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Cherry Audio revives the Elka Synthex, bringing some ‘80s Italian style to your DAW

Cherry Audio has had another delve through the annals of synth history and had its emulative eye caught by the Elka Synthex, an 8-note polyphonic Italian analogue synth that was originally released in the early ‘80s.

The result is Elka-X, a plugin version of said synth that offers more features for a fraction of the $12,000 you’d probably have to pay for a second-hand original.

Designed by Italian engineer Mario Maggi, the Synthex offered digitally-controlled analogue oscillators and a four-pole multimode filter. It was multitimbral and had its own four-track sequencer.

In 2015, a new team attempted to bring back the Synthex in hardware, but its crowdfunding campaign was unsuccessful. Maggi broached the idea of a Synthex 2 that same year, but this hasn’t yet seen the light of day. Meanwhile, Xils Audio has released Syn’X, a software emulation.  

Now it’s Cherry Audio’s turn to pick up the Synthex ball and run with it, emulating not only the DCOs and filter but also the chorus, sound-sculpting features and layering/keyboard split options.

Improvements include an enhanced 128-step sequencer, expanded polyphony and filter modes and new mono/unison modes. Extended LFO functionality and velocity response give you greater modulation potential and there’s a new arpeggiator, too.

Workflow enhancements include panel controls that make it easy to exchange settings between layers, sequencer tracks and presets, and the chorus is joined by echo and stereo reverb effects, which offer individual settings for both layers. There’s also chord memory, MIDI mapping and a library of more than 600 patches.

Elka-X runs standalone and in VST/AU/AAX formats on PC and Mac. The regular price is $59, but it’s currently available for the introductory price of $39. There’s also a 30-day demo.

Find out more on the Cherry Audio (opens in new tab) website.

I’m the Group Content Manager for MusicRadar, specialising in all things tech. I previously spent eight years working on our sister magazine, Computer Music. I’ve been playing the piano, gigging in bands and failing to finish tracks at home for more than 30 years, 20 of which I’ve also spent writing about music technology. 

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