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Fairlight (company)

Founded 1975
Founder Peter Vogel, Kim Ryrie
Headquarters Sydney, Australia

Fairlight is a digital audio company based in Sydney. In 1979 they created the Fairlight CMI, the first digital audio sampler, quickly used by artists such as Peter Gabriel, Kate Bush, and Jean Michel Jarre. They are now a manufacturer of media tools such as digital audio recording and mixing consoles. Fairlight became such a prominent part of 1980s pop music that Phil Collins included the text "there is no Fairlight on this record" on the sleeve of No Jacket Required.


In 1975, Fairlight Instruments Pty Ltd was established by Peter Vogel and Kim Ryrie. They produced microprocessor-based samplers which were revolutionary for their time.

New sounds could be created by drawing a 'sound wave' on the screen, which the computer would produce as sound. Theoretically, any sound was possible. Apart from opening up a world of new sounds, the Fairlight gave composers and performers instant playback. By changing the wave patterns presented on a screen they could tweak a sound into shape without singing or performing it all over again.[1]

The versatility of the early Fairlight was not lost on recording artists. The first record made entirely on a computer in the United States was done by EBN-OZN (Ned Liben, who represented Fairlight in New York) and Robert Ozn) – "AEIOU Sometimes Y" made in 1981, released in 1983.

Their hybrid analogue/digital Computer Video Instrument, invented by Kia Silverbrook, debuted in 1984.[2] The fact that the CVI was also a "computer" was transparent to its use: it did not use a conventional ASCII keyboard (though in later models one could be attached), but rather a set of sliders and a small graphics pad about the size of the palm of a hand. Menu selections were made with a stylus rather than a mouse. The CVI allowed you to paint directly over the top of video footage as well as "with" video footage via an extensive series of effects.[3]

In April 1989, Fairlight ESP (Electric Sound and Picture) was established by Kim Ryrie, with the financial backing of Australian distributor Amber.

In August 2009, a new company called Fairlight Instruments was launched by Peter Vogel, with the objective of producing a new range of computer musical instruments (CMI) based on's "Crystal Core" media engine.

In July 2012, the company Fairlight Instruments changed its name to Peter Vogel Instruments. Peter Vogel announced the company was developing a completely new keyboard synthesizer which would be launched at Winter NAMM 2013.

Current products

Crystal Core processing engine – a sound processing device capable of sampling frequencies up to 384 kHz. Crystal core does not use DSP-based architecture, but a Field Programmable Gate Array.

Xynergi – a tactile control unit that makes use of self-labeling LCD keys.

Fairlight CMI 30A – This is a new CMI which is not a product of It is being developed by Peter Vogel through his own company, Peter Vogel Instruments.


  1. ^ "Fairlight CMI synthesizer". Powerhouse Museum Australia. Retrieved 22 February 2009. 
  2. ^ 1984 Billboard magazine article on Fairlight CVI
  3. ^ "Fairlight Computer Video Instrument". Inc. Retrieved 22 February 2009. 

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