If you’ve seen my Eurorack videos, Plaits from Mutable Instruments is in many of them. It’s a very flexible module with 16 different sound engines and three control knobs for each. In MicroFreak, Arturia have taken 7 of the 16 engines from Plaits – they can do that because Mutable have generously made their code open source – added 5 of their own – and multiplied that: MicroFreak has four copies of the concept behind this module, wrapped in a full synth with an extensive mod matrix, analog SEM filter, rather innovative sequencer and arpeggiators and a touch surface controller. Probably the most amazing thingRead More →

Buzzzy is a Kickstarter Synth that has quite a few interesting traits in a tiny little package: it’s a 4 part multi timbral, stereo, digital MIDI module with up to 16 voice polyphony. This review is of a prototype, but the sound engines and build are final – the panel design will change though. There are a few things that make it interesting in my opinion. First, it sounds good. Even though it’s all digital, there’s something about the bass and filter that sounds very compelling. Second – despite its very small size and close-to-Volca price – it is four part multi-timbral with stereo effectsRead More →

Morphagene from Make Noise may seem like a simple module, but there’s a lot going on beneath the surface. This video walks through 20 tips and ideas for using Morphagene, including using it as a mono and “poly” granular synth, several types of delay, a synced looper, a drum machine and more. Here’s a timeline of the video: 0:00 Overview 2:05 Stereo recorder 2:55 “Tape” speed control 4:30 Using splices 5:50 Morphagene as a Drum machine 6:20 Overdubbing 7:35 Resampling 8:30 Simple delay 9:30 Reverse delay 9:50 Harmonized delay 11:00 Single repeat effect 12:20 Gene and Slide 14:30 Gene smoothing 15:00 Morph explained 17:20 PhasedRead More →

NLDR (pronounced “Noodler”) from Conductive Labs is quite a sequencer, if it can be called that at all. If I had to summarize what makes it different, whereas with a typical sequencer, you enter notes to express your ideas – with NDLR you provide the musical ideas, and it takes care of the notes for you. By “musical ideas” I mean a key, a scale, a live or programmed chord sequences, and “motifs” – which are a combination of note interval patterns and the rhythm with which they’re played. Of course, the biggest question is – what are the trade-offs? What are you giving upRead More →

This video looks at two cool uses for Eurorack samplers as custom and rhythmic CV modulators rather than just for audio playback.  Typically, LFOs and multi stage envelopes are what you’d use for modulation. This video discusses two other ways of creating modulation, using samplers: Motion Sequencing The first method uses a sampler module with DC coupled inputs (Disting MK4 in this case) to record manual modulation and play it back. Motion sequencing is common place in DAWs and “DAWless” gear. This method shows how to bring manual motion sequencing to eurorack by recording it and then playing it back using a sampler. Rhythmic Waveforms The secondRead More →

I keep seeing a lot of confusion online about what it takes to connect a USB based MIDI controller to synths or grooveboxes, with some people recommending the wrong gear or just giving bad advice. A lot of this centers over the difference between a USB MIDI Host and a USB MIDI Interface cable: Unlike regular 5 PIN MIDI, which lets you connect MIDI devices to each other directly, USB MIDI works very differently. A USB MIDI based device cannot connect to other USB MIDI devices directly. USB MIDI devices can only connect to USB MIDI hosts. So, for two USB MIDI devices to speakRead More →

This video explains a neat little sampler trick that lets you create music by *ignoring* a sampler’s sequencer: In the early 60’s groundbreaking composer Steve Reich pioneered the technique of using different length tape loops, and later on musical patterns, in composition. The idea is that two or more short loops, either identical either identical but one slightly shorter than the other, or completely different, drift in and out of phase to create textures, patterns and rhythms that weren’t there before. This tape loop technique is used by William Basisnki to create wonderful sonic soundscapes, and in the lovely “Walkman Symphony” by Amulets. In thisRead More →

Intro Hyve Touch Synth is very is very different from other synths – it’s polyphonic with 60 analog oscillators, but it doesn’t have any filters or VCA envelopes – rather – the way your fingers touch its surface determines which notes you hear and how they sound. Hyve synth was initially built in workshops with its designer, Skot Wiedman, and later offered both as a DIY kit and as a finished product in a wooden enclosure and a carrying case – as part of a successful KickStarter campaign. It comes with a 9v battery case and can be powered by an external power supply asRead More →

Here it is! A full, detailed review of Elektron’s new Model:Samples, and a feature by feature comparison to Digitakt, which is the question I believe most people interested have on their mind: what are the tradeoffs, and what can one do that the other can’t. I’ve also narrowed the gap between the two a bit with a few tips and hacks that fill in the blanks in Model:Samples’ feature set, like the lack of sample locks and filter envelope. Below are two timelines, one for the 10 tips/hacks in the video, and another based on overall content. TIP/HACK TIMELINE: 1:40 Add Amp envelope stages usingRead More →

Neutron by Behringer was a pretty good value for money before this update, and with version 2.0, Neutron got quite a lot better. In this video I cover the pros, cons and important new features in Neutron firmware version 2.0. The new firmware has important improvements to Neutron’s paraphonic playability and options, LFO and more. It also supports Behringer’s new Neutron control software, which makes accessing its “shift” features substantially easier, gives bi-directional feedback to parameter status and tuning, and controls other parameters not configurable in the panel. Along the way I explore 13 patch ideas and general tips which will hopefully make life easierRead More →