All posts by Hargitai András

Superbooth '17 Highlights

Superbooth was busy, as always. Here are some subjective impressions. Disclaimer: This is a list based on our personal opinion. As always, no one has the ultimate knowledge when it comes to art, it only matters to us what made us really happy: each to their own.

Doepfer is carrying on what they had always been good at – it might be a bit slower, though they are pushing out interfaces and modules which offer almost the same functionality for an affordable price. Let it be a keyboard or quad VCO, they are and will be here to stay.

Soundwise though, two highlights can be mentioned – one would be the new/old Nanozwerg Pro from MFB reborn in eurorack format for a ridiculously good price. Another one is the Fold Processor from Tiptop. We could speculate that after Random Source stole the show with their Serge reincarnations, Tiptop decided to put their Serge module concepts aside and develop their own, with the best controls with intuitive feel featuring the sound that are completely taking a modulation concept to the next level. We have no complaints about the Digitakt from Elektron either. Check
out this audio demo
to see if you agree with us.


Interface-wise, let’s begin with the Soundmachines – Arches – one of our customers told us a few years ago that how mad it would be to have a full keyboard full of LS-1 Lightstrips… fast forward to 2017 and he is not alone with his idea any more. The Arches is to be out in September.

Erica Synths also showed us how anti-futurism can be beaten by retro-futurism. A versatile drum sequencer with computer keyboards – its price is yet to be confirmed.

Other fun ideas worth mentioning – click on the links for the videos:

  • High-end audio solutions are not hard to find in eurorack any more – ARREL Audio modules speak for themselves.
  • Expert Sleepers shared some details with us about the Disting MK4 firmware plus introduced us a new module.
  • Eloquencer – a really thought-out sequencer in the pathway of the Malekko Varigate…
  • XOR Electronics is teasing us with a tracker-based sequencer
  • XAOC Devices upgraded some of their modules and their Praga stereo mixer module is soon out for real!
  • 4ms is expanding their line of digital multitimbral modules. The story is unfolding.
See more at Analogue Zone’s Youtube & Instagram channels!

Analogue Zone @ Superbooth '17

Each year has two crucial moments. One is of course the Winter NAMM show, but nobody would forget spring’s Superbooth either. As every year, Analogue Zone will be live and direct from Berlin.

We collected the expected highlights of this year’s Superbooth, but obviously, there will be more to come. This is just an appetizer, you may want to come back for daily updates to Analogue Zone’s Youtube channel!

xaoc-superbooth-17XAOC Devices is teasing us with new modules: an upgrade with their Tirana microsequencer plus Warna utility module, a dual version of their Sewastopol, a bit modifier, a logic-waveshaper-comparator-sampl-and-hold combo and their Praga stereo mixer may finally see the light of the day too.

Mr. Rossum might finalise the phase modulation sampler the Assimil8or very soon! Their modulation wonder, the Control Forge is already available!

Analogue Zone will be covering this year's Superbooth too!
Analogue Zone will be covering this year’s Superbooth too!

After their quantizer array at NAMM, WMD is showing the latest stage of their digital step sequencer.

Last but not least, Doepfer is also showing a few new concepts, including a new gate module, a signal connector, a micro keyboard, and a precision quad VCO, which has been long-awaited by A-100 users.

…and we have just scratched the surface. Subscribe to Analogue Zone’s Youtube– and Instagram channels for exclusive reports and live streams and stay tuned for more news!

A novel and affordable MIDI to clock design - Erica Synths - Midi to Clock V2 is here

In the beginning it was dark… I was using an MSY2 from Doepfer to sync my QCD with my Electribe MIDI sequencer which is in charge of controlling my Vermona DRM1. Now I could replace it with something monstrous from Erica Synths. The new version of the MIDI to Clock module is out now!
midiclk
Erica Synths – Midi to Clock V2

I used to set the divisions of the MIDI clock with DIP switches on the Doepfer MSY2 which are cost-effective, yet it needs no proof to see that those were not designed for daily use and are obviously less durable. But now the MIDI to Clock deals with that on the front panel with enough immediate divisions at hand. Setting different divisions is no big deal with deeper MIDI-CV interfaces  like Yarns from Mutable or the Shuttle Control from Endoprhines. However this new module has an ultimate winning point: it has both MIDI in and out mode.

What does this mean? You are able to control your MIDI device with clocks coming from anywhere in your modular system (LFO’s, clock modules, stepped random voltage generators, etc.). Forget “setting up and playing”, say hello to “setting up while playing”. Want async or div/mult changes based on your Midi devices or analog clocks (which are more easily bouncing and with a little modulation can have more life which is hard to emulate digitally) at any time with ease? There we have it for a really good price and with great ease: as the module can be switched to “MIDI out mode”! How amazing would it be to send some “analog storms” towards your previously calm and straightforward MIDI-devices?

It is also worth mentioning that the module is very slim (can be housed in skiff cases!), and ivery low current (25mA altogether on the +12V rail).

The built-in Start/Stop function is also available in both modes (It used to be pretty frustrating that with plenty of modules you just had a clock signal which stayed there forever.).
So it is no doubt that it was worth waiting for a gamechanger in live performance and studio routing!

Intellijel - Shapeshifter Gets New Firmware

The Intellijel designs – Shapeshifter has received its new firmware recently. Here is what we can highlight for you.
 
  • Intellijel designs - Cylonix Shapeshifter - a living legend among wavetable euroack oscillators
    Intellijel designs – Cylonix Shapeshifter – a living legend among wavetable euroack oscillators

    Everyone has liked the CHORD mode, in which the type can now be voltage controlled.

  • As more and more wavetable modules are equipped with wavebank selection or wavesurfing as it is called on the Erica Synths – Black Wavetable VCO module, it was time to get it done here as well.
  • The Shapeshifter has always been a complex synth module, which offered you to save your audio paintings: now the preset memory has 100 slots already!
 
The complete updates can be read here.

Drawing Tools for Your Modular Synthesizer

The entry-level question: “What other modules should I get?” The entry-level answer “more VCA’s”. Now here are other cool tools that would basically put any modular synth setup towards a further evolutionary step.
Erica Synths – Black Xfade
black-xfadeHardly any modules can be found for crossfading – yes, you can crossfade between two seperate VCA’s – yes you can do it with any modulation signal and its inverted pair. But come on, it can be much easier with a dedicated module which can even keep the signal at a constant gain! Erica Synths have always been loved for these quirks (e.g. the emphasis de-emphasis circuit on the Black Quad VCA). The audio on the Black Xfade is high-quality and any “weird” or chaotic waveform can be tamed to be less clicky and more controlled.
More tips (approved and recommended by the manufacturer):
  • use it as a waveshaper with original vs. boosted signal.
  • you can also crossfade between two clock or any CV signals.
4ms Company – Shifting Inverting Signal Mingler (SISM)
4ms Company - SISM
4ms Company – SISM

It is hard to begin to talk about this module, because you have to mention at least 4 different terms. Any signal can be turned inside out – boosted up, cut into (two) half(-ves), mixed, “mirrored” .

Apart from that, the MIX SWitch (jack outputs sum of all channels with nothing plugged into their output jack),
For DIY’ers: you can find a PAD breakout header (2×4) on the PCB which can be connected to an external DIY module that enables a pre-set pad (attenuation) on each channel. Any modulation signal of yours can receive its passport to new territories in new and simultaneous forms with this module!
Other good tools people seem to forget about…
You might want to remain simplistic or regard polarizing as an enhancer of the modulation section of your system. A tool that “shifts” and turns signals “inside out”…
Yet, do not forget: polarized audio signal + feedback = new filter curves!
Mutable Instruments: Veils (a quad VCA), Blinds and of course Kinks!
Intellijel: Triatt (a classic one – a more thought-out and feature rich reincarnation of the Doepfer A-138c Polarizing Mixer)
ssf-gndSteady State Fate – GND Cntrl: some users crave visual feedback and precision. I much more prefer numeral feedback than staring at visuals on a small screen. Each to its own… The SSF Gnd Cntrl matches and attenuates / divides audio and CV signals to minute hyper-precision ranges. Ideal for live or studio!
AWM-3 – VC mixer and wavefolder

And finally, something new: these tools are getting more and more varied each year: a new module is the AWM-3 from Vintage Synth Lab. It is an all analog, real-time, complex wave-shaping (triple wave-folder) 3-channel mixer module with added features of compression and multiple mix modes including matrix mixes.

NAMM 2017 series - Live Q&A with eurorack makers & Richard Devine

The Analogue Zone is right there at NAMM 2017, live and direct every day! They are organising a live stream starting in a few hours with eurorack makers and the one and only Richard Devine.

Analogue Zone encourages every one of their customers or viewers to send them their questions to be asked at a live q&a session from NAMM with eurorack makers Dan Green (4ms), Tony Rolando (Make Noise), William Matthewson (WMD) & Richard Devine!

Update: here is the archived stream in 2 parts:


NAMM 2017: The Eurorack Tape Echo

Danish manufacturer T-Rex Effects introduced their dual tape echo eurorack module which had started its life as a stompbox a while ago. No doubt that they made the sound warm and the CV ins smooth enough too.

Those who were waiting for their tape echo which won’t cost a fortune and can be integrated easily into their eurorack modular synths shall be delighted: The T-Rex Effects Replicator has a lovely sound, and the pedal had been already praised by a lot of users.  The CV ins are also slewn, so no harsh or “weird” modulation signal will eventually kill the motors or the tapes.  Talking of sound processing: its 8dB boost can send your already thick eurorack waveforms on a waveshaping holiday. The chorus and built-in filter produces smooth and subtle effects strictly based on the raw components’ and signals capabilities! It is worth attenuating the input signal though for softer and more minute effects. At ~8,7Vpp most oscillators and digital audio outs will be fine, though louder and more dynamic effects of some drum modules and tube modules might get distorted earlier. …We have just scratched the surface!
 
 
If you maintain it (demagnetisation can be done with ease, plus the tape heads which are also accessible need cleaning time after time), this module will never let you down.
 
 
Size and consumption should be considered: it is a little bit bigger than half of a typical eurorack row (44 HP), but in the age of big cases, it has become essential to provide your modules with enough power (4ms ROW POWER 40 or a ROW POWER 30 power supply modules will do he job).

Buchla Introduces the Aux Expander

What a pleasant surprise! Buchla has introduced a wonderful and handy expander for the Easel – in the same cartridge-type fashion as the iProgram Card.

Buchla - Music Easel Aux ExpanderThe card adds a third(!) oscillator to the already complex (carrier & modulator based) oscillator of the Easel. It also unleashes voltage control over the waveshape paramter which had not been CV controlled in the original setup. The low-frequency noise generator also adds more to the modulation palette of the Easel, and you can also control switch settings! It is a very handy  tool that is well-integrated, and it will surely grow on every user.

NAMM 2017 - Day 0

Analogue Zone is live and direct at NAMM, bringing us the latest and greatest at breakneck speed! Here is Day 0 with lots of eurorack news  – yes, literally during the show was still being built.
4ms Company came up with the latest and we guess the almost final version of a sampler with enough ease of use, memory and depth – a great and easy to use sampler that is in harmony with their earlier dual modules that you can get crazy with using their ground-breaking clock modules that made them famous… The new Tapographic Delay could be called a good contestant of the Rainmaker with less width. the price will be in the range of the SMR.

 Qu-Bit Electronix gives us the the Tone – a quad voltage control 24dB lowpass-bandpass filter – probably designed for the fantastically sounding Chord, and the Chance module, a Swiss Army knife of random signals including random rhythmic patterns. The Contour – a more modern take on the quad ADSR concept (coined in first by Doepfer) – shipping next week! Their Mixology has been updated with send-return, size-increase(!) thank god!) plenty of gain, and so on…

Pittsburgh Modular has updated their Lifeforms series with filters (a vactrolesque filter with unstable mode), adsr, mixers with new routings, oscillators …and and yes.. an in-rack mixer 🙂 Also, they have a new line of cases – with enough power till the next century.

WMD came up with a prototype trigger sequencer (an A-157 on steroids in short) Arpitecht, a beautiful quantizer concept.  Also (dj and live) performance oriented tools are a compressor, a filter with stereo width effect have been seen in their rack this year!

Steven Hansleigh from 2hp introduced yet again(!) a few new 2HP modules, including known concepts such as the tiniest Turing Machine, a multiple Clock source module or sample-and-holds which are new in this size. Each user will find at least one cool module to fill up the remaining 2HP space of their racks.
Endorphines were busy with updating their Shuttle Control, and their Grand Terminal is also ready for shipping. The Cockpit which we have seen last year is also an amazing routing and compression mixer tool!

Subscribe to Analogue Zone’s Youtube and Instagram channels for more daily updates!

Analogue Zone@NAMM '17

As every year, members of the Analogue Zone team packed up and have arrived to California to bring you the latest and best from NAMM. As it has already happened with Make Noise – 0-Coast, there might be some game changer synth news that you will hear from them first.

Make Noise has said they were coming up with a new module (rumoured to be a new digital collab module with Soundhack), Intellijel has promised 5 new modules both in the 1U tile and the standard 3U height eurorack category, and Noise Engineering has also something new to show. As Make Noise surprised us with the 0-Coast, plenty of eurorack manufacturers may follow their lead!

2016 has ended up with some nice melodies for eurorack (Tiptop Audio – QuantiZer & 2HP – Tune) – WMD is about to enter the quantizer game (of some sort) with their new Arpitecht module.

A1508_HRDoepfer is alive and kicking, coming up with new thru-zero VCO’s and an octal manual/CV controlled sequential switch! (It would not be an exaggaration to say that their A-150-sequential switch modules have always been on eof  their best-selling units).

Subscribe to Analogue Zone’s Youtube and Instagram channels for the latest news!