From Chris Whitten
Sent Sun, Feb 22nd 1998, 17:01
Here as requested is a mini review of the Fenix Modular Synth. = Firstly I'd like to pay respect to other people who have posted reviews o= n AH, I never realised how difficult it would be until now. So you know how to judge my comments, I have only been into modular synthesis for about 2 years starting with a Roland 100M cabinet and soon after adding a Doepfer A100 system. I do have hands on experience with Moog, Polyfusion, Serge, Digisound, Roland and Doepfer systems, some of which I currently own. I wont bother to detail the specifications of the Fenix as this and much more is available at their website: http://www.cameo.nl/Fenix/ My top two criteria on evaluating a synth are it's sound and features. On= both these counts the Fenix scores highly. Contained within the Fenix there are many modules most of which differ fr= om each other in some way. For example, there are three VCO's. VCO 1 is different to VCO's 2 and 3 in that it has a Sine waveform output, Sync (variable from soft to hard) and two sub outputs. = The Sync on this synth is very rich sounding. The effect is to add more a= nd more harmonics to the timbre rather than the classic nasal/hard sound you= often get with oscillator sync. There are three filters all sounding rich and characterful. VCF's 1 and 2= are 2 pole state variable. There doesn't seem to be any compromise in the= sound however. They both sound as good to my ears as VCF3 which is a 12db= and 24db (5 pole) ladder type filter. The resonance is very radical on al= l 3 filters and can be set very high indeed before it self oscillates. Despite this I've found that I still get off on the filters with the resonance wound right down, this is a first for me. I've also processed drumloops through the filters (via each of the 2 audio inputs) and found = a lot of scope for drastic sound deconstruction. = They say that filters can make or break a synth and all 3 on the Fenix ar= e as good or better than anything I've heard. Tight, ballsy, rich, zingy an= d crystal clear. There does not seem to be any voltage control of the resonance however which is a shame. As I said, one of the strenghts of the Fenix is it's comprehensive and diverse array of modules. There are 3 LFO's, each with different features= , two of them being voltage controllable. Likewise all three of the envelop= es offer differing approaches, two of the three being VC Envelopes. I found that this concept led me to approach patches in a more sophisticated way.= Although it is very quick and easy to set up a basic patch I found that I= couldn't resist plugging something into the extra VC inputs and very quickly I was into some radical sounding synthesis which would have been = a lot more effort on the Doepfer or would have needed some very clear thinking through on the Serge. There are three VC Mixers, two Portamentos and two Ring Mods (with additional vc inputs). Apart from the sound being so good, the sheer amou= nt of features on the Fenix makes my 12U of Doepfer redundant. One last module which is really great is the Analogue Noise, Digital Nois= e and VLF. I haven't figured out what to do with the VLF (very low frequenc= y noise) yet but the digital and analogue noise timbres are sweepeable by voltage control which sounds fab, isn't like filtering and is something I= haven't seen before. = There are several other modules I haven't mentioned such as the CV Mixers= which can act like octave dividers and/or CV attenuators. I've been championing the Doepfer for a while on AH but I reckon at $1,50= 0 the Fenix has blown away all my other modular kit except for my 2600 (gre= at audio input and all time classic synth) and Serge panel. Interfacing the Fenix, taking advantage of all it's VC capabilities, with my Serge panel (including Wave Multipliers) I have already in a few hours created sounds= beyond what I thought possible on what is basically a monophonic analog synth. To sum up, it would be unfair to compare the Fenix to a Moog modular but = if anyone is thinking about a Doepfer, a vintage modular system or for that matter any mono synth under $2,000 it would be worth finding out more abo= ut the Fenix. If they are really only going to make 25 it could turn out to = be an instant classic. CW p.s. Sorry about the gushing, no money has changed hands!. I have had a second opinion from a more experienced synthesist who agrees that it is a= n excellent sounding, very well appointed synth. Lot's of bang for your buc= k!