Superbooth '16 - Day #1

superbooth-day-1Being not so long after NAMM, Superbooth challenged both manufacturers and developers to come up with some surprises. Overall, it seems that many of them succeeded! You can find tiny but nice upgrades and completely new surprise systems from your favourite eurorack manufacturers. Here are the videos from Day 1.

We were waiting, we have been waiting and we will be waiting: Dave Rossum answered a few questions about the new phase modulation sampler module to be released by the end of this year:

A huge step up for Expert Sleepers – Disting MKIII users. Os introduced the sample playback and vocoder functions on the Disting along with a new module: the ES-8 will be adapting your line and modular level signals:

Doepfer Musikelektronik is alive and well: Dieter Doepfer is reintroducing a new version of their high-end VCO, the long awaited trigger sequencer is here, not to mention that thanks to the upcoming A-184-2 module and the already available PWM Module it won’t cause any problems to add extra waveforms to virtually any of their modules. A very basic but very handy set of new modules!

The surprise of the first day was Erica Synths and their Pico 3HP modules. That system is a fully functional and very clever “drum and synth” voice including sequencer and outputs!

Dave Smith Instruments came up with a eurorack module. The DSM-03 adds tuned feedback and Karplus Strong flanges to the soudn of their line of modules – or anything you want to use it with.

Dreaming about Akemie’s Castle, but not having the budget? ALM tries to help you with their new FM drum module with built-in envelope and basic functions built around the same Yamaha chip that made the others famous!

Allan J. Hall of AJH Synth was saying hello to Analogue Zone, and reintroduced some old treasures, a new-old and updated ladder filter design and an especially decent sounding Ring Modulator.

Dan Green from 4ms Company was explaining the new features of the Dual Looping Delay and the vocoder feature on their award-winning Spectral Multiband Resonator.

ADDAC is teaming up with EHX and they are coming up with some great new module concepts that will integrate a lot of digital systems into the analog world and vice versa!

Moritz from Endorphines introduced an upgraded new envelope generator, the Terminal, and also a handy mixer module:

Fraptools is revolutionising mixing and live performance in a really contributing way:

So far, that is it for day 1. We are coming back with more tomorrow!

Modular Minutes: Kasleder Effects Acid Fuzz In Context

This episode of Modular Minutes was shot in Banyek‘s home studio to put the Kasleder Effects – Acid Fuzz module into context! The Hungary-based eurorack module sounds sweet everywhere, adding delicate and conveniently controllable textures: in a word _more life_ to your audio signals.

Screen Shot 2016-03-30 at 13.52.28 (2)Modular Minutes is a new series from Analogue Zone’s Budapest showroom – the series aims at the finest and latest modular goodies with patching comprehensively described both in comments and the description tab.

The Kasleder Effects – Acid Fuzz adds those sought-after flavors to your tones that are not just simply “vintage” thanks to the ultra rare 70’s germanium transistors, but also bring up controlled levels of organic colors, that just keep on breathing new life to every audio signal input you have. Every setting is different and decent: results are immediately pleasing and convincing. Thanks to the CV inputs and the depth and ease of controls, the module can find its place in any rack with the not the least amount of dilemmas left behind!
Read our exclusive interview with the manufacturer!

More Details on the Rossum Electro Music Assimil8or Sampler

Dave Rossum (former E-MU founder, inventor) has published details on Assimil8or, their new eurorack sampler. Having conquered the eurorack world this year with their filter and complex envelope generator products (the latter to be out soon), Rossum Electro Music is here to stay!

dave-rossum-samplerThe Assimil8or will be a eurorack sampler with phase modulation included. From hi-fi to lo-fi sampling on 8 channels, 24 bit A/D-D/A conversion, phase modulation even by external voltages – or by other samples(!), bitcrushing, looping parameters and variable playback, not to mention the convenient SD card storage, this sampler will be a fully-featured one filling a lot of gaps. And yes, it is made by the father of the SP-samplers, so it is kind of hard to imagine where this would go wrong. We are looking forward to hearing it in action!

Check out Analogue Zone’s exclusive interview with Dave Rossum from NAMM ’16 – they had already asked him about a sampler at that time, so their suspicions were right! 🙂

Read our earlier post on musical and timbral applications of phase modulation!

Erica Synths surprises audience with the Black DSP module

Latvian manufacturer Erica Synths  releases a new DSP-module as an extension of their successful Black-series. This module offers more effects and modulation for a nice price!

black-hole-01The Black Hole DSP module offers more modulation than e.g. a Tiptop Z-DSP or as many as a Qu-Bit RT-60 – it is also stereo like these effects. The numbers speak for themselves, however we are looking forward to hearing more detailed audio demos! The module was partly developed by a practicing electronic performer, Kodek from Erica Synthstől! THe Black Hole DSP module features reverb, delay, and filter delay/reverb combinations, which offers the possibility of flanging, grain delay, chorus and saturation. The module’s clock can be lowered, which results in exgtra downsampling/bitcrushing effects! All effects are done by an FV-1 chip, a well-known and good-sounding chip within the DIY-DSP community

Read our exclusive interview with Girts from Erica Synths here! 

Doepfer's Trigger Sequencer has become reality

After several years of redesigns, Doepfer’s A-157 Trigger Sequencer is shipping from the manufactruer. Users can expect it in the next few weeks: it was worth the wait.

A157_1_final_hrAlthough complex triggering techniques are not new in eurorack (take Tiptop Audio’s Trigger Riot and Circadian Rhythms for example), the other direction, that is, of simplicity has been finally addressed by Doepfer: The father of eurorack modular synthesizers, released the so-called Mini-Schaltwerk (based on their previous standalone trigger sequencer). The 8×16 Trigger Matrix will be able to shift, invert, delete steps, change directions and will be up for future storage and recall functions as well! The new Trigger Matrix was last seen at NAMM2016.

 

Phrases with phases - thru-zero and phase modulation in musical practises

Even though a growing number of modular synth users are tend to go into more complex territorries with amplitude and frequency modulation (AM and FM), it might be puzzling to understand why “phase” and “thru-zero” are often praised – the other electronic parameters have been really caught up recently with the release of the Strong Zero Core for the Furthrrrr Generator by Endorphin.es or the Bateleur by Birdkids, a true analog thru-zero oscillator. So I thought to come up with some musical contexts and applications of waveforms in different phase and phase modulation, so that they become as “common” as AM and FM for you. I hope it will help you to go far within new territorries in your system: these new territories where I had (accidentally) my own eurorack system started.
Phase and timing relationships
a-143-9-My first ever LFO was luckily – the A-143-9 Quadrature LFO. Luckily, because my intention had not been to utilise phase at all, I had only been after sinewave-only modulation. This LFO has 4 “non-simultaneous” (phase-shifted) outputs, and this means you only have one output at the time, which is “followed” by the next one, and so on. Once I finally had 4 VCA’s, I was able to use it as a (one-directional) sequential fader. In this case, I was using the module as an LFO only. It does what it can: fading in the next VCA’s signal in while the other is fading out. I was creating the timing of this snoozing monster with it. However, you cannot change the degrees – you can only spend a “longer dr-octature-iitime” and a “shorter time” when you modulate the frequency by another LFO (or manually). It also applies for the Octature II, (loosely speaking) the A-143-9’s bigger brother which is capable of creating 8 sinewaves 45-degrees out of phase. What would you need if you wanted more than that?
 
funcan2
Two sinewaves, 90 degrees out of phase – Source: www.thecarversite.com
 
You either need a XAOC Devices – Batumi or a WMD – PDO for that.
Whereas the A-143-9 has a static, 90-degree phase-shift, the PDO’s channels 2, 3 and 4 can be “turned away” even by 360 degrees in PDO2-500x500relation to its original phase (a relative 0 degrees). Now imagine that you can “spend as much time” at each fade as you want to. You can even control it by a sequencer, another LFO, by an envelope, etc. You can even modulate it by itself for interesting timing variations. Well, why don’t you forget about VCA’s and start patching the out phase outputs to VCF’s, strike or gate inputs, or apply them in stereo, quad panning, wherever you want to… You have a special kind of sequencer here already.
Audio rate – thru zero, phase modulation and distortion
You may have heard the phrase from a lot of manufacturers and users that “thru-zero FM sounds better”. At this point, I have to explain an equivalance that shows the relationship(!) between something being “thru-zero” and its phase. If you totally invert a waveform you create a mirror image of that. This mirror image basically equals to “180 degrees out of phase”. So basically, you are changing the phase in relation to the timing of the waveform going through the positive or the negative range. You can read the following on the Doepfer website at A-110-4 Thru-Zero Oscillator‘s description:
 
“The term “Thru-Zero” means that even “negative” frequencies are generated. But this a bit a misleading term as negative frequencies do not really exist. “Negative” means in this connection simply that the sine/cosine waves will stop when the linear control voltage reaches 0V and continue with the opposite direction as the linear control voltage becomes negative and vice versa.”
So when a waveform is 180 degrees out of phase, you are seeing the waveform flowing to the opposite “direction”. If you are looking at a scope, with 90-degrees phase shifted sinewaves, you will see these phase shifted waveforms as if they were “after” one another.
 
Coming back to a practical musical context, we have two main “bonus” items on our sound pallette: 
a. more waveforms
b. more possible “space” and “spatial movement” between them. 
 
Phase modulation and phase distortion are not the same, but it can be understood by looking at these figures from electricdruid.net:
 
pd01
The more heavily you modulate the phase of the waveform in audio rate, the more pd-02“displacement” you get (hence the name Phase Displacement oscillator). You can “tilt” the waveform in a way that it “spins round”. The PDO has all the waveshapes for creating sounds that are bell-like, resemble woodblocks, bright metallic, rich sounds and digital noise. It even has the dirt of the classic Casio CZ sounds. 
The rest is up to you, your modules, and your ears listening to “thru-zero” FM and “phase modulation”. What sound do you like? What richness are you after? Phase is just fun!

Modular Minutes: Waveshaping with the Erica Synths Fusion Mixer V2

In this episode of Modular Minutes, a retro-oscilloscope was set up in the Analogue Zone showroom to test the new version of Erica Synths – Fusion Mixer‘s waveshaping capabilities.
Freshly arrived at Analogue Zone - Erica Synths Fusion Tube Mixer V2
Freshly arrived at Analogue Zone – Erica Synths Fusion Tube Mixer V2

Modular Minutes is a new series from Analogue Zone’s Budapest showroom – the series aims at the finest and latest modular goodies with patching comprehensively described both in comments and the description tab.

The Erica Synths – Fusion Tube Mixer V2 adds convincing powerful and conveniently controllable tube sound to any of the signals. Having altogether 6 inputs, and the availabilty of summing 6 channels and using the mixer as a stereo tool takes any of your patches to the next level, creating new tones and waveforms at the same time.

"Eurorack fuzz is a brand new concept" - Kasléder Albert-interview

Having a new start is pleasureable and challenging at the same time. In the age of digital eurorack modules with a plethora of functionality involved, it is most demanding to reconsider a few options that not only had not been available earlier in a voltage controlled eurorack format, but also address the ones that will indeed enhance the sounds of a 21st century modular synthesizers. In this piece we were in conversation with new eurorack maker and well-established stompbox manufacturer Albert Kasléder, of Kasleder Effects.
“I feel home in a guitar-based world.””
Kasleder Effects, having a lot to offer already in the stompbox market with their hand-made fuzz, distortion and other processing effect pedals is about to bring a lot to eurorack which will work out as a novel concept, and also as a great new playground to the maker himself.
“Having met András (from Analogue Zone) again on a friend’s wedding, we started a long contemplation on my first then future eurorack module. In 2015, the eurorack fuzz concept had been relatively new and not realised yet, the chance was lurking around, and there was no question where we wanted to start. Having made similar circuits in the last 10 years or so, we started out from a fuzz effect that I had made earlier.Making the Acid Fuzz modules was half a year spent with serious design and testing work. It was a good chance to have myself tried out in this aspect, but the users will tell whether I succeeded or not.”rt.
Kasleder GE Acid Fuzz Modul elejeTesting was a tough and fun time either. Albert had to focus on “only” two things: implementing votlage control to all parameters while not losing even a bit of the sound. Adding voltage control to anything is a non-standard process and can be realised in many ways. The results are pleasing and for the first time ever, the user can have a decent and ever-interesting palette of fuzz/amplification/limiting which can be even more integrated to any kind of synthesizer system. Check the manual for patch tips and detailed description of the parameters.
What is fuzz though by the way, and why would I need voltage control over it? It is simply speaking an amplification that does not end up in distortion but offers a more sparkling, “toasty” amplification and limiting on the input signal. Imagine adding soft to very harsh grains to your waveforms without even distorting them. Imagine it under common voltage control. Imagine CV signal processing with it, and I’m sure your mind will start working. You have to apply the right parts though to have a sound you dare call fuzz. In the Acid Fuzz, the NOS (new-old-stock) ultra-rare germanium transistors do offer that. 
DSC_0340The module was tested and developed in live situations: one decent result was how the original stompbox reacted to feedback, so a completely new circuit was desinged for that as well. Having the ability to soften the bright fuzzy textures of the input signal in this way is also a novel concept. It is just about tuning your sound the way you want it to be. Not to mention the looks. The panel graphics has great looking out of this world alien cartoon-narrative which is refreshing and inspiring to look at – made exclusively by Eszter Budavári. The good quality panel-mounted pots also offer enough space for live tweaking and convenient setting in the studio.
The maker just won’t stop here though:
“I do have a lot of concepts on my mind, but since I am only getting to know a lot of circuits, I’m sure I will even have more ideas on the go as I’m looking at more and more eurorack modules. One thing I will always keep as a primary method is, that I will always use the best quality parts assembled by hand, providing a no-compromise solution even to customers with the most specific needs!”
Read our post about the release of the Acid Fuzz where you can find audio demos as well!

Modular Minutes - XAOC Devices Batumi Expert Firmware

In this episode of Modular Minutes, Analogue Zone took the new Expert Firmware of the XAOC Devices – Batumi and utilised it as the central nervous system of a patch.

 

batumi-01-500x500Modular Minutes is a new series from Analogue Zone’s Budapest showroom – the series aims at the finest and latest modular goodies with patching comprehensively described both in comments and the description tab.

The XAOC Devices – Batumi is one of the tiniest yet most complex modulation source. It can very easily grow into a heart of a patch thanks to the manifold sync options and the quad mode. The new Expert Firmware which can be easily uploaded via USB when the module is powered off can further empower the Batumi as a central modulation source and can even give sequencing duties to it. A very well thought-out concept lies behind the nice and handy LED sliders of this module which will always breathe new life into any system.

Read our exclusive interview with the manufacturers!