Audio Damage Basic

While I am using a lot of hardware these days software is still very important in my workflow. I often want a simple software synth to get things going. Audio Damage’s new Basic will definitely be useful. It may seem like a strange reason but I bet I end up using Basic often for the simple fact that out of all my plug-in folders in my Ableton sidebar I already go to the AD folder more than any other.

“One day not long ago, we were speaking with the music department head of a local college; he lamented the fact that there really wasn’t a commercial-quality low-cost three oscillator subtractive mono-synth available for the educational market. This puzzled us, because there’s no shortage of synth plug-ins out there, and this seems like a fairly glaring oversight. So we did some market research, and discovered he was right. All the available options are either slavish recreations of classic synths, with all the foibles and strange UI decisions intact, or modern behemoths with every feature under the sun. We decided to tackle the challenge of an inexpensive, simple 3-osc mono-synth that followed the classic subtractive style, and Basic is the result. While it is designed with ease-of-use, low cost, and simplicity in mind, the panel sits in front of a powerful modern synthesizer engine with an aggressive tone and self-resonating filters that scream when pushed. We’re sure every electronic musician will find a place in the mix for Basic.” – Audio Damage

For more info: audiodamage.com/instruments/product.php?pid=AD033

Working on my next album

I am working on my next album. I have equipment lying all over the place in several totally different locations. In one corner of my apartment I have “little” Eurorack set up and for the sample of the track above Im using a Korg SuperDrums DDM110 for beats and sync. Your also hearing a Noise Engineering Basimilus Iteritas through a Synthesis Technology E440 which has it’s filter controlled by a Make Noise Pressure Points and transpose controlled by a Flame Tame Machine. Now to do some vocals…

“Where does all this leave the DDM110? Not realistic enough to satisfy people who want a drum machine to act as a convenient substitute for a real drummer, not considered ‘classic’ enough to command the extortionate prices paid by retro enthusiasts for just about anything 15 years old with a Roland badge and no MIDI port. This ‘half-way’ status, coupled with its more eccentric qualities, is enough to place the DDM110 in the ‘love it or hate it’ oddity category. I personally gravitate towards the former opinion.” – Sound on Sound

For more info: soundonsound.com/sos/jan01/articles/korgddm110

RF Nomad

Born in 1970 I spent plenty of time turning radio knobs searching for signals. The Evaton Technologies RF Nomad put that fun in a Eurorack module and makes it CV controllable. How fantastic! $176 USD.

“The RF Nomad voltage-controlled sideband shortwave receiver Eurorack module is currently in final stages of prototype evaluation. The RF Nomad adds the squealy, squelchy, noisy, unpredictable vintage sounds of shortwave radio to your modular. But this is no ordinary shortwave; it’s been designed to be extra noisy, extra squealy, extra gritty, and just downright nasty. No built-in output filtering means that a rich spectrum of harmonic content is available on the audio output jack. Audio levels can be driven to distortion. CV control lets you add your own creative spin on sound design. Hissy interstation audio. Squealy heterodynes. Fading stations. Atmospheric noises. Faint voices in foreign languages from distant broadcast stations. Fire and brimstone. It’s all in there, just like your granddad’s old tabletop shortwave. But, the RF Nomad adds a twist: The tuning is voltage controlled. Sure, when you were a kid, you discovered you could make spacy noises on Papa’s shortwave by slowly turning the tuning dial. But just how fast could you twist that dial? Faster than an audio-rate LFO? Hardly. Voltage controlled tuning means that the RF Nomad will let you explore sounds you never imagined you could get out of a shortwave receiver.” – evatontechnologies

For more info: evatontechnologies.com/rf-nomad

Intellijel Springray

Springray demo set #1 by intellijel

When I first got into Eurorack there were not too many options for Reverbs. Now we have a handful including the Audio Damage and soon to be release Make Noise modules. Intellijel has announced the availability of the Springray. You can choose between three tank sizes and has a host of other good features. $240 and the tanks range from $10 -$25.

“PRE tank and POST tank Ambler Tilt EQ. VC Feedback. Limiter in feedback path so you can prevent high gain feedback from clipping the output. (Uses THATcorp RMS and VCA ICs). Selector switch to choose up to three different connected tanks (one on the front and two on the back). VC Mix of the wet/dry balance (uses a full linear VCA xfade circuit). Drive input with large gain (can overdrive the tank inputs). External processors can be inserted into the feedback path via the SEND/RETURN normalled inputs. Extremely interesting results when patched through modulated BP filters etc. Three different sizes of Accutronic tanks are available.10HP (skiff friendly)” – Intellijel

For more info: intellijel.com

Audio Damage Sequencer 1

I use Audio Damage plug-ins all the time. I have to admit I was excited to see them get into Eurorack Modular however I didn’t grab any of their first efforts. On Chris Randall’s blog Analog Industries he posted info on their new module called Sequencer 1. I will be grabbing this one day one. Besides it’s myriad of features for the sequences themselves it has a mini keyboard quantizer (yes!) and a LCD screen with patch storage. This is fantastic. Expected to be released soon at about $600.

36HP, 20mm depth. 4 banks of 16 patterns, each pattern can be from 1 to 64 steps long. The entire state (all banks and patterns) can be saved to SD card as a preset, so the memory is essentially unlimited. Clock input can be per step (like any other sequencer’s clock), or 24ppq or 48ppq for DIN sync (via a simple 5-pin DIN -> 3.5mm adaptor). Clock output can be a staggering number of choices, which is handy if the unit is acting as the master clock. The Run input can be operated a couple different ways, as can the output. In short, it can interface to pretty much anything clockish, and can in turn drive pretty much anything in a clocklike fashion. Each step gets a 1v/Oct output, three CV outputs (that can each be either 0-10v, -5 to +5v, or 0 to +5v), a main gate output, and an auxiliary gate output. Gate length is programmable per step. The playback modes are forward, reverse, pingpong, pingpong with double end triggers, skip forward, walk, and random. This is programmable per pattern. There are several ratcheting features; you can program a ratchet of various lengths per step, or you’ll note the 6 buttons labeled “REP.” These will repeat, in order, the last 8, 4, 2, or 1 steps as a loop, or cause the step you hit them on to repeat in half or quarter time. (In the same manner that the MIDI triggers in Replicant work, basically, if you own that plugin.) As I hinted before, SD card for storage and OS updates.” – Chris Randall (Audio Damage)

For more info: analogindustries.com/b1873/The+New+Shit

Moog Source Blue Monday

One of the most famous synth synth sounds ever recorded is the bassline on New Order’s Blue Monday. It is in fact a Moog Source. Above Retrosound gets close but I think he needs a little more resonance. Ministry also used a Source in their Twitch era recordings. When I lived in Berlin I used the band Camouflage’s Source and was blown away by it. It’s also in my top five most beautiful looking synths ever. The Source was released in 1981 and Blue Monday in 1983.

“At nearly seven-and-a-half minutes, “Blue Monday” is one of the longest tracks ever to chart on the UK Singles Chart, and is the biggest-selling 12″ single of all time. Despite selling well it was not eligible for an official gold disc because Factory Records was not a member of the British Phonographic Industry association. According to the Official Charts Company, its total sales stands at 1.16 million in the United Kingdom alone, and “Blue Monday” came 69th in the all-time UK best-selling singles chart published in November 2012. The song begins with a distinctive semiquaver kick drum intro, programmed on an Oberheim DMX drum machine. Gillian Gilbert eventually fades in a sequencer melody. According to band interviews in NewOrderStory, she did so at the wrong time, so the melody is out of sync with the beat; however, the band considered it to be a happy accident that contributed to the track’s charm.” – Wikipedia

For more info: vintagesynth.com/moog/sourc

MeeBlip ANODE at Control Brooklyn

Yesterday I stopped by Control in Williamsburg, Brooklyn to see Peter Kirn demo his upcoming MeeBlip ANODE synthesizer. The MeeBlip ANODE has digital oscillators, an analog filter, envelope, MIDI, and an LFO. You may be thinking what’s the big deal. Well the ANODE is very inexpensive (a little over $100), small and most importantly sounds very good. It’s also open source and by grabbing one you support Peter who with his blog Create Digital Music has given a huge amount to the pro-audio community over the years. When I arrived it was hooked up with a tasty P3 Sequentix sequencer and Korg Volca Beats. I quickly ran home and grabbed my new Roland TB-3 to hear it sequence the MeeBlip too. The MeeBlip/TB-3 combo sounded quite good and I was glued to their knobs for a good thirty minutes.

“Combining an analog filter with unique digital sound sources, all in an easy-to-understand, compact sound package, MeeBlip anode is synth hardware anyone can enjoy immediately. anode is part analog, part digital, capable of producing a range of uniquely aggressive, bass-heavy sounds. And inspired by the best classic synths of the past, getting your hands on that sound is always simple, direct, and intuitive. Simply plug in a keyboard, computer, iPad (via adapter), or controller via the MIDI port to play notes. Then, adjust sounds via knobs and switches – you don’t need to navigate a single menu. Its digital side reproduces the sound and architecture of classic synthesizers, but with an emphasis on adding personality, especially in the low end. Its all-new analog filter with resonance can range from smooth to raunchy – perfect for shaping sound or making squelchy basslines.” – meeblip.com

For more info: meeblip.com

TB3 Rocket

This my friends seems like a must have combination. For less than $700 you get a truly killer bassline monster.

“waldorf rocket sequenced by roland aira tb3 effects come from the mc808 in the beginning i used a little reverb later some more effects. this is just an example nothing special tb3 volume is turned down so all you hear is the waldorf rocket damn i really love the rocket great little synth.” – bananepoep

For more info: waldorf-music.info and rolandus.com

TipTop Audio RS808

TipTop Audio has released another in their line of Roland TR-808 modules for the Eurorack system. I own all of them so far and they are all stellar. I believe I read Gur used to repair or clone real 808s so he really knows what he is doing. This time the Rimshot and Clav are covered in the new RS808 module. The sound is right and besides the flexibility of being in the modular environment the module has slightly more variation than the original.

“The RS808 is the TR-808’s analog Rimshot and Clavs sound generator in Eurorack format. It’s a low-cost module that brings back that classic sound, but with even more variation and control, continuing to expand your Tiptop Audio modular drum machine. The RS808 comes with two switches that give a total of 4 different positions: two are the classic Rimshot and Clavs sounds as found on the original, and two are unique to the RS808 module adding a range of snappy “click” sounds the circuit is capable of producing. Two control knobs were added, each have different effect for the selected sound. In general, these controls can be categorized as Pitch and Snap as they control the frequency of the oscillator and decay of the envelope generator. The RS808 is an exact reproduction of the original circuit which sounds like a fresh machine coming off the assembly line back in the 80’s.” – tiptopaudio.com

For more info: tiptopaudio.com/rs808

Zenotron

Mike Walters makes some crazy unique synth toys under the name Mystery Circuits. The Zenotron is his newest and my opinion his greatest creation.

“The case was made from an old modem, the monitor was a small filmstrip viewer I cut in half. Behind the translucent screen is a cut down pipette box. I installed 88 LEDs where the pipettes normally go (perfect fit). The miniature keyboard comes off of an old toy, and I rebuilt the key contacts from little surface mount tactile switches. The sounds on the Zenotron come from a modified BleepLabs Nebulophone kit. A 2-Axis Parallax joystick controls the waveform and arpeggio rate of the Nebulophone. There are only 10 notes on the Nebulophone circuit, so the A# and B of the keyboard are wired parallel to the C and C#. Audio from the Nebulophone is fed to the clock input of a 4017 decade counter, which varies the sequence speed according to the Nebulophone’s audio. Each step turns on two transistors that light an array of 4 to 5 green LEDs. All of the LEDs are wired randomly, though I tried to make sure the spread around the pipette box was even. The LEDs are wired to a DB25 connector inside the Zenotron. For the volume pot, I just replaced the feedback resistor in the last opamp stage of the Nebulophone’s output. The LFO pot is wired the same as on the Nebulophone, but it has an off switch when turned all the way down. If the switch is off, the LFO seems to change according to the joystick. The LFO controls the Nebulophone’s filter, which uses an optocoupler. The color scheme was very much subconsciously inspired by the Kaypro II and the Commodore SX-64.” – mysterycircuits.com

For more info: mysterycircuits.com/projects/zenotron