Thursday, September 13, 2012

Synton Electronics Syntovox 222 and 221 vocoder "You do the talking..." ad, Contemporary Keyboard 1980

Synton Electronics Syntovox 222 and 221 vocoder "You do the talking..." half-page black and white advertisement from page 26 in the March 1980 issue of Contemporary Keyboard.

Never heard of them. Well, maybe I have. But if I had, these vocoders didn't leave much of an impression. And I dig vocoders. My Roland SVC-350 has been in my rack for years and years, and I always try to find an excuse to patch it in. And one of the big reasons I love my Korg Wavestation A/D is because of its audio inputs and vocoder effect.

But these Synton Syntovox vocoders... drawing a blank at the moment.

Hmmm. What to do... what to do... I usually have two different "go-to's" when drawing a blank:

1. Kick-start some company research on the Internet
2. Jibber jabber about the ad itself.

And since I'm feeling a bit lazy today, I think I'll start by just gaze at this ad for a while. Save the online research for later.

This particular early advertisement only appeared once in CK as far as I can tell. And it's not too shabby. Nice balance, a smart, witty ad-title, and a nice big Synton logo. It took a while to realize what I like best about this ad - the lips in the second "o" of "Syntovox" in the ad-title. I missed it for a long time, but now that I know they are there, its the first thing I focus on. They're a little dirty even.

So, what's not to like? I'm not a fan of justified text in ads. And not a fan of it in this ad either. You get enough of it in the magazine articles themselves. My eyes are tired even before I've begun reading. But for the first time out of the gate, Parasound gets an "A" for effort.

Still knee-jerking from starting any online research, I decided to flip through my database and a few other issues of the magazine to see what came up. I never did come across a Spec Sheet for the 221 or 222 vocoder in my readings, but unexpectedly the next best thing does appear in a later issue of the magazine. A lot later. Like three and a half years in October 1983.

But it was probably worth the wait for readers because we're talking Keyboard Giveaway contest!

Before I go on - did you catch that?

The ad came out in March 1980 in Contemporary Keyboard, but the contest was in Keyboard magazine.  Yup! they took so long that the magazine changed it's name! Hee hee.

Okay, maybe I'm the only one tickled by that fact. So back to that Keyboard Giveaway contest.

Sure enough, the October 1983 giveaway was for a Syntovox 222 vocoder, and the description reads like a good solid Spec Sheet:
"The syntovox 222 vocoder is a professional audio rack-mounted sound modifier that is designed for live performance or studio use in inparting vocal articulation to musical signals. Two speech (program) inputs are provided: one for balanced microphones signals and the other for line-level signals. The articulation and spectrum of the speech signal are imparted to the carrier signal. the carrier input is usually an electronic keyboard or other instrument, but may be any line-level signal with a broad spectrum. The 222's output consists of the articulated carrier, plus adjustable amounts of straight speech and/or carrier signals. An internal "unvoiced sound synthesizer" is included for increased intelligibility.  Articulated carrier and unvoiced sound signals may be turned on and off by a panel switch or external footswitch. List price is $815.00. Syntovox products are sold in the United States by Big Briar, Leicester, NC 28748."
Like I said - a nice little write up.

And... did you catch it (again...)?

Looks like the magazine wasn't the only thing that was going through a wack of change during those long three and a half years. It seems distribution for the Syntovox changed hands too - from Parasound to Big Briar - sometime between March 1980 and October 1983.

Like the vocoders themselves, I don't recall the name Parasound either (yeah yeah, I'll get to that online research later), but I do know quite a bit about Big Briar.  That's the company Bob Moog started after leaving his original company Moog Music back in the late 70s. There are some really interesting Big Briar ads that I'm sure I'll post in the future, including one for the Syntovox 222 vocoder! Yay!

But, any more research will have to wait until the weekend. Because when I knee-jerk, I KNEE-JERK.

Like the year I refused to watch Toy Story because everyone loved it so much. KNEE-JERK.  And then attended Siggraph that year. Siggraph is *the* international conference and exhibition on computer graphics and interactive techniques.

The result: I got boo'd by everyone else in the room during the Pixar session. Even by my best friend, who I swear knew it was coming.

True story. And now that I think about it, I may have already told that anecdote.  Gah.

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