EMS Synthi


The infamous Synth A, aka ‘Portabella’, developed by David Cockerell in 1971 for Peter Zinovieff’s Electronic Music Studios, EMS.

The original A version needed a separate keyboard, the DK1 ‘Cricklewood’ ,which was also used to control the VCS3 or ‘Putney’ (the better known table top version of this synthesiser, probably on account of Pink Floyd’s Dark Side of the Moon).

Pink Floyd Dark Side of the Moon sleeve

The Radiophonic Museum’s keyboard is a prototype DK0, of which only 2 other are known to exist.

EVE BBC EMS Synthi DK 0 Cricklewood keyboard

The Synthi A became the Synthi AKS, with slightly revised patch matrix. The KS keyboard sequencer was integrated in the Spartanite case.


It also included a Presto Patch which is a very handy thing.

EMS synthi features

Much information exists on the web about these wonderful instruments which were more often than not found in laboratories, educational music facilities and experimental electronic music studios, including of course the Radiophonic Workshop.

the radiophonic workshop

Suffice to say, the Radiophonic Workshop were not alone in the iconifcation of this diminutive briefcase.  EMS themselves were the master of this art.


The Reverbatron

The Reverbatron

The Reverbatron was built by John Phillips in the 1960s from recycled radiogram parts and a tonal choice of different electric fire springs. A truly inspiring and unique invention with a wonderfully distinctive ‘spring reverb’ sound like none other I have heard.

Power for the Reverbatron is delivered by a kit built 1960s Heathkit valve amplifier.

Heathkit Thanks John!


EMS Synthi A


Perhaps the most iconic British synthesiser of all time and popular with the Radiophonic Workshop, the EMS VCS3 (‘Putney’) appeared on an unsuspecting public in 1969 with a suitcase version the Synthi A (‘Portobella’) to follow in 1971. Both were controllable by a DK1 keyboard (‘Cricklewood’).


The DK.0 was the original prototype from 1969. Only two or three are known to have been made.


The Synthi was re-designed in 1972 with a keyboard sequencer and Presto patch, the Synthi AKS.



The Radiophonic Workshop was one of the few institutions which could afford to upgrade to EMS’ top of the line laboratory system, the Synthi 100.


In time, the Delaware fell out of favour, quite possibly on account of its real estate, and was dismantled. In its place, Brian Hodgson commissioned a small but powerful modular system designed by EMS associate Ken Gale, the Wavemaker.