erica synths pico system 3 review

PICO SYSTEM III from Erica Synths is a step away from the previous PICO systems. The cost has been reduced by creating one set of modules rather than individual swappable ones, and complex digital modules have been replaced with simpler analog ones. However, an interesting feature has been added: support for Buchla Easel-style preset cards. This video is a full review of PICO System 3, and also includes a little hack for getting much more than just simple patch presets out of the voice cards: TIMELINE: 0:00 Intro 0:50 Overview 2:55 Preset cards 4:10 DIY expansion – “hacking” a preset card 6:15 Sequencer 7:00 OscillatorsRead More →

Voltage Research Lab Loopop Review

Voltage Research Lab is now in production and Pittsburgh Modular had a spare prototype to send in for review. VRL is their Buchla-inspired mini synth with a primary complex oscillator that has a unique take at waveshaping and folding, an emulation of the classic low pass gate response and more. Here’s my review of VRL along with detailed scope analysis of the various waveshapers and dynamics features (response and pluck): TIMELINE: 0:00 Intro 1:05 Overview 3:20 MIDI 4:45 Clock 5:00 Arpeggiator 6:50 Primary oscillator 11:10 Secondary oscillator 12:30 FM, AM, Ring, and wave modulation 14:45 Function Generators 17:10 Unison 18:00 Dynamics controllers 19:30 Response 20:40Read More →

Loopop ZOIA Review

What drew me to ZOIA initially actually wasn’t its programmabiltiy, but rather the rapidly growing number of interesting community made patches. As I was exploring it, it seemed more appropriate to compare ZOIA to three different product types, or in other words, to explore its pros and cons for three different potential buyer types: People interested in boutique effects pedals, people interested in multi effects, and people looking for a portable environment to develop and use modular patches.   Here’s my full three-part review, along with brief tutorials that show what it’s like to create mutli-effects chains and program “modular” patches on ZOIA: TIMELINE: 0:00Read 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 →

The Quad Peak Animation System – or QPAS from Make Noise – is an interesting new look at stereo filtering, what can be done with four filters, and how to manage them. The idea isn’t to give you individual control of every parameter of each filter, but rather it’s a take on how four filters can work together as a whole, whether in mono, or preferably in stereo, to form a playable instrument.  Aside from having “regular” state variable low pass, band pass and high pass outputs, it introduces what Make Noise call a “smile pass” filter” – designed to enable resonant peaks without filteringRead More →

In this clip I’ll look at a few ideas to take your semi-modular synth to the next level with Eurorack modules. In particular, I focus on a few that might make a big difference in what you can do with your semi-modular synth. Most semi-modulars come with “synth basics” such as oscillators, envelopes, lfos, filters and a sequencer. This clip looks at ways to extend these basic capabilities by patching internally and using external modular gear. There are plenty of great semi-modular synths – Mother-32, MiniBrute 2 and 2S and many others. I’ll be using the MatrixBrute in this video, though most of the tipsRead More →

The Subharmonicon is a lovely, interesting and different synth from Moog. Only around 100 were hand soldered and built at Moogfest’s 2018 Engineering Workshop, and there’s no information currently about whether it will be released commercially. Even though availability is scarce, I decided to put together a review of this instrument, because the way it works is such a breath of fresh air when it comes to sound generation and sequencing. Also, one would hope that Moog will eventually mass produce the Subharmonicon, as they did for most, but not all past Engineer Workshop projects, like the DFAM and Werkstatt. This review includes an interviewRead More →

In this video we get to know the people and process behind building Moog’s new Grandmother synth, as well as get a taste of what it sounds like. Like Moog’s Mother-32, Grandmother is a semimodular analog synthesizer. But Grandmother has a few new tricks up her sleeve: a classic spring reverb (we get to see the spring in this video!), two oscillators, faithful reproductions of Moog’s vintage modular components, hard sync, a keyboard and more. In this video I test the sounds of a few of these new components, as well as get a factory tour for an inside look on how Grandmother is built.Read More →

The Behringer Model D is a great analog synth – and by design it’s monophonic. However, if you’ve seen my channel before, you know I’m not going to let that stop me from trying to play more than one note at a time with it, something that has a unique characteristic in synthesizers that are intended to be monophonic. You can’t control any of its 3 oscillators separately, but there’s a fourth oscillator that can be controlled independently, and that’s the filter – via a dedicated CV input – and when you crank up emphasis all the way, it resonates and creates its own tone.Read More →