Easily one of the most influential synthpop acts of all time, Eurythmics formed in 1980 after Annie Lennox and Dave Stewart’s previous band, The Tourists, had split up.
What started out as experimentation with an EDP Wasp synthesizer in a hotel room, quickly grew into a larger vision. A small project studio with a TEAC 144 expanded with an Atari ST computer, a Tascam 8-track tape recorder, and a small Soundcraft mixing console.
The sound of the Eurythmics
One could also argue that Eurythmics is one of the greatest exponents of the home recording revolution. As gear got steadily cheaper and more accessible from the early 1980s onwards, more bands were inspired to follow in their footsteps. Let’s find out why!
Movement Systems Drum Computer
This archaic-looking orange box is a primitive sampling drum machine from Cornwall, England. Although somewhat clunky, the MCS Percussion Computer became Dave Stewart’s secret weapon and he used it on both Sweet Dreams (Are Made Of This) and Touch.
Although it didn’t sound quite as good as other drum machines like the Linndrum or the Oberheim DMX, it still offered plenty of creative flexibility with individual outputs, drum sync, and clock output.
Roughly only 30 units were ever built, so unless you have a time machine you’ll have to settle with a modern option like the Elektron Octatrack, with its performance-based workflow that provides eight audio and eight MIDI tracks to sequence other gear.
Elektron Octatrack MKII Black
Beyerdynamic CK 703
In classic DIY fashion, Eurythmics began recording Sweet Dreams with the microphone they had lying around. This happened to be a Beyerdynamic CK 703 small-diaphragm condenser which was often used in studios at the time as a hi-hat microphone.
The ambient vocal sound achieved had a surrealist quality to it, and certainly contributed in a big way to the overall aesthetic of the production. Annie Lennox has also been pictured with a Beyerdynamic M201 dynamic mic which is another interesting choice.
Luckily, many mics that offer exceptional range and detail have been released since then, and with the right amount of processing, you can get great results with the Beyerdynamic TG V70d.
beyerdynamic TG V70
Seen as more of a toy than a tool at the time, the Roland SH-101 is now known as one of the most desirable synthesizers ever made. Its simplistic architecture allows users to quickly get their heads around synthesis without ever reading a manual.
The 101 creates powerful leads and basslines which can be triggered internally or externally as Dave Stewart did on Sweet Dreams (Are Made Of This) with trigger input from the MCS Percussion Computer.
The neat and portable SH-01A is a great modern alternative, and although digital it still gives you that hallmark sound with the advantage of being polyphonic.
Roland SH-01A grey
The bassline on Sweet Dreams (Are Made Of This) is also created in part by the OB-X, with the two synths working off of each other in tandem. Combined with the string parts Annie Lennox played in, it created a lush atmosphere synonymous with the song’s dream-like quality.
Introduced in 1979, the OB-X provided the means to create massive evolving sounds with polyphonic glide capabilities like the Prophet 5, but without the sky-high price tag.
Although Oberheim switched to Curtis filters after the OB-X, you can still achieve a similar sound with modern iterations such as the newly reissued OB-X8.
Roland Space Echo RE-201
The Roland Space Echo is a unique-sounding tape echo unit that was first introduced in 1974. It has eleven operating modes that make use of a short magnetic tape loop as well as a spring reverb, allowing you to produce a wide range of effects.
Dave Stewart combined the Space Echo’s warm, gritty sound in tandem with a Bel noise reduction unit and a Klark Teknik DN-50 spring reverb to produce Annie Lennox’s vocal sound on the early Eurythmics albums.
The Space Echo never seems to go out of style, and you can get it affordably in the shape of the practical Boss RE-2.
Boss RE-2 Space Echo Delay/Reverb
What are your favourite Eurythmics gear choices? Please let us know in the comments below!
More about Eurythmics:
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- Movement Systems MCS Percussion Computer MKII: Undergroove Music / Facebook
- beyerdynamic CK 703: Audiofanzine
- Roland SH-101: SMEM
- Oberheim OB-X: Matrixsynth
- Roland Space Echo RE-201: Roland