The Pulsar is a mostly forgotten preset drum machine from Zhytomir, Ukraine’s Elektrovimiruvach military plant. Now, this unique device gets a second life on iOS.
That manufacturer is still there, located just outside Kyiv. This is apparently not technically a Soviet-era creation, but manufactured in variants in the early 90s. (That’s in parallel to seeing places like Riga, Latvia emerge from the Union’s former shadow, too, and build on that legacy to construct new devices.) I was vaguely aware of the Pulsar, but not that it was produced in the early 90s – especially as it seems more like a late-80s creation. But that would in fact make it the first major drum machine hardware to be produced in independent Ukraine. (It’s sometimes labeled Estradin, the better-known synth from the same plant. And please, )
Developers TripleTech, working now between the USA and Ukraine, write to let us know about this new release. The iOs app mostly hews to the original design and sound, with a handful of modern niceties (like Ableton Link support):
More than 30 years ago, the “Pulsar” – preset drum machine was produced in Zhytomir, Ukraine, at the Elektrovimiruvach military plant, which was famous for its electronic musical instruments such as synthesizers, electric organs, electric accordions, drum machines, signal processors, guitar effect pedals, and other musical devices (Altair-231, Estradin-230, Solaris-314). The release of the Pulsar was an exciting and incredible event for the region as nothing like it had ever been produced before (different models of the Pulsar were made in early ’90s).
In 2023, a team of audio developers and sound enthusiasts from TripleTech paid homage to Ukraine’s cultural heritage in the field of music technology by creating an iOS replica of this remarkable hardware. This iOS version (iOS drum machine) gives the “Pulsar” preset drum machine a new pulse in the digital world.
The features of the Pulsar ES app are fairly standard compared to modern equipment and pioneers in Japanese music technology. However, the Pulsar can still serve as an excellent vintage rhythm base for various setups and music production styles.
Consequently, Pulsar ES is a new iOS drum machine that simulates the Estradin Pulsar model, the first preset drum machine of Ukrainian production. TripleTech has replicated the original hardware instrument “as is” along with its pros and cons, with some added features such as FXs, MIDI Out, and Ableton Link.
This is a playable instrument – make no mistake. You’ve got 8 pads to jam on, plus:
- Bass, snare, hat, clap, 3 toms, crash
- Rhythm Selector with presets
- Level, Tempo, and Accent controls
- FX: drive, reverb, filter
- Ableton Link
- MIDI in/out
- 64 preset patterns – a mix of original patterns and new creations, including “rock, reggae, house, and techno, but also authentic styles like hopak, polka, kazachok, rasputin, bosanova, jumbo and lezginka.”
So it’s both a different device sound-wise and one with some unique rhythms to explore – and some Ukrainian patterns in the mix, even as drum machine patterns have so often come from Japan.
There’s some discussion on the Audiobus forum, too.
It’s available on the App Store, with 20% of proceeds benefiting Ukraine – US$5.99, designed for iPad (though also runs on iPhone, if slightly cramped there):
Pulsar-ES / Dmytro Kiro
Official app site:
Some brief sounds in the demo video, at least until I make up a new one:
This is an oddity, for sure. The sound is different than anything I’ve heard – like a fuller but more lo-fi 6×6 – with functions that seem straight out of the 1970s, not the 1990s. I’ll try to learn more about the history here.
They’ve got a sound pack to download, too:
And this image suggests some further projects may be on the way:
Here are some low-quality vids of the original hardware, too, labeled Estradin: