Sonic LAB: DreadBox Erebus - Desktop Semi Modular Synth

Our new synth best friend      20/07/15

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14:1 mins    

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A Greek synthesizer. Let's face it, it's a bit of a novelty - I can't think of any in existence, though I bet a couple of Vangelis' mates might have built a thing or two for him back in the day. But don't let the lack of pedigree fool you, Erebus is quite a capable little synth.

It's desktop format, somewhat similar (though larger) than the Doepfer Dark Energy - in that it brings the Eurorack style modular format out of the rack and into a semi modular desktop box.   Connections (not the patchbay) are: Audio input/output. MIDI I/O (it's got a built in MIDI CV converter)m and 12v 1A AC input.

With two Oscillators - OSC 1 - with Saw and Square (pulse width is available -yay!), OS 2 Saw/Triangle it can be played paraphonically - with last note priority. Each VCO has a separate glide control for adding portamento movement.

They sound good to me, buzz and weight - better that I expected - though I'm not sure what I did expect..

Interval between oscillators is only tuneable to around 3 or 4 semi-tones so no fifths without being in paraphonic mode.

Filter This is a 2-pole pre-driven resonant VC Low Pass filter - and I must say I really do like the sound of it - with more oompf than other 2-poles I've heard, it has a pleasant tone and  is capable of some quite deep bass - it will self oscillate too if you feel the need and can be tracked, via CV output on the patchbay.

Envelopes A full ADSR envelope is hardwired to the Filter (this can be patched elsewhere too) with a simple A/R on the VCA, Env 1 has a depth control - well two actually if you count the attenuator on the Env out on the patch bay - pretty snappy can produce zaps and blips. The ADSR envelope can also be switched between Retrig and legato mode for quick shifts in performance playing style - a nice touch.

LFO Dual wave - Tri/Square - with a dedicated depth control, needs to be patched to have any effect - possible destinations:, OSC 1, OSC 2, VCF, CV, echo (time), Gate, LFO rate,  Pulse Width, VCA.

Doesnt quite go up into audio rates, but I guess there are going to be some limitations.


Now this for me is where things get really interesting - I must have led a bit of a sheltered life as I've never experienced the joys of modulating delay time in a synth environment. This is a BBD delay ( I think) with a nice crusty feel and brings the synth to life, I had so much fun with this, it should be law that every analog mono has a delay section.

Patch Bay With access to the MIDI/CV patch out - including a Mod wheel (with depth control) you can easily use this as a MIDI CV bridge to a wider system (1v/Oct Eurorack format), integration with external mod sources is a breeze if you have them, the ADSR env out with dedicated depth control also lets you modulate plenty of destinations, and complex and beautiful patches just fall out of this thing.

Greek Fact In Greek Mythology Erebus - was often conceived as a primordial deity, representing the personification of darkness. For me, it's way more cheerful, though the neighbours did ring to complain about the disturbing amount of bass - that's a first.

The Dreadbox Erebus is my new synth best friend, some synths have charisma - some don't. This one really does, and shows a really musical understanding of what a synth needs to be compelling and useful.

Erebus is available now priced £320/€345 - from most reputable synth dealers - and is both a great way to start your journey into modular or a great addition to an existing setup - it will hold it's own, no problem. Plus you get to support the Greek economy - imagine if synthesizers could save the world? This could be a good way to start.


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