The faux-Pan Am logo. The sleek, mod, curved white casing. The elegant controls. Yes, this is indeed a synth that would look at home in the space station in Kubrick’s 2001. Technically not the future so much as the 1960’s version of the future – but surely we’re getting around to reshaping our future to look more like that, right? At least for synths?

The synth in question is the Omega 8, a “luggable” 20-pound, 8-voice analog synth with individual stereo pairs for each voice. It’s really, truly, old-school analog, with discrete analog oscillators, voltage-controlled filters of the 24dB and 12dB variety, multi-stage envelopes, and all the extras. In the “new-school” category, though, it is MIDI savvy, with MIDI destinations for just about everything (including the envelope breakpoints) and even breath controller support. How do I know this? Why, off the top of my head, of course; I’ve got three. Erm. Okay, I read it on the old Omega 8 page, then lost half an hour dreaming of my new lounge-style studio where I adjust envelope breakpoints from a giant aluminum sphere like the one in Sleeper.

All of that luxury will set you back US$4700. (If you can do with fewer voices, you can get down to a more Earth-bound US$1679. But that’s only 10 pounds, so it must make half as much sound.) But normally, the Omega ships in a pedestrian-looking synth case, like every other synth. Enter the Orion rendition.

2008: An Orion Odyssey Teaser Page

Studio Electronics News

As the manufacturers say:

what is this? it is art. it is light. it is glorious design brought to life by Antoine Argentieres, the man, who sagely let his fondness for Stanley Kubrick’s past century enigmatic odyssian vision of the future (and re-visioning of pivotal past events) inspire a house fit for the majestic voice and verve of the Omega8––a cathedral of transformation; the great work of the synth; a mind before matter mystical alignment of awareness: light and sound waves that reveal the ORION GALAXY, expanding and growing and luminous.

I’m not sure it’s art, but it is spectacularly groovy. Studio Electronics also promises a special sound bank befitting its forward-looking body.

I’ve heard varying answers to what availability will be from “I can’t conceive how expensive this is” to “rumors say it’s a one-off.” For their part, SE says it’s

available now for those who "have the greatest enthusiasm and confidence in the mission.

There you have it. You just have to believe. You have to think really, really hard about how you want it, and believe in why it matters, and you’ll own it.

Okay, it must be really, really, really, really expensive.

But I do believe in the mission. Steampunk’s over, folks. So is arbitrarily sticking cheap knobs into a cardboard box and rendering a “polished aluminum sheen” on the case by using duct tape. Let’s get back to the future with our synth designs. (I’m encouraged by the fact that our friend Nostromo found this for us on the SDIY list, by way of the music bar list.)

You still have time to do something for 2010.

See also: Music thing (hmmm, Tom got the jump on me, so maybe I shouldn’t have gotten so lost in that reverie of owning the thing…)

Update: Music thing also points to some artistic inspiration in the same vein.

  • bliss

    That's what I call Space Odyssey chic! Definitely can pumping out Strauss on that!

    "Blue Danube, Dave?" "Yes, Hal."


  • bliss

    We ever gonna see that edit button? LOL!

  • bliss

    Wow! It's called and Orion Odyssey! Haha! I commented before I read and visited the teaser page. Those images certainly did the trick to jog my memory of one of my all-time favorite movies. Great job by the promoters!!! 🙂

  • bliss

    Seriously, I didn't even read your article, PK… Wow.

  • bliss

    Groovy is the word. Brady Bunch and Partridge Family chic as well.

    Steampunk r not dead though.

    (OK – I'll stop spamming the comments. Those images were so exciting!)

  • Can I control the lfo with a lava lamp?

  • It's still a little too rectangular to be truly 1960s-retrofuturistic/1970s-chic (note to designers: rounding the corners of a rectangle doesn't make it an oval), but it's definitely a step in the right direction.

  • @Dr. Apostrophe X: Ha, excellent.

    Hear that, designers? Make it EGGIER, or we're not fully impressed. (I agree.) 🙂

  • dead_red_eyes

    Damn …. that is HOT.

  • @peter swimm: Lava lamp…love it.

    I want this right next to my automatic blinds and vibrating bed a la Down With Love.

  • Anthony Bowyer-Lowe

    Holy moly, this has got my gear lust in overdrive.

    I'll be dreaming of this lovely artefact for weeks!

  • Anthony Bowyer-Lowe

    But yeah, t'would be far coolier t'were it eggier.

  • amoeba

    no no no – screw ovals. so inefficient. rectangles are good, and rounding the corners of rectangles makes them friendly. ovals waste too much space, and you can't put a beer on top. plus ovals go out of style to quickly, and you have to endure them way too long before they come back in style so you can hock it on ebay. and by then, all the white plastic has yellowed and cracked.

    trust me on this.

  • Rex Rhino

    But I want 80s-retro-future FM digital synths, not 60s-retro-future analog synths!

  • Anthony Bowyer-Lowe

    @amoeba: that's the point – ovals are dysfunctional and decadent!

  • Lost


  • Futuristic? I was hoping the future would bring an end to cables and wired connections.

  • I've played with a few Omega's and they have that special sound. They are worth the money if you have it. I'd really like to see Studio Electronics come out with keyboard versions of their synths.

  • It'd be nice if it had an integrated controller, perhaps a non-contact one that interpreted your handwaving and bodymoving gestures. Perhaps even facial gestures down to the lip-reading level. It could take the form of a central fisheye lens that glows read.

    It could also have a special error mode for total systems failure at the core purpose level, involving mission conflict. If it fails like this, it could just slowly shut down and sing "Daisy".

    Then it'd kill all the crew.

  • amoeba


    ah, i see. all the sarcasm was lost on me. again.

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  • Damon

    Ya, I can safely regard that as art.

    Big money, but I like the spirit and idea. As personal as is hardware to hardware users, the idea of providing ergonomics to one's creative slash physical imagination is truly consistent. Be kind of cool if some company might provide such entertaining physical "skins" that you can specifically install with your popular synth of choice. Hardware re-skinning. Someone might be wise to jump on that.

    "Would you like your A1 Blobus 2789 skin in Virus desk, V synth rack, or mpc?"




    I boldly embrace any opportunity to use the word "ergonomic."

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