Electro Harmonix Mini-Synthesizer
The Mini-Synthesizer is a novelty instrument these days. It's basically a plastic & metal box with a couple colorful sliders and a few buttons. Its 25-note keyboard uses membrane buttons rather than real keys. This can be uncomfortable and unreliable to play. Other synths that tried this approach to touch-keyboards include the much better sounding EDP Wasp and the more advanced touch sensitive Buchla and Serge machines. The inclusion of a built-in speaker indicates that the Mini-Synthesizer was, and always will be an entry-level, ultra-compact, portable synth.
As for the sounds, well there isn't much here. The Mini-Synthesizer features just one analog VCO with just a Pulse waveform. Although there is an octave divider and dedicated LFO for a Pulse-Width-Modulation (PWM) effect, this single VCO does not stack up against other synths if you're looking for thick or punchy analog bass, organ and synth sounds. There's a rather quirky analog filter onboard too. Two sliders control the cutoff-point at the start and end of a note, another slider controls the sweep rate between them and the fourth slider adjusts phase-shifting of the filter. Resonance, phase in/out and sensitivity are handled by on/off switches. Finally it also has a 2x switch which also creates a phase-shifty effect.
Some models (unlike the one pictured above) feature an analog delay effect for some nice echo. They also feature a Ribbon-Controller above the keyboard for a glide effect. Although these may be nice, the Mini-Synth still lacks memory, ADSR envelope controls, CV/Gate and actual keys. It may be capable of a low bass sound that could be worth sampling but the lack of controllability and playability leave much to be desired. And unless you're into esoteric gear, the Mini-Synthesizer is at best, a collectible. It has been used by Van Halen, Jean-Michel Jarre, Jimmy Edgar, and the Moog Cookbook.
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- The link above will take you to an eBay search for this synth to see active listings. If you don't find it there, try looking in our forum marketplace or post a wanted classified.
- Demos & Media
- Polyphony - Monophonic
- Drum Tones - 1 VCO with Pulse waveform only and an octave divider
- Effects - Analog Delay (on later models)
- Filter - VCF with Sweep Rate, 2x effect, Phase, Q (resonance), Sensitivity
- LFO - Phase (Sort-of)
- Keyboard - 25 Membrane Keys
- Memory - None
- Control - None
- Date Produced - 1980-81
- Shop for Keyboards, MIDI & Gear
- Resources & Credits
Images from Roger Cordell at Big City Music.
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