Elka Synthex

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Elka SynthexDesigned by Mario Maggi, it was produced between 1981 and 1985 by the Elka company of Italy. A company more noted for its organs, this would be its first and last foray into music synthesizers under that name. Unusually, it also contained a built in real-time and step-time 4-track monophonic sequencer with real-time transposition. The four different sequencer tracks can have different length, and sounds (Upper/Lower can be allocated to different tracks). Also it is possible to insert rests between notes as well as length of notes. Sequences and patches could be dumped to analog cassette tape through an audio interface. Each of the eight voices has 2 DCO's with selectable waveform. The Synthex has three keyboard modes. 8 voice single sound (both Lower/Upper voices), Split with user selected split point (4 voices Lower/4 voices Upper) or Double which reduce the polyphony to four voices.

The Synthex is a very lush sounding classic analog 8 voice synthesizer. Later versions implemented basic MIDI functions. It has 30 knobs, 6 sliders, 80 switches and a joystick. Powerful sounds with 2 oscillators per note, separate envelope generators, chorus and even a sequencer. The use of stable DCO's (digitally controlled analog oscillators) and oscillator cross modulation of Pulse Width and a multimode filter made it unique in its time.

There is a cool joystick that replaces traditional pitch/mod wheels and allows for greater variable real-time control over the two LFOs, oscillator and filter modulation. The 6 sliders beside the joystick assign what (LFO, osc and filter) goes to the joystick. Voices can also be layered or split across the keyboard. Other great features include the onboard digital Ring-Modulator, Chorus effect and Dual or Layer modes available. And also a four-track sequencer rounds out this synths host of features. Two of its tracks can output MIDI data.

This is just an extremely good analog and unique synth excellent for pads, drones and glistening lead sounds. They're a bit of a pain to service and find parts for. However many famous artists such as Tangerine Dream have used one, and Jean Michel Jarre swears by it. One last Synthex was made just for Stevie Wonder after their production run eventually ended.

The famous Jarre laser harp sound was produced by the Synthex.

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