SynthFest UK took place in Sheffield on the 7th of October 2017. It is located on the campus of Sheffield University, in the Octagon Centre. The exhibition took place in a large function room and a smaller conference room in the basement. Another room was used for concerts, another one for lectures. Despite the fact that this event was at a University, there were not many young people. The audience consisted mainly of people who have been dealing with the subject synthesizer for quite a while.
At first the atmosphere at SynthFest UK reminded us of Knobcon, where we have been just a few weeks ago, but with a classic British feel to it. The interest turned more towards old vintage things than to the latest developments of the manufacturers who had took the journey to Sheffield. There were instruments to be seen from times long past, like Synthi, an old Moog system, dusty Buchla systems and some for us indefinable ones. The strong British reference was also featured in the program, for example with a seminar about “Deconstructing the Dr Who Theme” and a lot of EMS, a lot of BBC Radiophonic, Mini-Oramics, 80s synthpop. Especially the Mini-Oramics were interesting, student Tom Richards built a device that its inventor Daphne Oram never finished. The Mini-Oramics is a machine that interprets drawings to sound, find out more here.
Personally, relatively few modular manufacturers were on site. AJH, Kenton, Radikal Technologies, Rebel Tech, Abstract Data, Soulsby. Then there were some sound library producers, controller and music software booths like Bitwig, iConnectivit, Softube, Nectar, Keith McMillen, Novation and a few enthusiasts who have exhibited their collection of Serge, Buchla, EMS and Bugbrand synthesizers. So there was quite some gear to check out, but exhibitors were mainly shops that took the opportunity to use the SynthFest as a sales event. All in all it was an intersiting day with some good talks and lots of synths.