The ‘Ekvodin’ Andrei Volodin, Russia, 1937

The Ekvodin was a pioneering electronic synthesiser designed by the Russian engineer Andrei Volodin with Kovalski Konstantin and Yevgeny Murzin (later to invent the ANS synthesiser). The first versions of the Ekvodin were home-built experimental models that eventually became successful commercial keyboard instruments, used extensively in Russia throughout the 1940’s until the 1950’s. The Ekvodin won gold medals at the 1958 World Fair in Brussels and the Exhibition of Achievements of the National Economy in Moscow. By the 1970s, Andrei Volodin was teaching musical acoustics and sound synthesis at the Moscow State Conservatory, continuing research and development of the Ekvodin synthesizer and a new polyphonic instrument that was never finished.

Andrei Volodin playing an early model of the Ekvodin
Andrei Volodin playing an early model of the Ekvodin

The instrument was controlled via a six and a half octave, velocity sensitive keyboard which allowed the player to add vibrato by applying sideways movement to the key, plus a foot controlled volume pedal was included to add expression. Sound was generated from vacuum tubes and passed through a number of pre-set filter banks and octave dividers that could be combined to a total of 660 settings. the Ekvodin “was capable of imitating almost any symphony orchestra instrument, including percussion”

Ekvodin Diagram
Ekvodin Diagram

“We give musicians throughout the world a unique opportunity to breathe new life into their emotional art. Ekvodin – a musical instrument that’s perfect for orchestra and ensemble, and solos with piano accompaniment. The keyboard of this instrument is literally capable of singing glamorous melodies to fill every home. Any modern composer is pleasantly surprised when he discovered that Ekvodin is capable of producing a wide range of musical timbres with an extraordinary clarity and purity of sound. Performers, conductors and teachers will be fully satisfied with the outstanding expressive possibilities. Ekvodin opens truly cosmic prospects for every musician. Developed and manufactured in the USSR. ”

Ekvodin Advertising

Ekvodin B9 1950's Model
Ekvodin B9 1950’s Model


2 thoughts on “The ‘Ekvodin’ Andrei Volodin, Russia, 1937”

  1. Hello,

    Recently I have come into the possession of a demonstration record for the Ekvodin, specifically the V-9 model, on a 10″ 33 rpm record from 1960. Side A is a demonstration of the ability of the Ekvodin to emulate many instruments with piano accompaniment (it does incredibly well with woodwinds; the oboe, bassoon and duduk must be heard to be believed), and Side B is music of Russian composers performed by an Ekvodin quartet. I believe it is a very good showcase of the instrument, and helps appreciate Mescherin orchestra’s mastery of it. I have done what I can to reduce distortion while transferring it to digital, and uploaded it to YouTube:

    I hope this is illustrative of the amazing achievement of Andrei Volodin.

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