Mordax DATA updates from NAMM 2017

CURVES CURVES CURVES (sing that like Girls Girls Girls by Motley Crew) … Lissajous CURVES CURVES CURVES ūüôā No I’ve not lost my mind, fallen into a glam rock state of trance or decided I need a huge bass drum for my kit a’la Tommy Lee.

I am however excited for the new firmware update in the Mordax Data scope. There’s Lissajous curves which take two inputs to create an X and Y waveform which looks killer on the DATA. It was dying for this mode from the start in my mind, synthesists love curves don’t you know!

The oscillator section now features both clipping and wavefolding. That’s right, an oscilloscope that’s also a dual oscillator that you can modulate, 1v/oct control and also modulate the amplitude with internal DCAs (digital VCAs). It also makes for a killer clock and rhythm generating source. It could already do these things but it’s worth mentioning as I’m not sure everyone has realised. For more on the DATA watch out for my article and tutorial in magazine and video with Future Music Magazine. Check out the video below to Brandon from Mordax walking through the new features with Analogue Zone.

Erica Synths Fusion Box at NAMM 2017

I’ve already posted some things up regarding Erica Synths at NAMM 2017 but here’s a new desktop unit based on the Fusion Tube series modules. It’s a desktop delay unit called the “Fusion Box” which is a standalone version of the Fusion Delay / Flanger Vintage Ensemble module. It’s got a tube/valve (shiny glass thing!), two BBD delay chips, feedback, mix, on board modulation, overdrive, input level, input boost for guitar or line level round the back and stereo output from a mono input. They’ve also made a footswitch for the bypass if you want this on a pedal board. Here’s a video from Sonic State with Girts going through the unit.

For those wanting more here’s the video from Analogue Zone too.

 

Eventide knee deep in Eurorack at NAMM 2017

Click bait stupid title – check, shock and awe at Eventide entering eurorack … erm … not really for me. And to be fair we’re more tip toeing into a swimming pool that knee deep ūüôā but that’s not to say I’m being negative about it.

Ok I’m not surprised as I think a lot of people may be about Eventide entering eurorack. Larger companies entering the market to experiment and test the market with single module releases that port over their technologies into the format seems like an easy exercise for a bigger companies.

We saw Strymon (granted not as large) announce the Generalissimo last year then pull it (they did tell me recently they were making good progress with eurorack though, so we’ll see where that leads). As well as progress on this.

Anyway onto the Eventide delay. The only place I’ve seen this is in a picture from Richard Devine’s Instagram Feed, so hopefully Sonic State and the like will make it over to get some video before the NAMM show ends. If I find anything else out and or see video I’ll go back and update the thread.

Working through the panel with have the audio in and out with level control along with a send and return in and out. There’s then drive control, tap tempo, multiply (tempo divisions and multiplications I imagine) infinite feedback, on and off (not something we see in modular often but something obvious for say guitar pedals), active (not sure how that’s different to on and off) and a kill (again similar to on and active maybe). Knobs are for delay (on a push encoder) with a low pass filter, feedback and mix control. CV is over feedback, mix, delay, LPF (low pass frequency) and delay multiplication. There’s trigger ins for infinite feedback/hold, kill and active as well as a clock input and output.

I’m sure it will sound great and hopefully take to modulation that you can really push to make it well worth while in your case. As I said above I’ll update this if/when we see more information.

Hexinverter Mutant Rimshot & VCNO at NAMM 2017

Stacy at Hexinverter, bright eyed and bushy tailed as always has graced the NAMM show floor with his presence (no hay bails full of screaming rubber chickens and allergic reactions a’la Knobcon this time) and brought along two new modules. The Mutant Rimshot and the VCNO.

God I love the Mutant artwork, it’s done by Hannes from Papernoise who you can find interview with right HERE (click it, go on you know you want to). The arms turn drum sticks in the design reminded me of the Squarepusher x Z Machines and the Aphex Twin and Chris Cunningham Monkey Drummer.

The Mutant Rimshot is the new 8hp (I hope we get more 8hp Mutants too) Rimshot and Clave module that features a switch to move between high and low rimshots or clave based sounds. You have a pitch control and modulation decay with can go to the on board multimode filter with an attenuverter to control the modulation. Filter modes are on a switch for LP, BP and HP and as well as trigger and accent inputs you get CV over the pitch and filter cut off as well as a separate input for the filter. As you can see in the video demo released by Hexinverter you can use other sounds and mix those with the on board percussion. The NAMM show videos again are by Analogue Zone.

Following the Mutant Rim Shot is the VCNO which is a voltage controlled noise oscillator. No-one has said it yet but it looks like an expansion / update of the vcNOIZ module from Hexinverter which was a more basic clocked noise module. The VCNO¬†uses a pseudo random pattern of bits to generate what sounds like white noise at the highest frequency, but turning down the pitch brings in those downsampled lower clock rate noises you’ll be familiar with from explosion sounds in old Atari games. You get a screech output which is more … screechy … and then there’s the main white noise output, a tear output and the sizzle output. The sizzle is more suited to vinyl crackle kind of tones where you get an additional sizzle control as well as pitch. These sort of noise modules are perfect for a range of things within your patching. From making drum sounds, to noise beds through FX right through input for random modules and modulating oscillators and filters. You can get bacon frying sounds modulating a highly resonant filter with a high cut off and noise modulation for example. Modulating an oscillator may seem odd as full signal modulation would just be noisy and not that useful for a lot of applications but if you heavily and I mean heavily attenuate that into a linear FM input you can get some sort of jitter and movement that makes patches feel alive and full of character. Well worth checking out.

 

Make Noise Morphagene at NAMM 2017

The Morphagene is the latest collaboration module between soundhack / Tom Erbe and Make Noise and is “microsound and tape music module that’s designed to capture,¬†regenerate and process sounds from both inside and outside your modular system”. It’s a stereo in/out module and works on the idea of tape reels. Each audio file¬†is called a reel and multiple reels can store on SD cards. Each reel can be up to 87 seconds long, splices can be up to 87 long and it can have up to 99 slices per reel. Additionally you have genes (like the Phonogene) that can be used for small grains for granular processing.

Tony from Make Noise has been introducing the module with Time Lag Accumulator. Time Lag Accumulator literally means Time Delay Memory. This was first used by an unknown engineer on Terry Riley’s 1963 recordings for Music for Poison¬†in Paris. It’s based on using two tape recorders for delay and feedback. Here’s a great quote about it from an interview with Terry Riley

“The accumulation technique had not been done yet. I was working in Mescaline Mix. I wanted this kind of long, repeated loop and I said, ‘can you create something like that?’ He got it by stringing the tape between two tape recorders and feeding the signal from the second machine back to the first to recycle along with the new incoming signals. By varying the intensity of the feedback you were able to form the sound into a single image without any delay. I enjoy the interplay between the two extremes. This is the first time I have been able to do this. It took me a while before I could afford to buy two good tape recorders to run this process in my own studio. “

Enough about the Time Lag Accumulator (go check that out more yourselves) and onto the Morphagene again. It looks like there’s CV over every parameter, it’s coming around March and is in manufacturing now. There’s more details from Walker Farrell (who works with Make Noise, you’ll recognise his voice from their own videos) in the second video posted below. Both videos are from Analogue Zone, who were awesome when I saw them in Budapest over summer.

Qu-Bit new modules at NAMM 2017

On all accounts it looks like Qu-Bit Electronix have absolutely smashed it for NAMM. 4 new modules covering envelopes, mixing, random and filtering. I’ll be posting updates about NAMM (I’m not there) with my personal spin on what we’re seeing. So strap in for blog posts a plenty! Click images to zoom in.¬†

Lets start with Chance the new random module. It has 9 outputs including white and digital noise (no sign of that rate controlled by anything), random gate, random ‘in time’ rhythms, clock out (also takes clock in) and 4 random voltage outputs. Smooth (ramps between values), discrete (stepped), wavetables (random shifts between in time sine, ramp and triangle waves) and the blend out (can shift and random mix the the first 3 cv outs). It’s looking great, and if it’s anything like a big brother to the already awesome nano rand then this will be fantastic! It’s 14hp and also has a freeze knob to control freeze and hold its current state.

Next up we’ve got Tone … now NOT that holy pilgrimage guitarist trek through hundreds of pedals, stringS, cabling and amps combos to find … it’s a new quad filter! This looks very “Mutable” to me in design, not judging just popped out that way, clean, symmetrical, those knobs etc. Anyway, it’s four 24dB per octave low pass and band pass filters with input for audio (duh liiiiiiike¬†obviously!) and frequency CV with attenuator¬†with knobs for CV depth, cut off and resonance and a LP and BP output per channel. It’s a cascade OTA design providing a “warm, buttery character” that looks like it would be great next to samplers / mixers and drums to me. Multiple filters for left and right stereo imagining or mono sub mixes of drums before hitting a final mixer would be a breeze. It’s 18hp for those shaping up space case to squeeze one in.

Third up is Contour which is a quad attack / decay generator with a few tricks up its sleeve. There’s a trigger in and cv inputs for both attack and decay. The output has an attenuverter for inversion and scaling of the output which is a nice addition as plenty of modules don’t have CV input controls. The envelopes can loop and change between linear and exponential as well as link channels. The channel linking is the unique part as you hold the loop control for 3 seconds then click the next channel (these flash and you can pick any, in any order) which will trigger the linked channel at the end of cycle from the first. Pretty cool! It comes in at 20hp and is due to ship at the end of this month. Others ship in coming months.

Finally we’ve got Mixology. We saw this last year with the old design Qu-Bit were using with slightly different features, so it’s good to see its new look and features. It’s a four channel “output/performance” style mixer with panning and a single send as well as solo, mute, output meter and CV over level, pan and send. It certainly fleshes out the new look Qu-Bit range well and is slightly larger than before at 28hp, offering a more ergonomic layout.

The¬†Analogue Zone videos (as with other event coverage) are great so far and here’s one with Andrew from Qu-Bit going through the modules.

 

Erica Synths NAMM 2017 announcements

 

If you like Erica Synths and haven’t seen, click HERE to check out an interview with them. Also click images for details.

Erica must work non stop working up their ranges of systems, re working and re designing classics and constantly keepings things flying forward. There’s often multiple releases together (PICO was 13 modules at once I think … crazy!). So it’s no surprise they’re releasing and announcing a slew of modules and updates at NAMM 2017.

First up is the re designed Polivoks DIY line up. With many innovations and improvements on the original soviet Polivoks designs.

There’s also the previously announced Fusion system which uses tubes/valves/glowing glass things (call them what you will!) in the signal path. While I haven’t played on the full system the previous version one Fusion modules and the new Vintage Delay Ensemble is killer.

There’s also a new filter core with a new chip designed and manfactured for Erica Synths by RPAR¬†Alfa. It’s a 12 octave, exponential tracking, resonance modulating, multimode VCF which is similar to a CEM3320 with improved characteristics. Nice to see them pushing technologies, looking at the specs on the image I’m starting to picture one hell of a filter on the cards when they get the module sorted.

There’s also the new Black Octasource (with new video below), version 2 stereo mixer and PFL Expander (my video below), MIDI to clock (or clock to MIDI) and a new XFADE module.

 

(via Audio News Room and Matrix Synth)

Doepfer Press Release for NAMM 2017

¬†Hold up … just wanted to start by saying I’ve just seen these¬†images over on Matrix Synth¬†and I wanted to share them here too with my own babble.

Doepfer have released their press release for the 2017 NAMM show and it’s full of goodies into a new programmable octal programmable switch, new small low cost case (single row or 48HP), CV input module and quad envelope follower to go with the performance mixer, more black “vintage” series A-100 modules and a new Trapezoid oscillator. I’m looking forward to seeing some coverage of these from NAMM in the next few days.

What are some of your favourite Doepfer modules? Get in touch and let me know, A-189-1 Bit Modifier is high on my list.

Click the images for details! 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Interview – BASTL Instruments

This interview is from issue 15 of DivKid’s Month Of Modular from December 2016.

Hey V√°clav, good to be speaking you and asking some questions for the magazine. First can you tell us about about your own background?

We started the company together with OndŇôej and we played in a band together but also went to art school together. So basically the background is art and music. The good thing about art school was that I had a lot of time to learn how to do electronics and programing and from doing video-synthesizers and mechanical installations I shifted to making synthesizer, because I really needed to focus my energy towards music.

What made you start designing modules and launch the company BASTL?

At first we started a project called Standuino (est. 2011) which was focused on the local history of DIY movement in contrast with the global trends that came with the maker movement. The name itself connected the Arduino (prototyping platform) and a name of our hero Standa Filip – a local guy that was making synths, drum machines, theremins and electric guitars since late 70s. With the Standuino project we have been doing workshops, art exhibitions and concerts all around Europe, but at the workshops we were building synths anyway. So at first the idea was to make workshops and art but then we came to the point: ‚ÄúHey! we are actually making synths and people want to buy them?!‚ÄĚ we decided to start from scratch and make a real company – Bastl Instruments.

Eurorack was actually the format of choice for my diploma project in which i wanted to translate physical events into simple language (control voltage obviously) with sensors, and than i wanted to influence the physical environment with the same language – motor controllers. I build a rack with bunch of modules to demonstrate that you can use modular environment to reconfigure physical ecosystems. And of course some of the modules were making sound as well.

Your line of modules has grown quickly. Was building full systems a goal at the start?

Well I always wanted to create complete musical instrument/environment for myself. It took a long time between I started to turn circuits into modules and the time when we were ready with the panels, knobs, graphics, manuals and everything else. So it piled up and then we released 10 modules at once and it appeared to work as a complete system already. Also the motivation behind making the modules in the first place was that I had a lot of friends here in Czech republic that wanted to build that stuff also, but couldn’t afford to buy it. And we all needed all the basic modules, like mixers etc.

We can’t have an interview without me asking about the wooden panels, what made you choose wooden panels?

So the story is that we have a CNC machine in the house that we use for several other projects and when we were prototyping the panels we used it just to check that all the holes are in the right place so we could order some metal panels. But the moment we saw how it looked and how it behaved it was decided! But than it also took some time to figure out the right printing method and the type of varnish we need to use so it stabilizes the color and makes it really durable.

You have even made custom knobs for the modules, are the aesthetics of your systems something you make a priority?

Well I guess our art background makes that aesthetic stuff automatically ūüôā so we focus more on the instruments themselves and that seems to be the priority. Luckily we have awesome friends that do all our graphics – the Anymade Studio and they really push the look of our stuff and make our brand something special. They also enjoy working with us because we are not normal clients and they can afford to make more extreme jokes in more progressive designs.

I think BASTL deserve an award for the most creative and fun stands at shows. Where did the idea to do something so different come from?

Haha thanks ! Well if you look at my diploma project it must become obvious https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eUeHUuyPa84

Basically it is art installation that I finished my art school with. From this point to our show stands there is very direct link. We tried it the first time and it simply worked. I also really enjoy making these installations. At Superbooth for instance we showed the Hendrikson module that interfaces with the guitar and guitar pedals, but we didn’t want people play guitar at our booth so I made the robotic self playing guitar that you could sequence with a modular. That was fun!

As well as providing modules to interface with external devices (instruments, motors etc) you’ve released the bitRanger and Kastle. Which are both stand alone devices. Will we see more stand alone devices in the future?

I need to mention Peter Edwards a.k.a. Casper Electronics at this point. He is a circuit bending legend and really innovative thinking instruments designer that happened to move to Brno to work with us on synths and instruments. The bitRanger is his design that we released and the Kastle is my design that is obviously inspired by the bitRanger. We have always been doing standalone instruments and to be honest it is much easier from the design perspective to make a module than to make a tabletop thing (that is why it takes so long sometimes). Now especially with the bitRanger and the Kastle we wanted to address the situation of starting modular user (so you don’t need so many modules and expenses when starting to have something fun to play), but also somebody who doesn’t have more space in the rack (so you get an external device to enhance it).

Personally I like the wooden panels, they look and feel great but it’s hard to escape people asking for aluminium panels. Will you offer those in the future?

Yes we will ! It took us really long time because all our production is local or in house (pcbs,assembly, panels) so we were trying to find somebody local, too. That turned out to be impossible so we started to look further and found a company in Germany.

With them we managed to develop a technique how to do the printing and post processing so it becomes very durable and also looks amazing so we are really happy with the result. So hopefully we have the panels very soon.

Finally anything else you would like to tell us or promote? Any new module teasers?

Well we always talk about the community around Bastl Instruments. We are mostly musicians and all the guys working with us have build a modular for very little money. And we all play these instruments, we organize monthly concerts and also we try to make internal weekly workshops on synthesis, music, electronics and related topics. There is a real music scene forming around Bastl now which is really exciting.

With products – there is very anticipated effects processor called Thyme getting finished so we can hopefully soon start the production. It also took much longer than anticipated but is really worth it. Sounds and feels truly great! When it comes to modules‚Ķ yes there will be some new modules next year. There is still a lot of modules that I desire that don’t exist so i need to make them exist!

Thanks to V√°clav for chatting to us and checking BASTL here – http://www.bastl-instruments.com/

Nuclear Powered Random CV!

David Cramer over on Nervous Squirrel has created a nuclear powered module … nice, dangerous, exciting or scary … it’s certainly sure to pique people’s interest. The module works by looking at the “ticks” coming from a Geiger Counter holding the uranium and uses Ken Stone’s joystick schematic which is adapted to work these voltages into a random CV signal. You can adjust the range, offset and glide of the signal and you also get a trigger every time the Geiger Counter is activated.

Check out the site for more information.http://www.nervoussquirrel.com/modular

You may remember I covered the Nervous Squirrel Ring Modulator (based on the classic BBC 1963 ‘Dalek’ design) a good couple of years back.

(FYI I saw this on FACTMag and Synthtopia)