Manufacturer: MRB

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Joe Pollard brought the challenge of designing the Syndrum to me in 1975. It was the first commercially available set of electronic drums in history. The Syndrum was a huge success, finding its way onto hundreds of hit records of the late 70s and early 80s. Accepted into rock, country, disco, and avant gard genres, the Syndrum sound was everywhere from Baker Street to James Bond. Soon, copycat units arose sporting the same controls and parameters I defined, and to this day, there is a Syndrum sound preset in almost every synthesizer. Now Voltage Modular users can own this piece of history in a new and improved unit. Everything is faithful to the original except for low price, the addition of voltage control to every parameter, and of course the addition of a polyphonic version drives the capabilities to insane levels. The controls may look deceptively simple and basic, but you can get kicks, snares, toms, steel drums, claves, wood blocks, congas, tablas, flying saucers with laser weapons, and everything in between. After over 40 years, the Syndrum is back, and it's going BOOM! (and it's ON SALE!)


The Syndrum is very easy to use, (hey, drummers had no problem), but the one thing you have to keep in mind is that the TRIGger INput is not like the trigger on most other modular drum modules. It is fully dynamic. It cares about the voltage level with which you hit it, just like the actual Syndrum hardware. As a matter of fact, you can patch the AUDIO SOURCES from VM's upper panel directly into the TRIG IN and tap the mic, scat sing, or beat the table, and the Syndrum dynamically obeys. If you connect drum triggers to your audio interface and patch them to 4 Syndrum modules, you can duplicate the Syndrum Quad set that was our first available product.

The TRIG IN is sensitive to rising edges only. Very useful dynamic results can be had by patching the output of a mixer to the TRIG IN and then patching multiple rhythm sources into the mixer inputs. The mixer controls will then determine the hit strength of each input. It doesn't matter if one of the inputs remains high while another is rising, the new edge is always detected.


  • SENSE knob -- Controls the sensitivity of the TRIGger INput
  • VOLUME -- duh.
  • TONE SUSTAIN -- Controls the duration of the decaying tone
  • SNARE switch -- Off = no snare sound, 1 = quiet shorter snare, 2 = loud longer snare
  • SNARE SUSTAIN -- Controls the duration of the snare sound
  • SWEEP switch -- DOWN = tone jumps up when struck, then decays downward (the Syndrum signature sound) -- OFF = no sweep -- UP = tone jumps down when struck, then decays upward
  • RANGE -- Tonal range of the SWEEP
  • VIBRATO switch -- Selects sawtooth, triangle, or squarewave vibrato (FM)
  • RATE -- Vibrato frequency
  • SPREAD -- Vibrato FM deviation (depth)
  • TUNE switch -- Selects sine, triangle, or squarewave for the tone.
  • COARSE tuning -- 6 octave range
  • FINE tuning -- 1 octave range

All controls have CV inputs with attenuverters for your modulation pleasure. The dynamic nature of the trigger affects more than just volume. It drives the sweep farther, and the sustain runs longer, the harder you hit. To play the Syndrum in tune chromatically, patch the PITCH into the COARSE CV input and turn the knob up all the way to 100%. This provides 1v/octave tracking. Patching the PITCH into the TONE SUSTAIN CV and turning the control slightly left makes higher pitches shorter in duration and lower pitches longer, creating a natural physical behavior. If you want to use the keyboard GATE as a velocity sensitive trigger, just patch the GATE through a VCA with VELocity as the VCA CV. A preset is provided to show you how to do this.

The SNARE feature is good for more than just a snare drum sound. Using position 1 or 2 and setting the SUSTAIN really short results in a slap or stick noise that is good for putting a point on a kick, or stick/head contact sound on a tom.

Make Syndrum go boom now.