Zoë Blade's notebook


Syncussion-1 tech specs

The Syncussion-1 was a drum synthesiser made by Pearl, consisting of two main parts: a pair of drums, the Syncussion CU-1, connected to the pair of drum synthesisers themselves, the Syncussion SY-1.

The two drums could be mounted onto a regular kit (it was made by Pearl, after all), and connected to a pair of velocity-sensitive trigger inputs on the two synthesisers.

The synthesisers themselves are very versatile, capable of doing pretty much everything you might conceivably want a drum sound to do — sweeping its pitch up or down at a speed and depth of your choosing, with LFO modulation, two oscillators each that can interact to make various inharmonic clangs, and noise, all available in various different combinations and permutations.

Considering this was only a brief foray into electronics for Pearl, it's surprisingly well thought out. Velocity sensitivity in a pre-MIDI synthesiser is especially impressive. Perhaps having a drummer-centric rather than engineer-centric approach paid off.


I used to use Syncussion units a hell of a lot on my really early stuff, triggering them straight off the audio outs of a drum machine. You can get some really nasty sounds out of them, like the old disco "pow-pow" sounds.

— Martin Price, 808 State, 1989[1]


The trigger signal is analogue, effectively combining a digital trigger and analogue velocity control voltage together into a single signal. (This makes sense given the context of being triggered by the sound of hitting a physical drum, something that would later be explored digitally by Akai with their ASK90 and ME35T.)

If you want to control a Syncussion SY-1 via a regular separate pair of trigger and velocity CV signals, you can simply use a VCA to merge them together.

Notable users


  1. "The State of Technology" Simon Trask, Music Technology, Nov 1989, pp. 54—60
  2. "The Waxen Pith" Aphex Twin, ...I Care Because You Do, 1995
  3. "Pearls" Richard James, Jan 2015
  4. "Metal, Machines & Music" Phil Ward, Music Technology, Oct 1992, pp. 80—84
  5. "Metallurgy" Derek Johnson, Sound On Sound, Nov 1992, pp. 54—60
  6. "Double Take" Tony Reed, Electronic Soundmaker & Computer Music, Jan 1985, pp. 14—15
  7. "Reggae Rundown" Richard Walmsley, Electronic Soundmaker & Computer Music, Dec 1984, pp. 31—33



Drum synthesisers: Concussor | DrumStation | Syncussion-1

Pearl: Syncussion-1