About Don Solaris

From making music on Amiga 500 computer to being hired by the Roland Corporation, Japan. It took only 20 years but eventually my dream came true the day I received a call and got hired as a sound designer by my favorite synth manufacturer. My original interest in “sound” began at the age 6 when I would record – everything that could be recorded, it slowly evolved into mix tapes by the time I was a teenager. It was then at the age of 13 at my friend’s place (Z.M. who also ended as a programmer) I saw an Amiga 500 computer and was fascinated after seeing a program called SoundTracker. I knew this is what I want to do. Of course my parents thought No1 priority was school, so after getting an Amiga 500 computer I would be given access to it only during the weekends. But it was enough to learn and master a lot of the skills which I now use in daily life.
Still as a kid, I’ve became a part of the Amiga computer cracking group, not something I’m proud of, but I’ve learned a lot. In there I did some basic graphics and music composition (mainly for intros / cracktros). Over the time I’ve realized the limitations of an Amiga computer for music making and decided to get a proper synthesizer because my demand for music grew more and more. And this is when I was introduced to a Roland JV-90 synthesizer which impressed me instantly on the spot. So eventually a year later, after saving some money I bought it’s more powerful successor the Roland XP-50. Since the late 90’s were the age of Techno music, and being a rebellious teenager it all just further reinforced the path I will take.
Age 17 – I’ve decided to become a sound designer
While still in the high school I wanted to become electronic music producer. Honestly speaking after some time of making music with a friend, at one point I got tired of that – and shifted in the background – providing custom sounds for music producers. And that’s how it kinda all started for me! Of course, owning a Roland XP-50 my dream wish was to work for the Roland company. But working for such a powerhouse requires a lot of knowledge. So I would have to wait 20 years for this call from Roland to come. But it eventually did via another synth maniac, while respecting his privacy I will just call him “Jim from one country to the West”. He contacted me and asked whether I’m interested in doing sound design for them. My reply was very short and loud: YES!
Back to my past, my first serious work in sound design started in 2005 when I joined with Ryutaro Nishi, one absolute synth freak from Japan on his cult Deep Synthesis website where we would program and demo various synthesizers and analyze them in depth. During all this time I’ve kept learning more in sound design and programming while my synthesizer collection slowly started to grow. Since by that time I had a regular day job, I could pretty much afford any synthesizer I wanted to. This was all before the synth market boom.
Unfortunately the prices started to climb in the late 00’s, and my dream of owning Roland Jupiter 8 – the ultimate analogue synthesizer – started to shatter. They were slowly getting out of reach with prices exponentially growing. But once again, I was saved by another synth maniac, who knew people in the Tokyo’s famous Five G store who reserved the unit for me until the funds sit down. Despite hoarding all the synths I still didn’t had one single hit sale with my soundsets. But that will change in a few years when I approached the Waldorf company. I have sent them my soundset for Blofeld synthesizer which they liked, published it and within 3 months it became their best selling soundset to this date – worldwide. It is literally used from Hollywood to Bollywood, from north Ireland to south Dakota. This set for Waldorf opened the doors for venture into other companies and literally over night my status changed forever. In 2019 I’ve joined the sound design team for Waldorf Quantum which among others featured other famous sound designers like Richard Devine, Brian Transeau (BT), Howard Scarr and others. The project took several months all the way into 2020. My job was patch programming, wavetable development and sample development. In the late 2020 I have joined Novation (Digital Music Systems, England) as a sound designer.
2020 ready to meet new challenges

My clients:
Phelan Kane (Boy George, Dido, Placebo)
Michele Luppi (Whitesnake)
Roland Corporation Japan
Waldorf Music GmbH
SAE Institute
Nord Keyboards
Madrona Labs
Wave Alchemy
Plugin Boutique
Ilija Rudman
Sweet Spot Studio in Annandale Virginia
Piotr Czerny (classical composer)

Studio Gear List
Roland Jupiter 8
Roland Jupiter 6
Roland Juno-60
Roland JX-8P
Roland SH-2
Roland SH-3a
Roland SH-5
Roland MKS-50
Roland MKS-70
Roland MKS-80 Super Jupiter
Oberheim Xpander
Oberheim OB-X
Oberheim OB-8
Oberheim OB-1
SCI Prophet 5 (rev3.3)
SCI Pro One
Korg MS-20
Korg MonoPoly
Korg Trident MkI
ARP Omni 2
ARP Odyssey 2800
Moog Minimoog
Moog Voyager OS
Alesis Andromeda A6
Yamaha CS-30
Logan String Ensemble II
Waldorf Pulse+
Formant Modular
Waldorf Microwave rev A
E-MU Emulator II+
DSI Poly Evolver
SCI Prophet VS
SCI Prophet 2002
Dynacord ADD One + Drive
Korg DSS-1
Ensoniq ESQ-1
Ensoniq ESQ-m upgraded to ESQ-80m (custom)
Roland JD-800
Roland JD-990
Roland D-550
Roland D-70
Roland JV-80
Roland U-220
Roland XP-50
Roland V-Synth XT
Waldorf XT
Waldorf Q
Yamaha VL1-m
Yamaha TX81Z
Yamaha TG-77
Yamaha TG-500
Yamaha DX-7 IIFD
Korg 01 R/W
Korg Wavestation A/D
Korg N1r
Korg X5DR
Kawai K1rII
Kawai K5000R
Kurzweil K2600RS
Ensoniq SQR+
Ensoniq TS-10
E-MU E5000
Ensoniq ASR-10R
Akai S950
Akai S1000
Akai S1100
Akai S3000XL
Akai MPC-2500
Roland S-550
Roland S-750
Yamaha TX16W
Roland MC-300 MkII
Kawai Q-80 EX
Yamaha RS-7000
Yamaha QX-3
Eventide H-3500 DFX
Lexicon PCM 70
Lexicon PCM 81
Ursa Major Space Station
Ursa Major 8×32 MkII
Ensoniq DP-4+
Sony DPS R-7
Roland RSP-550
Zoom 9200
Zoom 9010
Alesis Midiverb I
Alesis Midiverb II
Yamaha REV-7
Boss PH-3 Digital Phaser
Dynacord DRP-20 Digital Reverb
Roland SVC-350 Vocoder
Dynacord TAM-21 Time Axis Manipulation System
Dynacord VRS-23 Vertical Reverberation System
Boss CE-300 Analogue Chorus (modified for line levels)
Klark Teknik DN-34 Analogue Time Processor
WSW single channel from the “black” console (early 60’s)
ADR Scamp Rack x 4
SSL G-series (DBX golden VCAs, API thrust mod)
Drawmer DL-221
Aphex 661 Compressor
RME Babyface
Ensoniq PARIS
E-MU 1820m
Soundcraft Spirit Studio 24 ch
Mackie CR-1604
Nakamichi 600
Technics RS-B555
Sony TC-K850ES
This is my home..
…sweet home.
Located in Europe…
…somewhere in Croatia.
Studio 1 is where most of sound design is done.
Ilija Rudman’s studio is the second studio where I work at.
Ilija Rudman – music producer / DJ – a guy who makes great
funk music. I work in his studio as a tech / engineer.
Michele Luppi of Whitesnake was my first serious client!
Still can’t believe this is happening. My sounds used by a
legendary rock band – Whitesnake. I feel like a pro now!

This was my first release for the Roland Corporation.
This is my “home office”.
H3500 by far one of my favorite processors and samplers…
…I bought it from Yoshiki. You can actually see that exact
processor in a doc about the recording of a Dahlia album.
My favorite hybrid synthesizer which I recently restored.
Favorite VA synthesizer.
This device can do a lot of weird things.
Recently upgraded the ROM to E-Synth it was worth it.

Another classic in the house.

K2600R upgraded with sampling board makes stellar FX.

ASR-10R another powerhouse with stellar FX!

A doggo takes care for the Quantum.

First factory preset for Quantum OS2.0 just programmed in.

It’s an honor being among biggest names in the industry.
Of course, the AKAI makes your studio a serious place.

Technics SL-1210 mk2, Pickering XL-33U cartridge, DTL-2S styli

My modest collection around thousand records.
This is where I program and make demos.

Other side of the studio.
One of my favorite digital synths.
I bought these in US, with special thanks to Suit&Tie Guy.
Bought it in April 2008 in Five G music store in Tokyo, Japan
(Special thanks to Ko Okatake).
This beast came from Florida synth museum…
…it’s smaller cousin came from NYC.
Last manufactured Moog Voyager, Serial No:500.
Special thanks to Amos Gaynes (Moog).
If you work for Waldorf, you need Waldorf gear!

Roland/Hamamatsu/Japan factory with my SH-2 in front of it.
More goodies from Hamamatsu/Japan connection Ko Okatake!
Korg MS-40 😉 Left unit from Roginator, right unit mine.
Roland Racks are mandatory!

Oberheim Xpander with custom sides.

First world problems: I bought this from Sweden. The guy didn’t
had enough packaging material for the box so he sent me his
barely worn sweater. I’ve washed it and I now wear it.
Tim – tibetan terrier, 9/2001 – 7/2019 greatly missed ❤️

Back to my natural habitat. See you tomorrow!

Oh yeah and once I was a pioneer!!! 😀