Knüttel/Tangerine Dream EPU (Electronic Percussion Unit)

Updated: 2004-04-13

I guess this is the most famous piece I have in my studio as well as the piece that's been on the road the most. The knüttel EPU was originally designed in 1976 by Franz Knüttel who made this and other electronic instruments and controllers for legendary german band Tangerine Dream. There is only on e EPU around and this used to belong to Chris Franke. I bought it as non-working on Ebay but to my big surprise it did work still after almost 30 years! I switched an IC and with the help from a friend I converted it to accept +5 volts trig and not just the +15 it wanted originally.

The sound is very cheesy and what first comes to my mind is the TR-606 from Roland. And like that one its sounds cannot be manipulated either without the use of external effects. The channels has separate inputs (both 3,5 and 6,3 mm jacks) and outputs as well as stereo master out. Each channel has pan and volume knob.

The different "voices" are (left to right); large cymbal, medium cymbal, small cymbal, snare, cowbell, hi tom, low tom and bass drum. I have a live picture of Chris Franke that I think is early 80's and there it is visible in the rack behind him. Many have made fun of Tangerine Dream 'cause they used to travel around with these huge racks with no patch cords visible. On the back there is some TD-standardized jacks which has been there from the start and which consists of two midi-looking DIN-sockets where the middle pin is ground and the rest are four channels per socket. It may explain the reason for not using patch cords, though I think there was some truth in those rumours too! ;)

The downside to the EPU is that it's noisy as hell and the output volume is really low but put through some nice amplification there are good stuff here and just seeing the text "made for Tangerine Dream" on the front is good for creativity in the studio! ;) If there is one period in their entire history that I really like, then it's the late 70's!

Knüttel/Tangerine Dream EPU specifications; 

Rack size 19", 3U
Channels 8, large cymbal, medium cymbal, small cymbal, snare, cowbell, hi tom, low tom and bass drum.
Noise you bet, but unintentionally! ;)
Filter Yes, some sort of filtering is there, but it's uncontrollable and I haven't dug that deep!
Triggering +15 volts (with modification to accept +5 volts from the sockets on the back)
LFO nope
Connections 2x trig in/channel, audio out/channel, master out left, master out right, 2x 5-DIN trig on the back.
Housing steel
Dimensions 482 x 287 x 134 mm
Weight ??? kg, not that bad though
Released 1977
Quantity produced 1
Pros Historical, rare, unique. 
Cons Ugly, limited, noisy.
Price? (bargain,
fair, horrible)
Let the collectors come up with an idea! And yes, I would sell at the right price.

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