Monday, September 12, 2011

Sound Master STIX Programma ST-305, Keyboard 1983


Sound Master STIX Programma ST-305 1-page advertisement from page 75 in Keyboard Magazine May 1983. The exact same ad began showing up in the North American version of the May 1983 issue of International Musician and Recording World (page 12).

After that dog's breakfast of an ad for the Memory Rhythm SR-88 came out (nerp... wasn't a fan...) Sound Master, or more likely their American distributor JTG of Nashville, really did a much better job at pulling together this STIX advertisement. There is just no comparison. 

This ad has more of what I like to see in ads - the three "C"s: Clean, Clear, and Concise (well, more concise than that last ad of theirs). Unlike that SR-88 ad, this ad provides a lot of good information and many of the specifications about the STIX Programma - all the way down to the detail of the "SQ" output.

You may also recall that in that SR-88 ad, there seemed to be a lot going on when it tried to explain who actually was involved in the manufacture and distribution of the machine:
"Another innovative product from The Rhythm Section by Sound Master Distributed exclusively by JTG of Nashville. "
This time around, Sound Master has the good sense to leave "The Rhythm Section" out of the picture, removing one level of bureaucracy from the reader's mind to make room for more important information - like what a musician can actually accomplish with their product. Or maybe The Rhythm Section just wasn't involved in this distribution deal.

Even the layout of this ad is pretty good, although why JTG needed to have the word STIX in large pink letters written three times across the page is a little confusing to me. Designers would tell you "it's a design element", which usually means there is no reason. I'm sure if the designer had spent an additional hour on problem solving, he/she would have found a better way to add colour and balance to the bottom half of the page.  

But, one of the biggest surprises in this ad-copy is in the last paragraph, where the word "rhythmer" pops it's ugly head back up. Back in March I posted a Korg KPR-77 ad that used the word "rhythmer" in the ad title, and I mentioned how this word was new to me - and even a little bit creepy. Farfisa had slapped the word right on to one of their early drum machines, and now we have Sound Master dropping it into their ad. Gah!

vout - a blog reader who recently emailed me some great info about his SIX different rhythm units, also commented on the STIX, but I conveniently left it out of that blog post to save for this one:
"Another machine of interest is the Sound Master ST-305, which has more sounds and individual outs, it seems to be Sound Masters answer to the TR-606, but is based on the SR-88."
Vintagesynth.com's STIX page slots it somewhere between the DR-55 and the TR-606, almost like the missing link. And reading around the net, I also found that the STIX was often compared more to Roland's TR-606 and Korg's KPR-77, rather than to it's sibling the SR-88, or even it's cousins like the EDC SR-99, Amdek RMK-100, and Boss DR-55.

Poor thing was really just an SR-88 with extra sounds, an accent feature (already available on the DR-55 and RMK-100) and separate outs/levels, no?

The full specs for both the STIX and the SR-88 appeared in the SPEC SHEET section of the July 1983 issue of Keyboard, and actually includes a bit of a comparison between the two. Great historical information.
"JTG Rhythm Machines. The new Sound Master SR-88 and Stix are user-programmable rhythm machines. The SR-88 has been redesigned to accommodate new features. Sounds included are bass drum, snare drum, hi-hat, and cymbal. There are six 16-step memory positions and two 12-step memory positions. The unit also has the capability to record fills after every bar or every 4, 8, or 16 bars. There are tempo, tone, and volume controls, as well as an AC adaptor. There is a trigger output to sync to external synthesizers. An LED indicator flashes at the downbeat of each bar, and a footswitch jack allows for remote starting and stopping. The Stix features eight different sounds - bass drum, snare high and low toms, hi-hat (open and closed), cymbal, and accent. The cymbal is designed to give a punchier sound than the SR-88's, having been modeled after a crash cymbal where the SR-88's cymbal was designed after a ride cymbal. An individual slider control is provided to adjust the volume of each drum. A clear button erases unwanted rhythm patterns and a trigger output is provided for syncing purposes. Price of the SR-88 is $179.95; the Stix is $299.95. Distributed by JTG, 1024C 18th Ave. S., Nashville TN 37212."
I've found a few good videos on the STIX in action. Here's a YouTube video (uploaded August 8!) I found through (who else :) MATRIXSYNTH. Give's a good indication of what the machine can do.


 I also came across this video of a comparison between the STIX and the SR-88. Nice!


In the description of this second video, the author mentions that "both of them resemble the Boss DR-55 internally". Interesting stuff - but I promised myself after that Clef Master Rhythm post that I was done fixating on these little rhythm units.

I've think also now come to terms with the word "Rhythmer", but I sure hope "Programma" doesn't take off as a word to use on drum machines.

(Actually - secretly I do  :)

1 comment:

√Čole said...

Hi,

Thanks for the ad and additional very interesting information.

I had a sr-88 which i sold for a Stix, I still own it.

I have created a page about this one, with samples and usermanual (in french) :
http://www.dendrobate-magnetique.org/synth/article4/

Dave

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