Welcome to the new Synth Expert website, where you will find news, reviews, and how-tos about all things synthesizer. I’m your host, Stephen Fortner. I’m a lifelong keyboard player and synth enthusiast, and got my start in music technology journalism when Keyboard magazine published a writing sample I had sent them in the late 1990s. I accepted a job there as the technical editor at the beginning of 2006 and became the magazine's editor in chief in 2009, a role in which I remained until I decided to move on to seek new adventures at the end of 2015.
At the 2017 Winter NAMM Show, Russ Hughes, founder of the Production Expert group and its longest-running site, Pro Tools Expert, approached me about wanting to add a synth-focused site to the "Expert" stable. After a duly diligent amount of reflection, I knew that this was the major new adventure I had been looking for. I saw a gap in media serving musicians who use synthesizers. Some sites had excellent information but skewed towards one specific musical subculture or another. Some sites aggregated very click-worthy tidbits from around the web but were short on original content. And the magazine I’d loved since I was about ten years old ceased publishing a stand-alone print product as of the April 2017 issue.
For all these reasons and more, it's my intention that Synth Expert become a "big tent." Analog and digital. Hardware and software. Mono and poly. Keyboard synths and modular gear -- and the musicians who prefer one or the other. Whether your idea of a synth hero more closely resembles a Herbie Hancock, a Richard Devine, a Jordan Rudess, a Deadmau5, a Timbaland, or a Jean Michel Jarre, my fondest hope is that as the site adds more and more content in the coming weeks and months, you’ll find things here that will keep you coming back.
That's not to say we want to be, or can be, all things to all people. DJ technology and culture, for example, will not be a main focus, except in cases where it is served by using synthesizers in real time (hence my nod to Deadmau5). Digital pianos meant for the living room? Well, once in a while, maybe a few of the more synthy ones. And one thing you might have seen elsewhere but won't see here: Press releases from manufacturers' marketing departments that, except maybe for some light editing, were copy-pasted word for word. Of course, we receive them all and we read them all, but even in a breaking news story about a new product or update, we'll do our best to give you our take, based on our experience, about why something matters.
Anyone who has created a new website from scratch knows what a daunting task it can be, and though I’m very proud of the amount of content with which we’re starting out, I’m even more excited about what we'll be adding soon. Reviews on our immediate calendar include Novation Peak, the Dave Smith Prophet Rev-2, Behringer DeepMind 12, Roland System-8, and much more. Got a scoop you think we should be aware of? Requests? Send it right to me.
To whet your appetite, well ... who doesn’t like free stuff? Through July 31, 2017, you can download 28 synthesis tutorials courtesy of our partners at Groove 3. We also maintain a permanent and ever growing list of free synth plug-ins from third parties -- that link is right up top. And, in the coming days, watch the site and our Facebook and Twitter feeds for news about some monster give-aways from Novation: we’re talking about the stuff you really want!
I owe a great debt of thanks to Production Expert group veterans Russ Hughes, Mike Thornton, and Dan Cooper for their unflinching support and heavy lifting as we've built the site up.
Thanks for joining me on this journey, and I hope we have a lot of fun together.