by MIKE MCCUNE
Typically when I have a DIY project on my docket I tend to give myself an evening to dig into it, but this build was so quick, my iron barely had time to heat up before I was finished, and the whole deal only took me 15 minutes to complete.
The ElectroSmith 2144 is a 4 pole low-pass filter with a 24dB per octave slope that utilizes the reissue of the SSM2044 filter IC found on numerous vintage synths such as the Crumar Bit 99, Emu Emulator, and Korg MonoPoly. It comes with all surface mount components pre-soldered onto a submodule, and with the bulk of the work already done, all that’s left to do is solder the pin headers, pots, jacks, and put it all together.
The metal faceplate is simple, attractive, and free of clutter. There are two inputs, knobs for frequency and resonance with CV ins to control each, and an output. The 2144 is warm and smooth at lower resonance settings, but can get fat and nasty with self oscillation when the resonance hiked is up. When it self-oscillates, it generates a pure sine wave and can therefore act as a VCO, tracking volts per octave pretty well.
My first synth was a MonoPoly, one that I sorely regret selling, and messing around with the 2144 almost brought me back to those early days when I’d hole up in my studio doing filter sweeps at 3am with my cans cranked up.
The 2144 comes as a DIY kit or premade but the build is so easy, save some coin and put it together yourself.
Price: From $79 - $119