Erica Synths SYNTRX

Maybe this will be a helpful thread for anyone who has been considering the SYNTRX from Erica Synths. I’ve done a very deep dive with mine over the past couple days.

So far it impresses me sonically - much more so in person than in the demo videos I’ve seen. I don’t have a Synthi to compare it to, but I do have the Portabellabz VCS3 card for my Easel and the behavior and sound of OSC2 is very similar to my ears - even the wave shaping has a similar contour in the various knob positions. Beyond that, I don’t think there is much point in comparing its sound to an EMS, as the circuitry is different. But on its own merits, the sound is very rich and capable of a lot of lovely harmonic depth. And it’s the kind of instrument that invites exploration because its sonic possibilities extend way beyond what you might hear in a function-by-function video demo (although Loopop’s review was very thorough and informative.)

The digital matrix took a little getting used to, but after a couple days I find that I move around on it quickly. The ability to save presets is VERY nice in my opinion, especially when first getting to know it. And if you are familiar with the EMS ecosystem then you will know that it is unique in its ability to do recursive patching for all kinds of interesting feedback sounds. Very well suited for classical, old school electronic music in that way. But the tuning is stable and the oscillators and filter sound wonderful when controlled by a sequencer or keyboard - very Moog-ish to my ears, like a very rich sounding monosynth with interesting wave shaping options. The Trapezoid is a very cool envelope/VCA capable of passing signal and sending CV. I’m not a big spring reverb fan, but the way it is implemented here is much more useful and flexible than on the Easel because it’s a module than can be patched like any other.

I’m a huge fan of self-contained instruments with interfaces that invite exploration, and the SYNTRX checks those boxes for me in a big way! Having been a modular user for over 20 years, I have to say I enjoy working with a panel of knobs and a matrix, without a patch cable in sight!

On that note it IS fairly limited in its ability to interface with other instruments. MIDI note/gate and CV ins are internally assigned to the oscillators. MIDI CCs are available on the matrix on the joystick patch points but I haven’t experimented with that yet.

I’m happy to answer any questions.
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I wrote Erica Synths to ask if midi could be added to the matrix because a Monome is obviously well suited to being an external interface for it, and quickly recalling Matrix states during performance would be incredibly flexible, and they said they could do it if people ask enough, so… please ask?

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Agreed! I imagine sequencing through presets could be sweet since the recall is instant. It would also be nice to be able to dump the presets via sysex or something like that. Not sure if that can b implemented without a MIDI out though (SYNTRX has MIDI in/through.)

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There was a (short) period of time when I considered selling a big chunk of my gear to fund a SYNTRX. For now, I’m happy with my current setup. I still have a lot of ideas to explore. Thanks for the mini-review. You touched on just the points that I’m most curious about, which leaves me with that splinter in my brain, to be sure. Hehe.

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In lieu of dumping presets, I do like the fact that it’s dead simple to photograph a preset and recreate it later - and even capture the sound of it in video. Trying to photograph my modular patches was an exercise in futility - not so with Syntrx.

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