Korg Electribe 2 Teardown

My Electribe 2 might just be my favorite piece of gear. It is now the center of my 'Battlestation'. It has allowed me to stop using my computer and rely on it to control my synths. I connect the USB from the Electribe 2 to a USB hub connected to my iConnectMIDI4+ and it can control all my synths at the same time. Just set each synth to a different channel and you are in business. 
Currently, the Electribe via the iConnectMIDI4+ controls my Eurorack (via Yarns), Prophet '08, Minibrute, MS-20 mini, and Slim Phatty. I also connected my Korg M50 keyboard to the Electribe to use as a master keyboard controller. With this setup, I can record MIDI data to the Electribe via the M50 and play it back to any of the other synths. 
The sounds in the Electribe aren't too bad, but I usually end up relying on the sounds of my other hardware synths. The only time I use all internal sounds is when I am out of the house and using the Electribe via battery power somewhere. I've taken it to the beach and had a fun time watching the waves and programming a surf rock type song. When I got home, I connected the Electribe back to my setup and ditched the internal sounds for analog sounds while still using the MIDI sequencer. All in all. I love it. 

As with the rest of my gear, I just had to pop the Electribe open incase there were some interesting patch points and for just learning about their manufacturing technique. The Electribe was quite easy to open and can be easily repairable.

The knobs come of quite easily. The back unscrews and comes off without a problem. Note that there is a screw in the battery box too. 

There are 3 PCBs in the Electribe. The one directly below is the brains of the operation. The other PCB is the control PCB with the knobs and buttons along with a small jack PCB for the 1/4" jacks.


 After removing the main 'brain' PCB, you can see that it packs a good amount of power.
The DSP used is a Blackfin by Analog Devices and packs a good amount of arithmetic power. Compared to the Sharc DSP used in Strymon gear, the Blackfin is quicker with it's functionality due to it's multiple ALUs and faster clocking (300MHz vs 50MHz), although the Sharc excels in floating point math.
The main processor is a Texas Instruments Sitara Processor (AM1802) ARM9 processor which can pack a heavy punch. The other large chip towards the top of the picture is the SK Hynix SDRAM for the TI ARM9.

 An Analog Devices Quad Buck Regulator (ADP5052) is used in the power supply section.

Flex PCB coming out from the screen connecting to the 'brain' board.

 PCB for the 1/4" jacks.

The button/knob board contains a Cypress (formerly Spansion) Cortex M3 based processor. This chip has 12 channels of 12-bit ADCs, which makes me think it handles all the sampling of the knobs and buttons so relieve the TI chip from some of it's duties.



 The screen and touch panel are definitely repairable; they are loose once you remove the button/knob board.








21 comments:

  1. This reminds me of when I was nine years old and took my imitation Speak & Spell apart. Except, I doubt you smashed the circut boards apart with a broken bit of concrete at the end.

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  2. How did you get the electribe 2 to work through the iconnectmidi4+ usb? I've tried with a powered hub and all I can do is get it to work with midi clock, it won't control my other synths.

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    Replies
    1. It never worked for me so I did the DIN MIDI connection instead.

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  3. Hey.
    Do you think it's possible to expand the memory of the electribe sampler?
    Maybe combine the two machines into one?

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  5. Is the power connector on the jack circuit board? Recently took a dive and the jack is wonky so I'd like to repair it if possible.

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    Replies
    1. Did you figure this out yet? My power supply only works if I hold it just right.. so Im assuming theres a connection issue .. just asking because Im about to dive into this project

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    2. I have just dismounted mine to clean it and once mounted when I push the power button it just stays on if I have it pressed. When i take the finger off it the power goes off :(. If i keep it some seconds it just turns off also because im pressing the button the time it needs to go off.

      I dont know what it coul be, everything its in place. :(

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    3. Hi guys,

      Did any of you fix the power input socket? Mine is also losing contact when I'm fiddling with the PS cable. Im hesitating to open or not to open it. Any suggestions? Thanks!

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    4. Im pretty sure in the last picture, you can see the power jack in the top left. If you have a soldering iron and some flux, just melt the solder on the 3 thru-hole pins of the jack to reflow it. This should fix it if the problem was loose/cracked solder joint. If the problem continues, you may need to replace it with a new jack. Just make sure its identical dimensions and jack type, can probably find one on digikey/mouser/farnell for a few $

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  6. I gave a link to your blog to my brother. He really liked the fact that you step by step explaining how to improve technique.

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  7. Hey my friend,

    I was opening my ES2 for fixing an smashed knob inside. I have successfully repaired it and when i turn it on the LED Flash behind the Screen and the Touchpad dont work. I was opening it again and checked for all cables fixed in the slots but no success here.
    greetz Friedel

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  10. Hello! So the top plastic piece comes out easy? I was thinking about opening it to make a custom (spray-painting it maybe), what do you think? should be possible, right?
    Thanks!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. That should work. Everything can be carefully removed from the plastic.

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  11. Hello,
    Brave man.
    Is there a selftest service mode for this EMX2?
    Thanks

    ReplyDelete
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  13. Thanks for opening yours up so i dont have to :D Heads up for any future people who find this article, if you are trying to fix your electribe, the first thing you should check are the electrolytic capacitors. They are the metal cans in the 8th and last pics. They are usually the first component to fail on circuit boards. You can usually tell if they've gone bad if you see bulging or black crud leaking from them. Electrolytic caps are usually thru-hole, but these are SMD so make sure to order the right ones

    ReplyDelete