Considering Purchasing

I’d found out about the E1 from a gearslutz forum post during the manufacturing hiatus. Only this afternoon did I realize they were in stock again!

I’m super excited, but also concerned about the significant investment. On paper, I am an ideal candidate and I will get my monies worth. Im just concerned that in reality my expectations may be mis-aligned with reality. Will I be too dumb to program? Will I need more midi routing investments? Will it be an intuitive workflow that truly gets used? I dont think you can answer these questions for me, but maybe with some discussion I can gain some confidence.

I have rackmount synths: Ensoniq ESQm, Korg EX800, Yamaha TX81Z, Akai S900, Waldorf Pulse and am always “shopping” for more. I love the charm and limitations of these knobless beasts. I also have these knobless keyboards: Casio CZ5000, DW8000, Kawai K3 and these Tubbatech upgrades SH101 and Juno 6.

Focusing on then rackmount stuff as priority, will it be very challenging to set those up?

Hi @Bilateral_Motion, welcome here.

I am one of the Electra creators, I will write a few words from my perspective. I hope, maybe some of the users will share their views too…

I think programming presets does not require much technical knowledge. With the synths you mentioned, understanding of sysex is required though. A good thing is that some of the synths have presets available already, others are on the way.

There is a thread on the forum about the setups and I also tried to cover a few examples in the documentation. Some users use just Electra, some combine it with MIDI thru / merge boxes, some have setups with MIDI routers. At preset time Electra is capable of message routing between interfaces (USB device, USB host, MIDI IO) and supports a MIDI Thru function on MIDI IO ports. We will be extending the routing functionality, but the number of physical MIDI IO ports is a limitation here.

Last but not least, Electra’s firmware is still under development. I consider it stable enough for use by ordinary users but issues are discovered and features are being added. Some users like that some do not. If you were expecting 100% flawless system you could be disappointed. The fact that the product is in active development means, on the other hand, that ideas can be reflected and things changed.

if you have any questions, feel free to ask

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owner for a year now! :slight_smile:
very happy with the device, discovering awesome shit all the time, started selling other controllers.
because of Electra I don’t have a fear of buying old synths any more (rack or with few knobs in general), because I can edit them thru the electra.
martin is VERY responsive to new ideas, and fixes bugs usually within days.
currently electra is connected via usb to my pc, from Ableton and thru my mio10 and rme ufx+, I manage a couple of synths thru it and a lot of plugins

Thank you guys for the response. I think I will purchase after Christmas next week. I will start by focusing just on my ESQ1m. I love that machine.

For example I like to go with how the engineers perceived things to be. So I’d like to make the map where each page on the electra is equal to one of the button groups on the synth. E.g. “Filter” page has 6 controls. So if I’m not mistaken with the Electra I can select a page in via touch screen that I label “Filter” and inside will just be those 6 controllers, even if the page can handle more/electra has more knobs…

That’s what I’m hoping!

As for sysex. I will have to copy strings of messages? Or is there some kind of learn function?

I guess I should read the manual!

I used to have ESQ-1, I wish I had a ESQm these days. I like the simplicity of the design yet powerful sound.

If I am not mistaken, ESQ uses NRPN. That should be fairly easy to do. Sysex would be needed only if you wanted to be able to retrieve patch data from the ESQ.

Yes, that was our idea of the pages. There is one thing though, a page with 6 controls on it would look a bit deserted. What users usually do is having pages that cover more “parts” of the sound generation chain. eg. VCF + VCA.

There is a MIDI learn. It has its limitations when the sysex is more complex, but still, it will save time. NRPN can be also learned. Sometimes users have problems with NRPN not being detected correctly. it is due to fact that many synth manufacturers implemented NRPN in their own way. If you see anything strange, just let us know. We are usually able to adjust the learn functionality so it eventually gets working.

I hope it’s OK to add to this thread…I also am interested in the potential for using Electra One in my musical applications, which are perhaps a little different from those you originally intended. I am a pianist, and often use the Pianoteq VST (or standalone application), as well as a Mellotron 4000D. Both of these have a wealth of MIDI-accessible parameters, program changes, etc., that are buried in menus or unconventional interfaces. For example, one can adjust virtual microphone positions and soundboard resonance in Pianoteq physical models or adjust keyboard velocity sensitivity and sample selection in the Mellotron. These parameters and program changes are not hard to access in the studio, just a little awkward and slow. It would be wonderful to use MIDI (and Electra One?) for rapid visual/tactile access to such things during live performance. Would Electra One be a reasonable way to do this? Are there others in the E1 community perhaps interested in the same? Thanks!

Hi @tnelson,

perfectly valid question in this thread.

Personally, I use one electra in a similar setup as you described. I have Yamaha CLP-295GP and in 99% cases I just use the default piano sound. There are occassions, however, when I want to use some of the XG sounds or adjust some of the sound parameters. Doing that on the CLP panel is close to impossible. Electra gives way more comfort in doing that. The only issue here is that using Electra for such task is quite an overkill. Maybe there is a cheaper and simpler solution - but that is something you have to decide.

Thanks, @martin!
I agree that E1 may be overkill for tweaking fundamental piano sound settings. I’m thinking also of trying to take advantage of some of the new “synth” features of Pianoteq, such as morphing hybrids of piano/Rhodes/harp, etc., on the fly during performance. I imagine that E1 would also make it much more streamlined to switch among instrument models, and to view and dial in parameters for each when playing live.

one thing about the electra is it gives you crisp visual feedback as to what the parameters are. The value of this from a user experience point of view (conbined with the quality encoders) is what puts it above other controller options. this is where the money is worth it. I thought that it would be overkill as well but in the end even if it opens up one synth/ plugin/ application to this enjoyable level then its paid for itself.

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I am looking forward to using an Electra One with softsynths; I see there are already presets for DIVA, Tal J-8 and U-No, etc. I want to also use it with Zebra2, Repro-5, possibly Omnisphere. I currently don’t own any rackmount synths, but if I had a chance I would pick up an original Waldorf Microwave.

Just waiting for the next production run…!

+1 for buying synths that are a pain to control without using E1.