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Blackbox is a new standalone sampler/sequencer/looper from 1010music – known for their powerful and flexible eurorack modules. It can play back samples chromatically and polyphonically, so you can play it like an instrument (including using single cycle waveforms) and it supports sample and clip slicing and time stretching for loops. You can sequence external gear with it, and it also has built in delay and reverb effects. Here’s a full review, and check out the summary below if you prefer to read rather than watch:   Review Summary On the pros side for Blackbox is how easy it is to use, compared to how powerfulRead More →

Digitone Keys from Elektron has the same synthesis engine as the “regular” Digitone, but as it quite clear from the first time you look at it, something is very different: Elektron added a three octave keyboard, as well as the additional controls above the keyboard, and the pitch and mod wheels on the left. Elektron is also providing hundreds of new presets, that are adapted for expressive control – meaning the react to velocity, pressure and mod wheel controls. Layout Let’s start with an overview of the synth and layout. Digitone Keys is an 8 voice multitimbral digital synth that includes both FM and subtractiveRead More →

SWN – Spherical Wavetable Navigator – is a six voice stereo wavetable synth, and what makes it special is the way it stores wavetables and the “spherical” way it moves between them. Typical wavetable synths morph between a series of wavetables in a linear fashion. SWN is different – it stores its 27 wavetables in a 3x3x3 cube and lets you “glide” in 3D space morphing from one shape to the other. It’s called Spherical because motion in any direction in space eventually loops back to the same location. Sphere Edit SWN comes with companion software called Sphere Edit, which lets you load, create, editRead More →

Moog’s Spectravox was Moogfest 2019’s Engineering Workshop synth. It’s not available commercially, at least not yet. The only way to get one is to have built it at the workshop (or buy it on eBay…). To see what it’s like to attend this workshop, I made a whole video about the experience last year building the Moog Subharmonicon (see video here). Building Spectravox was a very similar experience, except this time I didn’t make any mistakes and the 30-instrument unison patch ritually played at the end of the workshop was even more impressive, as is shown towards the end of the video below: So, whatRead More →

“Generative Music” is a term coined by Brian Eno to describe music that is always different and changing, generated by a system but led by creative guidelines, rather than typical music which follows a set of predetermined notes intended to be played the same way every time. This video includes 20 ideas and even more tools for creating generative music inspired by Brian Eno’s generative work. It’s focused on ideas rather than one platform, and covers eurorack, iOS, VCV and Ableton tools for creating generative and probability based music. TIMELINE OF IDEAS AND TOOLS: 0:00 Defining Generative 1:05 Simple randomization – Ableton MIDI LFO Max4LiveRead More →

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 →