REON Cistron is a lovely weird analog/digital groovebox with sampling only found in Japan, the land of the rising sun.
Japan has spawned many Synthesizer companies. Korg, Roland or even Yamaha. All companies that have developed and released many electronic instruments that become later legends. Their developments have strongly shaped electronic music and brought it forward. Without them, we might not be where we are today.
Japan used to be the mecca of synthesizers. That has changed significantly in recent years. Today, the synth hotspots are in Europe and the USA where new, fresh companies are constantly being founded. But there are also some new talented companies in Japan such as Black Corporation, Sonicware, or REON.
The latter tried to establish itself in Europe/USA a few years ago but they failed. They had a distributor and had a small booth at Superbooth 19. But that wasn’t enough. Too bad, REON builds very interesting analog synths.
They also have a super interesting groovebox called Cistron that will probably never make it to Europe or US. The product has been available in Japan since 2021, but so far no distributor or company has exported it to other countries. I think it’s high time to highlight the Cistron before it’s completely gone. Maybe the developer can still find a trustable and motivated distributor. One should not give up hope.
There is no official REON page in English. So I packed the page into Google Translate and tried to summarize the most important points for you.
According to the developer, the REON Cistron is an analog/digital rhythm machine aka groovebox made for creating sounds from scratch. Thus, no presets. You can also see that on the interface. It’s packed with knobs and buttons with some wild labelings.
Enjoy with caution, I’m not sure about the feature set. It looks like the engine is based on a combination of FM synthesis, sampling, and an analog noise voice.
FM, Sampling & Analog
There are 8 sound slots in the FM engine. Each slot has an FM sound with up to 4-octave range that can be shaped using the frequency, mod, envelope, and LFO/wave knobs.
You also get a blue dot display matrix that shows something I’m not sure what. It could be the FM algorithm or the parameter settings. Directly below are 8 buttons with which you can save and recall FM sounds. Then, you get 4 sample slots with pitch and bit-crusher controls.
On the back, there is a line input with which you can probably sample sounds and an SD card reader for important sounds. No details on how long samples can be or if you can sample in the machine. The third and last engine is an analog voice that consists of a noise generator, VCF, VCA, pan pot, and delay.
You shape it using the noise level, the frequency, resonance, and mod of the filter, VCA with FM and attack/decay envelope), and the delay. The latter has time, feedback, and depth controls. You also get volume control knobs over the FM voice, MC, and master). Read with caution, again, there are many points in the engine that are not clear. Similar to the sequencer.
Cistron features a 16-step sequencer with a built-in clock divider (8th note, 16th note, 32nd note) and memory for up to 8 sequences. According to the developers, there is also a pattern chain functionality that allows you to freely combine sequence patterns. These can also be saved and recalled from 8 pattern chain memories.
The translation from Japanese to English wasn’t perfect, but it looks like there is also a parameter lock functionality for the steps on the sequencers. That would make this lovely “weird” groovebox more powerful.
Connection side, you get a 5V AC adapter, a USB type B input, a memory card slot, and a fusion IF ethernet connector (REON original terminal). Next to his, you have a MIDI interface on DIN sockets (IN/OUT), clock in/out, two CV inputs, a line input, headphone input, and a stereo output on two L/R mono jacks.
Many sound demos are not available on YouTube. Only a few but they also don’t go very deep. There are no reviews at all.
REON has always made very maverick designs. This is also the case with the Cistron. It reminds me a bit of the concept of the Korg Monotribe but in mature style and with more features. Hope we see the Cistron in Europe at some point. If it remains a Japan-exclusive thing, then it will quickly disappear into nowhere.
REON Cistron is available now in Japan for ¥ 87,780 (634€) for example from the Japanese retailer RockOn.
More information here: REON