Elta KE-3, Angeltone DM-200 (analogue squarewave keyboard with accompaniment but no rhythm)

Elta KE-3

Elta, Germany
This small beginners/ toy keyboard is something really bizarre, because it has 8 nice accompaniments with even arpeggio, but no rhythm(!). Its warm squarewave sound and technology resemble very much the Angeltone DM-380/ Fujitone 3-A. (see there) although it has less features. It has also 8 nice demo melodies. Unfortunately at least in unmodified state a keyboard matrix flaw prevents to play certain notes simultaneously despite it is 2 note polyphonic, and volume is too loud and can not be set reasonable low.

On the box is still a tag showing that the German initial retail price was 89DM (about 40€), and the keyboard picture on the box has a crossed out brand label "ANGELTONE", which apparently was the genuine manufacturer of this small tablehooter. It was also released as Fujiyama 230 (by "Japan Design"?, seen on eBay).

crossed- out Angeltone logo on the box photo

main features:

Elta Art.-Nr. KE-3



This strange instrument seems to be a simplified variant of the Angeltone DM-380 hardware and has no analogue percussion section anymore to reduce cost. Like the similar HBATEC it has a Zilog brand CPU, but this CPU resembles more the Angeltone one since it has 40 pins (HBATEC has 28), no organ chord mode and supports a 2nd arpeggio button. But unlike both, it does not support 16 rhythms nor a fingered chord mode in the keyboard matrix (although in supports 49 keys). I also found no separate output pins to connect analogue percussion, thus either this CPU was never designed to have them, or they are multiplexed with the key matrix output lines. Unlike the Angeltone DM-380 and HBATEC, when "rhythm" is started, the accompaniment does not stay silent when the "fingered" button of the "auto bass chord" panel section is not pressed (by the lack of rhythm otherwise it wouldn't play anything); instead it always plays a fixed key accompaniment while all keys play the main voice, which also hints that this CPU was likely never intended to have real rhythm. When "fingered" is enabled, the left keyboard section is in single finger chord mode (only accompaniment, no organ chords); after selecting a chord, you can switch it "off" again to use the full keyboard for melody play together with that chord, but the arpeggio still works only while "fingered" is enabled, which looks like a design flaw. Another bug is that with "rhythm" off and "fingered" enabled, the main voice stays monophonic despite there is no organ chord mode and thus all keys play only the melody voice.
Despite there is no analogue percussion, the small PCB of the Elta KE-3 still contains a lot of discrete components (analogue envelope controls, auto power- off etc.). Extremely bizarre is that this PCB (labelled "S2312, 9012  2002" and "TC370   91 2 5") has white component placement marks printed on its top, but a lot of components are soldered at totally different places those contradict to the marks (e.g. a transistor is where a capacitor should go and vice versa etc.). I never saw such a messed up PCB elsewhere in a consumer product; I can only imagine that this thing was either a prototype or a new CPU was released that had a changed pinout and thus the poor factory pieceworkers were urged to solder the discrete components differently to adapt the given PCB to it (it must be badly confusing to assemble such PCBs). E.g. there was a shorted solder joint that looked like a fault, but when cut open, the envelope of the 2nd main voice (or the arpeggio) plays too short, thus it was likely intended to be shorted and I had to solder it back.

A design flaw in the keyboard matrix prevented to play any 2 note combinations those share the same key matrix row. To fix this, solder a diode into each matrix input line of the keyboard PCB (ribbon cable). The instrument also plays always quite loud and even at the lowest setting it is still loud enough to annoy neighbours tonight (although at least the speakers sound nicely warm and don't distort). To reduce the volume, solder a 10 Ohm resistor into the loudspeaker line.

Generally the Elta KE-3 sounds much like the Angeltone DM-380/ Fujitone 3-A. (see there); the only main differences are the digital volume and power buttons (with auto power- off), the 64 step resolution tempo control (most steps are in the slow range) and the simple sequencer (monophonic record/ playback with fixed key accompaniment, no edit). It also features many nice sounding squarewave demo melodies, those play in an endless sequence but the start melody can be selected by pressing its corresponding piano key together with the "demo" button. All demos use a monophonic main voice with only the standard accompaniment and arpeggio, but they switch them in nice ways. Names were partly identified by the Angeltone DM-200 manual, but there they are in a different order and some names seem to be different (possibly Chinese names of well known melodies).

The demo melodies are:

  1. Oh La Paloma Blanca
  2. Night in Moscow Suburb
  3. Music Box Dancer  (here called "The Concert"?)
  4. Tea- Picking Melody (a Chinese tune)
  5. Edelweis (slow waltz)
  6. Wa Haha (a Russian tune?)
  7. For Elise (here called "The Youngman"?)

Angeltone DM-200

Angeltone DM-200 - electronic keyboard

This is another keyboard based on the same hardware class. Unlike the Elta KE-3, it has matrix diodes and thus no polyphony flaw.

different main features:

panel PCB has empty solder holes Angeltone, model: DM-200, made in China
ANGELTONEThe golden "ANGELTONE" logo sticker on the case is made of hologram foil. The main PCB (labelled "S2011") is less messed up and not hacked together; there are only a few omitted discrete components printed on it. The manual is a mess of Engrish misspellings, and its German translation is even worse. The speaker of my (used) specimen was bent and distorted horribly; after manually aligning the diaphragm it now sounds fairly ok.
 removal of these screws voids warranty...    
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