Sonic LAB: Dreadbox Erebus V3 Review

US More analogue goodness from Greece      11/01/19
   19:47 mins    

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Greek synths never used to be a thing until Dreadbox arrived on the scene (at least as far as we know). Their reputation has grown especially with the Erebus synthesizer - now at V3 it's tracked their success. It's not secret we’re fans of the Erebus 1 +2 - we have a 2 here and without fail, everyone that hears it tends to be impressed. Version 3 has a lot to live up to....

First up, Dreadbox have been working on their manufacturing process - it's all well and good doing everything through-hole with each component placed on the circuit board by humans hunched over work benches,  but it's a time and labour intensive process and when you are having any sort of success greatly affects the rate at which you can make stuff. Dreadbox have incorporated some Surface Mount Technology in the Erebus V3 - the top board which holds the controls (we’re told), this alone has made a big difference in both the manufacturer cost and speed and does mean the the V3 has more stuff in it for the same price.

Erebus V3 has 3 VCOs - 1 (SQUARE+SAW), Osc 2 (SAW+TRI) like the original Erebus - though these now have a wider +/- 11 Semitones pitch tuning range, the 3rd VCO is the multiwave SAW Up/down/SQ/ TRI/Sine and Noise and can also go right down into LFO territory, making for a useful trio.

And the good news is that they do have the Erebus weight and buzz - thank goodness. There’s also this Triple Ring section which I mistakenly as it turns out thought was a ring mod - it's actually a clocked switch with OSC 1 Tri and OSC 3 Sine switch from the clock of OS1 Pulse, but sorta sounds like a Ring mod, anyhow it does give some nice complex harmonic tones to add to the blend.

Of course the Erebus V3 is also duophonic like it's relatives, with 1st note priority applied to OSC 3.

If you, like us dig the sound of the Erebus filter - you’ve still got that - resonance that seems to enhance the low end rather than remove it. So, it's the same 2-pole low pass filter, but you now can sweep through to HP mode too - it has that same meaty quality to it.

There are two full ADSR envelopes. ADSR 1 normalised to Filter and is loopable though not terribly high rates and ADSR 2 normalled to the VCA. Finally a fixed wave LFO (TRI/Sine) routed through to OSC pitch. One thing I did notice is that there is no legato mode so any filter mod on the envelope is retriggered no matter if you are playing legato. Unfortunately there is not workaround for this.

Echo - same time, feedback and mix controls but it sounds a little less grungey than the original Erebus - of course you can modulate the delay time (echo) parameter too, which is one of the things I loved about the previous model

The modular patch points have been somewhat expanded in the V3 with some useful utilities added to the regular patch points. Would like to have seen separate outs for each of the 3 VCOs or a CV Mix control, but most of it is there, the utilities are: VCA with CV control, S&H - clock from master Clock module, and X/Y switch. The X/Y Switch is interesting in that it uses the same topography as the Triple Ring - source X and Source Y switched from the clock input, output at Z. The master clock module  goes good and high and also features a duty cycle (like pulse width) finally a three way mult.

I confess that my fear that the Erebus V3 might not have the same character as the previous versions was unfounded. The main VCOs sound good as does the VCF and the additional features make for a more accomplished and interesting instrument. Certainly a good contender for your cash when it comes to an analogue desktop synth.

Available now priced at £459/€499/$599

Audio out, Phones, MIDI In and THRU with 15v power plus a DIP switch for setting the MIDI channel.

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