Not the Ubiquitous Autotune of the Same Name

One of the very special things about the Roland MKS-80 is that is has true analog, voltage controlled oscillators or VCOs. Unfortunately (or fortunately) VCOs are sensitive to environmental conditions especially temperature, not to mention lunar cycles and barometric pressure, but I can’t confirm those reports. In any case, this means that the synth needs time to warm up before the VCOs are stable.

Fortunately the MKS-80 has an autotune (no relation to the ubiquitous vocal processing of the same name) button that tunes all sixteen of the oscillators to each other automatically. Although, if you just turn it on, press autotune and start playing then it will drift out of tune again as the components warm up to a stable temperature. Below is an example of me doing just that followed by a pause where I pressed the autotune button and tried again.

Although an inconvenience to some, to me this gives the instrument more soul than its digital counterparts. As a piano player I know that a piano is never perfectly in tune. Also, the frequency of the notes played on a piano change slightly as they decay. Voltage controlled analog oscillators have a soulful, mysterious character to them that is partially defined by their imperfections.

Out of Tune In Tune

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