Latvian legends Erica Synth are teaming up with German DIY electronics personality Moritz Klein for a 9-kit modular monosynth project. The first module is out now.

An oscillator is always a good place to start – and that’s what you get first, the EDU DIY VCO for 60 EUR. But let’s back up and see where they’re ultimately heading with this.

The mki x es.EDU series will eventually involve 9 kits, planned for launch one at a time every 4-6 weeks. You’ll get:

  • sequencer
  • VCO
  • wavefolder
  • noise/S&H module
  • mixer
  • VCF
  • Envelope generator
  • dual VCA
  • output stereo mixer with headphone amplifier

…plus the option of an “affordable” case with DIY PSU. That’s a little vanilla as a combination – I expect you’ll want to view this as the core of a larger rig and add in effects and/or sequencer – though the wavefolder should throw in a nice twist.

But this is more than just another Eurorack kit line. Most of those, while fun builds, don’t really give you a sense of what you’re building. Erica Synths and Moritz Klein here promise a much more ambitious goal – “to teach people with little-to-no prior experience how to design analog synthesizer circuits from scratch.”

And that is a big, big difference. Accordingly, they promise each kit will come with a 40+ manual that they promise “will dive deep into not only the electronics behind each circuit but also the fundamental principles of sound synthesis.” Nothing against kit builds, but generally what you get instead is just a one-sheet telling you where to stick the resistors and solder on the jacks. (I should know, we’ve even sold a couple of kits that were just that.)

I can’t comment exactly on how those guides are structured and written since I haven’t seen them, but it sounds promising – the chance to really better understand what’s inside. And that also makes the bread-and-butter selection here important, as these are fundamentals you’d want to get through.

The kits ship worldwide. There’s a 24-month warranty, but they do warn you that you’re on your own if you screw up the build so – keep that desolder gun handy and watch what you’re doing. Diodes in the right direction and all that.

Seems a great idea. EDU DIY VCO is shipping now, with:

  • analog sawtooth-core oscillator / sawtooth and pulse outputs
  • PWM input
  • FM input
  • 1V/oct input with “reasonably accurate” volt/octave tracking (hey, you wanted analog not digital, so any slight impurities are a feature, not a bug)

Don’t want to wait or don’t have any scratch for new kits? You can go ahead and check out Moritz’s superb series on synthesis and circuits right now, free. And that means if you don’t desire a nice Erica build, you can also mess with this on a breadboard from parts you might already have lying around.

Plus there’s an arpeggiator series that apparently didn’t make the cut in the Erica series, so the smart move might be to create your own faceplate for that one and have one really obviously custom kit in there!