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!
As some of you might have seen, Tom Oberheim and Dave Rossum, two living legends of synthesis (SEM and OB Synths, the name E-MU and more…) have joined the eurorack world.
Tom Oberheim has introduced two of their eurorack modules. In his conversation with Analogue Zone, he confirmed that not only the SEM Plus is exactly the same circuitry as the desktop version, but it will also feature more waveforms and more patch points, so every parameter will be voltage controlled and can be patched out to use with your other favourite eurorack modules. Along with the SEM Plus, a sequencer was also introduced with full on MIDI in and out, preset storage, ratcheting, A/B pattern and portamento, and many more…
The man behind Rossum Electro Music is another man that needs no introduction. Let it be the E-MU Modular in the 70’s, or the classic SP samplers, analog or digital, this man is a driving force behind electronic music in the last few decades. His latest two modules, the Evolution is the classic ladder filter with unprecedented details though, not to mention the Morpheus, a filter with the greatly sought-after morphing function – only available as a standalone and standard feature from Synthesis Technology previously in eurorack. The most detailed envelope generator, highly praised, often compared to the complexity of the Buchla systems was also introduced here. We also saw the Satellite, a sequencer/LFO combo.
We thought that the man should speak for himself, so we made an exclusive interview with him. Dave told us about the past, the challenges of eurorack adaptation, the complexity of the Control Forge, and the warm atmosphere of the eurorack world:
It seems that the old masters are here in eurorack at last, and they are here to say. Tom closes his presentation with suggesting that it is just the begninng of an Oberheim eurorack system! We would like to give a warm welcome to these legendary instrument makers!
Endorphin.es is about novel things that you feel good with. Their introduction of a radically new design philosophy, which has broken the monotony of the many ever-silver eurorack frontplates with the most playful and colorful looks is just the outside. They provide innovations that make you have fun with complexity, without scratching your head too much. We talked to Andreas Zhukovsky from the company to tell his stories about their first module, their approach with their latest hardware updates and last but not least, what they are bringing to NAMM2016 which Analogue Zone will be covering on its Youtube channel!
Endorphin.es Furthrrrr VCO was something just a bit ahead of its time. It was among the first comlpex eurorack oscillators on the market. The former two oscillators were recreations of the 259 Buchla oscillators but in my opinion Endorphin.es cute monster won in my opinion as far as forward thinking and musicality is considered. At the time of designing, Andreas had an idea about doing synthesis backwards:
“….a thing-in-itself approach – to test if harmonic’s waveshaping in analog environment will work out in an interesting way. In experimental and avant-garde music filters come after the oscillators and playing with the harmonics in an interesting way recreates the principle of a filter somehow. One simply have to apply different modulations to play with the harmonics instead of filtering. There was a very good example from WIZOO’s Kawai K5000 book [Kawai K5000: Introduction to Additive Synthesis, Advanced Sound Design, Tips And Tricks by Dave Bellingham and Peter Gorges] to describe difference with that – namely nowadays we call it east- and westcoast – as you make a statue from a piece of stone cutting off the rest or as you paint the picture and mixing different colors. And both means give interesting output and evolve with one another.”
Apart from endless tonal variations one will just never forget about the gorgeous-looking sweet design once it was seen somewhere. Actually, it was the first frontplate I was proudly showing it to people uninsterested in synthesis before (yes, women as well). They did start asking questions. Also, I read a dozens of pages of forum discussions about the look “not being serious”. It really broke apart from everything at the time, while remaining functional as well:
“Our initial approach didn’t suppose making a faceplates just for the fun but a meaningful instrument that someone will use. A real tool for artists. Endorphines grew up like weed and now we have a full system – an independent performance instrument. We travel with it all over the world in hand luggage and don’t even bother if it is ~220v or ~110v in the wall outlet. We also make approaches into related but differently established spheres of industrial design. We are interested into visuals and apparel and you will see some new stuff at upcoming NAMM Show 2016 and later on at SUPERBOOTH16. So far, we developed pretty much a lot for that time we are not ashamed about.”
Technology and innovation is another place where Endorphin.es have provided us with unprecedented tools…
“When it comes to the functions – usually a few words is enough to describe something that module can do. However technically that always a big challenge to implement every even tiny but smart feature, that comes out afterwards in a complex rework. For years we try to improve or even re-invent the approaches of interacting with instrument. We truly believe our new auto-tuners in the Gateway is a breakthrough in sense the tuning the oscillators – it is a one-button-press solution. Our envelopes in Terminal don’t stretch in time when changing the slopes of the curves and easily go into voltage controlled audio range and even without aliasing:
“We’ve made band-limited triangle VCO core same as our initial analog one with both hard and soft syncs – the new Strong Zero VCO core for Furthrrrr Generator, so aurally people even may not even feel the difference until it comes to a musical linear FM.”
While a lot of things have become common sense in synthesis for a wide range of users, thru-zero FM still leaves a lot of people scratching their heads. Well, it adds all these metallic, bell-like, whistiling and crystalline tones to your oscillator – if it is capable of accepting it. Thru-zero means that the voltages “cross” the 0V section and start moving backwards – that is why this modulation is so rich in tones, because otherwise only the positive end would have been affected. A VCO core’s manufacturing process would be considered as dry and not so exciting, however Andreas and his team have found the handcrafting beauty in it as well:
“Utilizing the same pinout from stock analog VCO chips, we did a digital implementation of that core that accepted same voltages, tracked the same frequency range (1v/oct usually even without v/oct re-tuning), and had all the functions one may ever need from a VCO. Every Furthrrrr Generator is supported. Because of a very small space on a PCB, we had to use very dense double-sided components placement and increase the length to fit the STM32 ARM Cortex-M4 microcontroller. There is enough space on the backside of the Furthrrrr so the new core may fit there anyway, however we already found very cool metal boxes and liked them so much – a special packaging into which the new VCO core must fit and in which it should be delivered to the customers. The metal box from a VCO core may be used afterwards for storing some small things like pills etc. After a few days we’ve managed to make the Strong Zero VCO core length of 42 mm which is less than two centimeter increase comparing to the stock VCO which is 24 mm:
Simultaneously with the Gateway (Terminal XPansion) we released Strong Zero VCO Core. From the beginning we had our own analog VCO cores for Furthrrrr Generators – small discrete chips, which are manufactured and encapsulated separately and then attached in the sockets to the rear side of the Furthrrrr. The core itself is a heart of the oscillator that generates basic triangle and square waveforms from which all the rest waveshapes are derived. It may look like a routine process to make a separate small PCBs with the size of a DIP chip. Then find proper thermal conductive epoxy that enables proper compound of elements in exponential converter and make it stable under thermal fluctuations. After roundabout two days epoxy is fully dry and the cores are ready to oscillate. After all, that becomes a pure handmade labor of love.”
The company does not just physically update their products – the line of expansion the release of the Shuttle control module itself have given a very well thought out and undeniably one-of-a-kind feature – which is not just closed to one system. I love the idea of hitting some patching going on a tablet on the way home which would wait for you… And that is what the Shuttle control does already with more functions:
“Shuttle Control easily holds any USB-MIDI controller simultaneously with iOS/Mac/PC and the new Cargo2 firmware with bi-directional MIDI-THRU and tap LFO is lovely, just lovely. This new Cargo2 v2 firmware for Shuttle Control with a lots of new additions and bugs fixes was recently released (http://firmware.endorphin.es). We were working on it and tested so hard so now it seems a proper time to announcement. That’s not a simple bug fix but a fundamental update recommended for every Shuttle user. After stabilizing the MIDI Sync clock and adding some old USB-MIDI devices support we added bi-directional MIDI THRU from USB device-to-host and vice versa incl. host loop-back. You may now play a MIDI keyboard and simultaneously record the notes into your DAW or distribute clock from your Mac running Ableton Live to Novation Bass Station 2 and modular both connected to Shuttle or create a chain of your MIDI devices. Musicians may find useful TAP LFO controlled by a certain (or any) note to immediately synchronize your layout after literally three consequence finger taps on your keyboard. After Dave Smith followed Endorphines and implemented linear FM at his Prophet 12, we implemented more classical polyphonic voices allocation (CV/GATE) to prevent notes interruption by upcoming notes as was introduced in early Prophet and Oberheim synthesizers. “
The best thing about Endorphin.es is that they are selfless and altruistic when it comes to compatibility with other manufacturers who would in one way or another their competitors. The latest addition of the Cargo 2 firmware is another proof of this:
“Recently we’ve got a few emails from entirely different persons who wanted to connect their Elektron Octatrack or Analog Rythm to the Shuttle Control and while Elektrons act as a master clock, use one more MIDI controller to play notes or generate CC for modular. After a short brainstorming, a complement mate to a Shuttle was created and will be released at upcoming NAMM. We look forward to a deeper iOS integration into a modular system (and even when no one cares Apple may abandon headphone jack in the new iOS devices) – we will show at NAMM some finalizing and missing part to complement full 84HP-ed Endorphines row in a smart housing.”