GAK REVIEW – Pioneer Toraiz AS-1 Monophonic Analogue Synthesizer

We recently had a chance to preview the new Monophonic Analogue synthesizer from Pioneer DJ and Dave Smith instruments. Unveiled only a few weeks ago at the annual NAMM conference, the Toraiz AS-1 is Pioneer’s first foray into the synth market, however you wouldn’t be able to tell. Pioneer had this to say about their Dave Smith collaboration “Working closely with Dave Smith, we’ve created a synthesizer that produces powerful analog sound and makes an ideal addition to the set-ups of professional and aspiring producers.”

Pioneer Toraiz AS-1 Monophonic Analogue Synthesizer

Toraiz-AS-1-analog-synth

The first thing we noticed when unboxing the AS1 was the sleek matte Black design. The layout is simple with a one octave touchpad keyboard, 10 adjustable knobs and a slider used to control certain effects. On the back, connectivity wise you’ve got Midi in/outs, Audio out and USB to allow you to connect the AS-1 to your computer.

Navigation on the Toraiz is fairly simple. Although the LED screen isn’t the biggest, combined with the program and parameter knobs it is easy to get around, you will be browsing through the presets in no time.

There are 495 preset programmes on the unit, from basses to Arp’s to drums, each with their own unique sound. All of the presets are fully editable with the 2 VCOs, 2 VCFs, and VCA, 2 EGs and 1 LFO. There is also a 64-step sequencer that can be edited separately, digital effects adapted from the legendary Prophet-6 synthesizer, an arpeggiator and a touch slider. It’s also possible to save up to 495 of your own sounds in the 5 user banks, which you can recall quickly and easily.

The effects on the synth are taken from the legendary Prophet-6 synthesizer and You have a choice of using a single effect or pairing two together to really shape your sound. The choice of effects includes Bucket Brigade Delay, Distortion and Ring Modulations on FX unit 1 and Chorus, High Resonance Phaser, Low Resonsance Phaser and Maestro Phaser on FX unit 2.

The built in slider is truly unique. It allows you to choose to manipulate any one of the seven parameters by just moving your finger up and down the slider. What I really liked when using the slider was the ability to change the pitch of both oscillators at the same time. The slider could also definitely become a very useful tool during live performance.

We also found the keyboard and scale mode very effective, whilst in scale mode you can use the keys to switch between the 21 on-board scales, meaning you don’t ever have to worry about playing a wrong note again.

We thought we’d try something a little different when demoing the AS-1. Using only the synth and our DAW of choice to record the sounds, we created the short ‘Toraiz Jam’ as a way to showcase some of the sounds available on the unit. The only sounds we added were the Kick, clap and vox samples, everything else came straight from the Toraiz. You can listen to the short sample as well as the separate stems on our GAK Soundcloud account.