I had about three hours to play with the Easel Command last night. Here are some initial thoughts:
So, I may be coming at this backwards for some people here. I'm coming from Eurorack, and a large portion of my setup are modules that are Buchla style clones. Things like Verbos Complex Oscillator, Make Noise Optomix and Maths are the heart of my small system. I've also wanted an Easel ever since I've been into modular synths, but couldn't really afford that large purchase at first. My goal with getting this new Easel Command is to sub out a large portion (or hopefully all) of my eurorack. This may have been a lofty goal I'm realizing. I also am really sick of the cycle of buying and selling with eurorack, and the culture that surrounds it, and was hoping to leave the format. Its an endless source limitless possibilities that some people do enjoy, but I'm finding for me that its becoming unhealthy and its hindering creativity. My personality needs limitations I think. Lastly, I really want an instrument that's designed as a whole, not just a collection of modules. I want something that has a beautiful interface that makes me insipred to play it, that I can learn like a guitar.
With that said, here is what I think of the Easel so far... It sounds amazing. The interface is beautiful. The build quality is excellent. It does already inspire thinking about patching in a different way even in the few short hours I've spent with it. Its more intuitive than I thought it would be. The midi works great right out of the box, got it going with very little effort.
So, with that said, will this replace my eurorack? I don't know yet. I A/B-ed the Easel with the Verbos CO and Optomix combination, and honestly they sound really close. The Verbos wavefolder actually sounds warmer than the Easel, less high end. The Optomix has vactrols in it that ring slightly less than the Easel, which I slightly prefer. As far as functionality, I think if I went only Easel, I'd really miss having a dual function generator like the Maths. So, I must confess, I think my expectations of the Easel were going to be that some magical Morton Subotnick / Charles Cohen fairy dust were just going to pour out of it and I was going to instantly curse my Euro away. But honestly, its just not the case. Its really a testament to some of these Eurorack makers like Make Noise and especially Verbos to show that they really can make convincing Buchla clones in Eurorack. It makes the decision a lot harder because its making me question whether or not I should embrace a new format or not, because envitably I have to just trully embrace the limitations of the Easel, keep some of the Euro and deal with converting voltages and such (which is kind of counterintuitive to me) or eventually buy more Buchla modules, which is expensive.
This is all part of the journey I guess... Sometimes you take some turns, and they lead you on a new path, or sometimes they send you back to where you were before. May fully change my mind again later but this is where I am now.