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…
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.
Tiptop Audio has already been one of the most innovative makers in let alone in the eurorack- but definitely in the electronic music making scene. Just think about the one and only stackables or the more affordable and expanable modular adapted TR-drum modules.
The RS909 is the precise 1:1 clone of the classic rimshot circuit in the TR-909. The classic combination of 3 oscillators which are fed into a VCA closed and opened with a snappy envelope known for the clicky attack sound. Pitches can be adjusted on the front panel more precisely than ever. Not to mention the RS909 – as all other Tiptop Audio drum modules – is adapted to modular gain (10Vpp).
The warming up had a great vibe all over already, but the all-day and all-night-long event of CV Fest is coming up this Sunday, and it is going to give you a memorable experience. Special synthesizers and modular systems, synth-workshops and educational demos for studio workers and producers, topped up by live acts only.
Doepfer’s monster case will be on display at the expo, which will create a lot of excitment for visitors: the considerable amount of modules in this system can educate you about the basics of synthesis, and also pays hommage to Dieter Doepfer, the true father of eurorack, a format which is getting more and more popular among users every day. Analogue Zone will also bring small synthsand drum machines to the show next to their especially exclusive Buchla synth collection.
Other distributors of audio and studio gear are also attending the event, Roland booked David Ahlund for the event, who will give an AIRA walkthrough and a live performance as well. Konstantin from Tiptop Audio is also coming but not alone this time as to Budapest Music Expo’s Analogue Zone booth. His ZV_K live act project will warm the hearts of techno lovers at night which will be supported by Hungarian live acts too.
Tickets are already available! Each participant will take part in a raffle and can have a chance to win great prices provided by the exhibitors. The main prize is a Moog analog synth, but you can also take home a Roland SBX-1 sync box!
On Tuesday’s CV Fest workshop we can get a better insight on the delicacies of the first Hungary-based eurorack module, the Kasleder Acid Fuzz, and the evening ends with a no-compromise modular techno live act. Apart from members of the Analogue Zone team, Csaba Füle, a Hungarian musician and instrument-builder is also attending the workshop with is DIY electronic instruments, including a clone of a 909 drum machine and a lot of custom fuzz effects. There will be many DIY fuzz effects to test the new MFB desktop drum machines either. As it should be in any synth workshop, everything will be observed by an oscilloscope.
This workshop can be regarded as a warmup for the bigger event on the 15th of May which will last a whole day, and will be attended by local and international distributors, as well as synth manufacturers.
CV Fest will be a great chance to get an insight of the Hungarian electronic music and festival scene, since many of the representative organisers and producers will be taking part in panel discussions and will be happy to answer the visitors’ questions. CV Fest will also be supported by an original modular techno live act from Berlin next to the Hungarian live acts.
The event starts in the afternoon with raffle games in which valuable prizes offered by the exhibitors can be won by the visitors. The further programmes include contemporary music performances by Bálint Baráth and Ákos Nagy, but David Ahlund of Roland will also be showing the best uses of AIRA products in a live music context. The daytime events also include a vocoder karaoke which visitors can try out for fun. The evening kicks in with concentrated techno live acts from local Hungarian artists (Banyek, Arrythmia), and the Berlin-based ZV_K duo is also coming with their full Tiptop Audio modular arsenal (Konstantin, the member of the project is also doing an exlcusive workshop during the day!)
The list of exhibitors and and participants’ names are expanding day after they, so it would be no surprise if further treats would be ready till the 15th of May!
Superbooth is on! It is good to see that either manufacturers are putting the final touches to one of their systems or coming up with great new additions to the eurorack world. Here are the videos from Day 2.
Tiptop Audio introduced the upcoming SD909 – Konstantin gave it a good tweaking as well:
Eowave, manufacturers of the famous Capsule Titan modular synth and body sensors for performances came to Superbooth with a new/old ribbon controller and modules including the Eowave Domino:
Waclaw from Bastl Instruments, the one and only creator of eurorack motor interfaces that you can hook up to acoustic instruments (or whatever you have on your mind) has come up with new sound processing tools this time:
Dan from Snazzy FX has a longer hair and new modules now! Here is a 2-pole resonant smudgy filter that can add harmonics (to my ear it is along the lines of the diode filters). The triple HiGain can adapt modular and line level signals with ease – or distort and waveshape stuff!
Soundmachines, the creator of brilliant touch controllers for modulars and the NS1 Nanosynth came up with a convincing hybrid analog voltage controlled synthesizer, the Modulör114:
Who wants the flattest modular system in the world? What is more, you can also create internal connections through pin headers to get rid off the spaghetti if you would like to with the Seismic Industries System 1 modules:
A good sounding battery powered ring modulator? Eurorack with banana and mini jack versions? Take a look at CG Products’ modular system:
Roll Your Own modules add all the things for you if you are on a budget and in need of DIY kits with good components! Their modules look and sound great and offer deep, creative and fun analog functionality, let that be sound processing, sequencing or logic!
The panel discussion with pioneers like Roger Linn and Robert Henke, also Tony Rolando from Make Noise could not go wrong in any way. Two videos from the panel discussion are available (one with the line audio and another with camera mic recorded – but kind of audible any way):
So that is it for Day 2 at Superbooth! Analogue Zone is coming up with new videos and streams today with a surprising live performance. 😉 If you don’t want ot miss anything, subscribe to their channel.
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!
The 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
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.
Although 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.
Konstantin Gervis has a long running path as a live performer. His approach to electronic music is simplistic and rigorous: regarding synthesizers and drum synthesizers as instruments which have to be learnt and practised over and over are often forgotten nowadays in the fast-paced world of tutorials and demos. This article is based on conversations we started with him at Budapest Music Expo’s Analogue Zone booth where he was demonstrating his Tiptop Audio rack – the brand to which he has been loyal since the introduction of their revolutionary TR-drum modules. Apart from talking of the best features that Tiptop Audio tools offer, he also gave us an eye on what is forthcoming from the manufacturer.
“My involvement with the company began when Gur was designing Station 252, I contacted him begging to make the case hand luggage compatible, sending him various airports and airlines allowances for hand luggage, that I was researching at the time. Also around that time I started getting back into playing techno again after an 8 year long break, I wasn’t happy with the drum sounds I was getting out of my machinedrum even though it was good for various percussion or even melodic sounds it wasn’t cutting it for me for the most important sounds, namely bass drums, hats, cymbals and toms. Basically I wanted a 909 and an 808.”
Konstantin saw the release of drum modules widely available and sounding exactly as – or to some extent even better than – the old Roland drum machines that defined genres as one of the greatest moments in his life. But not only these fantastic drum modules – tailor-made for eurorack modular environments – and their extra functions that had not been available in the originals kept his heart beating: it was Tiptop’s sequencers that completed the drum circle.
“…using single manufacturers’ systems or sub-systems or voices is the best way to use modules, the experience becomes more coherent and thus easier to actually create music as we are talking about musical instruments not some collector’s items after all. (…) What I find extremely fascinating regarding the modular in general is not so much the sound or sound creation possibilities (which is great, but so are many other instruments), but the clocking and sequencing arrangements, where splitting pitch values from triggers and poly rhythms is easily achieved and controlled. That’s where Circadian Rhythms and Trigger Riot are second to none. The Circadian’s timing is phenomenal and the swing is the best I have ever used. It is very easy to use, it is very ergonomic and very playable.”
His live performance rig does not end up at the drum modules and Circadian Rhythms, as the clock is distributed towards the Trigger Riot, a very refreshing concept, propagating towards alternative paths today’s next gen x0x drum sequencers. It is a clock divider multiplier module that works in Matrix or independent mode, hence each change of one beat affects the other outputs as well. (check
out our exclusive video with the module).
“The Trigger Riot is the best clock divider/multiplier there is, and more. The possibilities are just mind blowing. the fact that you can recall complex clocking arrangements is a game changer for me, priceless in a live situation. The latest firmware added some very cool functions.”
As in all modular systems, audio and modulation signals meet at one point. Konstantin is happy to process digital fx on his Z-DSP with his Z3000 oscillator which goes up to 32KHz. But we should not forget, that his Tiptop stack cables are used to connect all the modulation / information in his system. He points out very straighforwardly why these innovations are so brilliant in the eurorack world:
“The Stackables: for me those are the norm, I think multiples belong to the 5U world, but totally counter-productive and very messy in Eurorack. Now we can just relax like all those lucky Banana [cable] lovers, but shielded, so even more relaxed :)”
The MIXZ module add up to the reduction of cables since the audio can be mixed through the bus board while not picking up any unwanted noise. Konstantin mentioned during his stay that the new quantizer module by Tiptop will be able to make a clock / preset change connection between their modules, with the use of just one cable. It will result in more integration and a downsized cable jungle.
However convenience is already unlike anything that he used to experience. It takes the shortest time ever to get their systems set up when they are playing live together as ZV_K. It’s also great how tweakable everything is in a modular system and he hopes to hear more people using it live, jamming electronic dance music, as any other musician would do:
“I really want to hear more people playing with modulars as it really sounds glorious on proper PA systems. You don’t think the BD909sounds like whatever you want it to sound? just go and test it on a Function One….. ” (…) “I haven’t seen anyone playing pure modular sets except of Martin Dubka, who is vey very good! You can definitely find more courageous musicians playing modulars in the less famous locations. There are at least two event lines that represent modular (mostly) artists with an accent on techno but not elusively: Modulism, run buy Will Rankin with cooperation with TipTop Audio and Clockworks, run by Wouter von Jaspers from Koma Electronic.”
Apart from these tools that Tiptop Audio produced in the last few years or are to be releasing soon, Konstantin had a hard time to think about anything he actually lacks from their current live/studio setup. He says he would never see anything in futuristic eye-candy tools that are not practical:
“I want the people to start writing actual music with what we already have, music that is made by humans and move other humans. Made by playing and not drawing automation curves. It doesn’t matter if it was played with machines or acoustic instruments. I want go to concerts and enjoy the music, enjoy watching people perform. I don’t want to be entertained, i want an experience. As i am myself not and never will be an entertainer, i’m here to give you a never to be repeated musical experience, you either like it and flow with me or not. So no, not interested in gloves, wireless floating in space controllers, million and one buttons futuristically spaced over a cactus. That stuff should be in museums, galleries, art installations. Only interested in Eurorack Modular Systems and modules made by some of the greatest instrument designers of our time – people that I love, respect and trust.”
This year’s Budapest Music Expo was special groundbreaking for a lot of reasons. At Analogue Zone‘s booth, visitors were having a lot of fun and exclusivity around, since for the first the time in the Central-European region, they were able to meet eurorack modular manufacturers coming from Eastern-Europe to Brooklyn, and try out their custom built systems. On top of that, a eurorack prototype of a well-known Hungarian stompbox manufacturer also debuted at the booth. They had a lovely vibe in their well-designed booth – it was certainly a place where a lot of thought-provoking conversations, introductions to synths and also exclusive workshops took place.
Bastl Instruments were getting a lot of attention thanks to their servo-motor modules which were controlling various small percussion instruments. Their wooden case and booth design was really fun and aesthetic – their case will be seperately available later. All their handmade modules and synths are produced locally in the Czech Republic, including the PCBs.
The Erica Synths crew occupied one of the largest spaces in the booth, showing their prototypes new Graphic modules (the graphic VCO and sequencer) and their dual ADSR / LFO also one could see their brand new simple but lovely MIDI to Trigger module, which generates simple trigger signals based on MIDI notes and was used during non-stop underground live electronic music. The module was announced for the first time during the time of the exhibition and a few lucky raffle winners were also able to take it home.
The Erica Synths crew were really enjoying their stay here, and were getting a lot of attention. Girts, the man behind the company was emphasizing that they intended to bring a less masculine and more aesthetic type of approach are coming with plenty of new designs this year.
Konstantin came to the both as the representative of Tiptop Audio – showing up their upcoming quantizer module. He was also announcing a new case, when talking about the new quantizer module which was exhibited, he confirmed that new Serge modules were on the way from Tiptop, and it is said that many of them are in really advanced stages already! His techno jamming and general approach to live electronic dance music was also enjoyed and appreciated by the people around the booth. He – as other exhibitors – was playing in sync on the last day with other modulars as one master clock signal was sent from the Erica Synths case which was distributed in the whole booth! A pretty nice and often forgotten approach!
The UK side of the booth was also buzzing. Allan J. Hall from AJH Synth got a lot of visitors as people wanted make sure how his MiniMod system sounded like. His months of hard work of fine-tuning a Model D sound and realising it with 21st century electronics is a convincing achievement indeed. As he said, people were afraid that he was going to lose the characteristic sound of the classic – along with eliminating its inherent flaws – but no doubt that he won that game as well. It was especially nice of him that he helped around to install the Doepfer Monstercase at the corner of the booth. Its robust size and the oscilloscope next to it with laser projection on the wall gave the basic sound a synthesis a visual dimension which continuosly attaracted visitors too. Bernard from Doepfer Musikelektronik was controlling the synth, giving insight to a lot of people around.
Next to Allan, Justin from Abstract Data was having a great time with his system, especially when it was also synced to the other modulars in the booth. His Octocontroller module was busy every day and he was – as all other manufacturers – giving a short demonstration going into details about his system.
Michael from Birdkids had an impressive table with a small but powerful modular system – their Bateleur VCO with both of its 2 new expanders made it an outstanding synth-voice which was played around by several visitors. He was mentioning a “stackable” filter in the works, and he was kindly discussing design difficulties, and even came up with DIY tips for more advanced users.
Trent Gill from Mannequins – who had also held a Monome / Mannequins workshop at the Analogue Zone showroom 2 days before the show was having lively conversations with the people around. Even manufacturers were amazed by the complexities and odds (and evens) of their Monome Mannequins combo systems. However, it turned out quickly how playable and musical they are. He said that a final stage that had not been designed yet in their systems is their envelopes. Not able to leak a lot of details here, though I can confirm that he decided on the Serge-way of doing things. 🙂
Analogue Zone a lot of other new synths to the public, including the new Sequential Prophet 6, people often queued in front of that wonderful new/old polysynth. Not to mention such rare instruments as the Buchla Music Easel, and its latest version, the Easel K, which had its European debut at the booth as well, but recent euro modules like the Roland AIRA modular series were on display. As a Hungary-based
retailer, they were happy to announce the prototype of a Hungarian eurorack module by stompbox manufacturer Kasleder Effects, which luckily made it to the show – it is going to be out soon exclusively at Analogue Zone with a lot of audio and viceo demos! As a voltage controlled germanium fuzzer / limiter, it adds subtle grainy or harsh textures even to a simple sinewave – people praised for its versatile sound and also for the build quality – it will surely be loved by a lot of people. All sound was put out on lovely Monkey Banana studio monitors which offered a good taste of the signals people were able to check out.
All in all, the unprecedentedly exclusive Analogue Zone booth with its workshops, friendly and open mentality and intimate environment at the Budapest Music Expo, a new paradigm was set both for the local and global synth scene and surely, visitors and manufacturers benefited from it, and will be likely to experience a larger edition, next year (click here for the 2016 show’s facebook event).