John Bowen Synth Design

New Video Demo of Solaris by Katsunori Ujiie.

UPDATE - Check out this 31 minute play-through of the initial bank of presets in the Solaris by Katsunori UJIIE, now with closed caption (CC) translation in English. Great demo!


New Review of Solaris by

Head over to for a great review of the Solaris!
Many thanks to editor Scott Kahn and reviewer Jeff Klein...

Read it now at the MusicPlayers site.


Update On Pre-Orders - Feb. 4, 2014: 

Reservations for the 4th production run of 50 units are now being taken! In consideration of numerous email requests I have received, inquiring about either the Wait List for the current coming production, or when I would start taking deposits for the next production (#4), I've decided to open up the deposit process for the next production round. Those who have made deposits and are on the current Wait List will be also the first to be on the Pre-Order Group #4 list. If there is a cancellation, customers on this list will be notified first. Once all customers with deposits are fulfilled, then the remaining wait listed persons will be contacted.

Please go to the Purchase page for more information.

Many thanks to all who have ordered!


New Preset Bank with Audio Demo - October 15, 2013

Black Octopus Sound presets Event Horizon - 128 high quality presets for John Bowen Solaris created by Toby Emerson. This soundset offers everything from huge epic pads, long evolving textures, vintage analog style sounds, deep thundering basses, and many other classic leads and keyboard style sounds.

"The John Bowen Solaris is simply one of the most fantastic instruments I have ever worked with. Everything about it screams class. From amazing sounding filters to countless oscillator types, I feel after several months of using it I still have not even scratched the surface. The architecture and programming behind it allows for huge sounds which can range from very organic and analog sounding to crisp and precise digital style sounds. The sound quality of this synthesizer is absolutely exceptional and I would highly recommend this synthesizer to any sound designer or professional musician that can budget for it.

"All patches are mapped with the joystick controlling the filters. They are best auditioned by leaving the joystick in the middle position and then adjusting it to taste.

"I have spent several months creating these patches for the Solaris users and offer them as a free download. However if you feel like they are of value to you I would love a donation or please pick up one of our sample packs as a way to say thanks and to support the creation of future sounds.

"A little bit of compression and additional reverb by Valhalla Room has been added."

PLease go to Toby's Web site for more information:


User Comments July 10, 2013

Now that there are a number of Solaris units in the field, I thought I would share some of the things being said about it:

"This is easily the best VA I have ever played! Patching things is a dream. The layout is so intuitive and quick to use. The build quality is fantastic. I have a white one and it looks like a work of art when you see it in person. This synth is a dream come true!
Truly one of the most powerful sounding things I have ever had the pleasure of playing. I cannot recommend it enough.
Big thanks to John. What a masterpiece. "

"The Solaris has such a rich full sound all across the spectrum. It makes some of the most physical feeling bass I have ever heard/felt. Rich lush mids and insanely detailed highs that go from silky to electric. If you are into creating patches that rely on subtle complexity this is the one.
The continuous controllers with such high resolutions enable dialing in things with a level of precision that is unparalleled in my experience. The harmonic modulation is off the hook. Magnificent oscillators.
With other VA's you put in say a saw wave and well, it sounds like a saw wave. Then you add another osc and it will get a bit more complex sounding, but that is about it.
With Solaris, you add a saw wave and it sounds big, very big. Then you add another and it gets twice as big! Just like on a Moog etc. When you start stacking voices it just keeps getting fatter. Its nuts. Really powerful stuff."

"My Solaris arrived safe today.  This thing sounds incredible!  Great job!" - Brandon M.

"Hi John.  I unpacked the Solaris tonight, booted it up and played through the presets for about two hours. It looks great and sounds even better!  I 'heard' the best sounds out of some of my favorite keyboards I've owned:  minimoog sounds; oberheim matrix; arp odyssey, string ensemble and 2600; even some fm type dx7 sounds.  And of course the Waldorf sounds which I recognized but never had played.  So I'm very pleased.  I'm looking forward to being registered and studying the tutorials mentioned in the user's guide.  Thank you" - Andy M.

"It was well worth the wait, John, and is the BEST SOUND I've ever heard!
At the end of it all, Solaris is my #1 synth. Otherwise, I kept Andromeda, Accelerator, and Virus Ti2...that's it! 100s of others have come and gone. Kept one ROMPLER (the big KURZ) and some rack stuff...and Minibrute (and couple of hundred soft synths on my MAC). I wish you the best with it!! last comment: the build quality and physical design....THE BEST I OWN!! Very TOP SHELF, CLASSY PIECE! In that regard, the price should have been TWICE!
Mark M"

"Hi John,
I believe I’m yet only at the tip of the Solaris’ ‘sound iceberg’ but I’m already blown away by the sound, quality, usability and depth of this tremendous synth. You can be very proud of this fine product, but I think, you are anyway ;),
Yes, I’ve waited a bit for the Solaris (I had myself put on the list for the 2nd production run by August 2012) but it was absolutely worth it.,
Best regards"
Oliver G.

"What a terrific sonic synth you have put into life, amazing, my expectations were high and so far I've only scratched its surface trying to create my own patches as well, what a sound!" - Isham

"Hi John,
I received the Solaris in good shape and I would like to thank you for this.
I discovered the machine a little bit  this weekend and I must admit I am very impressed. The sound is fantastic, and ergonomy is very well designed and the manufacture quality is extraordinary. You did a far better job than the big makers employing dozens of people with huge financial means.
The only thing which has to be developed for the moment are the shipping delays and the long waiting terms during the breaking-in period but this should be sorted out afterwards. Anyway, your synth is for me best value for money among all at actual standards.
Kind regards et Merci" - Jean-Marc L.
I doubled the polyphony without needing any optimization of source code!....
As a matter of fact, I took advantage of the stocks they offer at Thomann to purchase another one...!