Synth Site: Korg: Electribe EA-1: User reviews Add review
Average rating: 4.3 out of 5
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biological a part-time user from Chicago writes:
If you're rich and have a mega hookup, buy a 303. If you're some chump that uses windows and think you're cool and want to impress teenage girls, go ahead and get Rebirth. Korg has really outdone themselves making an inexpensive tool that produces really good sound. Anyone that wants to complain about price, buy one from one of these guys dissing it so bad, that's what I did and got mine for under $200! Any limitations in the sound can be easily fixed by running the both parts on the same midi channel and screwing with one or the other. My only complaint is that the distortion is either on or off, there's no in between. However, the sun will still rise tomorrow morning...

Rating: 4 out of 5 posted Monday-Nov-13-2000 at 12:09
a professional user writes:
OK lets do a bit of comparison shopping here.

For the $400-500 you will spend on an EA-1 you can buy a used SH-101, a classic Roland monosynth with more resonance than a 303. It also has small internal sequencer. No FX of course (its pre-digital) but OTOH most digital/modelling synths need effects to disguise how thin they sound; this is why lots of presets in VA's are drenched in reverb. Turn the effects _off_ and listen before plunking down your hard-earned cash.

For an extra few hundred bucks you can get a true-analogue FR-777 ($777), which has external filter inputs and a full sequencer. Check it out at and see what a four oscillator 303 engine can do when you have forty knobs to tweak.

Be aware of what else is out there before you buy. A Synth doesn't exist in a vacuum.

Rating: 3 out of 5 posted Friday-Nov-03-2000 at 19:03
Dan a hobbyist user from chicago, IL USA writes:
Ok.. I’ve had this box for about a year now.. and I dig it. First of all, it’s cheap.. and the sounds are good. You’re not going to get really nice analog sounds like air rushing out of a pipe, or anything that has a nice gurgly sound that only analog can do… but the variety of sounds is truly amazing. Sequencing is a piece of cake, very intuitive, and gives you the ability to really mess with patterns on the fly with ease. It is very versatile… I’ve made from really dubby ambient to thumpin’, dancy bass… it seems to me the only reason so many people are buying it is because it’s cheap and it’s being marketed as a dance/groove-type product. It will never replace a rm1x or a 505, because of the polyphony.. but it’s sounds are nicer (sounds are MADE… like old-school analog synths as opposed to sampled sounds ala Roland and Yamaha). It is not meant as a stand-alone unit.. and can’t really be used as one (in my opinon)… but can add quite a bit to any setup. First off, unlike anything it’s ever been compared to, it can take in any sound whereas you can filter it or add its effects. If you’re thinking about selling your EA-1... and you have another synth… try this, it’s tons of fun. Take your synth (I’ve got a Korg polysix) plug into the audio in of your ea-1. Put the oscillator balance all the way to osc 1. Make one note on the sequencer, and crank the gate time all the way up. Hit play on the sequencer, and you should be able to play your synth through it… At this point, you can play with the cutoff and add effects to your sound. Ok.. not impressed? Remember, the ea-1 is duophonic.. change to part 2.. instead of having just one note with the gate time cranked, put a 4/4 beat down (just light 1,5,9,13) so that if you play a note on your synth you’ll only hear it when the notes on the ea-1 are on… add some different filters and effects… you can get some truly original sounds this way.. sounds amazing. So, it’s really 2 effects boxes with independent filters for your other synths. My polysix sounds thick as it is.. but sounds absolutely crazy when I do this. But, the ea-1 is limited.. and shouldn’t be considered a stand-alone box. Its sounds are unique (I’ve heard sounds come from it that I’ve heard nowhere else). I dare you to find something that is as flexible and sounds as good as this for the price.

Rating: 5 out of 5 posted Friday-Nov-03-2000 at 12:04
Kim Åke a hobbyist user from Finland writes:
(i do mostly goa/c64-like nostalgytro, mind you...) I reviewed this thing some time ago, but here's some comments after some time... It's sad the feedback etc parameters can't be changed. As I understand this is all software so why not make them even chageable via MIDI or something? The flanger gets old in about five minutes, chorus is cheap but okay in lesser amounts. Great delay. Distortion in nice, altough loses bass sometimes. Not good for really HOWLING acid growls but for acid sounds has a sound of it's own which is fine. Can do lovely clear high leads.

About the most annoying thing is that there's no separate envelope for sound so it's hard to get good release for sounds. Of course it can be achieved via short filter decay but it's hard anyway and some things just aren't possible. This is a bit odd as afaik an amp envelope generator isn't a very complicated piece of circuitry.

The resonance whistles a bit too much in the higher end; I would have preferred a more crisp sound. In the lower end it sometimes lacks the growling character that would be welcome for acid stuff.

With external FX like good EQ's and such is great.

It's impossible to do good PWM modulation with this. Detuning 2sqr oscs is nice but not enough.

I would also have liked a pitch control for osc 1.

The audio in is great. Makes for a nice guitar/bass effects box. Crisp distortion, nice delay and the ring modulator/ decimator can make some very weird electric sounding sounds. How about 200bpm guitar riffs? Can do. This is great for gating (is this the right term? I'm not pro with "real" music terms) long sustained sounds like live guitars, etc.

The audio in can also give a new life for old synths. I have recently played a bit around with a Kawai K1mk2 which in itself is 80s digital crap but with the distortion, filter and delay of EA-1 can do some cruel stuff!

With a dirty guitar distortion pedal this makes more satisfying acid riffs...

This is exactly what I don't like about hardware: the new modelling synths that are heavily reliant on software could do SO MUCH more if more of the settings just were tweakable... Imagine the potential the Electribe series would have if ALL parameters in the synth engine could be changed at will!

Way too expensive. Just think about it. This is forgodssake a box of plastic that makes some bleeps and chirps. $400-500 is an outrageous prize for a thing like this!

This thing has made me consider getting any more equipment seriously. Software is free and more versatile. Otoh Windows makes everything unreliable and unefficient... Still thinking about getting a Virus or something similar. The question is: are the additional realtime controls and things like that worth $1500?

Rating: 4 out of 5 posted Wednesday-Oct-04-2000 at 18:15
Mwarren a hobbyist user from USA writes:
I purchased my EA-1 back in May along with the ER-1 to accompany my Korg N264. Since I've had it I've had nothing but good things to say about the unit. I love the effects and x0x style sequencing. I orginally purchased the EA-1 thinking it was a 303 clone. I soon found out it was more than just a 303 clone. There is so much the unit can do. I was first using the EA-1 as a stand alone. Then I finally broke down and got a midi interface and used it in cakewalk. The abilities of the unit extend even further. Now I can record mulitiple knob movements instead of just one using NPRN. That feature alone make this a very versatile unit. I know plenty of people have complaints about the EA-1 lacking ablitities. Well I say just make music with what you've got and stop trying to make the unit something it's not. I'm not knocking the 303. It was a great unit but it's no longer being made and it's even harder to find one second hand. So instead of pouting about it move on to something else. For me it's the EA-1.

Rating: 5 out of 5 posted Tuesday-Sep-26-2000 at 22:27
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