Maplin 5600S Owner Johan Duner's Page
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Me and my Maplin 5600S.
Walter (Wendy) Carlos, Kraftwerk, Isao Tomita, Synergy (Larry Fast), Emerson, Lake & Palmer, Rick Wakeman, Vangelis even Klaus Wunderlich – in the 70’s and 80’s I would buy any record where the sleeve stated that a synthesizer was used. Needless to say - I have a few horrible albums in my collection…
I was 19 years old when I decided to build the Maplin 5600S. I had jealously been drooling over modular Moog systems as well as ridiculously expensive offerings from Korg and Roland when I stumbled over an ad from Maplin Electronics. Over a period of almost a year I received a steady trickle of shipments from England and some time in 1981 I finally finished it.
I had some trouble getting the tuning right but with the help of an oscilloscope, a frequency counter, a Korg piano tuner and my friend’s engineer father it all fell into place eventually. I replaced a number of the trimmers with multi-revolution precision trimmers in order to get it just right.
The synth can be heard on at least one of the records I made with my band at the time although it couldn’t quite compete with the Yamaha CS-10 that we used for leads. The Maplin is great fun for making unusual sounds and it can produce some cool lead sounds as well. I remember using it a lot with a Boss delay as you often did in order to achieve some sort of fake polyphony as well as repeating arpeggios.
I have done a number of tweaks to the synth:
• Due to crosstalk between the audio channels in the patch board I rearranged it so that audio- and control channels alternated. I also added two aluminium plates in which I had drilled 900 holes each as well as winding enamelled copper wire in between the tiers of the patch board to further reduce the cross talk. The synth is now much quieter.
• On the amplifiers and the envelope module I made the trimmers protrude through the front panel as I noticed that the zero point would shift depending on the load. Now it was easy to adjust it to be quiet.
• I replaced the power socket and the mains switch to meet up to Swedish standards.
• I added an extra heat sink to the PSU.
• I moved and replaced the trimmers for the keyboard controller so they can be easily reached above the joy stick.
• I added a ”lowest key” switch next to the joy stick. I found this useful when playing around with various sound effects.
• I added handles to the main case as well as the front panel. • I rewired mixer 5 so it can be used as two effect sends.
The synth has held up pretty well over the years, I play around with it every now and then and other than some oxide it’s fine. I’m going to sample it with Sample Robot 3 sometime in the near future, I think it’ll be cool to try out some unusual Maplin sounds polyphonically.
That’s all for now. Take care!
Johan Dunér, Strängnäs, Sweden