Powertran Transcendent 2000 and Polysynth

The Powertran Transcendent 2000 was a kit that contained everything down to the last screw and even came with a mains plug. It was designed by Tim Orr around 1978 and was featured in the Electronics Today International magazine, Tim Orr had also worked for EMS, another early UK synthesiser manufacturer.

This was a single oscillator synth with a three octave keyboard, it had a very stylish and professional look to it, almost Moogish, with just two rows of control knobs and slide switches all in a neat row in front. There were quite a lot of control options on the Transcendent, particularly the oscillator section, it also contained to envelope generators although the one predominantly for the filter modulation was only an attack/decay version but still never the less a welcome addition.

The transcendent 2000 was the first synthesiser that Joy Division had, before they went on to become New Order; you can hear it on their first album “Unknown Pleasures”

Transcendent Polysynth was also designed by Tim Orr and was also featured in the magazine Electronics Today International in 1981, this was another kit synth that I built. It was also the only kit synthesiser that I knew of that was polyphonic! Four note polyphonic! The circuitry used the previously mentioned Curtis Electromusic integrated circuits, each of the four voices was an identical circuit built on an individual circuit board which Powertran called a card.

They also built a four voice expander unit with four of the same circuit boards as in the synthesiser, even on its own the four voice synthesiser is probably one of the largest constructional projects that I have ever undertaken, it was basically four complete synthesisers in one big heavy box with all the associated components for eight oscillators four filters eight envelope generators not to mention all the associated LFOs and VCAs

Incidentally Powertran also marketed a digital sequencer, the Powertran 1024 composer which you could link up to 1 volt per octave synthesisers and pre-program performances of up 1024 notes, or you could split up the memory and program differing sequences adding up to 1024 notes. This was quite a sophisticated device at the time as note lengths could also be programmed for individual notes, whereas with analogue step sequencers all the note lengths were the same!