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EMS Synthi Hi-Fli (HiFli)

EMS Synthi Hi-Fli (HiFli)

Brand: EMS

Regular price £7,080.00 GBP | Inc.VAT: £8,496.00 GBP
Regular price Sale price £7,080.00 GBP
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Product Description

EMS Synthi Hi-Fli for sale.

UPDATE: This is now back with us, fully serviced by an EMS Specialist and with a new set of pedals.


Why Hi-Fli?

Number one in Analogman Tom's list of rare guitar effects from his excellent book.

Features heavily in Tony's Monster Mutilators Article for Premier Guitar.

Used by David Gilmour - see this Gilmourish blog for further details - he bought a prototype in 1972 and from what he recalls it was “very, very expensive”; Gilmourish suggest it was used during the recording of Dark Side Of The Moon though DG's long time tech, Phil Taylor, told us he thinks it wasn't.

In a way it is immaterial whether or not it was used on DSOTM: the Hi-Fli is your route to creating Gilmour style sounds and effects - nothing else sounds quite like it. I'd keep mine just for the two phaser and three vocal wah settings called Waa, Waw and Meow. And it's not just for guitarists - running keys/synths and drum machines through it can be a shortcut to vintage sonic nirvana.

Designed by David Cockerell in 1971 for EMS: with only 350 units originally produced, the Hi-Fli was actually referred to as a synthesizer in the original ad, but it’s basically an analog multi-effect processor, which can be used on vocals, guitars, organs, synths etc. It has two footpedals, which could be routed as control voltages/expression pedal to any of the slider functions. It’s got no memory to bank up settings, – everything is in real-time, so one had to manually tweak the sliders for each tone change. You'll suddenly hit upon an amazing combination while tweaking the knobs - be sure to hit record as repeating it can prove elusive.

Product photos include a shot of David in his home studio in 1972 with a prototype of the Hi-Fli.

HiFli Controls:

Top Boost: Provides up to 30 db treble boost.

Octave Shift: Drops the pitch by an octave.

Buzz Switch: Adds high frequencies overtones to the sub-octave signal.

Ring Mod: Produce an octave higher when a single note is played and the typical ring modulation when two or more strings are played.

Decay Rate: A rotary control controls the decay time of the ring mod and octave shift signal level.

Sustain Fuzz: Special circuits detect the beginning and end of each note and apply upper harmonics.

Attack Rate: A rotary control varies the rise time of Sustained Fuzz signal. Notes can be sustained even though the original signal has dropped by more than 20db.

Pedal Switches: The switches under the sliders combine the pedal control with the manual sliders. Selections of switches with pre-set slider positions enable the pedal to change treatments instantly.

Solo/Strum: This switch alters the Hi-Fli’s sensitivity to signal attacks and should be set to more sensitive for single notes (i.e solo).

Bypass Mix Fader: This central slider controls the mix of the original and treated sound. In the high position only the input pre-amplifier is in-circuit. The bypass footswitch gives instant access to this position. The output from the Octave shitft, Ring Modulator and Fuzz Sustain sections are re-combined and go to the phase filter and modulator section.

Control Modulation Selector: 6 position control knob.

Treatment Selector: There are six distinct modes of operation – Vibrato, two modes of Phasing, normal WAA-WAA (1 resonant peak), WAW-WAW (six resonant peaks) a completely new sound, and finally MEOW (two sets of three resonant peaks moving in oppisite directions.

Modulation Speed: This slider operates in the first 4 positions of the control modulation selector, providing a fine frequency control.
Modulation Ramp Time: Operates in positions 3 to 6 of the conrol modulation selector.

Modulation Depth: Controls the depth of the Phaser.

Frequency shift: This controls the frequency domain in which the modulation waveform operates, being central for symmetrical modulation.

L.E.D selectors: Two light emitting diodes show the movement of the modulation waveform.


For more Hi-Fli:,

“AnalogMan’s Guide to Vintage Effects” by Tom Hughes

and the David Gilmour Gear Forum.


In very good cosmetic condition with minor scratches on the face. The case is very good with some dings and signs of wear. Please see photos or get in touch if you require more information. Will ship with custom control pedals.

Voltage Information

220/240v unit. A step-up transformer will be required for use on 110/120v supplies. Please ask if you need advice on what to use. We do not recommend using cheap, generic Chinese mains transformers.


For sales in UK the price will include 20% VAT. Buyers elsewhere may incur VAT or other local taxes on import.

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