A synth built around microtonal exploration: Elmyra2, desktop and Eurorack

It’s the launch day for Neutral Labs’ Elmyra2, a hybrid digital-analog “platform for microtonal sonic exploration.” From experimental sounds and timbral play to ambient soundscapes and drones, this one looks promising. (And yes, it’s a sequel, though going way beyond the original.)

elmyra2 tilted

This is a rich synth platform, 4-voice digital-analog hybrid with 31 modulation targets, 4 sequencers with polyrhythmic* capabilities, delay, per-voice effects, filters, onboard LFOs, and utilities. That is, the 42HP here gives you a semi-modular selection of sonic tools, assembled as an integrated instrument, but also patchable into other larger modular environments. (I’m not going to get into the polyrhythm versus polymeter thing but … yeah, it’s capable!)

Neutral Labs has been promising this one for a while. They write CDM with their very compelling elevator pitch:

elmyra2 angled cables

Elmyra 2 is a major upgrade over the first version (which was originally conceived a purely open-source project). This one is a mature commercial product and while there is still a DIY option, the focus is on the assembled device market. It’s available as a desktop synth or 42 HP Eurorack module, with the option to rack the desktop version as well. There are 41 patch points and 31 modulation targets, 4 voices with up to 12 oscillators total, 9-per voice effects, VCF switchable between 4 types (on top of the per-voice LPF and HPF filters), 4 sequencers, a delay, a unique analog shaping/distortion circuit, 2 LFOs, a bunch of utilities, a lo-fi reverb and much more. It’s essentially a full-blown semi-modular microtonal workstation for drones and experimental sounds. As with my modules Scrat (VCF) and Nijel (distortion) – you reported on those previously – there is an option to adjust the specific sound characteristics using preset cards (set of 4 included) or even individual components like diodes or capacitors that can be plugged directly into the front panel.

elmyra2 eurorack

About that original Elmyra – it was a 10-bit digital synth originally inspired by the Lyra-8. It’s a cute little box – now out of production – but almost more like a sketch for what Elmyra2 is.

And wow is there a lot in the new one – it’s a multi-effects unit as well as a modulation playground. And there are Buchla-style preset cards (all the rage with the kids these days). You can patch in external audio. There’s a lo-fi reverb and bitmangler and dual sub-oscillators. It’s all made of plant-based bioplastic and native German oak, handmade here in Germany.

Check the full specs:


DIY it or get a pre-built version.

There are so many good ideas here, I do hope we even see a few make their way into other modules (and you should check their Eurorack module line while you’re at it).

Neutral Labs also has a fascinating mission, exploring sustainability and non-restrictive licensing – check it out. That’s well worth a separate discussion, as it gets into even details like including more sustainably-produced solder.

Anyway, speaking of reduced carbon, I am writing this from the Deutsche Bahn RE1, heh… but since they’re neighbors (in Leipzig, not Berlin!), we’ll have to catch up!


elmyra2 angled

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