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  EM 26 At a Glance
Picture needed arrowReleased: 1990  Specifications
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Djo writes:
This synth not common in former USSR. I just don't get the point WHY those guys built such a machine like Vocoder? Guy that gave it to me, played with Korg Trition, so naturally he thought of this thing as "shit" :). Vocoder is very light (about 2-3 kg), little, and very easy to hadle. But to play keyboard, you'll have to learn. It's very unusual - no velocity, (keys are non-weighted) but it has aftertouch(!), this is what defines the volume of the voice. After some practice i found that typical velocity is far worse than aftertouch (for synth pads, or long sounds, when there's no actual attack its 100% true). There are 6 blocks. They are: Vibrato, Chorus, Strings, Vocoder, Ins and Outs, Transposer (pitch bend and pitch tuning). All controls are sliders and LED buttons, wich simplifies the controll in a great manner. I think sounds are achieved by single Pulse waveform, with only dedicated control under Strings section. You can vary sound from Violin to Cello (actually its PulseWidth control, but i still prefer calling it as original). You can turn Strings section on and off, to add some kind of pad (or strings) to your vocoder. The only envelope control here is release. Level of sound for strings is here too. As for Vibrato - it's working only with vocoder. Simply adds vibrato to the proccesed voice (LFO with only modulation to Pitch). But if you play with Accient control, LFO gets wicked. Vocoder section is for ballance between processed/unprocesed sound. Chorus has 2 buttons: on/off, and type slow/fast. Disadvatage of chorus that it adds additional noise (but maybe it's advantage?). In/Out section is very simple. The only thing is that EM 26 can work as rack vocoder as well, just insert instrument in line C, and voice in line A. Transposer section has octave button, that expands 32 keys. Horisontal (Roland-style) pitch bend here too. I seldom use pitch tuning because it's extremly stable (wow, that is really stunning, for USSR synth!). Overall quality is great - aluminium case is a breath of O2 in this plastic world. Only, the keys are too light, no ressistance at all. Also pitch bend doesn't work perfect (gentle pitch sliding for 1/2, or 1/4 of semitone, cannot be performed here). Recommended for people, who can't sing :) . Really dissapointing lack of the chord freeze function (thats what microKorg has), so at least one hand should be at keys (so microphone stand is must have here). Remember that EM 26 vocoder is good only for what it ment to be - vocoding purposes. It can do some pads (wich are quite rich), but with no deep editing you'll get bored pretty soon. Still, in live environment it's good to have another source of sound. Don't expect from it more than just vocoder. Forget it, if its your first toy, you'll never dig its charm. For those who owe Polyvoxes, Alices, and Aelithas, its good addition, very unique, especialy now. And for 40 bucks, its just heaven's gift.

Comments About the Sounds:
Very fat vocoding with chorus turned on. Sounds are limited, but for vocoding its superb. Doesn't have that MicroKorg's pop clearity and

(Thanks to Djo for this info.)

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