Cherry Audio's PS-3300
On creating a sound set for this remarkable instrument
I enjoy playing the PS-3300 very much. It allows me to create sounds that bring out something new from me as a musician. I have several MIDI keyboards and often I try them out one by one while exploring a new synth. The feel of the keys, wheels and aftertouch are very decisive for how I end up programming my sounds. For the GX-80 I used my Hydrasynth as a keyboard because of the poly aftertouch and for the Octave Cat the little Keystep 37 turned out to be my favorite.
Getting to know and become friends with a new synthesizer always takes a couple days for me. I have this small short list of things that I always try out first. First I make a few pads: choir, strings and some etherical fantasy stuff. I'm also curious to see how a new synth sounds when I make those typical Berlin School sequences with it: pew pew pew pew and dum dum dum dum. An oboe, a flute, ELP's epic "Lucky Man" and, of course, a guitar lead. It's a rather unstructured way of working where I jump from side to side over the virtual control panel like an overzealous fly. Learning the envelopes, oscillators and filters. There always comes a moment when I take out the oscilloscope to see what I'm hearing and then I start blowing my nose in the hope that I can then better hear what I see.
This time I stuck with Arturia's Keylab MK2 61 because the aftertouch in particular interacts so nicely with this synthesizer. If you listen to my Brass demo you can hear how detailed and subtle the synth and keyboard interact with each other. Other keyboards may probably bring out different aspects of the instrument. By the way, it does not mean that my presets for the PS-3300 cannot be played on other keyboards. Of course they can! I would encourage every user to always open the MIDI panel of the synth and take a moment to figure out how keyboard and synth interact with each other to your own liking. Or calibrate your keyboard to your taste based on the synth. Do choose one or the other, otherwise you will get hopelessly confused. Or you start disliking what I have programmed for you. And I don't want that you know? Of course, it may also be a matter of taste if you don't like my presets anyway.... But either way, listen to the demos. Have fun with them!
And then it happens in an unguarded moment when I don't notice that I'm just playing on my keyboard and barely touching the mouse anymore. That is the moment when we have contact with each other. The synth and me. Then it all adds up and it's time to hit the record button so I can start listening to the instrument instead of the software. Listening is such a different experience than playing. As a musician, you want try to bring those two experiences together. You need to learn what the listeners hear and feel when you play for them.
Cherry Audio has been very prolific in the past years with the release of all these wonderful software recreations. After the Moogs, Oberheim, Arps, Elka, Rolands and of course their insane hybrid clone of the Yamaha CS-80 and the GX-1.... What else could they surprise me with? Now I am asking myself that same question again in anticipation of their next product. And to be honest, again I can't wait.
Shortly after the launch of Cherry Audio's Harmonia in August, I received a message from their marketing director Robert that there would come a pre-release version of their next synth in September. He assumed I would be very happy with this new one as he thought it would really be something for me. Well, you know? Hadn't told me so, because 4 weeks takes forever when you're waiting for something and you have absolutely no idea of what to expect. And how on Earth could Robert know what would be really up to my alley?
I wondered about this while I waited and waited for the holy day to come. He was absolutely right, I know now. Of course Robert was right.