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Vintage music tech icons: A-Z

Music Tech Showcase 2021: Amid all the jaw-dropping new tech and  innovations on display at this year‘s Music Technology Showcase, we‘ve been taking a moment to reflect on some of the influential vintage gear that got us here.

From the Akai MPC3000 through to Yamaha‘s DX-7, many of the vintage gear icons featured here have not just shaped electronic music-making, but have played a significant role in overhauling the entire pop culture landscape. 

You can view the full list below and follow the 'Read more' links for an in-depth exploration of the story behind each of the selections.

Akai MPC3000

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We investigate why the MPC3000 is regarded by many as the finest MPC ever made.

The MPC60 and MPC60 Mk2 (launched in 1988 and 1991 respectively) were the first fruits of this Linn/Akai venture, with the MPC3000 being the second (and final) Linn-badged MPC. But what makes the Linn models (and the MPC3000 in particular) so great?

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ARP Instruments 2600

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The first, and some still say best, alternative to studio-bound modular systems. 

Brand loyalty is not a new phenomenon. Just as today’s pundits debate the merits of Mac versus Windows or Android versus iPhone, a battle for allegiance once raged between users of Moog’s synthesizers and those who preferred instruments made by ARP. Then, just as now, the debate was a powerful marketing tool...

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EMS VCS3

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England’s first commercial synthesizer revives the psychedelic sound of the ’70s

The VCS3 is an unusual success story. Though it never sold in any great numbers, its sheer longevity is to be admired. While plenty of classic instruments have been revived in recent years, the VCS3 is unique in having never officially been out of production.

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Eventide H3000 Ultra Harmonizer

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An iconic ’80s multi-effects unit that has possibly never been bettered

When Eventide brought out the H910 Harmonizer in 1975 they started an audio revolution. They then experimented with many other types of processor including delays and reverbs but in 1986 they brought all this knowledge together in the H3000, a true stereo multi-effects processor of the highest audio quality with incredible MIDI control implementation.

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Fender Rhodes Stage Pianos

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The Fender Rhodes Piano changed the face of music forever. Here's why you 

Nothing beats the sound and experience of playing a real Fender Rhodes. However, as successful as the piano became (around 250,000 were produced from 1965-84), it took a lot of hard work to reach that point...

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Moog Minimoog Model D

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The Minimoog forever defined the shape and sound of every synth that followed

The words ‘revolutionary’ and ‘groundbreaking’ get bandied about so much they’ve all but lost their impact. You’d be forgiven, then, for not appreciating how truly accurate they are when used to describe an innovative product like the Minimoog. Few instruments have had such a significant impact as Moog’s original Minimoog Model D...

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Oberheim OB-8

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The OB-8 was the last in a line of classic American polysynths

The Oberheim OB range became a staple of the American music scene of the ’80s. These polyphonic analogue synths could also be found on European productions, despite being overshadowed by Roland and others – meaning they are harder to come by in the UK, and are (slightly) more affordable than their less well-equipped brethren.

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Oberheim Matrix 12

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Oberheim’s Xpander and Matrix 12 are two the most flexible synths ever

With the Xpander and Matrix 12, Oberheim aimed high and cleverly realised there was a place for a matrix based patching system that gave close to the same control possibilities as a purely modular design.

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Roland CompuRhythm CR-78

Roland CompuRhythm CR-78

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A sputtering block of wood and metal, let's take a look at the first drum machine to make the big time

Over the past four decades, the sound of the drum machine has put an indelible sonic signature on popular music. Yet this most certainly wasn’t always the case. In its earliest days, the drum machine was met with open hostility by the music industry. It was even banned for a time by the Musicians Union...

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Roland x0x

Roland x0x

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The original x0x units command stratospheric prices, whether you grew up with the 909, 808 and 303 or not, these units remain some of the coolest bits of classic hardware to own. 

Those that saw the release of these electronic behemoths will be fully aware of how coveted they have been over the years and even a newcomer to the music tech scene will be aware of their awesome legacy. Impressive stuff for hardware that was released in the ’80s.

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Sequential Circuits Prophet-600

Sequential Circuits Prophet-600

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The P600 was the first to feature a MIDI interface. We reassess this groundbreaking synth

Although the inflation-beating rise in prices for old gear may be anathema to some, the analogue revival does at least allow for certain synths to be re-evaluated. This is never more true than when an upgrade comes along to address the shortcomings in the original. The Prophet-600 is one such synth.

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UA 1176N Limiter

UA 1176N Limiter

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The 1176 is a classic FET compressor with a true Rock ‘n’ Roll attitude

Some classic hardware just has inherent attitude. The 1176 has an upfront sound that engineers have used for years to mould productions of every genre. 

From Disco to Rock and back, the 1176 has repeatedly found itself at the forefront of music production. Walk into any major studio in the world and you can expect to see at least one 1176; in most you’ll find an entire rack full.

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Yamaha DX7

Yamaha DX7

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An undisputed classic, the DX7 changed the synth landscape forever

The DX7 has claimed its rightful and prominent place in synthesizer history for a range of reasons, good and bad. On the one hand it harnessed a novel type of all-digital synthesis, allied to increased polyphony and portability. It would also be viewed as the death knell of analogue synthesis and harbinger of the ‘less knobs, more buttons and a small screen’ approach to programming.

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