From a Dutch manufacturer of electronic organs, the 310 Unique remains a quite remarkable instrument. Eminent’s home/small church organ, an impressively weighty monster, first appeared in 1972. It featured a selection of conventional pipe-organ style voices—tibias, diapasons, horns etc.—created via analogue circuitry. The organ featured the de rigueur vibrato, but with the benefit of a rather less typical key-delay option, basic low pass filter, a spring reverb tank, and the main tab voices featuring a percussion option, allowing the notes to decay. But what was genuinely unique about the Unique, and which elevated the machine towards the sought-after legendary status, was that it introduced to the world the first commercially available String Ensemble.
The 310U’s original String Ensemble remains the definitive example of the form, surpassing even later dedicated iterations produced by Eminent themselves—and then licensees ARP—in the Solina String Ensemble keyboard. Its rich, three-channel sound, produced by the then new-fangled modulated BBD delay circuits created a lush, warm strings chorus that was arguably unmatched by anything later, and most synth-makers, from the USA to the USSR and everyone in between, tried. Compare, for example, to the later, brighter, smoother Rhapsody ensemble of the X~705, found elsewhere in the Retro Organs 2.0 range.
Three Strings Ensemble selections were possible: the “Strings 8’” and “String 4’” voices had no envelope as such, and are played in a similar fashion to the standard organ voices, with no release decay. The third selection, however, “Strings Sust.”, used an additional set of “Strings 8’” voices with, via the Short Sustain tab, a semi-adjustable release time. All three could be played together, creating a vast strings-scape.
All the regular organ tab voices could be run through either the ensemble circuits, or through an extra set of modulated BBDs, a pseudo-“Leslie” effect that Eminent labelled the “Orbitone”, a two-speed chorus ensemble.
Combined with a delay and a phaser (Small Stone, of course), it is the “architextural” sound of Oxygene and Equinoxe, underpinning both those classic works of electronica with those mesmerizing strings and the percussive organ leads of parts II and 4 respectively.
Completing JP’s range of classic “combo” organs, the Combo 310 Unique features a completely new and exclusive set of high quality samples, recorded at 24/96, from JP’s own Eminent 310U organ. JP recorded every note of every Tab (in mono) and all three Strings Ensemble selections (in stereo with long samples) via the organ’s rear-panel Direct output. Also included are stereo miked samples (7 notes per octave for the tab voices, every note for the Strings Ensemble selection) for all tabs and strings from the built-in cabinet speakers. In addition, a “Virtual” set of tabs offers a tonal alternative, using synthesized waveforms.
The 310U is not just for Jarre jamming. It is for life.