It wasn’t until 1965 that the Workshop bought its first synthesiser from Electronic Musical Instruments (London) Limited, more commonly known as EMS. This was the VCS3, an unassuming little machine consisting of a box with two sloping panels and a plug-in keyboard. Another version, the Synthi A or Suitcase, was similar to the VCS3, but as its name implies, it was built into a suitcase, making it very convenient for Radiophonic talks and demonstrations.
Although compact, the VCS3 contained three voltage-controlled oscillators (VCOs), a ring modulator, a voltage-controlled filter (VCF) that could be made to oscillate, an envelope shaper, reverberation from an an inbuilt spring, a white noise generator and a joystick controller. External devices were accommodated by two controllable audio inputs and outputs, with filters. In addition, a 16 by 16 pin-actuated matrix provided for connections between all of the audio and voltage-control elements.
Delia used at least two models:
- she owned a VCS3 Synthi, a beautiful early model with duck egg white coloured panels which she ultimately gave to Pete Kember. She used to take it to the BBC Radiophonic Workshop until they bought one.
- she used the BBC Radiophonic Workshop's gigantic EMS Synthi 100, also known as the Delaware.
Pieces using VCS3 sounds
- Dance from Noah
- Macbeth (1971)
- Poets in Prison
- All the pieces on the album Electrosonic
- many more...
Her sheets of VCS3 settings are in the Category:VCS3 dope sheet
- The original VCS3 synthesizers are still manufactured and sold by Electronic Music Studios (EMS)
- The EMS Synthi-A VCS3 is emulated by the free VST plugin Cynthia.
- Voltage Control, 1965-1975: EMS VCS3 on whitefiles.org
- Personal communication, 16th March 2012.