Superbooth 2018: Ken MacBeth Announced Elements EL2 Analog Synthesizer

Musikmesse 2014: The initial idea of the Elements Synthesizer was to combine the iconic EMS style knobs and the Japanese diode ladder filter in a hardware Synthesizer

The Elements Synthesizer by Ken MacBeth is one of the best-sounding Synthesizers ever produced. With just one touch, you can fill the space of one complete track. In August 2017, the developer had announced that the idem is sold out and no more will be made. He did not mention what the future of it is. There is clarity today!

Ken MacBeth announced today on his private Facebook page the Elements EL2 analog Synthesizer, a further development of iconic synth. He describes it as: “Elements on steroids, “circuit wise”. The developer will present the new version on this year’s Superbooth in Berlin.

New In The Elements EL2

Some major changes happened in the new version. He implemented new oscillator sync possibilities, a new spring reverberator circuit and no MIDI support. MIDI has been dropped to optimise the circuits and modifications. Also the colour has changed from silver to black. Also the Elements EL2 looks fantastic in my opinion. It’s not my price range for an instrument but good to see it back on the market.

  • 2 x ENHANCE FUNCTION – 1 control for VCO1 and 1 control for VCO2 ….previously 1 control shared by both.
  • 2 x OSCILLATOR SYNC – VCO3 syncs to VCO2 and now VCO2 syncs to VCO1.
  • A new SPRING REVERBERATOR circuit has been fitted, a different and more deeper sound than the original Elements.
  • VCO1, 2 and 3 now have seperate outputs at the rear of the unit, the original unit did not feature this useful modification.
  • MIDI has been dropped in favour of the above circuits and modifications. Most musicians that have been using the original Elements tend to use the instrument as intended and also most have MIDI to CV processing for their other Control Voltage and Gate synthesizers and the modular equipment that they own. The Elements ‘EL2’ has thus become a more refined instrument than the original.
  • Features genuine vintage, resourced parts. 1970’s RCA legenday semiconductors including CA3046 IC’s, CA3083 IC’s, LM1458 Metal Can IC’s, CA3080E IC’s. The unit is all discrete Through Hole parts which adds up to a lot of character!

Features of the Macbeth Elements Synthesizer 

  • self contained synthesizer with built in touch capacitive keyboard
  • 3 wide ranging voltage controlled oscillators and 1 vc low frequency oscillator/audio oscillator.
  • vco1: 5 waveforms: ramp, square, enhance, triangle, sine.
  • multi turn vernier dial tuning frequency: 1 hz ~ 20khz and beyond.
  • volume output direct to vcf.
  • vco2: 5 waveforms: ramp, square, enhance, triangle, sine.
    multi turn vernier dial tuning frequency: 1 hz ~ 20khz and beyond.
    volume output direct to vcf.shared enhance rate between vco1 and vco 2, variable from slow ~ fast.
  • vco3: 6 waveforms: ramp, square,triangle, sine, saw, s&h
    multi turn vernier dial tuning frequency: 0.01 hz ~ 20khz and beyond. transpose switch: lo, -2, -1, 0, +1, +2.
  • cv on/off switch.
  • vco3 hard synchronization to vco2.
  • volume output direct to vcf or cross modulate vco2.
  • temperature compensated vc low frequency oscillator/oscillator (vco4): 6 waveforms: ramp, square,triangle, sine, saw, s&h. frequency rate variable from slow ~ fast- approx: 0.01 hz ~ 20khz and beyond. cv on/off switch. fast ~ slow switch. s&h selector switch: noise source or vco3 source. mod vco3 potentiometer, mod vcf potentiometer, audio to vcf potentiometer, large global modulation potentiometer.
  • noise generator: white noise, pink noise. volume output direct to vcf and s&h circuits.
  • external audio input amplifier: volume output to vcf or ring modulator.
  • ring modulator: mc1469 based double balanced modulator. inputs: vco1 sine, vco2 sine or external audio input amplifier. volume output direct to vcf.
  • voltage controlled filter/ resonator (vcf): self oscillating, 5 ‘rung’ diode ladder type approximating 32db/octave roll off slope. self correcting volume gain at high ‘q’ (response). cv/keyboard tracking switch: off (centre) half, full. vco3 modulation potentiometer, vcf eg sweep potentiometer. pure sine output at maximum resonance/response. targeted to ca3080 based voltage controlled amplifier (vca)
  • vcf envelope generator: full attack, decay, sustain, release with long ~ short timing switch. vcf eg polarity switch: positive or negative going slopes. vcf eg > vco3 sweep switch.
  • vca envelope generator: full attack, decay, sustain, release with long ~ short timing switch.
  • tape delay simulator: input direct from vca. delay time potentiometer, delay modulation potentiometer, delay modulation control switch: vc lfo ~ kbd cv, delay repeats potentiometer, delay mix potentiometer. final output to spring reverberator circuit.
  • spring reverberator: external spring line tank connect via jack socket, standard tank supplied: compact belton/accutronics bmn3bb2c1 for wall/under desk mounting. other tanks/accesorries can be used.
  • keyboard: touch capacitive gold plated articulator allows 4 octave f ~ f chromatic span.
  • control source via switch can be touch keyboard, midi or external cv/gate. keyboard can send 1v/octave and +12v gate signals from outputs on the rear of the unit to suitable ancillary equipment, ie, external vc synthesizer/vc synthesizer modules.
  • other controls: ultrabender: dynamic pitch bend + – 2 octaves either side with dead band in the centre of play. master tune- + – octave either side. global portamento- applies to all cv controls.
  • rear section interface: midi in/thru, cv in, gate in, vco1 cv in, vco2 cv in, vco 3 cv in, vcf cv in, external audio in, cv out, gate out, synth out, power in.
The price of the Elements EL2 hasn’t been revealed yet but I think the price will be +/- the same as the previous one which was priced at $4999 USD.

Sounds Demos and more information will follow during Superbooth 2018

Thanks to Ask.Audio for the additional information about the features

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