If you are familiar with the legendary Sid chips, then you are probably aware of the unique characteristics in sound that they provide. In the early days, they were only available on old Commodore systems like the VC10 ( Ultimax ), or the C64 or C128. While there have been various options throughout the years (QuadraSid, Elektron Sidstation, Mode Machines 8-bit Groovebox) since then, none so far have been of such classic synth design as Twisted Electrons' newest machine "TherapSid"; making it perhaps more appealing to those who are looking to dig deep into their sound via knobs, rather than type commands into a keyboard or even deal with a constant low resolution sound. The TherapSid is a 3 oscillator tabletop synthesizer featuring the 6581 version of the chip, and compatible with versions 8550, and SwinSid.
At the heart of this beauty is what some might consider as the perfect balance of Analog and Digital, normally present in the form of "Analog Modeling", yet here presented as the predecessor, and perhaps the influence for such technology: the Sid chip. Warm analog tones are possible, yet incredibly complex artifacts are the essence of this machine. The aim of this synth seems to be a bit like that of Arturia's "Minibrute", generating aggressive tones that as the company claims "create roaring noises that will cut through your mix like razor-sharp claws through a mammoth steak".
As mentioned, the synth offers 3 oscillators, each with 4 selectable waveforms, which are then fed through a Multi-mode filter; lastly modulated by 3 LFOs, which also include 4 selectable waveforms, and 12 targets. But this is not it, this beauty takes things even further by incorporating what is essentially a Modular Sequencer, allowing for each step (16) to be modulated by up to 20 parameters! The possibilities of such complex tonal shaping are truly remarkable, and rare in the synth market; even back in the day when Modular Sequencers were the talk of the town. The only machines that have come close to this in recent years have been the Korg MS2000, and the Elektron Machinedrum.
Aside from some of the other basics like Pedal Glide, and being fully MIDI-automated, the TherapSid also offers an Ipad app that allows you to control the synth and enter steps on screen for better visual reference, taking this classic beauty into the realms of the digital age with a great deal of thought put into it. Clearly a unique piece of hardware, and what seems like a very creative tool for any studio or live performance. The unit is available for sale on the manufacturer's website with or without the Sid chip; in case you would prefer to use your own.
Written by: Santino Fernandez