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Electronic Music Laboratories (EML) | ElectroComp Model 400-401


EML's 400/401 ElectroComp is a rare semi-modular analog synthesizer/sequencer that first appeared in 1970 and although it was produced until 1984, roughly 300 were made. The synthesizer (401) component can be considered a scaled down version of the EML 500 in some ways. It looks very similar in color and layout but lacks a built-in keyboard. It retains patch-cord signal patching and editing associated with modular synths as well as some switches. Dual VCOs produce a monophonic analog sound which can be shaped by the multimode resonant VCF (filter) with switchable hi, low and band pass filtering. Only sawtooth, square and noise waveforms are available from the oscillators. The envelope section offers only attack and release control (the EML 500 envelope section added sustain).

Complementing the EML 401 modular component is the 400 system which, as seen above, is covered with dozens of switches and sliders. Basically it's an analog sequencer component. It is a 12-tone diatonic sequencer with a digitally controlled voltage quantizer built-in - a sophisticated feature for the time. This allows for a variable number of steps-per-octave ranging from 5 to 60...a very unusual feature which makes the unit very useful for those exploring alternate/microtonal tunings. It also offered voltage controlled envelope generators in 16 stages! These could be programmed for creating pretty wild sequences and patterns.

The EML 400 and 401 system was a response to the popular Moog and ARP modulars from the era. It offered new ways of synthesizing classic analog sounds which may not have been better than its competition, but it certainly was unique. Today these rare instruments can still be found in use by synth anoraks around the world.

BrandElectronic Music Laboratories (EML)
ModelElectroComp Model 400-401
Engine TypeModular (Semi)
Voices (max)1
LFO1 Noise, Sample & Hold, Saw Up, Saw Down, Sine, Square, Triangle
Engine Detailed400: 2 VCOs: sawtooth, square and noise
Filter (VCF)12 dB/Oct multimode resonant filter with switchable low-pass, band-pass, hi-pass
Envelope (VCA)AR
Sequencer401: 12-tone diatonic
Key typeN/A
AudioMono out
CV-gateCV/Gate I-O
Produced:1970 - 1984
Legend: Obvious Y: Yes, N: No, N/A: Not Applicable
VCO Voltage Controlled Oscillator DCO Digital Controlled Oscillator
LFO Low Frequency Oscillator Sub Sub Oscillator
VCF Voltage Controlled Filter VCA Voltage Controlled Amplifier
Velocity As with a piano, the harder you hit a key, the louder the sound, unlike most organs which always produce the same loudness no matter how hard you hit a key. Aftertouch Pressing a key after you activated it. Channel Aftertouch, no matter which key, it will send a Channel message. Poly Aftertouch, sends the pressure per key instead of the whole channel.
Values for OSC, LFO, Filter, Envelope are per voice unless stated otherwise.

Manuals, patches etc.


If you like to discuss or talk about synths in all forms (including VST and modular), you are welcome to join the Facebook group "The Hard, The Soft and The Modular".

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