John Bowen Synth Design

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Friday, 09 January 2015 00:00

New Event Horizon 2 Presets with Audio Demos - Jan. 9, 2015

Black Octopus Sound presets Event Horizon 2 - 128 high quality presets for John Bowen Solaris created by Toby Emerson. The follow-up to Toby's excellent Event Horizon 1 set:

Take your John Bowen Solaris into the next dimension with 128 brand new patches created by Toby Emerson. Event Horizon 2 picks up where volume 1 left off and now includes many new tricks that have been learned after extensive use of this exquisite synthesizer. Both the digital and analog realms are fully explored in this soundset and includes crystal clear bells, warm evolving pads, creamy deep bass sounds, and spaced out leads. If you are one of the lucky few that own this beautiful instrument you will definitely want to pick yourself up a copy of Event Horizon 2 today!

All sounds make use of the Joystick to dial in the desired intensity for the sound.

Note: The audio example demo includes some reverb with Valhalla reverbs and a bit of extra compression. Everything else is all Solaris!




"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.


Tuesday, 10 June 2014 12:08

User Comments Oct. 7, 2014


As before, we are receiving posts and comments as production run #3 gets delivered:

I've probably spent around 30 hours on my Solaris to date and I still feel like I'm just scratching the surface, but it really does exude quality. I'm a big believer in the power of interface usability to help people unlock the potential of a given device. When I was younger, the only thing I cared about in a synth was sound quality, but as I've matured and owned or used my share of instruments, I've found that I simply don't use difficult instruments regardless of their sonic potential. The Solaris' interface is about as straightforward as it can be given the depth of the engine, and I find that I'm learning it organically (I've only poked at the manual so far -- I'll dig in deeper soon).

After spending more time playing my unit, I felt the need to post some well-deserved praise and promotion to the fairly well-trafficked electronic music/synth forum on Gearslutz:

The Solaris is very impressive, in many styles, from old vintage analog sounds to digital synths with a modern touch that make it unique !
Envelopes and filters are very powerful and subtle.
And all possibilities of modulation are just enormous.
My english isn't rich enough to tell you my feelings with this amazing synth.
But it's a killer ! And definitvely a must have !
Great job ! Thanks again.

Best regards,

The filters are gorgeous. There is no other way to put it. And the keyboard aftertouch response and feel is the best I've ever experienced, save for a CS-80 I tried out once.

Solaris is here !!! Amazing sound, Great built quality!

#214 has teleported to Madison, Wisconsin and I feel so incredibly lucky to be able to own this instrument. Thank You.

#207 has landed yesterday in his new home in sunny Beaujolais and I still can't believe my ears how good this synth sounds.

Hello Mr. Bowen,

first of all, let me thank you so much!!! I have tried the Solaris (#209) I received yesterday and must say it's an amazing instrument as expected!
So much life in this that I'm really happy, after having played quarter an hour with. I think it's a new day in my creation process, much work to use it fully but I'm really motivated, because its sounds so huge and clear as well, impressive.

Very nice keyboard, fully lighted panel and LED wheels, smooth and confortable encoders, separate outputs, I cannot ask for more. So let me know about the shipping invoice, and once again, many thanks. Have a nice day! David Mestre

Hello John !

I've got my Solaris since 5 days now...

And just WOOOOWWWW ! I've never felt such emotion in front of an electronic instrument (I wish that feeling with prophet 12, but it didn't). I'm 30, and I can now imagine what it could be to have analog synth with such great sound...

this is weird because your synth is purely numeric...but so numeric (96khz !!) that it can sound as an analog one !! it reminds me a bit the prophecy from korg...where you can really feedback the sound....

thank you John to believe in Solaris and achieve it... !! It's a really inspired instrument !! et merci!


Hello John !

Solaris is here !!! Fantastic synth. Great sounds.
Best Regards.

My Solaris has just arrived. I've plugged it and all works perfectly. I've only tried a few presets and i can't take away the smile from my face. The Solaris sounds really amazing! Henri Stumboff

"One more day until I get my John Bowen Solaris synth!
This is the Rolls Royce of new synthesizers." - Derek Sherinian

"S/N 0142 has landed! I have just gotten it plugged in an am playing the first bank. The sound quality is completely over-the-top. Way better than any softsynth I own, and I have plenty of top shelf offerings. This is another league. So smooth, but with guts, harmonic richness. The hardware is very high quality and the whole thing is built to this standard. No cut corners.

"John, you should be very proud of this. It is a massive accomplishment. To deliver something that is higher quality than any major MI company, without massive sponsorship, and to have this quality? This is the work of an artist, and I am privileged to own this synthesizer. It is an instrument and begs to be played expressively and in a fully committed kind of way.

"Many here waited longer than I did, but the year of waiting has been fully rewarded."

Thank you John! You have done an amazing and beautiful thing. Thank you for sharing your dream with us." - Nathanael Iversen

#149 here:

Way too little time for the first experience but WOW. It oozes quality and it begs to be played and programmed. Funny how all the same superlatives spring to mind that I have read with other owners before. Now that I own one, I feel what they mean.

And yes the sound is great, but what amazes me most is how connected the interface makes me feel to the complex sound structure. I've played with oscillators, modulation and routings like never before. Played, not programmed. Creating sounds with vst's (or a Kronos eg) feels like programming, on the solaris it feels like playing with parameters like an instrument. It reminds me of the reason I started playing synthesizers in the first place.

And... I found what most demos don't show. It's great at simple deep raw sounds for EDM. Analog quality." - Mike Overdijk



"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...!

Thursday, 01 May 2014 22:19

New Pricing, June Payment Plan Announcement - June 2, 2014

Please check the Purchase page for new pricing and terms.

Monday, 24 February 2014 22:19

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!

Tuesday, 04 February 2014 22:19

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.

Friday, 01 November 2013 00:00

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!

Wednesday, 12 June 2013 00:00

New Solaris Reviews and Sound Examples

Hi All,
Recently two very thorough and excellent reviews of the Solaris have been published online - one in French by Eric Inglebert (aka synthwalker), the other in German by Austrian Robert Wittek. In addition to these reviews, there's also an impressive audio set from Wouter van Beek (insanic4). All of these feature extensive sound examples (and in the case of Robert's Audio Workshop, a 36-minute sound designer's extravaganza), and show as never before some of the stunning results Solaris users have been able to achieve after only a short time with the instrument.

Here are the links:

Eric Inglebert - La nouvelle frontière

Robert Wittek - Full Review here & Audio Workshop portion

Wouter van Beek - John Bowen Solaris Demo 1 (youtube)

Friday, 19 October 2012 00:00

NAMM 2013 Booth location

The 2013 NAMM show was held January 24-27th. We were again in Hall B, but a slightly different location, booth 5406. Dave Smith Instruments was right next door again (booth 5400), and we also were behind the Bob Moog Foundation booth (5307), with the Moog Music booth one aisle over from Dave at #5300.

This was my 40th year of attending NAMM shows....hard to believe! My first show was actually my 'audition' for Moog Music, at the Chicago NAMM show, June 1973. Time sure has flown by!

Friday, 23 December 2011 19:07

Solaris Owners Forum

If you are a new Solaris keyboard owner, make sure you register as a Forum Member, then send me an email with your user name, so that I can add you to the private Solaris Users Group. This group covers several topics, such as Future Feature suggestions and Bug List, as well as any OS updates, new Preset files, and any other data files and samples that users wish to upload and share with each other. (Note that this is for the hardware Solaris, not the Scope plug-in I make.)

Friday, 23 December 2011 16:53


Another year, another great NAMM trade show...the main difference this time was that, for the first time, I no longer had to talk about when the Solaris might be shipping, but that we have been shipping for some months now! It was really a great feeling...

I also had coverage from some online blogs and communities, such as this video from

Then there is this section from Chris Randall's blog about the NAMM show:

"I got a full demo of the Solaris from John Bowen and Bernard Wong. The Solaris is the logical progression of the Prophet VS and Wavestation. It takes those concepts and just extrapolates them out in to what a DSP-based synth can pull off in 2012. The panel is really well laid-out, and super playable. Some very crafty features internally as well, and the many mod routing possibilities, coupled with an extensive oscillator and filter library (and user samples, natch) gives it a really broad palette. I think this is going to be my next synth purchase."

You can read his entire NAMM coverage here:

Monday, 03 May 2010 00:00

Video from Synthesizer Meeting, Munich 2010

Here is a video of the entire presentation I did at the Munich Synthesizer meeting:

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