SPICE is a one-stop modular distortion box – and it needs support

Saturation, distortion, warmth, fuzz – it’s what keeps a lot of us coming back to machines. SPICE is a modular distortion on Kickstarter, suitable for Eurorack or desktop use alike – and it’s getting reader attention partly because it isn’t over the funding line quite yet.

The big picture for SPICE from Plankton Electronics is modular distortion in an integrated, multifunctional design, with sounds ranging from digital crushing to tube distortion, ranging from warm saturation to grimy fuzz.

That functionality you can then get however you like. Want the whole thing as a single desktop unit? Go for it – even if you don’t own any other modular. Want to take that same integrated unit and rack it? Done – as a 38HP Eurorack. Prefer individual modules? Want them assembled? Want them as DIY kits you assemble yourselves? Every option is here.

This is all partly the story of a tube from KORG – the Nutube. This new Japanese-made tube, drawing from fluorescent display tech, sounds like conventional tubes but has an atypically long life and dramatically smaller size. And it uses a tiny amount of the power of tubes – think 2%. That’s not the only distortion / saturation on offer here, but it does allow a full complement of distortion types without requiring a bunch of power or space.

So you get to choose which distortion you want:

  • Clean amplification and filter, no distortion (“boost”)
  • Soft clip saturation
  • Hard clip saturation / distortion
  • Nu-tube distortion – one or two at once (for double double your distortion, double double your enjoyment… etc.)
  • Transistor fuzz (strong clipping)
  • Stomp box filtered high gain distortion, guitar pedal style

Distortion? Yes:

And you can combine these in loads of different ways – which is where the modular bit comes in. You can choose digital or analog, mix and prefilter, or apply an envelope follower to shape the sound.

And, of course, there’s feedback – lots of it.

It’s technical semimodular in that it’s prepatched for a lot of functions, but you can modify it from there.

Sliced into three modules, you get a choice [links to Modulagrid]:
NUTONE VCA and distortion based on the Nutube
SPICEVCF including the analog filter (LP, BP, HP) with tons of CV control and XMOD to self-modulate the filter
ENVF envelope follower

The tube module looks excellent on its own, but mostly I think the draw here is the combined distortion toolkit.

So how much does this cost? You’ll get actual hardware starting around 25EUR, and kits for around 55EUR+. Assembled modules start around 85EUR and then the full modular system will cost you around 450-500EUR, all in. (Prices will be more with VAT … and please, no more lecturing me about how the VAT system works, readers, I live in Germany and own a GmbH; most of our readers are outside the VAT system and don’t owe this tax. They’ve explained all the different prices on their site.)

Spice as modules.

I wasn’t so familiar with this Barcelona-based team before, but they’ve done some really nice work – and have gotten input here from a lot of our friends in the modular and synth community, from Endorphine.es to Befaco to Olivier Ozoux.

And even before I heard from them, a couple of readers wrote hoping CDM would cover this project as they want to see it funded. I hear you – I do, too.

I also love this idea – their SPICE Metapatch software is a Web-era take on the patch book. Instead of drawing with a pencil, you store patch ideas in a Web interface. (It’s still just a picture, but it means you’re free from erasures and terrible drawing skills. Hold on… that projecting thing I do, sometimes, that might be happening again.)

There’s 10 days left. They’re past the halfway mark, so let’s see if the CDM bump helps them out.

Plankton Electronics SPICE – Modular Saturation Unit [Kickstarter]

The post SPICE is a one-stop modular distortion box – and it needs support appeared first on CDM Create Digital Music.

Bastl’s Dark Matter module unleashes the joys of feedback

What would a module behave like if it were built entirely around feedback – say, like one of those “zero-input” all-feedback mixer performances? Bastl Instruments teams up again with Peter Edwards to answer that question. The result: Dark Matter.

Dark Matter lets you add feedback to any signal, whether you want to use that as a bit of color, create rhythmic effects, or go completely wild. And since it is designed with the inspiration of zero-input mixer technique in mind, you can also use it as a signal source – a kind of feedback oscillator. Feedback by definition is about signal routing; Dark Matter runs with that idea and create an instrument around patching and shaping feedback in a modular environment.

It’s a new collaboration between Bastl and Peter Edwards, following their softPop instrument (and Peter’s own long-running Casper Electronics).

There are different kinds of overdrive. You can add sub-octave tones and other colors. There’s a built-in 2-band EQ (so highs and lows get separate control) – and that has overdrive, too.

On the rhythmic side, there’s a built-in envelope follower for ducking and gating and the like.

And there’s tons and tons of I/O and CV control, so this really was designed with a modular environment in mind. (That’s important – there are a number of Eurorack modules that seem like desktop tools that sort of got plunked into a modular case without much forethought; this isn’t that.)

But before we talk specs, creator Peter Edwards – himself an experimental musician as well as inventor – has some philosophical and spiritual things to say about feedback. Those are in the manual too, but let me highlight this passage. We’re “going deeper and deeper into the void” – gotta love those Czech winters, right? (Now turn in your hymnals now to “We Sing Praises of the Dark Shadows of Feedback.”)

So here’s what it all comes down to, the resonating soul of the amplifier and the recklessly over amplified external audio signal battling it out in the feedback thunderdome…

This is why I like to think of audio feedback as sort of the negative space around a sound, like a sonic shadow. A dark counterpart.

Feedback is wonderful. It’s the living, breathing, unpredictable, organic side of electrical sound. That’s not even just to say in the analog domain; as long as you steer clear of digital clipping, feedback has powerful potential in digital, too. It’s one of the reasons to use a modular environment in the first place, whether hardware or software. So I hope in addition to looking at Dark Matter, we dig into this topic generally. (I was just playing with feedback loops in VCV Rack, thanks to some tips from Kent Williams aka Chaircrusher.)

Embrace the darkness, and dive into the void of feedback.

Uh… oh yeah, tech specs.

FEATURES:
-Input VCA with gain and soft clipping
-2 band equaliser with voltage controlled bass and treble boost/overdrive
-Voltage controlled feedback
-External feedback section for making and fine tuning loops through other modules
-Voltage controlled crossfade between input and feedback signals
-Input tracking envelope follower for adding ducking and gating effects
-10 I/O jacks for adding CV and making crazy loops

TECHNICAL DETAILS:
– 13 HP
– PTC fuse and diode protected 10-pin power connector
– 24 mm deep
– power consumption +12V: < 75mA; -12V: <75 mA

More details and online ordering available on Bastl’s Website:

https://www.bastl-instruments.com/modular/dark-matter/

265 EUR excl. TAX from Bastl’s own noise.kitchen and select retailers, available now.

The post Bastl’s Dark Matter module unleashes the joys of feedback appeared first on CDM Create Digital Music.

Here’s an Electro-Harmonix pedal in concrete, for some reason

So many questions. Someone decided to encase their Electro-harmonix Big Muff Pi Distortion / Sustainer in concrete, and now wants to/is forced to get rid of it.

I could make snarky comments here, but of course there’s already a forum thread with that going on.

So, I’ll stick to the facts. Yes, it includes a power adapter.

The seller also bundles two 56″-long (1.4m) cables. It feels to me like this should really have a 20 meter TS cable without explanation.

It weighs … 15 pounds / 6.8 kg. If there’s a heavier guitar pedal out there, I definitely don’t know about it. Challengers?

The three knobs and footswitch are still accessible, so it should still function normally, once you lug it to wherever you want to play.

And it costs an even $500.

No word on whether three of Jimmy Hoffa’s toes are also located inside.

Electro-Harmonix Big Muff Pi In Concrete Block [Reverb.com]

I am definitely not collecting affiliate revenue on this if you buy it, but I wouldn’t really have the heart. If you buy it, and I meet you, I will buy you a couple of rounds. Just try not to drop it on my foot.

The post Here’s an Electro-Harmonix pedal in concrete, for some reason appeared first on CDM Create Digital Music.

Audio Damage are bringing their plug-ins to iOS – and more

We’ve come a long way since the early days of apps on iOS, which brought a handful of interesting experimental noisemaker toys and some simple standalone tools. Now, you’ve got powerful DAWs, full-blown synths and effects – basically, the same sort of virtual studio you get on your desktop.

What you tend not to get is the selection of plug-in tools that would complete your desktop arsenal. And that’s too bad, both because it’d help you to finish tracks, and because plug-ins might be really useful in a live situation – even if you aren’t quite set to ditch the desktop/notebook in studio workflows.

Apple introduced Audio Units for iOS, bringing their desktop plug-in architecture to mobile, but developers haven’t been terribly quick to embrace it.

That makes it news that Audio Damage is making a big plug-in play. On Friday, Audio Damage rounded out their offering by adding Dubstation 2 to the list, following up Rough Rider 2 (compressor), Grind Distortion, and Eos 2 (reverb).

You can use these as plug-ins in other software (like Cubasis or Modstep), or fire them up standalone. And note that they’re significantly cheaper on iOS than desktop – $5 for most of these means you’re basically taking off a zero from the end.

Rough Rider is free on both desktop and mobile.

Audio Damage’s Chris Randall tells us he intends to port all your favorites over, instruments and effects alike. Next up: Phosphor, the alphaSyntauri clone.

You can also expect a couple of iOS exclusives.

With apps like AUM, AudioBus, and various live performance tools, iOS badly needs a tempo-synced live looper for live performance – and it seems we’ll get that from Audio Damage. That would be some terrific news for live iOS use, so you can bet we’ll be watching for this one, as looping is essential to how a whole lot of people play, irrespective of genre or instrument.

It’s also worth observing that Audio Damage’s path may be one for the future – modular hardware, desktop software (plug-ins), and mobile (plug-in/standalone) are all parallel pathways for development. That doesn’t mean every tool is in every place; that wouldn’t make much sense. But for something like the Eos reverb, you now see the same algorithms and code reused on all three. (Yes, Eos is Eurorack.)

There’s a lot on iOS to keep up with, of course, and watching the App Store every day is a chore.

If only there were a way to stay on top of the news.

If only…

Well, we can keep dreaming. And… you might… want to refresh CDM, too. Like, this week, for instance.

Here’s a look at those lovely interfaces, made with the care we’ve come to expect from Audio Damage:

cm_dubstation2

cm_eos2

cm_grind

cm_roughrider2

Kudos to Chris for clever technology adoption, keeping quality high, and staying attuned to musicians’ needs – as well as remaining engaged with that community online.

audiodamage.com

The post Audio Damage are bringing their plug-ins to iOS – and more appeared first on CDM Create Digital Music.

Analogue Solutions Mr. Hyde – schöner zerstören!

Analaogue Solutions Mr Hyde

Erst vor ein paar Tagen hatten wir den Leak eines neuen Synthesizers von Analog Solutions veröffentlicht. Nun fiel uns noch eine kleine rote Box auf den Bildern auf, von der sogar schon ein Video existiert: Mr. Hyde zerstört namensbewusst euren Klang.

Vermutlich ist der Effekt primär ein Ringmodulator mit Filter – eine seltene Kombination. Vermutlich wurde die so gewählt, um die Radikalität der meisten Ringmodulatoren zu entfernen. Daher rührt auch sicher der Name, denn es ist ein Gerät mit zwei Gesichtern.

Analogue Solutions sind bekannt für “gut klingende analoge Synthesizer” und damit auch nicht wenig – Filter. Und genau deshalb ist der Gegensatz im Mr. Hyde gut getroffen. Es gibt dazu ein recht aussagekräftiges Video auf Tom Carpenters Facebook-Präsenz dazu. Ich verlinke es mal zum Schluss.

Es gibt durchaus einige andere Angebote auf dem Gebiet der Ringmodulation. Auch sehr hochwertige wie der Moogerfooger MF102 oder der Vermona RM1. Ringmodulation kennt jeder Brite von den Daleks aus Doctor Who, die aktuellen Angebote verbindet, dass sie eben “nur” Ringmodulatoren sind. Ein Ringmodulator hat entweder zwei Eingänge für Signale oder einen Oszillator, der auf das angeschlossene Signal wirkt oder schlicht und einfach Anschlüsse dazu, die den Oszillator umgehen können. Hier scheinen Filter und Ringmodulation getrennt ansteuerbar zu sein. Das ist auch gut so, da sowohl in den Ringmodulator hinein als auch hinaus andere Arten von Ergebnisse erzielt werden können.

Als Effektbox-Muffel klingt das für mich aber doch lebendig und interessant genug, um sich das Mr. Hyde demnächst noch einmal genauer anzusehen.

Mr Hyde analogue effects box

Posted by Analogue Solutions UK Ltd on Sonntag, 11. Juni 2017

Watch this to learn how to create hip-hop 808 bass lines easily

You either already know what this is about – or you don’t know that you already know what this is about.

That is, you’ve heard bass lines made with 808s all over the place. That’s likely to continue, too – thanks to the dominance of PAs with heavy bass, and the corresponding use of bass in all kinds of tracks, this has become a big part of musical language. And it’s a versatile approach to making bass lines. Because of its construction, you could take this same technique and apply it to any kind of music.

But yeah, it is good enough for Drake and Beyoncé.

Propellerhead have done a bang-up job of teaching you how to steal this technique from all those bangers.

Actually, spoiler: the easiest technique is right at the beginning of the video, it involves Reason, and it comes straight from Key Wayne. (Now you know why famous people often don’t like to give up their secrets – a lot of the best production techniques actually aren’t complicated at all. As with cooking, sometimes a simple ingredient combination works perfectly.)

But this goes on to some very good stuff.

You could certainly apply this to software other than Reason. But this video also (legitimately) shows why Reason has staying power. The folks at Propellerhead have come up with an ingenious combination of built-in devices that do what you want, with the kind of succinct quality found in the best hardware. And they have an environment in which it’s uncommonly easy to combine those modules for creative sound design. (I remember years ago sitting with Flying Lotus as he showed me how much he loved that distortion in Reason, too.) There’s still nothing else quite like Reason. People who never get it never get it, but a lot of people stay, or find reason to come back.

And this video is a really nice one. Stay tuned for part two.

The post Watch this to learn how to create hip-hop 808 bass lines easily appeared first on CDM Create Digital Music.