Tag Archives: vco

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.

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).

4ms SMR firmware upgrade: Chords & More Scales

Everyone’s favourite clock and utility module makers, recently turned sound-processing eurorack manufacturer 4ms Company is about to release the V5 firmware update on their Spectral Multiband Resonator module.

smr-v5firmware

  • The module can be used as a 6 voice sequencer
  • A chord generator (nice move since the recent release of Qu-bit’s Chord module)
  • and can also be used as a “VCO controller” acquring a well-adjusted V/octave control for your (up to six) oscillators
  • Also, you can check out the latest scales that have become available in SMR (as you know it is not only a dynamic bandpass filter, it has always been able to generate scales in self-oscillation since the beginning):

smr-scales

 

 

 

 

 

 

We are thankful for this update and cannot wait to try it out! Read our earlier post on our favourite 4ms modules / concepts! Stay tuned for the update on this page!

Erica Synths unleashes its hybrid monster tube-oscillator

Last year I still had to introduce Erica Synths to people. It has become obsolete this year. No wonder, since the Eastern-European company provides us with excellently built and designed multi-functional modules at great speed with no issues regarding quality! Look, they have just upgraded their fusion series!
Erica Synths - Fusion VCO
Erica Synths – Fusion VCO

A VCO? Actually, we are talking about 3 VCO’s: one wavetable / digital VCO which offers stable basic waveshapes which can morph into each other, and 2 tube-based sub oscillators empowered with a lowpass filter.

The thing I have always liked in the Erica Synths fusion tube modules is that they are not meant to go crazy. They add a decent empowerment to the whole sound of a particular patch. Sub-oscillators would be typically square-waves, here they can be rounded off with internal filtering and waveshaping as well. A pretty “all in one” concept, like a Bateleur VCO. You will not need further adjustments to “get that oscillator right”. If you don’t like the sound or get a little bored with it, an external audio input is also available.
Listen:

 As for the other Delay/Flange Ensemble has not got a dedicated demo yet. We will be waiting for it. Having heard Erica fusion chorus/delay modules live already, I have to say that they do their musical job very decently. Looking forward to test these in the Analogue Zone showroom!
Read our interview with Girts, one of the men behind Erica Synths!

Erica Synths are getting into wavetable business

Having us teased with their graphic VCO and their PICO series recently, Erica Synths just came up with a brand new wavetable VCO.

black-wavetable-vco-1The Black Wavetable VCO seems to feature functions experienced modular users have already heard of: wavetables with morphing and CV control is something we have used in our beloved Braids and Morphing Terrarium, yet they managed to make it more compact and indeed, the waveforms do sound more fresh and adjusted. The module also features a sub-oscillator. Here is the video, worth watching from beginning to end. The module will ship with upgradable ROM chips with more waveforms to be announced.

New Surprises at NAMM '16 - Birdkids

NAMM has shown us a lot of surprises, but the Austrian restless manufacturers have come up with a lot of impressive modules.

birdkids

After conquering the oscillator market with The Bateleur – a full analog thru-zero VCO with a built in filter, the new Birdkids VCO modules are here. It’s a dual analog VCO and a wavetable VCO. Birdkids also came up with a CV bus, like in the Make Noise Shared Systems, however here you have extra logical functions as well.  Birdkids are here to stay indeed, and their modules have started forming a system of their own – who knows where they will end up in future?

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Sculpting and coloration in synthesis - Andreas Zhukovsky (Endorphin.es)

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:
 
Andreas & Moritz from Endorphin.es (source: Horizontal Pitch)
Andreas & Moritz from Endorphin.es (photo: Horizontal Pitch)

“….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:
 
furthrrr
(Photo: greatsynthesizers.com)

“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 cterminalomes 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 improgatewayve 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 endzero_3 (1)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:

 vco-cores
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
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 shuttle-control-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.”
 
 

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DSI teams up with Chowning for new Prophet 12 OS

The end of the year seems buzzing with tiny but sought-after upgrades of synthesizers and modules. After the release of Endorphin.es new Strong Zero VCO core, Dave Smith Instruments teamed up with John Chowning, the father or discoverer of FM synthesis to upgrade the Prophet 12‘s firmware.

Here are the new main features in the Prophet 12 OS:

  • Classic linear FM synthesis
  • Support for up to 16 alternate tunings (a set of 16 popular tunings is included)
  • MIDI note output from the arpeggiator
  • Assignable voice stacking in unison mode
  • New modulation destinations
You can watch a video with the creators here:

Roland System 500 first impressions - constructive decency

Veijo Laine visited our showroom to demonstrate the basic functions, and – most importantly – have fun with the new Roland System 500 modular system. It gave us a lot of great moments, and we got a lot out of them, even with a simple CV/Gate keyboard. Here are our first impressions for you.

We were playing some classic tunes on it, everything sounded good from epic rave Dune melodies to Boards of Canada. But it could even do lovely electro stuff. It is just decent enough for a lot of electronic music genres.
The oscillators are pretty cool and detuning them was also a pleasure. Again, I was not really modulating them with anything harsh, just basically tweaking them, controlling it with a Keith McMillen QuNexus. I’m sure a lot of people will find some decent modulation patches as well. I guess it will stay just musical and not too harsh. It seems that it is not meant to be abused. Syncing them, I was back to these documentaries of the 70’s and 80’s. Which means a lot of classic harmonies that sound good just everywhere, even when I considerably detuned them.
The filter has a lovely resonance tone to it, but the phaser is especially sweet, offering a “talking” synth sound, even with simple manual control. The analog delay is a really rough, sweet sounding BBD delay, with all the noise people love about the pre-digital sampler era. Rather closer to a chorus and flanger than an actual delay, I was able to add different yet still likeable flavours to the System 500’s sound.
The gate delay can create interesting timing settings, even in free running modes, e.g. when you’d like to trigger the two envelopes with one synced and another delayed gate.
As for the controls, spacing so many functions in 16HP, mostly dual(!) modules was considered to be an engineering challange. Some might want more spacing, others will be happy with what they have. As you know, apart from the ADSR’s, almost everything is CV controlled so you can modulate every parameter from the convenient distance and space you want to.
All in all, the System 500 will be a great and constructive addition to the eurorack world. Our hats off to Roland and Josh from Malekko – working in tandem with Japanese engineers – for making this happen. Expect the first batch in early 2016! Check out the archived stream of the workshop as well:

Further possibilities with the Furthrrrr Generator

Richard Devine has recently shed light on the Endoprhin.es new addition. It’s not a new module, it’s a new core to their ever popular and beautiful Dual Oscillator, the Furthrrrr Generator. The module has already made a lot of users forget the standard oscillator waveforms, so it is time to upgrade it even more.

Furthrrrr Generator New digital STRONG-ZERO Voltage Controlled Oscillator Core chip expands the frequency modulation possibilities to an entirely new level. New features look great, can’t wait to install it tonight:
futhrrrr-strong-zero• Instant thru-zero linear FM for your Furthrrrr Generator
• 16-pin DIP IC chip – VCO сore replacement that works with any Furthrrrr Generator
• Expands Furthrrrr Generators FM capabilities for obtaining new timbres – deeper, metallic timbres, entirely new sphere of sounds from light whistles to weird noises.
• Band-limited 12 bit resolution 80 kHz sample rate triangle and square waves generation. The waveshaper and folder remains analog.
• Together with Terminal, the Furthrrrr creates a powerful 2-operator modular FM-synth.
• 16 bit pitch CV and linear FM acquisition for proper microtuning and modulation operations.
• Hard and soft sync without aliasing as may be expected from stock Furthrrrr oscillators – via Richard
Devine’s facebook page