Some people have asked, what was tempest? Why did it die? and why was it going to cost soo much to build?

TempestI’ll explain, Tempest was to be my ‘ultimate’ Polysynth. I wanted it to have everything, we’ll go quickly over the specs ;-

  • 8 note polyphonic (expandible to 12),
  • 4 oscillators per voice,
  • 100 waveforms + saw, sine and PWM
  • 2 LFOs per voice
  • 3 ADSRs
  • 24dB/Oct Ladder with Pole sweep
  • Filter ‘overdrive’
  • Prophet VS style mixer, with recordable animation

I began the design and had a case made, got the voice card working and begun work on the panel, when I got chatting with Axel Hartmann (I owned a Neuron at the time) and when I said I was working on something new, but had no money to finance it, he suggested we work together. I mailed him some of my ideas and some MP3s of the single voice I had built.
I was to design and build the ‘guts’ of the synth and he’d do the case/panel and market it under the ‘Hartmann’ brand. This suited me just fine! He came up with several designs, and in the end the design you see above was based on some thoughts I had (layout of the oscillators) mixed with his ideas and using the parts he had already had made for the Neuron, including the sticks and knobs.

We went through the whole design phase, I built prototype boards and tried to keep the cost as low as we possibly could, as I knew cost would be a major issue.
In the end the downfall was that I wanted to keep all the post processing analogue. This meant a relatively high cost to manufacture. Which, in turn, meant a high end user cost. The figure we arrived at was around £3200 for the market. When we did a survey of people and the price they’d be willing to pay for such a beast, 95% of them said less than £2200.

Tempest prototype panelSo the project has sat idle since this date. I’ve got the bits for two voices and my own case (shown here on the left), so maybe one day I’ll finish it.. I’d like to finish it, but time and money may mean it never gets any further than just a pile of parts.

Eventually I’ll add a page with some more pictures, details and MP3s.

For the meantime, here’s one MP3 demonstrating some of the features -
17 Sounds (4.8Mb MP3).

3 Responses to “Tempest”

  1. Vacoloco Ramblings » Blog Archive » Things to do before I get too old Says:

    [...] Build a polysynth, be it Defender, Tempest or something else, but a polysynth. [...]

  2. My WebLog » Blog Archive » So here comes 2007 ... Says:

    [...] productive working relationships with other hardware manufacturers in order to get an old synthesiser project re-established … now that one is *really* exciting. [...]

  3. cjwj Says:

    I wish you good luck and future succes with your design. I sure hope in the future we will have that 8 voice polysynth. The render almost made me drool.