ER-301 Sound Computer


No. There’s a Pedal Looper unit in the newest firmware :slight_smile:



Sweet! I guess I’ve fallen behind.


Good afternoon guys, pretty likely a noob question… I’m trying to build a small skiff around the 301 for sound mangling purposes (guitar, contact mics…). My idea is to keep it on 3U 84hp. Already have ansible, PNW, µo_C and Clouds. Is it possible to have the ER handle both the line to modular level, and modular to line within custom created units? or is it better to have dedicated modules such as MI Ears/Ladik A-510 and µJack… If ER-301 could do the job all alone, i’d be able to cram a Three Sisters in there (which is awesome). If this is a stupid idea maybe 4U is the way to go, though i’d prefer not to… :slight_smile:


This thread is about input gain, not output gain, but I imagine there’s a similar story there. I highly recommend the Orthogonal Devices forum, fantastic place to get your questions answered.


Thank you Jason! Ok, i see many of you guys are over there too, awesome!


Funny, this is almost exactly the case I am planning with the ER 301. Although was still on the fence re uOC.
I’ll follow your question on the OD forum.


it seems like everyone’s got an ER-301 these days. From the few demos i’ve seen, they’re really cool and possibly worth the crazy price tag for the sampling functionality, I just don’t really know what I would use it for besides sampling. Maybe I’m just being really dumb, but what are people using them for aside from sampling?



I don’t have one, but I was asking myself a similar question and there are some cool examples on Instagram, and of course you should check the O|D forum for ideas, in particular the custom devices (some of the devices posted by @scttcmpbll & @rbeny stick out to me)


In addition to everything else, I set aside channel or two to use as s custom built effects processor… which can be a stack of all sorts of crazy processing with oodles of modulation (if you have Teletype, then basically unlimited mangling is possible)…

That’s not touching sampling, because that area is a whole universe onto itself.


This is way below it’s pay grade but it’s a great stop gap for a small to medium sized system. Need an extra VCA or 6? Want to add a 3 part chord voice and are out of oscillators? Want to bit crush, FM, or simply EQ a signal at the last minute? It’s usually patched towards the end of my chain and used for bus effects like panning, light reverb, and maybe level-setting and/or limiting with various mixer channels. This isn’t touching sampling and custom units yet and now we have the ability to write our own units. Can’t wait to see what they do.


Can anyone succinctly tell me what the 301 excels at? On the face value, “everything” seems to be the answer? Everyone seems to be working one into their setups! I want someone to sell me on it! :laughing:

Does it have a huge learning curve? I was hesitant on the Teletype for “seems like too much” reasons, but I’m so glad I got one. It’s very “shallow but wide” in that it can do a lot, but the inherent limitations keep you in check. The 301 seems absurdly deep and narrow on the other hand? Maybe the interface just makes it appear intimidating tho. Most people seem to just “set it up to do what you want” and then let it do its thing.


I don’t have one (yet… :stuck_out_tongue_winking_eye:) but have watched all of Neil Parfitt’s videos on it and been doing my homework on it. :slight_smile:

I get the impression it’s especially good at:

  • recording, sampling, looping, granular, delays, that sort of thing.
  • audio utilties: VCAs, mixing, crossfading, dynamics processing etc.
  • oscillators / complete voices (I look forward to trying the complex oscillator and harmonic oscillator units people have written for it…)

Not good as a modulation source for other modules, since it lacks DC outputs. But very competent at modulating itself.

Maybe not fantastic at more complex DSP (really good reverb, resonators, FFT etc.)? I’m not sure whether that’s just a matter of someone writing them, or whether the CPU has enough grunt, or if it’s actually there and I missed it.


@Starthief has already written a good list of what the ER-301 excels at - those are the things I’d have mentioned as well. I’d like to add FM to the list, because I use the ER-301 a lot for that and I don’t think there’s anything in eurorack that is as good at and as flexible with digital FM as the ER-301. You can set up any FM algorithm you might want and can control any modulation amount either internally or externally. I used to do a lot of FM patching in Max to use with the modular and I have completely moved over to the ER-301 for that.

As for the learning curve, I think it’s actually easier to get into than Teletype by far. You have to first wrap your head around the core concepts of how signal flow and routing works, but from that point on, it’s extremely easy to navigate and create whatever patch you want inside it. The concept of chains works amazingly well and I particularly love the way you have a sub-chain for every parameter of any unit: To control say the playback speed of a sampler, you can just assign an external cv, but you immediately also get a chain in which to massage that external control voltage into place - maybe add an offset and a vca that is in turn controlled by an adsr that responds to an external gate that you already used for triggering the sample playback and so on. It’s extremely easy to set up. I think Brian did an amazing job with the interface design on the ER-301. There are still some kinks and non-obvious functionalities (I keep forgetting how to zoom in and out of the sample view for example), but for the most part, it’s very easy to navigate once you understood the basic structure.

Most of the parameters of units are self-explanatory, too, so you can generally just browse the units and explore the possibilities. On the other hand, there are some units that are not as obvious in their functionality (the first example that comes to mind is the bump scanner) and there is still a lack of proper documentation for them. If you don’t understand a unit from just playing with it, the only thing you can do is search the forums and read through rather long threads or hope someone wrote a wiki article about it (but those are still rather sparse).


I use it to bring sounds from the field into my modular setup. So i use mostly loops, grains, grains clusters, variable length loops, well anything that involves buffers and modulations/triggers. Think of all the strange tape machines from the early days (Schaeffer’s phonogene and morphophone, Hugh Le Caine’s magnétophone à application spéciale, etc.) except you don’t have to hire an engineer to solve the mechanical issues that get in the way of realizing your ideal multiple tapes and heads contraption.

Another great strength to me is that the interface (physical and GUI) is very intuitive (on receiving mine i was amazed by the fluidity of the first contact, like a succession of “how do i…? oh, here it is!” moments). It is quite easy to navigate between global chains, chains, sub-chains, and sub-sub-chains (more than that becomes unnecessary).
Most questions have already been asked and answered on the O|D forum and many use-cases of the machine are covered in details by Neil’s video, so i’d say the learning curve is very gentle. Once acquired the basics of the structure and how to navigate it, it is very fast to operate, and one gets quickly into flow.

To sum my take on the 301: it is a machine that leads me to try stuff with sound files in less time and distraction that if i had to do it on a computer (it doesn’t feature a web browser!). I only have 9 modules around it and all my needs are fulfilled. It’s all about imagination now.

edit: oh the joys of leaving a post unfinished overnight;) @x2mirko explained the machine clearer than me. And i concur that Teletype has a steeper learning curve (mainly due, in my case, to the need to think scripts elegantly (although nowhere near mind-bending as making a for loop in Pure Data :D) and thus depart from the habits of a non-programmer using programming languages in a haphazardly happy-go-lucky way.)


Glad to hear it does FM well. I’m kind of an FM junky and look forward to seeing what I can put together with it. :slight_smile:


I’d also concur. Not only has the ER-301 been easy to learn, it’s actually taught me a tremendous amount about modular synthesis!

I find this since the change to the current manner of achieving this. It’s odd because I found the earlier behaviour much more intuitive, but there was a significant discussion on the Orthagonal Devices forum for the reasons the current form was more sensible from a UI design standpoint. Maybe it’s a left-handed thing! :smiley:


I can’t find it now, and correct me if I;m wrong, but I remember reading that the next batch would have the I2C headers? does anyone know about this?
I missed out on the last batch in December by minutes, and now the extra delays… but one has become available locally unused at the price if a new unit. I assume the header might be the only difference. Any insight here?


It has i2c headers but a shunt has to be installed over part on the olimex board on the back in order for it to work correctly. I’m guessing if you were ordering one, you could request that if you weren’t comfortable.


Link removed, jonny’s link has the full info