Tag Archives: vco

No two modules sound alike - In conversation with Michael Beim from Birdkids

Birdkids started out as a music label, but the creative work did not stop here. Interesting to see that music labels nowadays morph into instrument manufacturers: Justin from Abstract Data was telling us a similar story – after all, only ideas matter,  and they should not be limited to one field. Among a lot of things, we were talking to Michael Beim from Birdkids about the development of their analog VCO / synth-voice The Bateleur, which has been seeing more and more popularity thanks to its hands-on and intuitive controls, sounds and possibilities.

Analogue Zone:  What pushed you to realise an oscillator / synth voice and why do you find thru-zero FM so interesting?

Coming from a music production background, my main concern is always:
How does it sound? How does it perform in a real-life scenario be it a studio, performance or gig? Is there real innovation to the concept?
I always thought of the Eurorack concept as a bit of a compromise, yet an agreeable common ground for development.  When the decision came to port our circuit concepts to the Eurorack Format, meaning break it down into constituent parts – the voice would be at the heart of it, obviously. Since we have our special way of doing things at birdkids, we didn’t see the necessity of having a myriad of modules each fulfilling only one single function.

Our R&D process is: start with the things we do very well – then push them to the absolute limit of our abilities, possibilities and understanding, then question everything, learn as much as possible, take a lot of risks, put it out there for scrutiny in the hands of a merciless evaluation team, succeed a little, fail a lot, start all over – nail it. Birdkids would not exist were it not for the artists, engineers, scientists, hard-core users, friends and family surrounding us.

We’d like to see ourselves as our biggest critics, but the reality is – there’s always room for more scrutiny. You always have to factor in even more space for mistakes and give your concept time to grow naturally – give it its own voice!

Let’s take for example the concept of Through-Zero modulation, It might seem absurd that so many manufacturers are “jumping on the bandwagon” – seeing as this concept is essentially something we’ve been subjected to since the heydays of the DX sound. The biggest challenge for us was to see if we can approach the concepts of Through-Zero modulation from an absolutely musical angle in a 100% analog context. It was always meant to be a natural extension of the core’s palate – not a flavor of the month gimmick. It took a while to get it right from our own set of goals and expectations, but it was worth it!

Analogue Zone: You mentioned at the expo that a new VCF was in the works – is there anyhting else being developed?

At any given time we might have about 4-5 different modules in development. It is quite likely that only one will make it into production, It is a very long process, the amount of ideas and influences is almost infinite. One has to have a very strong opinion and position on a certain design for it to filter through the mincer of scrutiny.

Currently we’re finalizing a 100% analog dual VCO/LFO/CLOCK with hard and soft-sync, it is the perfect complementary modulation unit for our System but will go beyond the initial purpose, as a standalone, central Voice without a doubt. Furthermore there will be a complex multiple EG and an exotic VCF. 2016 is shaping up to be our busiest year yet 😉

Analogue Zone:  What is the biggest lesson you have learnt so far as a manufacturer?

Generally in a product line we like to focus on a small number of functional elements and execute them flawlessly and coherently in the long run, there is no set deadline for a product, it’s either all that we ever wanted it to be, or it isn’t released at all. We’re always looking for an organic symbiosis between sound, functionality, intuitive operation and design – but above all – ask ourselves over and over again – does it contribute musically? With that concept in mind from day one we had to learn to be even more patient in daily operation.

Sometimes things do not go as planned, sometimes a set deadline is disrupted by failed deliveries, a manufacturer’s  failure to produce components in time, botched runs of material, discoloration etc. etc. However the biggest lesson – and perhaps one that seems painfully obvious, even banal once you articulate it for the first time:

The product and brand always has a market value, which is transient, the main value though is an intrinsic one. This intrinsic value has to be cherished and nurtured. It can never fail, it is the very modus operandi – the spark that drives us. We’d like to see ourselves, as a permanent start-up, always struggling for more, always young and foolish and idealistic – unique in our approach, unique in our aesthetic values and self-set goals. We will always strive to develop something that is simply impossible to develop in a given context, and break the rules of what is deemed possible or advisable.

Analogue Zone: Where do you think this intrinsic value lies? Your oscillator has truly become an instrument, it gives you a feeling where you don’t feel limited and confined when you are using its interface. Could you just give some details on the process about how you managed to craft it like that?

Thank you very much, it’s very satisfying to have that kind of resonance! We’re very humbled by the amazing response – this encourages us to transcend the boundaries of a given medium! Our approach is purely a musical one, we work by ear. This might seem counter intuitive when talking about circuits, but the actual circuit, as complex as it might be – is just a means to an end.

During development you’ll see us talking in a synaesthetic manner, our vocabulary is that of color, shape&form, association and emotional impact. We’ll refer to a filter as bubbly-sharp, squelchy and silvery, or buttery muted with a shimmering halo around the edges. Same goes for our design choices when it comes to the tactile interface. Our strength lies in the amalgamation of our individual talents. We nurture those talents and give them space to evolve. Even our calibration process is performed by ear when it comes to final waveform output. No two modules sound alike, no two sounds will ever sound the same.

We like to think of listening to our VCO as having the privilege of zooming-in on a point in time and space, it will never recur, constantly shifting, constantly evolving. Everything we do at birdkids, be it development, design or presentation occurs from first principles – we’re looking for a fundamental truth in everything. From initial explosion of ideas around a core-suggestion, throughout extensive development and ferocious elimination process to a zen-like state – that is the birdkids way.

Analogue Zone: How did you like your stay at our booth at Budapest Music Expo and what were your impressions?

Coming from Vienna – Budapest is always like vacation at your older, rougher, artsy Brother’s place! A remarkably beautiful city.

Michael Biem (Birdkids)
Michael Biem (Birdkids)

I love the slightly shadowy quality, the contrast between the old, European Architecture and iron-curtain Era remnants. It’s a fascinating mixture and I always want to explore more, no single visit is enough!

Analogue Zone’s hospitality during our stay were exemplary. The Team made us feel at home from the minute we set foot in the Expo. The dedication and energy these guys exude is second to none. It takes true spirit to build something, especially on grounds that might not seem fertile at first, but Analogue Zone is doing it every day. I wish them the best of luck, success and full support – we’re very eager to return and really looking forward to 2016!

Birdkids Official
Birdkids @ Analogue Zone 

A new paradigm – Analogue Zone Booth at Budapest Music Expo

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
Bastl Instruments

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.

girts
Girts from Erica Synths

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.

graphic
Erica Synths – Graphic VCO and Graphic Sequencer prototypes

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.

Erica Synths Black Dual EG LFO
Erica Synths Black Dual EG and LFO
konstantin-mannequinsKonstantin 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 tiptop-systemwere 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!
ajh
An AJH MiniMod system

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 bernardthe 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.

 

 

 

laser
Analogue Zone Booth @ Budapest Music Expo 2015
justin
Justin from Abstract Data

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 Biem (Birdkids)
Michael Biem (Birdkids)
birdkids-table
The Birdkids booth

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.

mannequins
Trent from Mannequins

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

Kasleder - Acid Fuzz  - the prototype of the first voltage controlled fuzzer/limiter
Kasleder – Acid Fuzz – the prototype of the first voltage controlled fuzzer/limiter

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).
group-photo
Youtube videos from the show and Mannequins’ workshop are available on Analogue Zone’s Youtube-channel – subscribe now!

Further links: 

Analogue Zone – Analogue Modular Store
Bastl Instruments
Erica Synths@Analogue Zone
Birdkids@Analogue Zone
Abstract Data@Analogue Zone
Tiptop Audio@Analogue Zone
Roland AIRA Modular@Analogue Zone
AJH Synth@Analogue Zone
Buchla@Analogue Zone

Model D-t mindenkinek – az AJH MiniMod rendszere

Az eredeti Minimoog Model D szintetizátort tiszta, robosztus hangjáért szeretik a mai napig. Azt mondják, hogy pont egy kicsivel jobban szól, mint a Voyager. Azonban a drága ár mellett az elavult és gyakran sebtében összeépített technika miatti hátrányokat és hibákat is tűrniük kell a felhasználóknak. Ennek vége, ugyanis már a Musikmessén meggyőződtünk róla, hogy az AJH Synth MiniMod rendszerében a Model D hangja “a megszólalásig” újjászületett és bátran mondhatjuk, hogy sosem volt ilyen jó áron kapható és ilyen integráltan használható! Próbáljátok ki a rendszert a Budapest Music Expon az Analogue Zone standjánál sok más gyártó speciális moduláris rendszerével együtt, ahol magával a gyártóval is elbeszélgethettek!

Az AJH Synth mérnökei számára nehéz feladat volt úgy korrigálni a funkciókat, hogy maga a hang autentikussága se tűnjön el. Munkájuk során mindent leteszteltek és reprodukáltak úgy, hogy a már hozzánknőtt Model D-hibákat is kiküszöbölték: elsőként érdemes megjegyezni, hogy VCA-tól VCO-ig még a tápegységet is reprodukálták. (Igen, ez nem afféle hitbeli kérdés: akkor jöttem rá, hogy sok múlik a tápegységen, amikor 3 év után már hallottam hogy van differencia a 4ms Row Powerrel használt Doepfer moduljaim hangja és a hozzá épített DIY / Doepfer táp között.)
Kezdeném a legnyilvánvalóbb modulokkal, amiket mégis igen nehéz volt megépíteni: A glide és slew modul, mely funkciójáról, azt hinnénk, hogy egy egyszerű portamento kontroller áramkörről van szó, melynek ereditől különböző darabjai bármilyen konfigurációjú és gyártmányú alkatrészekkel helyettesíthetők. A tesztek során bebizonyosodott, hogy nem lesz ennyire könnyű a dolog (a zölddel a Model D görbéje, a bíborral pedig egy standardabb glide áramkör görbéjét jelölték – kattintásra nagyobb lesz a kép):
Glide slopes 1000

Pont ezek a (nem is olyan) kis különbségek is számítanak, ha egy ilyen kultikus hangszert szeretnénk újraépíteni. Nem hogy annyit tud ez a glide, mint az eredeti, hanem még plusz egy oktávnyi hangolási pontosságot is kihoztak belőle (az eredeti Model D glide csak 4 oktávon tudta tartani a hangolást). A zajgenerátornál se

Glide_Black_Side_small
AJH MiniMod – Glide & Noise

számíthatunk rosszabbra: a tranzisztorokat egyenként pontosan lemérve, egy Model D hangzásához viszonyítva győződtek meg a tranyók “rátermettségéről”. 🙂

(Igen, zajgenerátor és zajgenerátor között is van különbség – utóbbi szintén audiofil hóbortnak hangzik, pedig erről a tényről magam is meggyőződtem, mikor összenéztem egy SSF Quantum Rainbow 2-t a jó öreg A-118-asommal.)

Ezek után pláne azt gondolnánk, hogy Moog-típusú filterrel már a galaxisunk is teli van, és ez ma már az egyik legegyszerűbben megépíthető áramkörnek mondható. Azonban a kitaposott út is tartogatott meglepetéseket: a gyártók esküsznek arra, hogy kizárólag úgy jutottak el a klasszikus Model D hangzáshoz, ha minden egyes tranzisztort kézzel párosítottak, illetve a filter magjának jelszintjét

Contour_Black_Side_small
AJH MiniMod – Dual Contour Generators

és tápját is szabályozták. Ugyanez a szigor jellemezte őket a VCO megépítésénél is: kivéve persze az eredeti nyámnyilán működő hőmérséklet-kompenzációt, amit nagy leleményességgel úgy húztak ki a rendszerből, hogy az autentikus karakterisztika ne sérüljön!

Szintén óriási fontossággal bír, hogy ezeket a csodás 70-es évekbeli jeleket megfelelően burkolhassuk! A Dual Contour Generators modul képes létrehozni mindazt a meghatározó burkolást, amit a Model D-vel valósíthatunk meg, illetve azt a furcsa viselkedést is, melyet a mai napig vagy mérnöki hibának vagy zenei kifejezőerőt fokozó zsenialitásnak tartanak: az alábbi ábrán látható, ahogy az újratriggerelésnél (legyen szó billentyűről vagy szekvenszerről, a modulnak elég egy gate jel) a görbék egyre nagyobb amplitúdójúak lesznek. (Ez akár más modulokkal kipróbálva is érdekes eredményekhez vezethet):
MiniMod_Envelope
Az AJH Synth aprólékos és komoly munkát végzett. Mérnöki pontossággal és előlapi funkciókkal együtt biztosítanak minden felhasználót arról, hogy az a rendszer, amit a felhasználó eurorack házába építhet, a hőn áhított hangszer méltó reprodukciója, egy makulátlan módon újjászületett Model D szintetizátor, 21. századi funkciókkal.

 

Ne feledjétek, hogy személyesen is találkozhattok Allan J. Hallal a Budapest Music Expon az Analogue Zone standjánál! Várunk benneteket szeretettel!

“No limits of innovation” – In conversation with Ģirts Ozoliņš from Erica Synths

All of a sudden, we are gazing in admiration: living in an age in which innovative ideas of analog, digital or hybrid synthesizer-systems emerge and get realised in Eastern-Europe is indeed a culturally enriching experience, and brings about a lot of game-changing ideas. We were talking to Ģirts Ozoliņš about his brand Erica Synths, and how Eurorack has become a common ground for innovations, while he was also keen on providing us with clues about their forthcoming synth modules!

Analogue Zone: How is the Black-series going? What sort of feedback have you got from the users? What seems to be the biggest thing in there?  For me it’d be the digital noise generator.
erica-synths-messe
The Erica Synths Booth at Musikmess ’15

Ģirts: I’m really happy about starting to ship the Black series – that was a bit of investment in development and production. We wanted to launch at least 12 modules simultaneously, so that we can offer an entire synth. You can’t tell which of your children you love most! All modules are great and each has something special about it – if we can’t make a difference in something, we don’t start development. But I can agree that the Black Digital Noise brings some new ideas into noise generation.  We are getting the most feedback about that module and the Black VC Clock.

AZ: Where did the idea for the Black Digital Noise come from?
The Back of the Erica Synths Black Digital Noise
The Back side of the Erica Synths Black Digital Noise module

Ģirts:  A friend of mine, our ingenious outsourced engineer and musician/composer in one person, used to work in a company that develops and produces communication devices, and the technology behind this module is used in data scrambling –  linear feedback shift registers that generate random polynomials. Some classical drum machines and synths also used this technology in noise generation. But we went a step ahead – we use 2 shifting polynomials that interact with each other, and the selection of polynomials is CV controlled. This requires a huge pile of logic ICs, therefore we used programmable logic matrix – that great looking chip on the back of the module – I visually regard it also as pure beauty!

AZ: How are the remaining modules going in the Black-series? I’m referring to the Analog Noise and the Sine Core VCO.

Ģirts:  Priorities have changed In the process! 😀 We realized, we need to fill some gaps first – the next module will be the Black Abyss VCF – deep, classical sounding multimode filter utilising 8(!!!) matched transistor pairs, and a few slightly more compact modules – unique dual EG/LFO in 10HP module and super-precise Dual VCO with 2GHz clock rate and plenty of cross modulation features. But apart from Black series, we will have some more news soon!

AZ: The Black Abyss VCF sounds interesting and thought out really. However, the market is just loaded with multimode filters. What is the catch for you in it?

Ģirts:  Yes, I agree, there are lot of VCFs around. But most of them are clones or close emulations of some classical VCFs. We have our updated Polivoks VCF with the original Russian ICs in our Black line, and it’s one insane filter, I like it a lot! But we also wanted to have something more classical sounding, and most importantly – the VCF of our unique design. Therefore we established an objective to develop THE deepest, bassiest sounding LPF and versatile HPF with the smoothest controls and without the glitches that a lot of VCFs have. Therefore we took the ARP VCF design as an inspiration (I made several DIY ARP VCF designs, and I find it really great) and designed our Abyss VCF. Soon we’ll publish some VCF comparison demos.

AZ: You mention time after time that you owe most to the DIY-projects out there. The market seems to be divided now into 2 categories: new modules with a lot of SMD components that cannot be DIY’ed and the old through-hole ones. Some users see it as a kind of limitation for them since there is already a considerable segment of modules that they won’t ever be able to realise in a DIY manner. What’s your thought on this?

Ģirts: That’s, of course, economics – THT modules are more expensive to produce, and you can’t make them compact enough. For example, our Polivoks Midi-CV module will be semi-DIY, and a PCB will come with the pre-soldered SMD components, as the part count is large to make it THT in a reasonable size. And also there are some parts that come in SMD only. As technology advances, innovations require sophisticated engineering solutions and as eurorack has its size limitations it’s obvious that some modules will never be DIY. Therefore our development goes in both directions. Along with industrially produced modules we’ll keep offering DIY projects. The announcement of some cool DIY projects from us is about to be made.

AZ:  As a manufacturer, what has been the most challenging thing for you so far?

Ģirts: I wish we could have bit more development capacity! In September a friend of mine, genius engineer, will join Erica Synths full time and I’m leaving my primary (at the moment) work in advertising, and then the world will witness the full potential from us! 😀

AZ: What do you think about the limitations in the eurorack size? Are you satisfied with the spacing or would you go even further?

Ģirts:  Actually with the Black Series we put size limitations aside and brought functionality/usability to the foreground! The modules are designed to highlight main controls and make using modules really pleasurable. Build-quality is also concerned. Once you touch some Black Series modules, you will feel the difference!

AZ: Indeed: as soon as I start tweaking them, I feel that it is something different…  And the designs are fantastic. Could you tell us where the idea of the jellyfish came from? 🙂
EricaSynthsOffice_MB-11
Erica Synths HQ – Riga, Latvia

Ģirts: A design idea was proposed by a friend of mine from Carrebranding, and, I find that it really embodies the entire philosophy of modular synthesizers – ever changing, infinite possibilities in sound design, uncertainty and creativity. I wanted to make them glow in the dark, but, as we print panels with special ceramic paint, that can’t be scratched off, it appeared to be technically impossible. For the time being… We’ll try it later. 🙂

AZ: You teach marketing. What sort of aspects does it bring up to you in Erica Synths? Is there a fine line between “brand/product” and “work of art”?

Ģirts: Teaching is a side project to pass the knowledge to the next generation and to find young, possibly talented people to recruit to work in the advertising agency or in Erica Synths. My ex-student is now responsible for logistics and marketing in Erica Synths, and this EricaSynthsOffice_MB-5is how I contribute to the reduction of youth unemployment.  🙂 But I truly believe that behind a brand there always has to be an innovative work of art / product with an export potential. Otherwise it’s a waste of energy.

AZ: Do you care for other synth manufacturers works? Is there a builder who you really admire?

Ģirts: Over the last few years a number of producers has grown from some 30 to couple of hundred, so it’s hard to follow the entire scene! I admire Doepfer for starting all this eurorack movement, for making a category and for being patient for years before it got this big, also Bastl Instruments for making a difference in design and materials, and Make Noise for innovations. But I want to express my special gratitude and admiration to DIY developers – Music From Outer Space for their contribution to the DIY scene and projects with significant engineering background and education of the DIYers (basically he pulled me in this modular madness), Ian Fritz for his distinctive, innovative approach (I think, he’s one of greatest minds in musical instruments engineering), Michael Barton for making soooooo many affordable and great DIY projects, and many others!

AZ: Any future plans? Are you going to carry on with the Black series or is it done forever? A white series maybe in the future? 🙂

Ģirts: The Black Series is open for more products, and we’re about to launch the Graphic Series soon. We demoed the Graphic VCO at Musikmesse, and it’s almost done. We are working on the perfection of the firmware of Graphic VCO, and have 4 more Graphic modules in mind. Also, as I said, in a few weeks we’ll announce a few more DIY projects. The category of electronic musical instruments is soooooo exciting and has no innovation limits! I mean it.

AZ: Our last question… If you could go back in time and talk to Mr. Doepfer back in the 90’s where he only had been laying down the founding concepts of eurorack modulars, what would you recommend him to change? 

Ģirts: 😀 What would be the world like today, if someone had launched a nuclear bomb during the Carribean crisis? 🙂 But seriously, I think, what he did was very logical and smart:  fitting a modular synth into a standard industrial rack size. He must be really proud now that exactly this standard turned out to be a firing-ground of modular innovations.

Erica Synths Official
Erica Synths @ Analogue Zone

Nagy fekete medúzák Lettországból – az Erica Synths Black-sorozata

Ismét egy kelet-európai gyártó, melynek csinos medúzás moduljai egyre több áldozatot szednek. Sok próbálgatás és némi fülhegyezés után bátran mondhatjuk, hogy a lett Erica Synths Black-sorozata a XAOC Devices moduljaihoz hasonlóan nagyon rövid idő alatt el fog terjedni a felhasználók között.

A Black-sorozat moduljai sok mindenért szerethetők, de előljáróban két dolgot emelnénk ki: 1. Van hely az előlapon! Annyi szűk esztendő után láthatóan megfordult a szél: a lapátkezű eurorack-felhasználók fellélegezhetnek. 2. A funkciókat tekintve pedig megtalálhatók a régi kelet-európai (és kelet-német) szintézis koncepciók újragondolásai, a szoftveres környezetből frissen érkezett felhasználók felé tett gesztusok, illetve a XAOC Devices-ra jellemző digitális vezérlésben megvalósuló integráltság is.
Oszcillátor > Filter > VCA < Envelope
Az igazán vaskos hangú oszcillátorokat még mindig sokan kultiválják. A Varishape VCO (mind a Detune és XMOD verziók) a hullámformák itt a modulon keverhetők össze, és csak egy darab Erica-Logo‘Out’ feliratú kimenet található. Ez először furcsának tűnt, de mikor kipróbáltam, érdekes hullámformákat kevertem össze, és nagyon élveztem ezt a korlátozott játékot, ami több tekergetésre motiválja a felhasználót. Fun fact: a vaskos hang dícsérete mellett már többen észrevették, hogy mi történik, ha magas modulációs frekvenciákkal támadjuk meg az oszcillátort: szub-oszcillátora igencsak szerethető kaotikus zajokat ont ki magából.
A Polivoks VCF-et, a 80-as évek “orosz Minimoog”-jának gúnyolt Polivoks szinti nyers, agresszív szűrőjét nem kell bemutatni. Itt extra funkciókkal kapod meg, az eredetiséget pedig a Rigában könnyen beszerezhető orosz IC-k biztosítják. Kapcsolható low- és bandpass módok, és a jól ismert hangzás, ezúttal azonban még szélesebb spektrumon, még inkább modulálható tartományokban!

A sort (majdnem) egy hi-fi minőségű VCA zárja, lineáris és (inkább perkusszív hangzásra használható) logaritmikus responzivitiással és a fantasztikus fenti Bias potméterrel pedig kiválóan eldönthetjük, hogy milyen irányú hangosodásokat és halkulásokat hozzunk létre.

A Black sorozat moduljai az Erica Synths saját gyártású házában

Talán furán hat, hogy egy attenuvertert istenítek egy VCA-n, úgy, mintha nem lenne szinte bármelyiken. Az előlapi kiosztás azonban előnyei használat közben mutatkoznak meg: ahogy a többi Black modulnál, itt is a legfontosabb paramétereket a legnagyobb forgatógombokkal tették hozzáférhetővé az előlapon. Egyszerű, de nagyszerű és átlátható vezérelhetőség az eruroack méretével folytatott végtelen háborúban.

Egy apróbb csatavesztést be kell írnunk azonban, mivel a Black HADSR Envelope modulon és expanziós egységén, mely feszültségvezérelhetővé teszi az összes envelope paramétertegy kicsit sűrűn lettek elhelyezve a forgatógombok, de végtére is együtt lehet élni vele. Nézzétek meg Divkid videóját, amiből kiderül, hogy mi mindenre jó az envelope, és hogy mi mindent valósíthattok meg a Black LFO-val és a CV expanziós modullal együtt.

Eszközök

Végül, de nem utolsó sorban, ahogy az elvárható az ilyen minőségű moduloknál, minden jelet interferencia- és zajmenetesen keverhetsz össze a Black Mixerrel, és Multival, sőt még panorámázhatsz is a nem-moduláris világ és a racked között hidat verő Black Output modul segítségével. Ha valamit még szeretnél pozitív vagy negatív irányba eltolni, arra ott a Black CV Processor.

Órajelek, LFO-k és egy egészen lenyűgöző digitális zajgenerátor
Szintén a fenti koncepciót látom a Black VC Clock-ban is. Egy szoftveres környezetben rögtön tudjuk hány BPM-en vagyunk, és bármikor könnyedén adhatunk shuffle-t az órajelünkhöz. Külső órajeleket is továbboszthatunk, és a legnagyszerűbb, hogy a modul megjegyzi az órajelet a bemeneti jel eltávolítása után is! A Black sorozatban tehát egy összesűrített, digitális funkció égisze alatt tudjuk vezérelni a ritmusainkat. Minden digitális paraméter ugyanakkor feszültségvezérelhető és a Black-rendszer bárhonnan megkaphatja a kívánt órajelet!
A Black LFO-ba szintén a szoftveres környezetben felismerhető funkciók épültek bele. Azonnal állíthatjuk a moduláció mennyiségét, illetve rögtön Gate-jelekhez is rendelhetjük, így az máris szinkronizálható például egy billentyűzettel is.

A végére hagytam a legjobbat. A már az én házamban is díszes helyet foglaló Black Digital Noise modult. Ez itt nem egy sokadjára megcsinált Atari-zajgenerátor (még ha Girts így is mutatta be azt), és nem is lo-fi chiptune oszcillátor. Természetesen tudja ezeket a

erica-black-noise
Erica Synths – Black Digital Noise (forrás: Divkid Youtube csatornája)

hangzásokat is, ha épp úgy szeretnénk, sőt oszcillátorokkal szinkronizálható generátorként is használható, azonban olyan óriási lehetőségekkel bír, amik korábban nem voltak ennyire kompakt módon jelen az eurorack modulok világában és eltörpülnek a megszokott funkciók mellett: digitális zajok textúrájában, egy high- vagy bandpass filtert utánakötve máris hidegháborús telexgépek zaját ontja a moduláris rendszerünk, de a Reset bemeneten darabokra zúzhatunk vele bármilyen audio (akár beszéd-) jelet is! Ha pedig tovább modulálod audio jelek alá tett négyszögletes jelekkel, még izgalmasabb textúrák és oszcillációk bukkanhatnak fel a patchben. A Black Digital Noise egy nagyon érdekes modul, megkockáztatom, hogy a sorozat legérdekesebb darabja. Nem véletlen, hogy ezzel a modullal készítettük el az első audio tesztünket is:

Nagyon örülünk, hogy már Kelet-Európa is otthon van az eurorack világban. Egyedi és felhasználóbarát újításaik és hangzásuk vetekszik, akár helyenként túl is haladja az eurorack gyártó-közösség nagy öregjeinek mesterműveit! Próbáljátok ki az Erica modulokat nálunk a showroomban!

Természetesen frissítjük a blogposztot is, amint a még fejlesztés alatt álló Black-modulok (fent a Musikmessén készített videónkban bizonyára ti is kiszúrtátok az Analog Noise modult és egy germánium torzítóval rendelkező Sine Core VCO-t is!) is meglátják a napvilágot. Tekintsétek meg az Erica Synths többi nagyszerű és praktikus eszközeit is webshpunkban!