EMS VCS3 synthesizer

VCS 3 view 1 Amber Haines image credit.jpg

Dublin Core


EMS VCS3 synthesizer


Electronic Music Studios, Ltd, London, EMS VCS3 synthesizer, 1970

Metal, plastic, electronic components

On loan from MESS Ltd

The VCS3 is significant in that it was the first viable commercial European synthesizer. Launched in 1969 by EMS, it had a wide array of sound-producing and sound-modifying devices that could be freely interconnected. Like the VCS1, the VCS3 could process external sounds as well as generate them internally. Importantly for contemporary musicians, the instrument was compact and modestly priced. It cost less than one-fifth of the price of an equivalent Moog synthesizer, the only other real commercial competition.

The ‘Pin Panel Matrix’ for patching is one of the VCS3’s most distinctive features. Tristram Cary designed the instrument in the new ‘L-shape’, so that the machine could be used at a desk as a teaching machine, and for demonstrations, as well as composition. This VCS3 was part of the Grainger Centre electronic equipment, bought by Keith Humble in the early 1970s.


Photography by Amber Haines




Image courtesy MESS Ltd