Roundup - Feb 3rd 2023
OK you lot, settle down at the back and stop the shouting. We know it's more than 2 weeks since the last mail-out, we just thought we'd give you a break from the deluge of new synths, synth modules and other weird sound machines for a few weeks and save your bank balance for once.
Just wanted to say a big "HIYA!!!!!!" too all the new people who've been coming into our new(ish) showroom over the last month or so, it's been great to finally have you all in and again, if there's particular combinations of modules you want to try out (or some of the vintage gear we have...or both) just drop "firstname.lastname@example.org" a quick email beforehand and he can get them ready for you.
Speaking of our showroom, it's kind of half synth museum, half showroom and half event space and we'll be using that latter half for something VERY EXCITING in a couple of weeks time.
Jason Lim is a Polymath sort of chap - a deep knowledge of Analogue and Digital circuit design, panel design, user interface and aesthetics AND the sort of music theory understanding that takes in everything from Iannis Xennakis to ZZ Top and back again. He's also a very accomplished live performer using a combination of acoustic instruments and a fantastic modular system which is heavy on his own designs. He's coming to play live in our event space so save a space in your diary for Feb 21st, 2023
With this event, you're basically getting to hear the guy who made the instrument, playing the instrument. Really well.
There will also be some chat afterwards about Jason's approach to live performance and composition and as if that wasn't enough there will be beer and other non-intoxicating beverages too. And We'll put up an Eventibrite link soon as we'll need to limit the numbers to make it comfortable for everyone
Another very talented individual in Modular Land is Chris Meyer. He has a long and distinguished history at Sequential Circuits (he was the brainchild behind the Prophet VS and therefore Wavetable/Vector synthesis), Roland, Tom Oberheim's Marion Systems and many, many others. He runs a great education site called Learning Modular and I've yet to meet someone who didn't benefit in some way by reading his reviews and articles no matter how experienced they are. Even at a basic level, it's worth signing up for his monthly mailing list as it has relevant and interesting modular related articles but he also has an excellent Patreon page and some extensive Learning Modular online learning courses too.
We don't have any affiliation with Chris, we only mention him as his presentation style is great, detailed where it needs to be and plain speaking when he's dealing with difficult concepts, and sometimes, rather than buy a new module, we would all benefit from learning more about our existing setup so.....
Enough lecturing, we'll see you again in two weeks (aprox)
Neutral Labs first came to our attention a couple of years ago with the Elmyra - an open source desktop drone synth based on a single voice circuit from the famous Soma Electronics Lyra synth.
That particular instrument is now undergoing an extensive redesign but Martin, who is the lead designer behind Neutral, has been beavering away on a range of Eurorack modules too.
Pip is a very interesting dual Modulation Source that can be clocked or run freely and whose two sides can be linked together in various ratio-based ways for complex modulation shapes (or you can actually record your own CV into the module and use that as a source or destination).
There's also Nijel, a distortion module with small slots on the front that allow you to plug in resistors to (sometimes radically) alter the flavour of distortion you get and there are small cards that plug into the same slot to do the same (if you want a slightly tidier solution).
We're flagging these modules up now so that when Neutral Labs become incredibly popular, you can say you were there first and be all smug about it.
Noise Engineering continue their attempt to offer more modules to the world than even the migthy Doepfer!
They've got two new kids on the block. Jam Jam is Logic utility for Gates or Triggers and this one right here is Quantus Trajecta, a 4 channel ADSR Envelope Generator which can give you easy control over polyphonic patches in your system.
If you've ever tried to patch using 4 Envelope Generators and VCA's for multiple voices in your system then you'll appreciate this module. Most people don't have 4 of the same EG modules in their system so it's a bit of a minefield trying to find and set similar Attack/Decay settings that match well for a start. This module solves that problem in 1/4 of the Hp and there's a lot of customisation for each stage and of course, CV control over pretty much everything.
Arriving next week so get your Pre-Orders in now as we could only get a few from the first batch.
Patching just wouldn't be the same without patch cables and although we already do a ton of different styles, colours and lengths we thought there was room for just one more company's offering. Synth Cables are a UK based company who manufacture a nice range of silicon "soft touch" patch cables in the usual bewildering array of rainbow colours and sizes BUT they also have a range of LED cables.
We've looked at stocking LED cables in the past but we're pretty fussy and we've just never come across ones where the actual cable was good and the LED fitted nicely into a slimline barrel. I know. I said we were fussy already. Pains in the arse, the lot of us.
The LEDs pulse in Green or Red depending on whether the voltage passing through is positive or negative and the light is subtly diffuse so it's not going to do your head in.
As well as looking very cool in action, the LED cables are great for a quick test of a module's output when you've got a complex patch on the go. Just plug one in and you can instantly see if it's the module you're using is giving an unexpected result because it's faulty or if it's your fault you can't hear anything because you've accidentally plugged it's Output into another modules' Output. Not that that ever happens. Usually.
Arturia's compact all analogue drum machine just had a very welcome price drop. You've got 10 all analogue voices to play with and a very simple and intuitive x0x style pattern sequencer too. It's got MIDI and Analogue Clock in and Out, built in Distortion, Colour FX that can be sequenced per step on patterns and Individual Outputs for the main instruments so you can apply some effects externally too.
It's just a really well featured analogue drum machine for not much more than the price of some Eurorack Drum modules at under £250.
SunO))) have teamed up with Earthquaker Devies again for a new version of their Life Pedal!
The previous versions were produced in sickenly low numbers and go for crazy money on the usual auction sites but this one should be around for a little longer
It's a very finely tuned combination of Octave doubler and Overdrive/Distortion designed equally for massive "wall of sound" brain melting tones as it is screwed up ethereal lead lines.
Also, if you thought that some modular synth companies could be a little....errrrr....florid in their descriptions of their modules capbilities then check out some of the blurb that comes with this guy:
"In the writing sessions for Life Metal Stephen & Greg worked extensively shearing their tones toward a broader energy spectrum over high powered saturation and across planes of sonic character, with the ambition to take full advantage of Steve Albini’s (the recording engineer for the album) exacting capture skills.
The results are astounding: there is breadth and luminosity of colour, vast sonic cosmoses, flashes of abstract colour (synthetic and objective) through resulting themes which emerged from the mastered depths of saturation and circuits between the two players and their mountains of gear."
Dreadbox make some great stuff but they've got a real habit of discontinuing things just when they start to do well and then making something else that nobody really wants and then eventually realising the error of their ways and re-releasing the thing that people do actually want. That's why we love them.
Erebus is a really well thought out all analogue desktop semi modular mono-synth with two VCOs and a really nice 12db/Octave Filter and the ability to address each VCO separately for Paraphonic patches
You've got proper MIDI (with a MIDI Thru!!!) and input for the Filter, nice chunky controls and a general high quality feel throughout. It's about half the price of some other desktop analogue synths but it doesn't feel or sound like it.