Electro Harmonix Mini-Synthesizer

Electro Harmonix Mini-Synthesizer Image

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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15 Visitor comments
Pug
September 1, 2010 @ 9:09 am
i remember JMJ using one in his china concerts when china was a very isolated country from the rest of the world.

Its a toy. nothing more.
bruce
January 21, 2010 @ 5:53 pm
I just found mine after it being 'buried' in a box in storage for over 25 years. It woks great, it's quirky as hell and I love it still. it sounds great! Yes, it's kind of limited but it's also delightfully goofy in its own way and (for me anyway) quite a treasure.
Joe Machos
May 25, 2009 @ 6:03 pm
I cut my syth teeth playing one of these along with a n electrig mistress flanerized combo organ. Did an awesome version of Metal by Gary Numan with it!
phil
April 11, 2009 @ 5:16 am
and although it is not very flexible - the sound is unique. I love that one!!!
Brian
February 19, 2009 @ 1:05 pm
You are much too harsh on this precious little gem. Andyou didn't even mention that it runs on batteries. Come on.
 
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  • Check Prices on eBay
  • The link above will take you to a 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.
  • Specifications
  • 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

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