by Rob Puricelli | 4,4 / 5,0 | Approximate reading time: 3 Minutes
ELZ_1 PLAY

ELZ_1 PLAY  ·  Source: Dr. Yu Endo

ELZ_1 PLAY

ELZ_1 PLAY  ·  Source: Dr. Yu Endo

ELZ_1 PLAY

ELZ_1 PLAY  ·  Source: Dr. Yu Endo

ELZ_1 PLAY Special Edition

ELZ_1 PLAY Special Edition  ·  Source: Dr. Yu Endo

ELZ_1 PLAY

ELZ_1 PLAY  ·  Source: Dr. Yu Endo

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The highly acclaimed and much sought-after SONICWARE ELZ_1 returns as the ELZ_1 PLAY, an upgraded version of the original produced directly by its inventor, Dr. Yu Endo.

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UPDATE: A further 50 units have been made available from July 4th 2023 and are available to pre-order immediately for shipping in November 2023 – See below for more details!

Japanese synth company SONICWARE burst onto the scene five years ago with their highly original and powerful “backpack synth”, the ELZ_1. Seen in bedrooms, studios and on stage all around the world, the ELZ_1 redefined the power of portability in a synth. It packed in a mighty 14 synth engines that ranged from FM to granular and many more besides. This unashamedly digital synth put SONICWARE firmly on the map. Since then, they have given us their diverse LIVEN range that uses a single form factor with wildly differing engines. They’ve also caused quite a stir with their portable production sampler, the SmplTrek.

ELZ_1 PLAY

ELZ_1 PLAY · Source: Dr. Yu Endo

ELZ-1 PLAY-time

A few weeks ago, SONICWARE founder and synthesizer designer, Dr. Yu Endo, posted some teaser pics of a PCB and talked about his “personal project”. Beady-eyed synth nerds immediately speculated on a new ELZ_1. This caused quite a stir because the ELZ_1 has been out of production for some time, mostly because of chip shortages/prices. SONICWARE doubled down on the LIVEN range, which paid off massively. And now Endo-san has decided to resurrect the ELZ_1 in the form of the ELZ_1 PLAY.

Expanded ELZ_1 Features

The ELZ-1 PLAY takes the concept of the original and expands on it. Clearly stealing from the SmplTrek, the ELZ_1 PLAY now features a 4-track looper that can not only loop internal sounds but also external audio via the Line In or USB Audio. Rhythms can be created using the STK Drummer, a sample-based drum engine with 5 kits and 100 patterns. This engine is compatible with SmplTrek kits!

The keyboard has also been improved to support velocity on all keys. Speakers are built into the side panels and there are connections for 5-pin DIN MIDI, USB-C and an SD card slot for storage. Another addition is MIDI CC support. Other connections include Sync In/Out as well as Line out for audio and a headphone socket.

ELZ_1 PLAY

ELZ_1 PLAY · Source: Dr. Yu Endo

The Dr’s Journey

Because of the experimental, small-run nature of Dr. Yu’s project, he has funded the production of the first 200 units. Prospective purchasers are now invited to pre-order the unit directly. If the project takes off, Endo-san has stated that it could re-enter the official SONICWARE product line. The first 200 buyers will also have their names embedded into the credits on the machine itself! Of course, you can decline, or use a nickname.

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More Information

The ELZ-1 PLAY from Dr. Yu Endo is exclusively available from his website and will sell for $599 USD. Shipping within the USA, EU and UK is free. Units are expected to ship in order of purchase in October 2023. The first 200 users can also select an all-black version special edition!

UPDATE – July 4th 2023: A further 50 units have been made available from July 4th 2023 and are available to pre-order immediately for shipping in November 2023. All 200 units of the first run sold out in less than a week so Dr. Yu managed to negotiate an additional run of 50 units with the manufacturers due to overwhelming demand. Get in quick! Furthermore, there is a “stretch goal” should all 50 additional units sell out. The public will get to choose one of two additional features that will be added to the final units. There is a choice between a physical modelling string engine or a shimmer reverb. See the video below for details and examples.

The poll is available on Dr Yu’s homepage

ELZ_1 PLAY Special Edition

ELZ_1 PLAY Special Edition · Source: Dr. Yu Endo

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ELZ_1 PLAY

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