With only 100-200 units built around 1980, the SDS3 is one of the most sought-after drum synths.
It is very hard to find a reliable working unit. After I got mine in 2005 I forwarded it to Michael Buchner asking him to do some repairs and to give him the opportunity to study and draw the (real) schematics (Dave Simmons’ original schematics had some errors). One of Michaels following projects was a one channel clone. In early 2009 I had the pleasure to check a prototype which was more or less only a ball of wire, but it worked perfect and sounded like 100% SDS3.
In the following period Michael completed the project with a perfect board layout, perfect chassis and perfect design.
The target of Michael’s project was more or less fun. But short time later the German synth manufacturer Touched-By-Sound also started to develop their own 5 channel clone. Michael shared his board layouts and during the 2011 Frankfurt music fair the Simmonizer SDS3 clone was shown for the first time under Touched-By-Sound’s label Mode Machines.
I had the opportunity to check it although at this stage it is still a prototype. The Simmonizer provides 5 channels: 3 drum channels, one Hihat and an FX channel, for example for a crash sound. It can be triggered with midi or with pads. The filters and sound were pretty mouch SDS3 (which should be the minimum requirement of an SDS3 clone). Still it has some errors which are quite funny. For example if you turn the noise/tone to “tone”, you get the noise and vice versa. The filters did not work very well. To be honest: Regarding the simplicity and the fact that I have seen a perfect working clone at Michael’s, I would have anticipated more of a 1599 Euro device. Not really pocket money and even more than the most expensive original I have seen on Ebay in the past. Hopefully the producer gets a grip on the technical issues. I am confident that they will manage to develop the Simmonizer till series maturity. I will have a look again in Frankfurt 2012. Promised…