Erica Synths' beastly SYNTRX II reinvents the EMS Synthi for the 21st-century producer

Erica Synths Superbooth 2022
(Image credit: Erica Synths)

It only feels like yesterday that we were wandering the halls of the FEZ-Berlin, sampling the sonic delights on offer at this year's Superbooth 22. One of the clear highlights this year was Erica Synths' SYNTRX II, a dramatically revamped sequel to the original SYNTRX analogue synth that's described by the manufacturer as "a new dark horse for experimental sonic rides". Giddy up. 

Putting functionality aside for a moment, this thing truly looks the part. Clad, in true Erica Synths fashion, in a formidably gothic black colour-scheme, the synth is fitted with a charmingly old-school VU meter and the kind of chunky and invitingly twiddle-able knobs also found adorning their (MusicRadar award-winning) PERKONS HD-01 drum machine. 

Under the hood, the SYNTRX II is built around two primary analogue oscillators with waveshapers capable of generating and blending between square, sine and saw waveforms. A third oscillator, also able to produce variable waveforms, handles modulation duties alongside a trapezoid envelope generator, while a multi-colour noise generator adds texture where needed.

Sound can be run through a versatile filter section made up of a high-pass and low-pass laid down in series, a sample-and-hold circuit, a ring modulator and two output VCAs. There's also an onboard DSP-based FX section offering both delay and reverb. Notably, the synth's second generation lacks the spring reverb included on the original - and the built-in speakers.

Inspired as it is by the classic EMS Synthi AKS, the SYNTRX II is kitted out with the same digitally-controlled analogue patch matrix as its predecessor, capable of recalling up to 254 patches. This time around, though, synthesists are able to use the matrix as a piano-roll style sequencer, making this version significantly more playable than its younger brother. The synth's joystick control has received an upgrade, too, and its motions can now be recorded for automated sequencing and modulation. 

All in all, the SYNTRX II is a fascinating beast, and a worthy addition to their line-up of equally fascinating machines. Though it's inspired by a vintage synth, Erica Synths' seem to have channelled this inspiration into something new and innovative with the SYNTRX's second edition. Happily, though it's not cheap, it's cheaper than the original, and has been priced at $2179/€1800.

The SYNTRX II is available now for pre-order, with the first units shipping in March 2023. 

Find out more on Erica Synths' website. 

Matt Mullen
Tech Editor

I'm the Tech Editor for MusicRadar, working across everything from artist interviews to product news to tech tutorials. I love electronic music and I'm endlessly fascinated by the tools we use to make it. When I'm not behind my laptop keyboard, you'll find me behind a MIDI keyboard, carefully crafting the beginnings of another project that I'll ultimately abandon to the creative graveyard that is my overstuffed hard drive.

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