Tuesday, November 30, 2021

Roland JX-3P and PG-200 "Programmable/Preset/Polyphonic Synthesizer" brochure, 1983


Roland JX-3P synthesizer and PG-200 programmer "Programmable/Preset/Polyphonic Synthesizer" four page colour brochure from August 1983.

Well, well... another "We design the future" brochure. I got a million of them. Okay - maybe a few are duplicates. 

Can you blame me? Look at this beauty. All the signs of a Roland brochure from this era - like this JX-8P brochure I published back in 2020 - and the blog post that holds the record by far for hate mail regarding my position on the statement "Too much gear reduces your creativity". But that's another story. 

Where was I... oh yeah - the multitude of other We Design the Future brochures (and those that came after the tagline was dropped, but kept the same design format). At least 11 tagged on the blog to date, and as I find others - like that JX-8P brochure I've scanned, I add the tag to those posts too. 

The centrefolds in these things never disappoint. Flip the cover page open and you get that big gorgeous photo. I don't care if you love or hate the sound or the programming of this thing... it looks awesome. This is what an 80s synthesizer front panel should look like. Yeah yeah... knobs are great - but I equate those with 70s synths. A real 80's synth has one big data knob. Or at most, one or two sets of up/down button. Think Yamaha DX7. Or Oberheim Matrix 6.  :)

But the real history here is Roland's introduction of MIDI to their brochures. The tech was so new, companies were still fiddling about with their buzz words.


"... can be hooked up with..."

"MIDI BUS connector". 

All oddly awkward and satisfying at the same time.

Roland gives up a bit of real estate on the back page (not enough in my opinion) to discuss MIDI even more. 

"Today's modern digital technology has made it possible to automatically control and synchronize a remarkable variety of electronic instruments. A personal computer can even be incorporated in such systems which usual require no special knowledge or operational techniques. The only problem is that individual makers have in many cases employed mutually incompatible connections and this greatly reduces the performer's potential. A new universal BUS system called MIDI (Musical Instrument Digital interface) solves this problem. It accepts all connections from instruments and devices of a standard signal. Now any standard musical instrument or computer can be connected using DIN cords for both input and output. Thus, MIDI expands the potential of performers and brings unprecedented convenience to the realm of electronic music. The Roland's JX-3P and Jupiter-6 are equipped with the MIDI Bus terminal. "

Probably a few more months before the words "MIDI" and "cable" are finally strung together in a sentence. 

And I love it.

Monday, November 8, 2021

Moog Retail Price List, 1977

Moog Retail Price List from January 1, 1977.

Good lord. I haven't posted since August. Time is just flying since I took a new work gig in the spring. Told myself I was "retired" back in 2016, but after some consulting work during the height of COVID, I found an opportunity I just couldn't pass up. 

Anyways, I found this write-up sitting half-finished in my drafts, and thought it was a gooder since it includes some comparisons to other Moog pricing brochures I've already published. In particular, a 1974 brochure I posted in 2012 and a 1980 brochure I posted back in 2018. 

This 1977 brochure sits right in between, so I'd expect prices to fall somewhere in between as well. Let's take a look at a few....

1974 - $1,595.00
1977 - $1,795.00
1980 - $1,995.00

1974: $595.00
1977: $695.00
1980: not on the list

Sonic Six: 
1974:$ 1395.00
1977:  $1495.00
1980 - not on the list

1974: not in the list
1977:  $795.00
1980: $895

1974: not on the list
1977: $795
1980: $1,195

Wowza! In fact... two wowzas. 

First wowza - we can see how the Minimoog seemed to transcend all those other Moog products. The Satellite, Sonic Six, and Taurus came and went, never appearing in more than two of the brochures, but the Minimoog just kept on truckin'! 

The second wowza was that price jump for the Taurus Pedals. All other price jumps were exactly one hundred bucks on the nose. But that Taurus Pedals jumped an astonishing $400 within three years. I wonder what caused that kind of drastic change in pricing?!?!

From a purely design perspective, there's a few interesting elements I'd like to touch on. First, is that signed photo of Keith Emerson. Not surprising since he had been a long-time spokesperson for Moog. And awesome that he shows up in a pricing brochure of all things. It's a big step up from the 1974 brochure that featured that little conductor dude that was their kind-of mascot back in those mid-70s days. 

Don't get me wrong, I still think Moog could make a killing slapping that little dude on a t-shirt. Just look at him over there ---->

 He even looks better on that Minimoog brochure that came out around two years previously. Look at him with the Moog logo behind him. 

Now put THAT image on a hoodie!!!!


Moog Dude. On a t-shirt. NOW!

Monday, August 16, 2021

Anatek "Pocket Products Catalog" brochure, 1991


Anatek "Pocket Products Catalog" 10 page fold-out colour brochure from 1991.

Since moving into the new house, I've taken the few opportunities I've had to go through some of the boxes of brochures I've acquired over the years but never put into their protective sleeves. And just yesterday I did just that, and came across *this*.

Now'r days, people will joke that Eurorack modules are the synth-equivalent of Pokemon. 

"Gotta catch 'em all."

But, I submit this brochure before the court as evidence that the original synth-equivalent of Pokemon were these little babies. 

I can vividly recall going into my local synth haunt and seeing these stacked into their swiveling wire display stand. Okay, "vividly" may be a strong word. Maybe it didn't swivel. And now that I think about it, maybe it wasn't a wire frame. Was there even a stand?!?!? Gah. I'm old. 

Point is, they were there. And they left an impression. And the urge to collect. 

There was no date on the brochure, so of course I started Googling to try to remember when exactly these popped up on the radar. Didn't take long to find Creation Technologies Wikipage and some great info. 

"1989 - Creation Studios, a high end music recording studio is built in North Vancouver by Barry and Jane Anne Henderson. Barry Henderson was also Music Products Division Manager at Anatek Microcircuits, a hybrid manufacturer in North Vancouver, BC with revenues of $1M USD. He and his team developed the Anatek line of MIDI and audio products including the now famous line of small MIDI signal powered MIDI processing accessories called "Pocket Products". "

Boom! Further reading explains how in 1991 a partnership lead to the name "Creation Technologies", which is the name you will find on this brochure, and why I decided to date this brochure to that year. 

And look at that - Oh Canada!

Two other great historical facts can be gleaned from that wiki page. The first is this: 

"The most famous of the Pocket Products, Pocket Merge, sold close to 10,000 units and generated over $1.6M in revenue in 1989, the product launch year."

Niiiiice! What a great little tidbit of knowledge to blurt out next time you are in someone's studio and they happen to have a Pocket Product sitting around. One thing I'm always interested in when it comes to vintage gear is the number of units manufactured. 

The second great historical fact is this:

"Creation had a vision for becoming a high quality global contract manufacturing enterprise and developer of RADAR, the world's first multi-track digital recording system for professional recording studios."

Say what now? I had no idea the peeps behind some of the simplest midi/audio tech devices of the time period were also responsible for one the most complicated and expensive pieces of audio tech at the time as well.

Surprisingly,  my squirrel instincts never kicked in even though they still cost less than those Boss half-racks on eBay and there is always at least a few of them for sale.

*looks at eBay again*


Tuesday, July 27, 2021

Roland TR-727 drum machine "The Rhythm Composer that keeps you in the groove..." brochure, 1985


Roland TR-727 drum machine "The Rhythm Composer that keeps you in the groove..." four page colour brochure from October 1985. 

Hey! Has it really been 20 days since 707 Day!?!?! Well golly-geeeee! 

Happy 727 day, peeps!

No better way of celebrating than by scanning this lovely beast from the archives. (Yes, I also flinched when I used the word "beast" to describe a vintage brochure of a vintage drum machine). But there ya go. What's done is done.

The 1984-1986 period was an awkward one for drum machines. It was like watching your teenager go through puberty. You wanted to look away, but had to keep one eye on 'em to ensure no one got anyone else pregnant, make sure they washed their face, and wait it out until they grew into a fully (semi) functioning adult. 

In the case of drum machines, it was watching them make that transition from analog to digital, while keeping one eye on the cost of memory as it slowly came down.

Okay, not the best analogy. Let's just say there was a lot going on and a lot of moving parts. 

As 1984 ticked by and 1985 reared its ugly teen-age head out of the bedroom after a three day binge of Fortnite and McD's, it was just a matter of time before the intersection between the cost of memory and the cost of manufacturing hit that sweet spot. Someone got the bright idea that they could just swap out the digital sounds in a drum machine they had already manufactured, give the casing a new paint job, and slap it on the back, out the door, onto music store shelves.

And to that end, we had Boss come out with their Super Drums (DM-110) and Super Percussion (DM-220), Yamaha with their RX21 and RX21L, and of course Roland with their TR-707 and TR-727. 

Each pair housed in VERY similarly manufactured boxes, with their sounds switched out for alternative percussion sounds. 

It was an interesting and short-lived (experiment) solution to keeping the price-point of your drum machine down until memory came down to the point you could start really backing one single machine with tons of sounds. If I recall, it was Boss/Roland that managed to get their percussion-based boxes out the door before Yamaha, but feel free to correct me if I'm wrong. 

Anyways, enough about those other two - I've got brochure scans ready to rock for a later date. Today is the day to let the 727 shine. 

Quickly - we've got the classic Roland "We design the future" layout. Cover with large font up top and sexy photo on the bottom. And what a sexy photo this is - pairing the 727 with the Octapad PAD-8, looking longingly at each other in the subdued lighting. I can here the TR-727 softly whispering "come hither". Put some lace on that PAD-8 and this could be a Harlequin Romance book cover. Just saying. 

Let's face it, Roland was expecting a large audience of the 727 to be trained percussionists, and as a friend of many percussionists, I can tell you that they love to hit things. The PAD-8 becomes the perfect companion for programming a TR-727. Although with the rigid timing of the 727, it possibly could have ended up to be more frustrating in the end. 

With their interest peaked, the reader slowly opens the cover to reveal the inside pages. And it doesn't disappoint. The Roland TR font makes me so happy, as do the large photo and diagrams included! What's interesting is the shear amount of text packed into those pages - especially on the right page. 

So much so, that they really had to compromise the negative space of the pages to fit it all in there. 

Compare it to the 707 brochure and you can see what I mean. Subtitles are crowded in the 727 brochure, and even the line spacing of the paragraphs seem claustrophobic. 

But now I'm just quibbling. It's still lovely. 9.5/10. 

Now flip to the back page and we have that PAD-8 again. Coming back for some more of that sweet sweet 727 lovin'. And it looks like it brought it's friend along for a good time. 


The perfect upsells. 

Have a safe and happy 727 day. 

Wednesday, July 7, 2021

Roland TR-707 drum machine "A brand new digital drum machine" brochure, 1985

Roland TR-707 drum machine's "A brand new digital drum machine from Roland "four page colour brochure from March 1985. 

Hey there! Happy 707 Day. My fifth happiest day after 303 Day, 808 Day, 909 Day and 606 Day. Oh wait... 202 Day. And 101 Day. Wait. 272 Day. Okay, my eighth happiest day of the year. 

But its still a great day! It beat our 358 or so other days. Not too shabby. 

All that aside... let's keep this short and sweet. Just like the 16 beat patterns found on this thing. 

Based on the classic "We Design The Future" brochure style of the period for Roland, this thing is gorgeous. It hits all the right notes. Large images. lots of breathing room. Cool red laser effect when you flip open the brochure. A marble. Yeah... even the marble. 

Like many of the other brochures in this series, the cover has a theme - in this case, some kind of metal thingy behind the 707. It's actually a little freaky on the eyes, ain't it? But that don't matter, because as soon as you open the brochure, you get that large image of the TR-707 and lots of info including the specs. 

But even better than the marble and lazer found on those inside pages is the back page. Because here we have the lovely older brothers of the the 707 - the TR-909 and TR-606. I love that even as MIDI started overtaking previous sync standards, Roland kept that fire burning under the TR-606. I can't fault them for that (606 Day beats 707 Day by three other days!!!

Like I said. Short and sweet. because I have a job now. A real one. And its fun too. 

Have a safe 707 Day! Enjoy!