Machines With Soul



UPLOADED: 17th Jul 2018


EMS Synthi AKS

This blog is not a another guide to Synthi AKS, but rather it’s about my experience encountering and using one of these remarkable instruments while “testing” the one shown above following a full restoration. This process gave me pause to consider what it is that makes some pieces of gear so completely captivating and endlessly inspiring. A longer video demo of my AKS experience features at the bottom of this post…

(And just before we get into it, special mention to our remarkable in-house techs Doctor Huw and Chris for their tireless work to bring this beauty back to life, and also to Keith Kniveton for his assistance with a final elusive problem).

It’s very seldom that we come across an EMS Synthi, and even rarer to land an AKS version – right now we have two examples here, one of which is now available for sale on the site.

This classic English synth was famously-used by Pink Floyd on The Dark Side Of The Moon. The haunting sequence of On The Run predates Detroit techno by over a decade; is it possible that it was an influence on Kraftwerk’s direction for 1974’s Autobahn? What is beyond doubt is that when properly-maintained, these rare synths can bring the user great joy and inspiration.

David Gilmour – Dark Side of the Moon on the run Synthi from Exequiel26 on Vimeo.

I’ve recently been testing the first EMS Synthi AKS that we have available for sale. So far I’ve only scratched the surface of what this amazing synth is capable of, but already I’m exhibiting signs of being utterly lovestruck. Can’t concentrate at work for thinking about what sounds I’d like to process; keep drifting into a trance at home dreaming about the next time we’ll be together. A bad case of loving you…

Even after working in this particular sweet shop for many years, I’ve still not become immune to temptation. The objects of my desire, be they stringed, valved or circuitry and wires, all share a particular je ne sais quoi.

So what is it about certain instruments that makes them so special? It’s immediately apparent when you find in your hands a special guitar or bass: the look, feel, sound and playability that cause you to lose hours in your playing. It’s the same with synths – and certainly what I found with the Synthi AKS for sale now on our site. Immediate and visceral – inspiration flows freely through these magical machines and instruments. They have mojo aplenty.

It’s clear the designers, builders and the techs who’ve lavished attention on them over the years have all put something of themselves into these amazing pieces.
The end result is a living, breathing, entity – a machine with soul?

You’re unlikely to find it in anything built to a price point by robots on a production line – that extra care and commitment to detail goes beyond considerations of profit and transforms mere components and wires into something more. Then there’s the variance in materials that comes with handmade and vintage instruments – each has their own character. Made with love – life breathed into wood and wires – a sonic Pinocchio…

You always know when you have this mojo to hand: the guitar that seems to play you, rather than the other way round. Or as here, the hand built synth that comes alive every time you feed it with electricity and attention. The reward is joyful inspiration and sonic alchemy.

I can honestly say that I had no idea what would happen when I plugged a simple beatbox into this Synthi AKS and ran it through a Space Echo, but the result kept me at work late on Friday afternoon, and all weekend I was thinking about when I’d next have the chance to play in the waves of sound that those incredible circuits and wires emitted. I’ve not dived back into those waters yet: the demands of a mistress like Soundgas leave me little time for such pleasures, but I feel the inevitable pull and beckoning of the siren’s call. Perhaps tonight…

EMS Synthi AKS: more action from last night’s jam.

A post shared by Soundgas Limited (@soundgasltd) on

Soundgas: the joy of sonic adventure.

See more of the AKS action on our Youtube channel below…


Tony Miln is the co-founder (& Head Gear Head) of Soundgas. See/hear him in action on Instagram.


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