An 8-voice polyphonic digital/analog hybrid synthesizer with a limited sampler and a 61-note keyboard. Released in 1986.

The DSS-1 offers 2 oscillators per voice. Sounds can be generated by re-shaping 128 sampled waveforms with 2 sliders. Another method is to use the unit's 12-bit sampler with 256k memory (5.5s at 48KHz). The samples are treated as waveforms, allowing filter and envelope modulation.

As a filter, the DSS-1 features a non-resonant VCF switchable between 12 and 14dB per octave. Also available is a dual effects unit with echo, chorus, phaser and flanger. The DSS-1 can be turned into an extremely thick 16-voice monophonic synth using the unison mode.

Other features include a 3.5" floppy drive for storing samples, a velocity and aftertouch sensitive keyboard and MIDI support.

An expanded rackmount version, the DSM-1, was released a year later.

back to Korg

The DSS-1 is more useful as a synth than as a sampler, in spite of its name. The best description I ever heard came from longtime Analogue Heaven poster Mike Metlay, who said that "The DSS-1 is what you get when a deranged S-50 rapes a helpless DW-8000 in a dark alley."

It is, in fact, a close cousin to the Korg DW-8000, in that it shares the same basic sound architecture and will do most of what the latter does, sonically. (It is also approximately the size of a Nimitz- class aircraft carrier.) However, the functions it does not share with the DW8K are what really make this beast interesting:

The aforementioned dual effects unit is really a pair of digital delays, with a pair of LFOs to modulate the delay time. You can mod each delay with any combination of both LFO, and furthermore, you can run them in parallel or in series. In other words, you can perform separate delays on the same sound simultaneously, or feed the delayed signal from the first unit into the second one. Different permutations produce all manner of messed-up chorus and flanger type effects.

Another neat trick is that the 12-bit digital samples can be quantized down to your choice of 10, 8, 7, or 6 (?!) bits, which does a nice job of adding some industrial grunge to your ugliest sounds.

So, when you put the 16 digitally-mangled oscillators in mono mode with the Unison Detune function, add the right amount of filter resonance (it does resonate, actually), then sic the delay on it, you get some serious sonic monstrosity. To paraphrase Homer Simpson, "When I press a key, I want people to think the world is coming to an end..."

Thanks to

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