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!
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.
It lets you have what only Elektron masters could: paramter locks in step sequencing. The drum machine is also MIDI compatible – so any digital or DAW integration would not be a problem. Each knob can send(!) and recevie MIDI (CC). Individual outputs, MIDI in, out and THRU, and a solid metal chassis would not make you feel that you should have spent more. Not to mention that there are 5 LFO’s that you can manipulate the voices.
The Tanzmaus is a followup to the original 503 drum machine. 5 LFO’s are also here to manipulate other parameters. This is a different – but definitely not cheaper – sounding drum machine in which you have sample-based drum sounds as well available from MFB’s website. Oh and the Claps are in stereo – I would say a great hint that the module is more targetted towards users intend to create works in house-esque genres. 🙂
All in all, MFB has progressed a lot and we were very happy to see this at NAMM, live!
Justin from Abstract Data brought a lot of surprises to NAMM this year! Apart from firmware upgrades, he is teasing us with some new/old modules as well.
His take on the idea of a multi-VCA and the envelope look tempting, but the new Logic Boss made me really inspired. It is a lot thinner than the old one and the idea of cycling through different logic modes via CV, all in one module keeps on occupying my mind. This module will bring so many rhytmic variation – another conceptual hit this year at NAMM. Cheers Justin, hope to see you at Budapest Music Expo ’16 again!
Intellijel is back with new stuff in style! They brought 3 new modules, an extra CV bus module and a new great looking and functional aluminium cases as well!
The Rainmaker, a long-awaited collab module with Cylonix is also
here. A multi-tap pitch shifting delay which is freezable and randomisable, packed with a resonator and tunable filter – a digital sound effect you could use for the latest trend among eurorack makers (think of MI – Elements or MN – Mysteron), that is, modal synthesis.
The Jellysquasher is a decent multimode compressor / distortion. It offers tubesque distortion, symmetrical distortion and low-end booster type as well! It is indeed spectacular how many different genres this module will enrich! Everything has smooth control and you can monitor the signal on a LED bargraph.The sidechain circuit (which would probably be the hit of this year’s NAMM) also features a multimode filter as well. You will be able to use two in stereo!
Mordax Systems is a new manufacturer who was ready to amaze us with the most complex eurorack oscilloscope with spectral analysis, voltage monitoring, and even signal generating functions.
The Mordax – Data is based on a classic concept of a digital bench scope. For us, the coolest feature – apart from the many great functions of it both as a scope (standard scope, voltage monitoring, spectrogram) and as a generator (it is capable of generating clocks or gates, even dividing and mutliplying them) and oscillator waveforms) – is that you don’t lose your signals either because it has buffered thru outputs as well. We bet that future firmware updates will provide us with more lovely functions!
Check out our exclusive video with the manufacturer from NAMM ’16:
Make Noise has made a very strong start this year at NAMM ’16. The 0-Coast is available in spring!
Make Noise 0-Coast is a small patchable single voice monosynth. Don’t be fooled by the word mono though thanks to its modulation capabilities. It is MIDI implemented, with a mini-MIDI-jack.
Even the control voltage adding and subtracting is nice already. Waveforms are also really twisted: the oscillator is empowered by a multiplier and an overtone generator. All this can be controled and reduced by the fundamental control which would also act as a kind of sub oscillator.
The slope generator (also functions in audio rate) is different from Maths and the 0-Coast also has a contour generator apart from that.
Sounds very lovely with really thought-over functions. It is a really strong start for Make Noise’s first desktop product!
It will be available in 2-3 months! You can pre-order now!
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.”
Waldorf has thrilled a lot of us with their new KB37 product, which will be shown at NAMM 2016 and Analogue Zone will be covering it with an exclusive video as well on its Youtube-channel.
The German manufacturer has entered the eurorack world last year with its NW1 wavetable synth, and this year it will be showing 2 new modules, an VC compressor and a VCA as well. However, the most impressive looking product seems to be its rack – keyboard combo, the KB37. It is a simple yet brilliant idea which had not been realised before in a ready-made format: the modules could be installed to a rack above the quality FATAR keyboard, and it is clearly visible that the KB37 will have more control functions (modwheel, pitch wheel and other octave switches(?) and other interesting parameters are visible) on the panel next to the keyboard which will have velocity and aftertouch functions as well. It will have a precise CV/Gate and MIDI DIN and USB interface too!
We believe it will be truly tempting for a lot of users to enter eurorack, but it will also have great possibilities for users with advanced systems.