ETI 4600 International Synthesizer

This is a video demo of the very rare ETI 4600 international synthesizer.

The ETI 4600 synthesiser was the brainchild of Trevor Marshall.

Trevor Marshall’s intention was to make available to pop groups a synthesizer that would cost less than the average of around $1,400 (Australian Dollars). The magazine Electronics Today International approached Trevor and featured the design in a number of articles.

Barry Wilkinson of ETI was responsible for the packaging and kitting coordination. It was adapted for Europe by Maplin Electronic Supplies of Rayleigh, Essex who produced full construction details, and were able to supply all the components for the project including PCBs, printed panels and case.

If you’ve used a ETI 4600 International Synthesizer, leave a comment with your thoughts.

Read more about the #TI 4600 at ETI4600Synthesiser.org.uk.

via scienceforce:

This is the ETI 4600 intarnational synthesizer, structure based on Matrix patch panel like EMS VCS-3, AKS.

There are two different ETI 4600 versions: one blackface and the other extremly rare Silver face!

Sounds like Space Odyssey 😉

15 thoughts on “ETI 4600 International Synthesizer

  1. I was raised in Rayleigh, Essex and used to frequent the first Maplin shop in Westcliff, in the days when all the staff knew about electronic components and were all very relaxed and helpful. They had a 4600 in the window, but could never be persuaded to switch it on for me to have a play with it. At the time, I just assumed that they knew I wasn't a serious customer, but now I strongly suspect it was just the front panel on an empty box!

    Doug, the manager, used to be really helpful and friendly to kids as he recognized a future customer when he saw one. Of course, when he retired and sold up it all changed, and now I buy all my parts from Rapid.

  2. I still have my 4600 silver faced beast.
    It has the Fairlight digital scanning keyboard modification as well as the inductors in the EQ section replaced by gyrator circuits.
    It is still a great machine with quite a unique sound.

  3. Hello MirlitronOne

    I remember it well. Doug Simmons was one of the directors of the company although he may well have carried out managerial duties as well. He didn't retire though. Maplin became extremely successful and was bought out by a finance company or rather a company with financial interests. Doug and his wife then went to Taiwan where he took over or formed (I'm not sure which) a company that supplied Maplin. I used to be the technical man there based in Hadleigh and I built the first 5600s for the company, taking it to Paris for an exhibition there on one occasion. Nowadays its seems to be all soft synths and a lot of the fun has gone. I don't think it was an empty box, more likely it wasn't working, there were a lot of problems with the 4600 at the time.

  4. Hello MirlitronOne

    I remember it well. Doug Simmons was one of the directors of the company although he may well have carried out managerial duties as well. He didn't retire though. Maplin became extremely successful and was bought out by a finance company or rather a company with financial interests. Doug and his wife then went to Taiwan where he took over or formed (I'm not sure which) a company that supplied Maplin. I used to be the technical man there based in Hadleigh and I built the first 5600s for the company, taking it to Paris for an exhibition there on one occasion. Nowadays its seems to be all soft synths and a lot of the fun has gone. I don't think it was an empty box, more likely it wasn't working, there were a lot of problems with the 4600 at the time.

  5. Thanks for the reply and additional information! It was a great little shop and a shame that in some ways it became a victim of its own success. The staff were always friendly and helpful, and I'd know a lot less about electronics today if it hadn't been for their patience.

    It was certainly a change from our local TV repair shop where I'd go in and be served by the technical assistant who looked and acted just like Lurch from the Addams Family. I'd ask for a 0.1 microfarad ceramic capacitor and twenty minutes later he'd reappear from the workshop at the back triumphantly clutching a burnt paper capacitor, rated for 750 volts and about twenty times bigger than the piece of veroboard I wanted to mount it on!

    Do you also remember Bi-Pre-Pak in Southend / Westcliff?

  6. Thanks for the reply and additional information! It was a great little shop and a shame that in some ways it became a victim of its own success. The staff were always friendly and helpful, and I'd know a lot less about electronics today if it hadn't been for their patience.

    It was certainly a change from our local TV repair shop where I'd go in and be served by the technical assistant who looked and acted just like Lurch from the Addams Family. I'd ask for a 0.1 microfarad ceramic capacitor and twenty minutes later he'd reappear from the workshop at the back triumphantly clutching a burnt paper capacitor, rated for 750 volts and about twenty times bigger than the piece of veroboard I wanted to mount it on!

    Do you also remember Bi-Pre-Pak in Southend / Westcliff?

  7. Thanks for the reply and additional information! It was a great little shop and a shame that in some ways it became a victim of its own success. The staff were always friendly and helpful, and I'd know a lot less about electronics today if it hadn't been for their patience.

    It was certainly a change from our local TV repair shop where I'd go in and be served by the technical assistant who looked and acted just like Lurch from the Addams Family. I'd ask for a 0.1 microfarad ceramic capacitor and twenty minutes later he'd reappear from the workshop at the back triumphantly clutching a burnt paper capacitor, rated for 750 volts and about twenty times bigger than the piece of veroboard I wanted to mount it on!

    Do you also remember Bi-Pre-Pak in Southend / Westcliff?

  8. Oh those were the days! I used to have a 5600s that almost worked (often went off tune and a few dud keys). I always had the intention of spending some time getting it back in A1 condition but as with all things in life I never got 'round tuit'. In the end it went to that great synth store in the sky by means of the local council tip. What an idiot I feel now having seen that one went on ebay for £3200!
    It'd be great if Maplin went back to their old grass roots and supplied kits like this again instead of catering for PC, Disco/DJ etc. They'll be selling toasters and kettles next! – regards, Nige.

  9. Hi Royce,

    Do you still have the technical details of the Fairlight keyboard controller, I have 3600 that could use it.
    Thanks for your attention.
    Cheers
    Paul

  10. I was one of the early adopters in Sydney, I built an ETI 4600 from a kit. It used the Fairlight 6bit digital keyboard variant.

    At the time, I had a Signetics 2650 microprocessor which I programmed to interface with the keyboard. I wrote a very simple sequencer in 2650 assembly language. Lots of fun.

    They were the days. I wish I still had that synth but unfortunately it was dropped from a height onto concrete and was destroyed.

  11. I was a member of the Electronic Music Group at Imperial College (London) 1977 – 1983. The main focus of the society was to get a ETI 4600 and build it – which we did. We then seriously modified the keyboard circuitry to encode/decode the 4 x 12 keyboard signaling into pure 8 bit binary for storage into a 128 word RAM module that we cobbled together. This used a simple TTL cyclic clocking circuit settable from 1 to 128 steps to address the RAM – triggered by the keyboard to record the key presses and played back using a variable rate pulse clock to drive the cyclic addresser – to convert the ETI 4600 into a full blown sequencer (inspired after going to a Tangerine Dream gig at the Hamersmith Odean and seeing the racks of sequencers they used – complete with trace lights). I used to use the sequencer to record bass lines such as Floyd’s Money and practice playing in unison on a borrowed Rickenbacker.

    Unfortunately the ETI 4600 was dropped down a flight of stairs (c) 1982 when being moved up to the student theatre – it never really recovered and I had no time left to repair it as I moved away to Leeds after graduating. I do still have the schematics of the sequencer circuit with its diode matrix keyboard encoder/decoder etc.

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