So for example the white noise is an obvious loop, where white noise is exactly the thing you would want perfect in a real model.

 

A piano sample is a bad driver, because it already has complex wave patterns sampled in it. What is the meaning of a piano through a tube resonator? Are we listening to it through a glory hole? The choice of extremely normal sources indicates that Technics had little confidence in their synthesis. It reminds me of the Ultra Proteus in that regard, except the UP has 288 wild and wanton resonances, not a few tins, strings and plates.

 

The resonators are, I guess, comb filters of various sorts. They are very metallic and filtered, but lack much harmonic richness. Keep in mind that the VLs are mono, whereas this guy has a stack of 4 models in each voice and 32 voices. So there's probably a lot you can do with stacking the hell out of the weak sounds to get something, well, decent, but not in any way coherent.

 

And that's probably the best way to describe the WSA1r ... it's a ROMpler with a good number of voices, each of which can be run through it's very own tin cans and strings. You can make the tin cans bigger and smaller (which has an effect like a slide whistle) or stretch the string. I can't tell if the presets represent the limitations of the machine - presets are usually bad - if so, it deserved the landfill. I will however try my luck with white noises and tubes and report back.

THIS TOY IS NOT HARD TO USE BUT HARD
TO USE WELL

 

IT MAKES VAGUE DULL METALLIC SOUNDS

THE SOUND QUALITY IS MIDDLING

IT WAS NOT EXPENSIVE AND IS UNCOMMON

 

ITS RATING IS WE DENY WE EVER MADE IT

It was either this or a red car and I think I chose wisely.