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 →

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 →

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 →