Yamaha’s MODX is the less expensive, more portable version of their flagship Montage synth. It has the same exact synth engine as its bigger brother – but at a price which makes it a very interesting player in today’s synth market. There’s a lot going on in MODX – in this review and companion video I’ll look at the most important things you need to know to figure out if this synth is for you.   What’s a performance? Let’s get started by looking at some basic terms. A performance consists of everything you can do simultaneously with the MODX – the song I playedRead More →

I’ve been traveling this week – to Knobcon in Chicago – and took two very odd travel companions on the road with me – Bastl’s SoftPop and Gecho’s Loopsynth. They’re very different, but the thing they have in common, other than being battery powered, is that they are entirely unlike any synth or instrument you may be used to, and that they can both make bubbly water sounds…. So, for those reasons I reviewed them together, but if you’re interested particularly in one and not the other, just skip ahead. Bastl SoftPop Let’s start with SoftPop. It’s described by the company as a psychedelic analogRead More →

Medusa is an innovative new synth, the result of a collaboration between Dreadbox and PolyEnd. The core of what’s new with Medusa is the GRID – a multi-mode expressive interface that can be used as an instrument, a sequencer, a modulator, or any combination of the above. Medusa combines Dreadbox’s great sounding analog synth capabilities with PolyEnd’s experience in making SEQ – its powerful and yet easy to use sequencer. They call it a Hybrid Synth and it is indeed a combination of a few things – it has both analog and digital oscillators, it’s both a monophonic and polyphonic or paraphonic depending on yourRead More →

Grandmother is the latest semi-modular analog synth from Moog. There have been increasingly more and more semi modular synths released in recent years and the demand for rewiring synths and interfacing them with other modular gear grows. In this clip I explore what’s special about Moog’s Grandmother, and it turns out there’s quite a lot there, especially if you look beneath the surface. For example, while the front panel seems to show only two oscillators and one envelope, in reality, Grandmother has three fully functioning volt/octave oscillators (four if you count the self resonating filter), two and even three envelopes, and is capable of beingRead More →

A few years ago 1010Music released Bitbox – a simplified but extremely powerful Ableton-Live style sampler, slicer and clip launcher – by far the most advanced Eurorack sampler I’ve ever seen. Where it gets a little confusing is that since then they’ve released two completely different firmware versions for the same hardware – Fxbox and Synthbox, which transform it into radically different modules. I’m not talking about just updates with new features (which have also come out separately), but rather alternate firmware versions with entirely different functionality. In parallel, they’ve released independent modules with said firmware versions, which can also load each other’s firmware. So,Read More →

The MatrixBrute by Arturia is a massive synth with a hefty price tag – is it worth it? Well, that depends on what you want or need… but as far as synths go, this is one of the most advanced analog synths ever made – certainly in terms of what’s possible with just three oscillators. In this video I explore what makes it special – what I call its “superpowers” – things you don’t see in lower-end synths, and some things you just can’t get anywhere else: 1. Duo-split: typically, three oscillator synths are monophonic, however the MatrixBrute’s duo-split mode effectively turns it into aRead More →

The Arturia Spark LE – or Sparkle has been around for quite some time, but I only came across it when I needed drum sounds for a clip I made a few weeks ago. I was scouring the web for good drum plugin with plenty of sounds, downloaded a demo of this and was impressed with how good it sounded. And when I saw you could get the hardware controller for Spark used on Reverb for around $100 and new for around $200, I decided to check it out. Now first – when looking at the pros and cons of this – obviously, it’s notRead More →

TRK-01 is a new synth and drum engine – or more precisely a kick and bass synthesis and sequencing plugin from Native Instruments. Though it can be used to produce a variety of non kick and bass sounds, its focus is helping you create, manage and boost the low end of your track. The kick and bass are the beating heart of electronic music. The challenge is that they occupy similar portions of the audio spectrum and if they don’t sit together well, can send a track down-hill quickly in a river of mud. TRK-01 from Native Instruments aims to solve that problem, get youRead 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 →