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!
Whenever we want randomness we want more of it with even more control. The URA is just unbeatable in that way at the moment if you consider either price or space consumed by the module.
A white noise generator is usually created by a flow of accidental collision of electrons resulting in an even distribution of frequencies our ears tend to hear as “mid-range” hiss. In reality, if we were precision audio analysers, we would be able to hear all frequencies, it is our ears’ and sense of hearing that results in this perception.
The Ultra Random Analog features two of these sources which act as the fundation of randomness. Imagine we could take “snapshots” of these randomness by another “on-and-off” signal, which would result in stepped random voltages. The URA has two of these, and on top of that, their result is also routed to a toggle switch which alternates between the outputs. This toggle switch also has a sepearate clock! Not to mention that once we get tired of the noise, we can feed any input signal via the sample inputs.
We aren’t always in need of harsh steps though. So imagine you could add “portamento” to these fluctuations. Then, sometimes we would also like to control the randomness, e.g. to generate only positive voltages with usually a short or long “on” stage, i.e. triggers or gates. Imagine an “exclusive” “positive only” output instead of a random output on a Doepfer A-118, which would also generate ideal length pulses or gates. Even the division of these can be controlled on the front panel.
Sometimes as in case of many complex modules, the functions may not be entirely new, but the all-in-one concept indeed justifies the price. You may “have” something along the lines of URA from the following Doepfer modules (one could argue endlessly about different versions e.g. using different LFO’s, I’ll just say it is one of the possible options):
Not only you may end up not having as much fine-tuned randomness as you expect, or even as steady clocks which function well at audio rates as well, but even price and rack space-wise they would cost more.
Random signals are often stereotypically related to disturbing and noisy sound-art, however they may turn out to have beautiful series of scales. Bring a quantizer like uScale to the game and modulate the URA’s clock and the oscillator you pitch control with both URA’s outs and the URA’s clock modulation source and you will get into the territory of endless musical randomness. And that was just a mere overview of the basic functions. A whole musical sequence with various parts, envelopes and drums can be built up by this module with pleasant surprises which you will hardly get tired of!
So far “only” three modules have been released in the Mannequins-series (the latest RIP module is a reverse compatible line / modular in-out), however it is already difficult to summarise why these works of art are so wonderful, and this is not only due to the functional richness: Mannequins modules’ new paradigms add multidimensional functionality into your system.
Mangrove – the uncertainly talking oscillator
Apart from modulating its pitch, this oscillator works in spectral dimensions, since multiple events take place simultaneously at the same time: if you turn it up, sooner or later, harmonic content is added with a great tonal delicacy – the harmonics are not limited to overtones, but undertones occure as well, as the VCO’s core retriggers the cycle in delay.
Naturally, both the waveform and the built in filter controls the threshold of these undertones. So forget the good old term pitch for a while, because here you can reach sub- and upper octave harmonics with fun and ease! Apart from linear FM, the oscillator has a built-in FM index as well. Among these paramters, a lot of uncertainties may occur, but all this can be eliminated with a flick of a switch.
Three Sisters – filters born from within each other with alternative parameters
It would not be exaggaration to say that the idea of filters in eurorack seems pretty much exhausted, however, with hard work Mannequins brought novelty into that are as well. Before dwelling into another comprehensive list of functions it is worth mentioning some of the most interesting user reactions.
Many peopl say that Mutant drums really sound good through the Three Sisters. But the most interesting general impression is that one was able to truly relate it to any of the filter families. Users may come up with comparisons to Oberheim- and Korg-type of filters at the same time, however, it these comparisongs are not used as pieces of evidence, but only as a sheer attempt to describe their experiences, with not much success…
In the Three Sistersben a 12 dB bandpass filter is added between a 24 dB high- and lowpass filter pair. In another mode, all three filters act as 12 dB bandpass filters. With these, you may create those humanly impressing vowel-like tones, however they are also lovely to use with drum sounds (don’t forget that certain electronic drum sounds are oscillating bandpass filters after all). If you push the resonance “too far”, a tritone sine chord appears which tracks 1V/ octave.
So far sceptics may say that this filter is after all a simple multimode filter with certain notch possibilities, that can ring nicely as well. Here comes yet another twist then! Resonance paramters are usually in the 0 … + range in most filters, here though it is in the bipolar range. The result of it is multi-dimensional: a) thanks to phase cancellations we can derive a “dry/wet” mix parameter from it b) use the module as a shelving eq!
All three filters are controlled by ONE cutoff knob – so far you might have all this in an A-106-5 or A-106-6 – however, with the help of the Span knob you can achieve wider slopes of the filters – lowpass may cross highpass, and the downmost slopes of bandpass filters can gently touch one another, but if we desire so, every curve can be decreased and separated thanks to “anti-resonance”.
Apart from the fact that these excellently linked parameters can create tonal content, new timbral areas may also appear. This filter has already been compared to a lot of other ones with not much success, and it is both being praised for its more bread-and-butter and complex sides. The Three Sisters deserves a lot of attention.
Cold Mac – Everything can be suddenly changed. Seperately or together with one big knob.
If one did not find the earlier functions that were crossing over into and morphing out of each other, here is Mannequins’ take on the utility module. With this one, parameters can be further processed and abused. This tool, in which you may ifind logic and wavefolding functions, a special envelope following function (following volume level and also realising a “raw” full wave rectified output), and the unmissable VCA/panning functions should be imagined in use together with the oscillator’s and filters outputs, even in cross-modulation. I would not be able to list the utility modules that Cold Mac can replace by itself, not to mention that it exceeds them in other respects… The most interesting parameter could be Survey: in practice, you can control 6 outputs at once,carving out different symmetries of CV signals from the modulated signal.