EMS VCS3

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ems vcs 3The VCS 3 (an initialism for Voltage Controlled Studio with 3 oscillators) is a portable analog synthesiser with a flexible semi-modular voice architecture.

It was created in 1969 by Peter Zinovieff's EMS company. The electronics were largely designed by David Cockerell and the machine's distinctive visual appearance was the work of electronic composer Tristram Cary. The VCS 3 was more or less the first portable commercially available synthesiser—portable in the sense that the VCS 3 was housed entirely in a small, wooden case, unlike previous machines from American manufacturers such as Moog Music, ARP and Buchla which were housed in large cabinets and were known to take up entire rooms. Significantly, it retailed for just under £1000 in the UK. It was alleged by many (including synthesiser enthusiast Gordon Reid in his articles on the EMS company for Sound on Sound magazine in 2000) to be somewhat hopeless as a melodic instrument due to its unusual method of tuning and inherent instability; however, it is renowned as an extremely powerful generator of electronic effects and processor of external sounds.

The VCS 3 was quite popular among progressive rock bands and was used on recordings by The Alan Parsons Project, Jean Michel Jarre, Hawkwind, Brian Eno (with Roxy Music), King Crimson, The Who, Gong, and Pink Floyd, among many others. Well-known examples of its use are on The Who track "Won't Get Fooled Again" from Who's Next and Pink Floyd's "On the Run" from The Dark Side of the Moon.

The VCS 3 has three oscillators, a noise generator, two input amplifiers, a ring modulator, a 18dB/octave voltage controlled low pass filter (VCF), a trapezoid envelope generator, joy-stick controller, voltage controlled spring reverb unit and 2 stereo output amplifiers. Unlike most modular synthesiser systems which use cables to link components together, the VCS 3 uses a distinctive patch board matrix into which pins are inserted in order to connect its components together.

The VCS 3's basic design was reused by EMS in many other of their own products, most notably in the EMS Synthi 100 and the Synthi A, and the AKS (essentially a VCS 3 housed in a plastic briefcase). The AKS also has a sequencer built into the keyboard in the lid.

In spite of the fact that it is a monophonic synthesiser, the VCS 3 underwent something of a renaissance in the late 1990s and early 2000s, both in popularity and in price. Artists looking to evoke a quaint, synthesised sound began to make the VCS 3 popular, and thus, prices for the synthesiser reached as much as £3000 and even more for famous ones—higher even than when they were first released. In August 2010, VCS 3 reached £6700 in an eBay auction.

See availability on eBay

FRANCIS MONKMAN JOHN KEATING SPACE EXPERIENCE 1 + 2 UK 2 LP EMS VCS3 SYNTHI FUNK
FRANCIS MONKMAN JOHN KEATING SPACE EXPERIENCE 1 + 2 UK 2 LP EMS VCS3 SYNTHI FUNK
$38.80
Time Remaining: 27d 7h 30m
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FRANCIS MONKMAN JOHN KEATING HITS IN HI FI UK LP ARP EMS VCS3 SYNTHI FUNK LISTEN
FRANCIS MONKMAN JOHN KEATING HITS IN HI FI UK LP ARP EMS VCS3 SYNTHI FUNK LISTEN
$14.22
Time Remaining: 1d 3h 38m
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FRANCIS MONKMAN JOHN KEATING SPACE EXPERIENCE 1 UK LP EMS VCS3 SYNTHI FUNK
FRANCIS MONKMAN JOHN KEATING SPACE EXPERIENCE 1 UK LP EMS VCS3 SYNTHI FUNK
$14.22
Time Remaining: 2d 14h 16m
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RARE OEM Motorola MFC 6070 MFC6070 VINTAGE 1W AMPLIFIER EMS VCS3 NOS
RARE OEM Motorola MFC 6070 MFC6070 VINTAGE 1W AMPLIFIER EMS VCS3 NOS
$28.00
Time Remaining: 5d 22h 42m
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SYNTHESIZER BOOK works with EMS Synthi AKS VCS3  OSCar
SYNTHESIZER BOOK works with EMS Synthi AKS VCS3 OSCar
$19.95
Time Remaining: 28d 10h 1m
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Electronic Music Studios T Shirt 100 Cotton Synthi Aks Ems Retro Synth VCS3
Electronic Music Studios T Shirt 100 Cotton Synthi Aks Ems Retro Synth VCS3
$15.49
Time Remaining: 18d 2h 10m
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AUTOMATICS GROUP The Auto 17 12 NEW VINYL Or EMS VCS 3 synth raw recordings
AUTOMATICS GROUP The Auto 17 12 NEW VINYL Or EMS VCS 3 synth raw recordings
$12.99
Time Remaining: 5d 14h 43m
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EMS VCS3 SYNTHESIZER REFRIGERATOR MAGNET
EMS VCS3 SYNTHESIZER REFRIGERATOR MAGNET
$6.50
Time Remaining: 9d 16h 4m
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EMS VCS3 Synthesizer Refrigerator Magnet
EMS VCS3 Synthesizer Refrigerator Magnet
$6.25
Time Remaining: 3d 20h 9m
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EMS SYNTHI AKS Vintage Analog Modular Synthesizer REFURBISHED vcs3 asynth
EMS SYNTHI AKS Vintage Analog Modular Synthesizer REFURBISHED vcs3 asynth
$14,999.00
Time Remaining: 10d 9h 14m
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