Released in 1977, the humble Italian-made Jen was pitched as a cheap alternative to exotic offerings from the likes of Moog, Roland and Korg. With a single digitally controlled analogue oscillator leading into a fully analogue signal path, the SX is certainly a basic synth, but it’s a worthwhile option for newcomers to vintage hardware.
With just one oscillator, a noise source, one LFO, a low-pass filter and two envelope generators, the SX-1000 is very simple to use. It’s not got the depth or versatility of a more fully-featured synth, but it’s an ideal setup to hone your sound design skills. Although there’s a vaguely Moog-like tone to the filter at low resonance settings, suggestions that the Jen is the Italian Minimoog are a little optimistic. It’s not quite worthy of that kind of accolade, but the sound is surprisingly good for such a simple synth.
Because the Jen was such a an affordable option during its five-year production run, there are still plenty of them around on the European second-hand market. You’ll have very little problem finding one and the added bonus is that prices remain incredibly reasonable despite the vintage synth boom of the last few years. Common DIY modifications include the addition of a sub-oscillator, external audio input, CV/gate sockets and MIDI input.
At around £200 for a good example, the SX-1000 remains one of the most affordable vintage analogue synths you’ll come across. As an introduction to the world of subtractive synthesis and a genuinely capable instrument in its own right, it makes a great choice for anyone interested in buying a first vintage synth.