Korg Electribe ER-1

korg er-1 electribe drum machineThe Korg Electribe ER-1 is an analog modeling drum synthesizer that combines great sounds, fantastic flexibility and hands-on control. Like other Electribes, the ER-1 is covered with knobs and buttons, making it easy to program rhythms and fun to tweak.

The ER-1 is one of Korg’s first generation series of Electribes. This include the Electribe EA-1, an analog-modeling bass/lead synthesizer; the ES-1, a rhythm sampler; and the EM-1, a groovebox workstation. Each of the Electribes has 16 step lightable keys that make programming rhythms a breeze. Each of the Electribes is programmed by pressing a step in a sequence and assigning it a value, or by putting it into loop mode and playing and tweaking a rhythm or melody until you get it the way you want it.

The Electribes are a blast to work with because of their ease of use, their good sounds, and the light show they put on as they play. The ER-1 is one of the stronger of the Electribes. It provide ten possible rhythm parts; four analog modeled voices, two audio-in parts, 2 hi-hat parts, and crash and clap parts

The hi-hat parts, crash and claps are sampled, and provide convincing sounds with a limited amount of editability. You can adjust the envelope on the samples top clip them, and pitch them up or down. It would be nice to have the choice of multiple samples, but the one provided do the job. The crash sample seems a little clipped, too, but is light years ahead of the crashes on classic drum machines.

The four analog-modeled sounds, on the other hand, are very flexible. Each voice can be edited to create bass drum sounds, toms, noise snares and more. You can even program simple bass and synth sounds, though, because the ER-1 is designed to be a percussion synth, programming melodies on it can be a chore.

The synth voices are fun to tweak. They can create quite convincing analog sounds, but also weird new sounds that seem to be a side-effect of trying to make a digital synth sound analog.

The ER provides just enough effects to create a polished rhythm track. The delay has a wide time range, which provides an interesting range of effects. It also can be sync’d to the tempo. There’s also a bass enhancer which adds a sort of distorted deep bass to sounds.

The audio-in parts are especially welcome, because they have become a rarity on modern equipment, but provide a great deal of power. Plug a cheap synth into one of the audio ins, program a rhythm for the audio part. Then play some chords on the synth, and the ER-1 will rhythmically gate the chords, making even a cheap synth sound very cool.

Once you’ve programmed the sounds you want, you can create arrange the sounds in a mix. Each sound can be panned, and its level can be set as needed.

Once you’ve got everything tweaked, you can create patterns, and then arrange them into songs. One appealing feature of the Electribes is that you can combine “motion sequences” with your patterns. Motion sequences record your knob twiddling, so that sounds can evolve and move throughout the pattern. You can use this to bounce sounds around the stereo image, to change the pitch of sounds, and much more.

If you’re looking for a drum machine to provide interesting analog-style sounds, the ER-1 is a good inexpensive machine to consider. It provides a broad range of sounds and has its own unique sound, too.

Specifications:

Number of Parts:
10 (4 synthesizer parts, 2 audio in parts, 2 hi-hat parts, 1 crash cymbal part, 1 hand clap part)

Memory:
256 patterns, 16 songs

Effects:
Delay (normal, motion sequence, tempo delay)

Sequencer:
(Pattern) 64 steps maximum per part, motion sequence, 1 parameter per part, 64 events, (Song) 256 patterns maximum per song, event recording 35,700 events maximum

Input:
AUDIO IN (1/4″ phone jack – mono x 2)

Output:

L/MONO, R, (phone jack – mono x 2), headphone (1/4″ stereo phone jack)

AD/DA Conversion:
18 bit linear

MIDI:
IN, OUT, THRU

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