Monday, May 20, 2013

Sequential Circuits Inc. Six-trak "Lets your multi-talents shine through" ad, Keyboard 1984

Sequential Circuits Inc. Six-trak synthesizer "Lets your multi-talents shine through" full-page colour advertisement from page 54 in the June 1984 issue of Keyboard Magazine.

It's the Victoria Day long weekend here in Canada and I've run away to the family farm to hide out. Because I can't lug all my gear with me, its a wonderful opportunity to spend some time focusing on one or two pieces of software. So this time I just brought the studio laptop, the RME Babyface audio interface, and Reason. Just upgraded from 6.5 to 7 and although I've been noodling with Reason for a number of years, its been good to get a chance to really dig-in deep. The last time I did this sort of thing, I brought out my first-generation netbook with Ubuntu and ReNoise. And a whole lot of sample CDs. Just to push the limits of that small system. Good times... good times... I recommend trying this out for yourself - seclusion and a laptop (oh... and a half-bottle of wine.   :)

But, I did take some time out of my Reason-a-thon to get a blog post done. Here we have SCI's next phase in the promotion of their Six-Trak synthesizer. The company had spent the previous few months promoting the synth as part of the "Traks" system  - but the synth was in need of some good solo ad time. It deserves it.

This new advertisement ran considerably longer than the previous two-page centerfold ad - from June to December 1984, without missing an issue. That's a considerable feat, especially considering that SCI had a number of other instruments to promote at the time as well - Prophet 600, T8, etc...

Sequential Circuits could have taken the easy way out and reused the ad-copy from the original two-pager (it was great ad-copy!), but instead decided to shrink it all down considerably to make room for that one big honking photo with the ad-copy above it.  And for good reason - it was promoting the best (and most obvious) thing about the synth - six individual synths! Yummy.

The big text above the photo that focuses on the instrument tracks is almost too big. But I don't care because that diagram is worth a thousand words, and lets the rest of the ad-copy focus on the other three reasons to buy a Six-Trak - Sequencer, Arpeggiator, and Stack Mode.  They even include a small photo of the front panel buttons. Awesome. And adorable.

Interestingly, even though SCI does mention the other two products in what was originally referred to in the previous 2-page centerfold ad as the "Traks Music System", only one gets mentioned by name - the Drumtraks. The Model 64 cartridge is only referenced as expansion software. I'm beginning to think the 'Traks" system's day is pretty much done.

Oddly, although it is the Model 64 that gets the shaft in this advertisement, a few months before, the Six-Trak Spec Sheet promo gave the shaft to the DrumTraks, with just simple mention, while giving the Model 64 a few lines of its own promo space. The Model 64 got its own Spec Sheet a month or two previously, but I guess it still makes sense to push it a bit in this Spec Sheet since it does offer program storage and increased sequencer storage.

But don't you worry - the focus is on the specs of the synthesizer though - and deservedly so. Just typing out this Spec Sheet makes me wish I brought my Six-Trak with me to the farm - now that Reason 7 finally includes external MIDI support, the Six-Trak would have been the perfect multi-timbral with to use it with  :)
"SCI synthesizer. The Six-Trak is a multi-timbral polyphonic synthesizer that allows you to play six completely different instrument sounds at one time, either by layering up to six sounds on one key or by addressing those sounds with the on-board multi-track sequencer. Sequencer functions include record, playback, programmable playback speed, programmable track volume changes, variable resolution error-correction, track duplication, and over 800-note storage capacity. You can also combine live playing and multi-track sequencing. The synthesizer section of the instrument provides six voices, each with its own VCO and VCF. There are also three ADSRs per voice, for controlling oscillator frequency, filter cutoff frequency, and amplifier gain. Up to 100 programs can be stored in memory. Parameter values are edited with a single knob, parameter number and value being indicated by LED readout. Pitch and modulation wheels are supplied. The unit is also MIDI-equipped and can be linked to SCI's Model 64 MIDI sequencer and Drumtraks programmable drum machine. The Model 64 sequencer offers increased sequencer storage (4,000 notes), program storage on cassette or disk, sequence transposition, alternate keyboard modes, and forthcoming music display and editing functions. Sequential Circuits, 3051 N. First St., San Jose, CA 95134."
Poor Drumtraks - the most expensive of them all - and yet just the briefest of mentions.

It deserves some me-time as well. And it will get it in the next blog post!

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