Monday, September 17, 2012

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

Synton Electronics Syntovox 222 and 221 vocoder "You do the talking" condensed 1/6-page black and white advertisement from page 66 in the April 1980 issue of Contemporary Keyboard.

I really love this advertisement. Enough that I decided to include the Polyphony ad that sits beside it because I knew it wouldn't take away from the main feature - Syntovox! Although I do love that Polyphony logo with its fat letters and the way the "L" connects with the "Y" beside it.


We are going through quite a rapid change at my day job right now. We are "rightsizing" from over 400 people down to under 100 and budgets are being slashed across the company. And, in the middle of all this the choice was made to rebrand too.

But even with all the stress of change and lack of job security (and all the shitty political stuff that goes along with that process) I have to say its a very interesting (and fun!) time to be at an 75+ year old company during such rapid change. Especially in the marketing and communications area. Its a learning experience and "skill-hoarding" experience I'll be able to take with me anywhere else I work.

And this advertisement pretty much sums up all the that change we are going through.

As part of the re-brand, all of our advertisements had to be re-designed, and due to budget cuts, many of those ads were also shrunk down from full- and half-page ads down to 1/4-page. Shrinking down advertisements is an art form unto itself. Images and layout need to be considered, but the toughest part is  usually deciding what ad-copy needs to go. No operations department ever wants to loose ad-copy. But fonts can only get so small before they are unreadable.

Parasound/Synton have done a bang-up job at condensing their initial March 1980 1/2-page Syntovox 222 and 221 vocoder advertisement down to a measly 1/6-page format. So much so that I've already spent 250+ words just building up to talking about it.   :)

Layout still includes tons of white space and they managed to keep the image large enough to still be recognizable. Plus they have kept the Synton logo at a respectable size.

And, as it should be, it's the ad-copy that really took a beating. No mention of the model numbers or the model name "Syntovox" - ouch! And that's a shame because I miss those lustful lips used in "vox" in the 1/2-page version of this ad.

Yup. You just can't cut down your ad-copy to 25 words or less without loosing some of the message. But Parasound did well to cut right to the chase: 1. We are affordable. 2. Contact us for more information.

Good work in cutting 'er down under such tough conditions. 

Well, I finally got around to doing some online research.  Never did find a lot of information on Synton's first distributor Parasound. Well, it's not that I didn't find any information - its just that there are a lot of "Parasound" companies out there. The one company lucky enough to snag has a few things in common with what we know about Parasound in the ad. They are located out of San Francisco and are a creator of audio equipment - now focusing on movie and recording studios. And kinda cool - according to their About Us page, this company is credited in Episode 1, 2 and 3 of Stars Wars. Not too shabby. 

I like the idea of a vocoder distributor from the 80s evolving into a successful company that is still around today. But I never found anything definitive and in the end I just decided to move on.

There is a bit more info out there about the company Synton. According to their Wikipedia page they were a manufacturer and distributor of musical equipment back in the 70s and 80s from the Netherlands.  It was founded by Felix Visser after he purchased an EMS Synthi AKS and decided he wanted more out of a synth. WTF? Who needs anything more than this little cutey!   :)

Synton went on to producer a few vocoders and synthesizers before they finally went bankrupt in 1989. Boo. Interestingly, the Wiki page only list Big Briar (Bob Moog's company in the 80s) as a distributor of the vocoders, even though clearly sales and marketing in the US were run by Parasound at least for the first little while.

I'm not done with these vocoders yet. Gonna keep looking into Parasound. Kinda bugging me.

End note: About that Polyphony ad - I always find it kinda odd when a magazine includes an advertisement for a similar magazine. Maybe Polyphony was different enough from Contemporary Keyboard that CK didn't feel they were a threat. But still, it may have pulled a few subscription dollars away from CK.  Huh.  

1 comment:

HappyNewEra said...

"This little cutey" (it was a Synthi A plus DK1 dynamic keyboard aka The Cricklewood - we're early 70s) WTF broke down after three days, so Felix had to fix the little sucker. Discovering that other possibilities asked for further investigation and may be other concepts. Parasound, founded by the still alive half of the duo Beaver & Krause, Bernie Krause, today still a very good friend of Felix's, was Synton's first US distributor for a short time. Bernie was credited for his hair raising sound track of a car chase in the movie Bullitt. Parasound was followed by Everett Hafner† of former EMSA, and later by Bob Moog†'s Big Briar - who BTW did a magnificent job and was an inspirator for the Synton Syrinx mono synth with formant filter. People pay, if they can find one, thousands of dollars for them.
To get back to P'sound - I can't see any relation between the "New" Parasound and the old one - other than that the new one might have bought or nicked the name after the old Parasound was discontinued. So before dreaming about inspiring turn-arounds better check thoroughly. How I know all these things? I am Felix.

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