The original ELKA Synthex

The original ELKA Synthex

GEM, LEM & ELKA to return

What with the Korg MS-20 back in production, Tom Oberheim’s SEM still going strong and the ARP Odyssey reissue on the way, we’re spoiled for choice when it comes to reincarnations of vintage classics. It looks like we’ve got a few more on the way, because Finnish manufacturer Generalmusic has announced that it will reintroduce the GEM, LEM and ELKA brands this year.

“Generalmusic, keyboard and pro audio products manufacturer, and its legendary brands GEM, LEM and ELKA will be back 2015. It is our 125th anniversary and we will bring to market some legendary re-issue models and brand new technology. Generalmusic will offer unbelievable Italian sound together with superior technical quality – made in Finland.”

We’re most excited to see whether that means we’ll get a reissue of the mighty ELKA Synthex, an 8-voice analogue poly from the early 80s. Expect to find out at NAMM.

Dave Smith Instruments

Not technically a NAMM release, but worthy of inclusion here nevertheless. DSI’s second Eurorack module, the DSM02 Character Module, is now available. Based on the Character sections of the Pro 2 and Prophet 12, the DSM02 is a digital module which includes five effects – Girth, Air, Decimate, Hack and Drive – each of which offers a slightly different take on distortion, from mild overdrive through to harsh bit crushing. The unit features dual inputs and outputs with shared controls, allowing for stereo or dual mono operation.

DSI’s press release explains the motivation to create a different tool to the company’s Curtis filter module: “The modular scene is exploding with possibilities. We’ve got a lot of really creative and expressive tools to offer musicians in that world… This time we wanted to do something a little more esoteric—but still fundamental to the Dave Smith sound.

The DSM02 is available now, priced at $259.


Following on from the Rhythm Wolf come two new analogue products from Akai. The first is the Tom Cat, a variation on the Rhythm Wolf drum machine which appears to be aimed more at recreating vintage percussion sounds than the Rhythm Wolf. The drum sounds on offer are kick, snare, clap and chromatically tuneable disco toms.


What’s more surprising is the introduction of an affordable polyphonic analogue synth, the Timbre Wolf. We’ve seen plenty of affordable analogue monosynths over the last few years but the Timbre Wolf is a bit different, offering four-voice poly, unison monophonic or a mode which splits the oscillators as four separate monophonic synths, each with its own 32-step sequencer.


Akai has also presented a new range of MIDI keyboards. The Advance range will be available in 25-, 49- and 61-key versions, each with an integrated 4.3-inch full-colour display for software instrument control, plus a range of physical controls including RGB-backlit MPC-style pads, and a semi-weighted, velocity- and aftertouch-sensitive keybed. Akai’s Virtual Instrument Player will allow access to plugins in any of the major formats. The Advance 25, Advance 49, and Advance 61 keyboards will be priced at $399.99, $499.99 and $599.99 respectively. Shipping date to be confirmed but described as “early 2015”.

23rd January, 2015

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