While we don’t tend to feature all that many full-on drum machines around here, the Erica Synths Perkons HD-01 is just so powerful and interesting I had to give it some air time. After spending more than a few weeks hands-on with the hybrid digital-analog sound maker, it was immediately clear that it sets itself apart from much of the competition in many ways while still providing content-creators, beat-makers, and home producers with a particularly powerful workhorse that’s so much more than just a drum machine. Head below for our impressions of the Erica Synths Perkons HD-01 as part of the latest Tested with 9to5Toys feature.
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Hands-on with the Erica Synths Perkons HD-01
The Erica Synths Perkons HD-01 is described by its creators as a “live performance and sound design instrument that tears down the borders between drum machine, synthesizer, and drone instrument.” And after going hands-on for a few weeks here, I ardently agree.
This is a combination digital and analog drum machine/synthesizer that provides content creators, beat makers, and home music producers with what feels to me like an endless array of sonic possibilities and rhythmic potential. Whether you’re developing your next electronic album or creating a theme for your next podcast, writing songs for a film project, or Djing at a local club, the Perkons HD-01 is a force to be reckoned with.
Not only does it integrate flawlessly with other external hardware synths and sound makers, but it also provides an all-in-one song, beat, and sonic creation device with four distinct and versatile voices (from pounding kick drums and trap bass sounds to industrial hi-hats, minimalist melodies, and so much more) alongside a master compressor and a BBD echo emulation unit. One of the more powerful and customizable sequencers for creating your own beats and patterns included, it features just about everything you can ask for in a piece of hardware for creating drums, bass lines, odd percussion parts, and melodic motifs that will prompt your friends and collaborators to say, “How did you do that?”
Here’s a closer look at the spec sheet:
- 4 hybrid voices (digital sound engine and analogue multimode filter with overdrive)
- 8 controls per voice
- External trigger inputs for each voice
- Individual voice outputs
- Individual FX sends and returns
- Master FX send and return
- 64 kit and 64 pattern memory + additional memory on the SD card
- Built-in BBD emulation and a compressor
- Modulation LFO with morphing waveforms; up to 8 modulation destinations per voice
- 4 track sequencer, 4 time divisions and 4 time multiplications per track
- Per-step ratchets and probabilities
- Shuffle & groove settings for each track
- MIDI IN and MIDI OUT
Content creators and music producers looking for a powerful, beat-making beast of a drum machine will definitely want to take a closer look at the Erica Synths Perkons HD-01. A hardcore music production tool like this doesn’t often makes its way on to 9to5Toys just because it’s on the more pricey side and is specifically tailored towards creatives and live performers that are making music. But the Perkons HD-01 is such a versatile and brilliant creative machine, I just had to give it some shine for our reader base. Whether you’re looking for something for yourself or know some folks on the hunt for a new drum machine, you don’t want to sleep on the Perkons HD-01.
Featuring a combination of digital and analog sound shaping tools, as well as a particularly powerful and versatile sequencer to program your own custom beats, it is easily one of the best I’ve had the pleasure of testing out, owning, or using on recordings over the last 15+ years.
It delivers the warmth and thumping power of a vintage, purely analog solution with the creativity and modernity digital software variants bring to the table. While the four sound sources might seem limiting compared to some of the more recent releases from brands like Arturia that deliver eight or more sounds simultaneously, each of the four voices on HD-01 feature three distinct algorithms that deliver drastically different tones further enhanced by three modes for each and a pair of parameter adjustments for each – by my modest count, its really more like 36+ sounds. While you can only technically program four sounds or voices at a time, with the plethora of adjustments you can make on a step-by-step basis (each note or hit in your pattern/sequence), the sonic possibilities running at any given time are near endless if you ask me. It can go from a traditional banging analog-sounding drum machine to an experimental soundscape/drone synth with what can feel like no drum sounds at all (or something entirely in between) to being able to run an entire house/avant-garde DJ set worth of beats and bass lines with no computer or DAW needed.
Some hardware synths, drum machines, and sound makers that fall into more traditional and (arguably practical) pop-focused music production styles can feel creatively shallow for me, despite being fun and quite useful. But the Perkons HD-01 is so much more. It’s the kind of musical instrument that you could spend weeks, months, or even years unfolding all of the layers and possibilities within, exploring its sonic potential time and time again, which, as far as I’m concerned, makes for a far more intelligent investment. Sometimes when you spend upwards of $500 on a synth or drum machine you can feel like you have experienced everything it can do in a single Saturday afternoon, which is fine, but the Perkons is a creative sonic gift that keeps on giving with every 5-hour session I put in revealing another layer of its potential.
Not only does it provide all of the staple elements a good drum machine/sequencer should – multimode filters, drive/saturation, ratchet steps, time division, parameter locks/per-step modulation, and variable play modes – but it also plays nice with an expanded set of gear with the ability to be triggered by external sound makers and drum pads/electronic drum sets, not to mention send and return I/O to apply external FX units and pedals (and that’s on each of the four voices individually, too).
To put it bluntly and direct, the Perkons HD-01 is a beast of a drum machine/sound maker that happens to be worth every penny of, what will be to some, its pricey $2,095 cost of admission and one that supports years of sonic exploration.
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