Amazing, Versatile, Tracks VERY Well, Sounds Great!
First: Kudos to my Sweetwater rep, Ben Porter!
The Electro-Harmonix Synth 9 is absolutely amazing. I have been a fan and a customer of Electro-harmonix since the 1970's, and their products have always been fantastic, and great value for the money, too.
The first thing I did, was plug the Synth 9 into an acoustic guitar with a bridge pickup. It worked, but I was a little disappointed - so, be advised, if you're using the Synth 9 with an acoustic guitar, you may need to add a preamp between it and the acoustic guitar.
HOWEVER: The next thing I did was plug it into one of my electric guitars. HAPPY, HAPPY, JOY, JOY! This thing tracks perfectly with an electric guitar - especially when, as the instructions say, you turn up the volume on your guitar all the way, and use the bridge pickup. I noticed that the settings of the tone knob on the guitar affects the timbre, just SLIGHTLY, so experiment around with that for an extra fun dimension.
All of the patches are polyphonic. Patch #4, "Mini Mood," has another oscillator that is monophonic (the level of which is set by CTRL 1) to which a portamento effect can be applied, using CTRL 2 - a GREAT patch for lead playing. All the patches sound great for chords and for soloing, depending on how you set it up.
The knobs marked "CTRL 1" and "CTRL 2" have different functions, depending upon the patch number you're using. The instructions come with a sheet that has "suggested settings," which are good starting points - on patches where CTRL 1 is acting as a tone / filter cutoff control, I tend to prefer the it set to a less resonant setting - in other words, rotated a bit more counter-clockwise, for a mellower, woodier tone - I just think it sounds a bit more organic, vintage, and analog, but that's a matter of personal preference.
On the back of the "Suggested Settings" sheet, you'll find a sheet of blank settings diagrams, so you can record your own settings - don't forget to make a ton of copies of the patch sheet, so you can keep your original for future copying.
The sounds created by the oscillators are big, sophisticated, and convincing, and the filters sound rich, lush, and big. There have been many attempts in the past, by a host of companies, to create guitar synthesis in small pedals, as well as big rack-mounted units - mostly, unsuccessfully, and the few successful attempts have usually resulted in very expensive units. The Synth 9 hits the nail on the head.
The bottom line is, if you want to add synth sound to your arsenal of sounds, this is a SUPER affordable way to do it.
Get one of these, and add a Mel 9 (Mellotron emulator, available at Sweetwater), and you'll have most of the sounds of the 1960's, 1970's, and 1980's. (Incidentally, the Mel 9 DOES work well with acoustic guitars, according to some professional reviews.)
My next purchases, because of how well the Synth 9 works, will be a Mel 9, and an Electro-Harmonix C9 keyboard emulator, both available at Sweetwater.
Thanks again, Electro-Harmonix, for creating such great products at so affordable of a price point!