Thursday, October 20, 2011

EML SynKey 2-sided brochure, approximately 1978

EML SynKey brochure from approximately 1978.

This brochure was sent to me, along with quite a few others pieces of  EML literature, by George Mattson. George was an independent factory sales rep for EML before he built the Syntar (drool).. and more recently, is the man behind Mattson Modulars (more drool).

Side note: Although my Doepfer obsession has reached new heights recently, I am about to decide whether to get a Mattson starter modular, or the six-pack - which looks too dang cute!

Sorry - got side-tracked for a sec. Can't... stop... looking...

Like this advertisement for the SynKey that I recently posted, this brochure is rather rare. Almost as rare as the 75 or so SynKeys that were produced (according to Mark Vail's book Vintage Synthesizers).

The front side of the brochure is one you may have come across on the Web, and includes ad-copy that builds on the text found in the SynKey's Contemporary Keyboard advertisement. It clearly carries the SynKey's message of simplicity and ease of use.

The back side of the brochure seem to be much more rare to find online, and includes ad-copy that focuses on the SynKey's three big promotional features - programming, second touch and pushbutton semitone select. Definitely take the time to read through it to get a good idea of how the SynKey operated. The back of the brochure also provides a list of the programmable parameters that are available on the SynKey. All in all, a very well-written piece.

My only peeve is my usual one - the document doesn't have a print date.  Gah.

When a document such as this doesn't have a date I usually rely on pricing info to get an idea of when exactly the piece was created during the life cycle of the instrument. In the case of the SynKey, I have one good price reference - the programmable SynKey was listed in Contemporary Keyboard's May/June 1976 Giveaway contest #5 at $2,195.00. I also have another price reference point - but it's a bit sketchy. Mark Vail's Vintage Synthesizers book lists the programmable SynKey price at a much lower $1,350.00 - but that includes a production start date of 1979. Considering the first ads for the SynKey were out in 1976, we know the actual production start date was much earlier. BUT, could that $1,350 price tag be the price that the unit cost in 1979? The huge price drop could have been on account of the card reader technology which would have quickly devalued the instrument as RAM memory costs went down in competitor's synths. But this is all just a hunch. And it all doesn't matter anyways because there is no pricing info on the brochure to cross reference with.

But, I do have one other theory to give this brochure a 1978 print date:

The brochure includes information on the non-programmable SynKey (model 1500) as well - but its kind of been added on as separate ad-copy underneath the main photo of the instrument in a *completely* different font.  Sites such as often include a scan of the front of this brochure - but the scan doesn't include the extra text about the non-programmable version. To me, this suggests that the scanned ad found on is probably the first version of the brochure. And this could possibly suggest that the non-programmable model 1500 SynKey came out later and was added to the brochure at that time.

The book Vintage Synthesizers lists a production start date for the non-programmable version at 1978 (and a cost of $925). I know - a long shot. I've asked a few people for more info on the two model's different start dates.

Note to readers: My theories have about a 20% success rate  :)  Will update when I learn more.

Changing topics, I've found a few good sources for photos and demos of the SynKey online.

MATRIXSYNTH posted a relatively recent April 2011 ebay auction that included some great photos of the programmable SynKey. That baby blue accent color found on the instrument is gorgeous. Another even more recent May 2011 auction post also has some good photos - and close up, you can see the baby blue bars are actually stylistic punch cards with hole punches! Nice design touch.

But, my favorite MATRIXSYNTH SynKey auction post is this one from MARCH 2009 because it includes photos of the colour punch cards as well (same blue colour!) as well as a few other pieces of literature.

The only place I've come across a colour photo of the orange non-programmable model 1500 SynKey is Scroll down to the second photo to see the gorgeous orange accent colour of that machine.

As far as demos are concerned, I really enjoyed YouTube contributor "xgregcompositionx" vids. He's uploaded three SynKey video demos that show off it's great sound.

Check 'em out below. Time for me to watch Survivor  :D

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