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Mephisto

Mephisto prototype, courtesy of Amazona.de

A polyphonic analog synthesizer designed by Vermona circa 2000. The company exhibited a prototype at trade shows in 2000 and 2001, but it never went into production. It was to have had six voices, with three VCOs, a high pass VCF and a low pass VCF per voice. Vermona advertised that the audio path would be all analog and implemented with all discrete components -- no integrated circuits. Both a version with a keyboard, and a tabletop version, are known to have been shown and photographed.

A notable feature was the patch memory and recall function. The patch memory held 100 patches, with an additional 100 accessible from a memory card. On the panel, each patch parameter that required a knob was implemented with a motorized potentiometer. When the user recalled a patch from memory, the synth loaded the patch by physically rotating the knobs to the correct positions.

Vermona continued to work on the concept for several years after the last public showing in 2001. It is unclear when they stopped work on it; rumors continued to circulate for a number of years afterwards. A commenter to the Mephisto review at Vintage Synth Explorer claims to have contacted Vermona in 2012 and was told that they were no longer working on it at that time. It is known that Vermona struggled to keep the build cost to a reasonable value; some reports in the 2004 timeframe had the suggested list price being at $7000 US, which would have been far higher than the more capable Alesis Andromeda, not to mention the inexpensive virtual analog synths that were beginning to appear at the time. Possibly, with the all-discrete audio circuitry and the motorized knobs, Vermona was unable to get the cost down enough to make it marketable.

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