The Latvian-based powerhouse Erica Synths is continually pushing the boundaries of analog synthesis. Known for their deep catalog of quality modules, fx machines, and reliable sound, Erica Synths has shown us that they bring the same craftsmanship to their standalone units. The Bassline DB-01 is full of potential and today we’ll explore this stealthy desktop synth.
WHAT IS IT?
The Bassline DB-01 is Erica Synths' first standalone synthesizer. This sleek, compact, monophonic synth is an excellent selection for those looking to add some full-blown analog depth to their creations. It undoubtedly packs the signature Erica Synths sound and is full of destructive, grimy possibilities. Whether you’re after drones, basses, melody, drums, textures, percussion - the Bassline DB-01 just might end up being your new best friend.
The Erica Synths Bassline DB-01 is a complete analog sound engine with a choice of a triangle, saw, or square wave. It comes fully stocked with an easy-to-use 16-step sequencer which can be programmed to have up to 64 steps per pattern. These patterns are conveniently stored in its easily accessible 8 banks of 16 pattern memory. There are a handful of sequence manipulation options like slide, accent, last step, and transposition (single note or sequence) to add movement and expression to your pattern. If that’s not enough spontaneity for you, the Bassline also comes equipped with an impressive arpeggiator and pattern randomizer.
There is a ton of fun to be had with designing your sound in this beast. It has separate envelopes for amplitude, filter, and pitch, a robust sub-oscillator, and a noise source (that last one is great for synthesizing drum sounds). The cutoff can either be low-pass or band-pass and is modeled after Erica Synths’ Acidbox filter design which can deliver an aggressive, squelchy filter. For more of those rough, rave type sounds add some of the DB-01’s resonance, drive and/or detune to your patch and you’re there!
Resonance is resonance and does exactly what you’d expect but the drive and detune coloring tools are next level. Increase the drive pot to add grit, texture, saturation, and heavy analog rawness. From gentle, tasteful saturation to all-out analog distortion, the Bassline’s drive knob can do it all. The detune is powerful and can deliver a massive, swarming wall of sound. It does this by using two analog bucket brigade delays each with its own LFO.
When you’re ready to break all constructs of time and space look no further than the syncable LFO which offers multiple waveforms for frequency modulation and VCF manipulation. Last but not least, the Bassline DB-01 comes with your standard analog clock in and out, CV/Gate output/input, and MIDI IN and THRU which makes for endless fun with a keyboard and easy integration with any studio setup.
Most recently Erica Synths have released a firm update for the DB-10. You can download and read more about that update here.
Honestly, I fell in love with this synth right out of the box. There’s a good weight to it, feels sturdy, the knobs/pots are buttery smooth and it looks like something you’d find in a spaceship. It is extremely easy to get a useable sound and has become the most dependable synth I have in my studio. I’m impressed with the playability and expressiveness of this synth as well. I’m able to get the idea from my head into the synth quickly and correctly. Not to mention, the sound palette of the DB-01 is so versatile and fun. I’ve made countless beefy basslines as the name of the synth suggests but, more recently, I’ve used it more for percussive rhythms, leads, atmospheres/texture, FX, and shaker/hi-hat layers.
Typically when I create my basses I like a little more control of the modulation, attack, and the ability of side-chaining to the kick so it’s just quicker and more efficient to make them with VSTs inside my DAW. On the subject of DAWs, I also had a good time recording multiple instances of the DB-01 for more sampling and layering of analog madness.
Something else I found out, when I played a note in from a midi keyboard, no matter how long I held the note, the synth would playback a much shorter note. I’ve run into this on other sequencers so it wasn’t a huge shock to me. This was a choice made by Erica Synth most likely to keep the gate a steady and consistent trigger. 10% gate time will be played back. You can change the gate time on each note but that can be a little tedious and time-consuming.
I ended up routing it through a separate sequencer and sending the DB-01 midi to bypass the 10% gate-only limitation. There might be a way to bypass that but I didn’t find one. Because there are no preset saving abilities, it took me a couple of sessions to figure out how to fluidly morph the sound of the synth cohesively throughout my live sets. (check out the video below to see the DB-01 used in one of my projects) After a short time, I didn’t seem to care much that I wasn’t able to save presets because it’s so easy to hone in on a sound I can use. I would have liked for there to be dedicated attack and volume knobs to easily adjust the monstrous sound that comes out of this synth. Other than that, I think it has just about everything it needs.
I really enjoyed this synth. I learned a lot, had loads of fun, and gained some knowledge on creativity with capable and reliable analog workflow. That is why the Bassline DB-01 has become the first synth I reach for in my arsenal. Now it’s time to pair this baby with Erica Synths’ Zen Delay! I can only imagine the sonic aptitude of that pairing.
460 EUR / 558 USD