Original MSRP: $4,399.00
Current Price: $4,399.00
Let’s just get it out of the way immediately: Latvia-based Erica Synths’ Techno System is the largest, most expensive drum machine on this list. A collection of Erica Synths drum modules, including one for samples, the Techno System is made with professionals in mind who have a serious hankering for modular drum synthesis.
The Techno System is seriously patchable. When all 25 patch cables (or more, if one desires) are used, it starts to resemble a many-tentacled black leviathan. But, this just means that the Techno System’s sound possibilities are many and varied.
The Techno System takes its inspiration from classic 1980s drum machines like the Roland TR-909, so its base sound will be familiar to electronic musicians and producers alike. It features kick drum, snare, toms, clap, hats, and cymbals, but it also can do monophonic bass synth and lead synth if one is so inclined. In fact, the bass synthesizer’s analogue oscillator is the legendary three-waveform Curtis CEM3340 analogue oscillator, which was found on classics like the Oberheim synths, the Korg Mono/Poly and Poly- synths, as well as the Roland SH-101 and Jupiter-6.
The Techno System also comes with a modular drum sequencer with 16 trigger outputs, 12 accent outputs, 1 CV and Gate track, and 2 synced or free-running LFO outputs. To input sequences, the Techno System features a desktop computer-esque 4×4 keybed. This design choice means the keys are not velocity sensitive, which might be a dealbreaker for some (if the price already isn’t); but, the Techno System features accents that give users the possibility of creating more expressive steps. All in all, the sequencer is powerful, allowing users to program randomness and polyrhythms into their drum sequences.
A final word: the Techno System is clearly not for everyone, and that is really a matter of price and the niche market for modular synths—specifically modular drum machines. If this piece of kit is the apple of your eye, however, then just know that it is an inspiring instrument, and thus something that is perhaps worth working toward—financially speaking.