[sdiy] Understanding 80s Synth Architectures

ackolonges fds ackolonges at hotmail.com
Fri Feb 4 11:22:47 CET 2022

Hi Everyone,

As the local SDIYer I sometimes get asked to try and fix synths from the 80s like various Rolands, Korgs, Oberheims etc. and I generally just try to pinpoint the rough area of the issue and replace logic chips until the issue is resolved...

Most of these synths have a CPU connected to everything via a parallel address bus and a parallel data bus, with all sorts of glue logic chips doing various things. They also usually just have 1 DAC, time-domain multiplexed to all of the different parameters via more logic chips.

Obviously this is very different to the modern ways that microcontrollers and DACs are used in synths, and since I wasn't around in the 80s, these older architectures are very foreign to me. To aid in my troubleshooting efforts, I would love to better understand the details of how these architectures work, so I was wondering if anyone on here would be able to point me to any resources that could explain these types of systems to me, be they websites, articles, or books?

Thanks a lot for any advice you might have.
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