One of the most important basic modules I need is an ADSR. An Attack, Decay, Sustain, Release shapes the sound or filter so it’s not simply on all the time. Intellijel’s brand new Dual ADSR has some nice tricks up its sleeve. First it has sliders which I find much more useful than knobs. It also has a wicked cycle mode the pulses the ADSR in time. For the type of music I do this is incredible useful!
“Based on the Roland SH-101 design with several enhancements.Manual GATE buttons. Three timing ranges. Normal and inverted outputs. End of Decay (EOD) logic output. Cycle mode. Dynamic level control of the VCA output via built in linear VCA” – intellijel.com
I have always wanted a modular style analog sequencer in software form. There have been a few tries at this by various developers but none have really captured the essence of the real thing. The latest to take a stab at it is Orwell Digital. They have just released the OR-1m Step Sequencer and it looks very feature full. Just last weekend in German I was recording two female vocalists on my laptop. They wanted proper EBM backing tracks and this would have been extremely useful to create the basslines. There is an intro price of about $25 so I’m going to give it a try this weekend. Let me know if you have given the OR-1m a try and what you think of it.
“The OR-1m delivers the performance and flexibility expected from a pro-level step sequencer, while introducing several innovative features in terms of realtime modulation shaping and controlled randomness. At its most basic, the OR-1m is a standalone sixteen-step sequencer with per-step controls for note pitch, duration and velocity. In addition, each step features four knobs for generating MIDI continuous controller data of the user’s choosing.” – orwelldigital.com
Here is a very pretty and nice sounding video demo of the Mutable Instruments Grids, Hexinverter Jupiter Storm, Tiptop Audio CP909 Clap, Cwejman BLD, Innerclock Sync-Gen IIls and more. Chris Whitten has a nice selection of modules don’t you think?
“Video demonstrating several instances of Grids and Jupiter Storm. Kick:TipTop BD909 Cwejman BLD Open Hat:Jupiter Storm Noise>WMD Synchrodyne BPF Noise Percussion:Jupiter Storm Noise>Synchrodyne BPF>WMD MMVCA (stereo panning) Bass:Grids>Cwejman BLD Clap:Grids>Tip Top 909CP>Make Noise Echophon Chords:Grids>Cwejman ADSR-VC2. Bubblesound VCO>Erthenvar Patch Chord>SynchrodyneLPF>Make Noise Echophon Snare:Grids>Jupiter Storm>Echophon No Midi No EQ Sync to Pro Tools>Innerclock IILS” – Chris Whitten
On Saturday night I went to the second annual Control Voltage Fair at the South Street Seaport in Manhattan. It was at last year’s event where I first got the modular bug. Since that show I learned all I could about the Eurorack modular format and have purchased 31 modules and 4 racks to hold them. The modular “scene” is small and everyone I’ve met online, at Control or at these events has been friendly, helpful and really into it. It was extremely hot and humid on Saturday evening and this year the booths and live shows were outdoors. After a quick walkthrough I first stopped at the Tiptop Audio booth to play with the Trigger Riot and see the new Mix Z prototype. The TR lives up to it’s name as within a 30 seconds you can have a mass of drums making noise. The Mix Z is a mixer with a bus on it’s backside so you don’t have to patch the audio in from Tiptop drum modules. I met Richard Devine at the Make Noise booth. We discussed how he soundproofed his new studio. We also talked about how it’s important for children to hear a lot of music as they develop and how his own kid may end up a little different because of the modular sounds she’s hearing vs Row Row Row Your Boat. Ben Casey from Bangbang was there. He’s the de-facto Elektron dealer in NYC. Musician Robert Aiki Aubrey Lowe and Knas the maker of the Polygamist synth were seen hanging out. Before the actual performances startetd Jeremiah Johnson had a small crowd gather around him while he improvised on the massive Control setup. They had the new Mutable Instruments modules in their giant Goikes racks and Jeremiah was making good noise with them. I talked to him after his was done about European gigs. I enjoyed Keith Fullerton Whitman’s performance. Modular sounds good live and outdoors. I like my music more structured and evil but it had moments where I wondered how he was doing it. Richard Devine’s performance had a certain sound to it. Plucky, vactrolish and for most of it happily quite dark. Due to the Tequila icey drinks they were serving right outside the festival I tired out and missed Lori Napoleon. Be sure to see my entire set of photos on flickr: click here
“People walking by outside audibly confused by the noise pouring out on to the street from RichardDevine ‘s set.” – Anthony Saunders
Well now what’s this? The sequencer from a Roland TR machine in Eurorack format that’s what! It’s pretty isn’t it? This is the new Acidlab Robokop. With all the Tiptop and other modular drum modules you can now build the world’s greatest drum machine. If you don’t want to program beats be sure to check out the wild new Tiptop Trigger Riot (I have one coming to me this week via Control!).
“ROBOKOP is the MIAMI-Sequencer as a module with 12×16 patterns and 12 Trigger-Outputs.” – Acidlab
My friend Tom Carpenter who creates the amazing Analogue Solutions synthesizers and Medic Modules has a new Eurorack sequencer that’s just about hitting stores. It’s smartly called the EKG because well the cool red LEDs go across the unit metaphorically. Tom always has some nice tricks or maybe I should say unique features that add extra musicality to his devices. The EKG’s wonderfullness comes from the knobs under each pitch slider. They each have a “Function control” which can be used for various functions. I like this module as it hides it’s complexity in a fun interface. Tom knows analog sequencers as his Oberkorn is widely regarded as one of the best.
“Each step also has a unique Function control. Each step can be turned off, skipped, repeated or set as a reset point. Modes; Off (rest), x1, x2, x3, x4, Skip, Reverse, Rest” – medicmodules.com
The MakeNoise Phonogene is hands down one of the coolest most interesting Eurorack modules. It’s a sort of sampler, tape machine, looper and grain slicer with CV control. This week there has been a firmware update and the video above shows some of what has changed.
“The Phonogene rev 372 upgrade includes: Improved Audio Fidelity, Improved Vari-Speed response (shorter scale, greater resolution), End of GENE Pulse (EOS outputs pulses for both Splices and Genes, turn up Gene Size see this in action), Longer Record Time (improved memory management and improved audio fidelity make longer recordings possible), Broken ECHO Mode: all new behavior allows for realtime processing of audio signals.” – Walker Farrell
I am happy to report that the Control Voltage Fair is returning on Saturday July 6, 3pm-12am. It will be held once again at the at the South Street Seaport in Manhattan. This is where I first really got into modular synths. Be sure to check out my post and photos from last year’s show: click here.
“Part exposition, part block party, Control Voltage is New York City’s annual fair dedicated to celebrating the modular synthesizer. Synth makers and distributors share their creations by day, inviting audiences to see, hear, touch, and talk about the modular synth. Musicians perform at night celebrating technology, invention, community, creativity. The fair will take place on July 6th, 2013 at Cannon’s Walk, and will feature the interactive fair followed by a concert. Kickoff and wrap-up concerts will take place on July 5th and July 8th. Workshops involving building voltage-controlled instruments will take place throughout the weekend. Participating Exhibitors include (tbc): 4ms, Casper Electronics, Control, Intellijel, Knas, Main Drag, Make Noise, Meme Antenna, Pittsburgh Modular, Skychord, Snazzy FX, Tip Top Audio, Toppobrillo.” – harvestworks.org
I picked up a Jupiter Storm Eurorack module from hexinverter.net at Control last week. Hex’s vcNOIZ became an instant favorite of mine so after less than a minute demoing the “JS” at the store I knew I had to have it. It’s basically 3 special noise oscillators, CV inputs and several outputs. In my demo video above I start off with just a basic output, show you how it sounds going stereo out, I engage the Noise Core Disruptor, modulate with with a Synthesis Technology E355 LFO, FM it with a vcNOIZ and finally sequence it with a Doepfer Dark Time. This is a very fun and useful module. There is a breakout coming later this year that will add even more functionality.
“Jupiter Storm is a cosmic noise oscillator. It creates sounds that can only be described as out of this world! Where it differs entirely from other pure noise generators (such as vcNOIZ) is in the algorithm used to produce the sound. Jupiter Storm has a tonal character very much of its own. Jupiter Storm does not create pure white noise like the vcNOIZ noise oscillator module from hexinverter.net. Rather, it derives what is similar to noise (but not quite) from three square wave oscillators in a unique algorithm. Some of the sounds possible are reminiscent of the sound of a broken radio being blasted with noise from the cosmos, hence, the name “cosmic noise oscillator”. This creates noise with significant harmonic content and other such interesting timbres you will not hear anywhere else! Engage the Noise Core Disruptor to create horrific sounds. In this mode, part of the noise core is creatively abused in order to generate insane sonic textures. Voltage control inputs for all three square wave VCOs in the noise core are available as well as a control voltage input that addresses all three oscillators at once. In this way, very dynamic sounds can be achieved with complex modulation routing. For example, you can apply a taste of LFO modulation to all three oscillators, while modulating a select oscillator simultaneously on its own with something more drastic. This module is based entirely around analogue opamps and discrete logic gates. No microcontrollers are used in the design of this module.” – Control
The Ataraxic Translatron is one of twelve new Eurorack modules about to be released from Noise Engineering. The Ataraxic is an oscillator like one from an 8bit video game console. I played with one at Control last week and it’s really fun. The purple module with little green display also looks cool as hell. About $150 USD.
“The Ataraxic Translatron is a linear feedback shift register oscillator similar to those used in the first generation of home video game consoles such as the Atari VCS as well as many other classic arcade games. Linear feedback shift registers are an ingenious way to produce a variety of sounds with an extremely small amount of hardware. The Atari VCS used only around 35 logic gates to produce all of its sounds. The complexity of tone for relatively minimal hardware made this synthesis technique common for sound in the first generation of video games where hardware costs were the primary development constraint. As video games entered popular culture these sounds became iconic but have seldom made it out of the video game world except when sampled from the games themselves or as their own genre of music “chiptunes”. The Ataraxic Translatron gives you classic arcade sounds in Eurorack format to be used just like any other VCO. 12 patches vary from a simple square wave to white noise with your favorite arcade sounds in between. All tones are available in 6 octaves range. A standard 1 volt per octave pitch control and CV control of the current patch are squeezed into a compact 4HP. An external clock mode that allows an external clock to drive the shift register allows for additional tone generation and modulation.” – noiseengineering.us