Some demo songs say “I’m cheesy, please buy me.” “I’m trying desperately to sound like the current genre of the moment.” This one says something different. It shouts: “Greetings. I’m the Dominion 1. You might not know me – but you should. I am awesome. I am your new best friend. I am what you covet – I am what you shall have, because I will be yours. Together, we will triumph. We will quest together through the party times, and the world will go our way in ways that surprise even us. People will gather around us, and love will vibrate through the air. For I am an analog synth that’s not like the others. And this is my song. Sing it with me.”

Wait – back up. What’s the MFB Dominion 1? Well, if you caught the coverage of any trade show in the last two years, you might have seen some mention of it – it’s a boutique piece, and it’s been (cough) a work in progress. It is, however, now really close to being available, it seems – soon.

yapacc aka Uwe George Giegler, who produced this synth-demo anthem, is not only a groovy music maker. He’s also the fearless leader of Berlin’s MFB. That might not be a household name like Moog or a big brand like KORG, but MFB has been consistently putting out really special boxes. (Think the underrated Tanzbär and 522 drum machines, each of which could hold its own against the much-vaunted Roland AIRA TR-8, or the beautiful, budget Nanozwerg synth, as well as a nice set of modules.)

The Dominion 1 has our attention partly because so much of the synth world has lately been around tiny monosynths – or, at the opposite extreme, ridiculous high-end monstrosities. The Dominion 1, by contrast, is the mid-budget four-door sports sedan of analog synths. It’s got loads of personality and more than enough power, with a balanced set of features:

  • 3-octave keyboard (from Fatar), with velocity and aftertouch
  • Arpeggiator/sequencer with preset storage
  • 3 VCOs with waveshaping and both analog/digital ring modulation
  • Dual-sync and “dynamic” dual-FM (that is, both VCO2 + 3 can be synced with VCO1, and you can also modulate VCO3 from VCO1 and VCO2 and the LFO and the envelope)
  • Stable tuning, digitally controlled
  • Noise oscillator
  • Multi-mode filter with discrete components. 12 modes – four low pass, four bandpass, two highpass, two bandstop filters, all with different slopes.
  • Modulate the filter with anything, via MIDI or analog or envelopes or keytracking or other modulation sources – resonance included.
  • Patch panel with CV integration for you owners of other analog gear
  • A velocity routing matrix – this is clever, as of course, it’s the closest-available input, always literally at your fingertips
  • 3 LFOs, two with a one-shot function and reset for extra performance/rhythm options
  • 3 envelopes with long-throw faders
  • Analog control panel, internal power supply
  • MIDI in, out, thru jacks – and MIDI dump
  • 26 inputs and outputs, so you can make this the center of your studio (including loads of other MFB gear)

Cost is 1380 €, excluding VAT.

Now, you’ll have to do some multitracking to get the sound in that demo. That’s 21 tracks of Dominion 1. But, hey, you can produce a whole track (or record) on this thing – and be pretty happy at the end of it, I imagine.

dom1

More information (Deutsch):

http://www.mfberlin.de/Produkte/Musikelektronik/DOMINION_1/dominion_1.html [warning - Web design I'll call... "vintage"?]

English-language Specs

And loads of videos:

Since we have to wait a little longer for this synth, though, let’s enjoy the live synth disco goodness of yapacc with Souki (aka Carina Lohmeyer):

Disko digital yapacc podcast on the berlin mitte rooftop

yapacc (aka MFB's Capitan Uwe), live. Yes, we love hardware. Photo courtesy the artist.

yapacc (aka MFB’s Capitan Uwe), live. Yes, we love hardware. Photo courtesy the artist.

  • http://vrpr.org/ Henry

    Love this synth. That demo song is nicely unpretentious, old school 80s pop harmonies, blips and blonks. That bass is impressively deep.

    Those touch strips look slightly awkward (compared to DSI’s offerings on the Tempest and P12), but they’ll certainly do the job. Apart from that, this synth rocks all the others from sheer controlling power. Those knobs! Those sliders! Velocity and aftertouch on the keyboard (errr, hello Moog?)! Yes, the Mopho has three times as many presets, but only a fraction of knobs, the Sub Phatty comes with boasting 16 presets and tons of double functions on the panel, but personally I believe that MFB have put the best of all worlds into a very useful compromise into this beast.

  • Rucyl

    it’s beautiful O_O

  • wndfrm

    dude, Tanzbär is like 1200 USD after conversion/etc.., it does way more than ‘hold it’s own’ against the TR8! ha, totally different market segment. .. do want all of these things, great company…

    • http://pkirn.com/ Peter Kirn

      And the 522 is less. Definitely agree they’re in different price brackets, markets – but they do compete in the category of “I want a box to play live,” etc.

  • terrygrant

    Man, you’re not kidding about that website.

    • http://vrpr.org/ Henry

      They focus on building synthesizers instead… ;)

  • Jurgen

    I didn’t see anywhere a spec sheet that tells us how many voices it has. Did someone see the polyphony?

    • http://pkirn.com/ Peter Kirn

      It’s monophonic. Three analog oscillators. There are specs on the site in German, but I’ve summarized them above.

    • http://vrpr.org/ Henry

      They’ve got specs in English, too:
      http://www.mfberlin.de/Produkte/Musikelektronik/DOMINION_1/DOMINION_1e/dominion_1e.html
      But neither of those do mention anything about poly/monophony. I guess, they just imply that everybody understood that in the first place… It doesn’t even say on the Dominion X page:
      http://www.mfberlin.de/Produkte/Musikelektronik/Dominion/Dominione/dominione.html

    • http://pkirn.com/ Peter Kirn

      Well, he says the number of analog oscillators, so that sort of implies the amount of polyphony. ;) I think I’ve got it right.

      Thanks for the link to the English specs — added!

    • Jurgen

      Then I must misunderstand what it says about sequencing. If there’s only one voice available then there can only be one monophonic track. And the demo is recorded in Logic or what you have where every single voice is recorded to a separate audio track.
      No?

    • http://vrpr.org/ Henry

      Read the article. “Now, you’ll have to do some multitracking to get the sound in that demo. That’s 21 tracks of Dominion 1.” And that sequencer is not meant to be a full hardware sequencer like in an MPC. It’s merely like in DSI’s synths to have some rhythmic elements going on in your sound and to have a modulation source.

    • http://pkirn.com/ Peter Kirn

      Yeah, exactly, 21 separate tracks recorded in a DAW.

  • Charles

    Isn’t there allegedly a Dominion 5 in the works as well? It’d be nice to see some more poly options for a change.

  • Will Copps

    Does anyone have any tips on how to make a synth sound on an analog like the first one you hear in this track? I have loved that kind of sound since I heard TOMATOHEAD use one years and years ago, but I just can’t seem to recreate it.

    • Will Copps

      Never mind, I got close! I still want this synth, though. It sounds beautiful

  • http://vrpr.org/ Henry

    Btw, DSI have an equally, err… vintage style web site: http://www.davesmithinstruments.com/index.php

    And they’ve got a brand new mono synth out!

  • Tekknovator

    This post might be late, but one of things that struck me most while playing with it at musikmesse is how inspiring the surface is. Want to route a ribbon strip to the cutoff? one rastered knob turn away. The other thing is the filter design and choice, did you see the filter type knob on the fotos and what is on offer? And more: The oscillators allow for waveform morphing, not just selection but seamless transition and x modulation. It was defenitively the most inspiring, versatile and best sounding analogue synth I found at musikmesse 2014. And there where a lot!