MATRIXSYNTH: Tensai rhythm machine, 80s boombox with drum machine

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Tensai rhythm machine, 80s boombox with drum machine

via this auction

"This is a really odd item, can't find any info about it online!?

So what i can tell you is: it's a 1980's boombox with built in analogue drum machine!

I've recorded the output here so you can get an idea of the presets:

This device can also be used as a 2 track recorder, featuring a guitar and mic inputs.

I think this could make the basis of a really interesting circuit bend or just a super unique addition to the collection of a drum machine/ 1980's/ analogue recording enthusiast.

More photos here"

Update: some additional info via Jan:

"this boombox was also distributed in Germany under the "Lehnert" brand and was called the "Lehnert Studio-5000". My parents bought one in 1978 or 1979, I can't remember exactly. I tried to find more information about it and the company in the web a while ago, but alas no success. And my mother threw hers away some years ago…

More pics on [via this auction]

Judging from the German labeling with the correct Umlaut usage, and the more detailed description of the device's functionality on the lower left of the German front panel (compared to the English Tensai version), I assume that "Lehnert" might be the original (German? Austrian?) manufacturer.

More pics of the machine's guts: [link]

On [link] you can see the manufacturing date of the tape motor is 1977.

The 2 way speaker system sounded really nice, the rhythm section allowed pressing multiple buttons simultaneously to combine rhythms, the external input allowed to use it as an amp for my first synthesizers (Casio VL-Tone and Korg MS-20), and you could use is as a limited 2 track recorder. I had a lot of fun with it 30 years ago."


  1. Well... I bought one of these (Tensai) at great expense in the late 70's. I recall it sounded pretty ok. I found it very useful for demo-ing ideas but only if you didn't get carried away bouncing tracks. I forgot it had that rhythm machine on it which I never used. Like all such devices until proper drum machines; horrible! Unfortunately mine was stolen from our rehearsal room. I think I've only ever seen one (mine) so they must be pretty rare now! We had an Korg MS10 that rarely got used. I also had a Korg Monopoly which got burgled; found another, got it repaired, bought a midi controller & lent it to a "mate"... who then did a runner with it. I'd probably still buy a Sequential Circuits Pro One if the price was right. Fat Chance!

  2. Hi - fabulous to see this - brings back so many memories! I used to work at Richer Sounds' Hi-Surplus store In Marylebone, London, both selling kit and doing their marketing, and we had a quite large stock of Tensai CR-390
    Rhythm Machines (on sale, I think, for about £125), which we promoted via a competition in 'New Musical Express' with Stiff Records (home of Elvis Costello, Ian Dury, Madness, the Belle Stars and The Pogues, et cetera). NME readers were asked to submit their own songs, recorded on a Rhythm Machine, and I spent a day at Stiff Records in Notting Hill listening to a stack of cassettes from lucky readers (and, in an appropriate spin-off, a day in a Paddington basement recording a couple of American girls on my Portastudio).

    To quote Pierre Perrone in The Independent: “Dave Robinson, the pub-rock-manager-turned-entrepreneur…started the original British indie label in August 1976 with his business partner Jake Riviera and a £400 loan from the Dr Feelgood singer Lee Brilleaux, only to see it collapse all around him with huge debts 11 years later.” Talking about the BBC4 documentary ‘The Stiff Weekend’, he says: “It was good but, at the end, they got their figures wrong. They mention this very large figure - £3.5m - and they said it came from a newspaper article, but the figure we owed was more like £1.4m. And I was the biggest creditor,” claims the buccaneering Robinson, who always kept a baseball bat by his desk, and not just for show.

    "Anyway, that's just a small thing. I thought I got treated pretty good. It's always a pain in the arse when somebody's doing a documentary about work you did," he adds. At least Robinson was a consultant on the project, and agreed to be filmed either at the race track or at the helm of a boat on the Thames. "It was the BBC's idea but I thought it was better than sitting in the pub," he explains.

    Of course, pub-rock is where it all came from for Robinson, a former tour manager for Jimi Hendrix and for the Animals who went on to look after Brinsley Schwarz in the early Seventies. “All the raw material from Stiff came from the pub circuit and the studio at the Hope & Anchor,” he recalls. "I did have a bit of a masterplan and a list of people we wanted to sign: Ian Dury, Elvis Costello, or rather Declan McManus as he was then, Mickey Jupp, who we eventually signed, and Nick Lowe kind of came with Jake. We were putting together what I consider to be the best songwriters of the period.”

    I don’t know about the subsequent fortunes of our competition winners, but I remember the Tensai ghetto blaster very fondly and would love to get my hands on one again!

    Thanks - Mike Lethby

  3. You can likewise supplant the cymbals and bass drum petals to redesign your drum drum set under 1000


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