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.

Now you can plug a guitar or stompbox into your Eurorack

At last, the world of modular meets the world of stompboxes. It’s a no brainer: after all, a modular rack already has a lot in common with a crowded pedalboard.

I expected that our friends at Bastl Instruments from Czech would come up with something for this week’s Superbooth synth gathering here in Berlin, and sure enough, they’ve got three new modules, with one stompbox-friendly standout.

First, the other two:

dynamo-600x600

Dynamo is “bonkers” envelope follower + comparator + voltage-controlled switch. It can be a conventional compressor. It does weirdo “deep” modulations. And thanks to flexible options — negative ratios, inverted and non-inverted follower output – you can use it with kind of anything in your rig.

http://www.bastl-instruments.com/modular/dynamo/

tromso-600x600

Tromsø is the one I rather crave. It’s inspired by a 1994 Norwegian invention that did “analog” downsampling and bit distortion. (Yes, you read that right.) Combining a VCO, Comparator, and Sample & Hold unit, you can use any of those three utilities separately, or make vintage sampler sounds in the analog domain by combining them to produce distortion. And in the process, you can go all Norwegian and emulate the “Tromsø sound” the 1994 Distortotron inspired.

http://www.bastl-instruments.com/modular/tromso/

hendrikson-600x600

Hendrikson, though, I think will be the breakout hit. Tom of Music thing was saying at dinner the other day (have to credit you, Tom) that there’s a certain parallel between the guitar stompbox scene and the Eurorack module scene. Well, now you can combine them.

Hendrikson is an amp for guitar or instruments, and an interface to external effects. You can plug in your guitar. You can plug in a stompbox.

That’s already cool, but making this even better, you get CV control over the wet/dry mix. That means you can modulate an effect, or even add quick-and-dirty tremolo. It also means that if you create a feedback loop (by connecting the output back to the input), you can modulate effects loops with CV.

Since this is for guitar stuff, you naturally get a big 6.3mm (1/4″) Neutrik connector.

http://www.bastl-instruments.com/modular/hendrikson/

Each module is 109€ and availability is set for June.

New ready-to-go sets for guitar and instrument processing.

New ready-to-go sets for guitar and instrument processing.

Cleverly, the Bastl guys have used these new processing units to create complete signal processing systems for instrumentalists, entitled Bob and Bobek, and priced at 659€ and 129€, respectively.

Mount them on a mic stand with the included adapter. Because they input guitar/instrument and output line/guitar level, you can jack these into any existing setup.

Bobek adds a filter and VCA to the three above modules, plus room to expand.

Bob is probably the one you want, even though it’s twice the price. It does all Bobek does, but adds a modulation source and options for connecting foot pedals and modulation.

http://www.bastl-instruments.com/modular/bob-bobek/

There’s also an updated version of Bastl’s flagship:
http://www.bastl-instruments.com/modular/rumburack-2-0/

Got questions for Bastl? Let us know and we’ll pass them on tomorrow when we see them.

The post Now you can plug a guitar or stompbox into your Eurorack appeared first on cdm createdigitalmusic.

Video Explains Why Difference Between Analog, Digital Isn’t What Most People Think

“Analog versus digital” – the discussion, it seems, is everywhere. The problem is, many people simply don’t understand what these terms mean. In one 25-minute video – engaging and entertaining to watch straight to the end – the biggest myths all get busted.

In short:
1. 16-bit, 44.1 kHz really is okay for many tasks. (You’re saving that data for the computer and processing rather than your own ears. Hope to talk about this question in more detail soon.)
2. Digital audio doesn’t involve stairstepping.
3. Digital signals can store and be used to reproduce sound that’s identical to what’s stored in analog form.

“Choosing” between analog and digital, as categories, therefore doesn’t make any sense at all. Now, choosing between individual filters, for instance, or caring about the physical design of electronic instruments, or recognizing that you can screw up a digital or an analog recording – all those things do matter. In fact, they matter so much that obscuring them with misinformation is a very bad thing.

The video is the work of Monty Montgomery at xiph.org. (See also: http://xiph.org/video/vid2.shtml and http://xiph.org/video/) Watch the video, but here’s some discussion:

Digital technology is fairly simple to define. A system using digital signal simply represents information as discrete, sampled values. An analog signal use a continuously-varying electrical signal. Both are means of encoding – neither is the literal sound. A digital system is so-named because those discrete values are akin to counting (hence “digits,” as in counting on your fingers), whereas an analog system uses an electrical signal that is analogous to – though not literally – the original, in that it varies in the way that (for sound) pressure would.

The problem is, people imagine digital signals to be something other than what they are in reality. Ubiquity can breed ignorance. Before digital became so widespread, recording and photography were the first revolution. And perhaps part of the problem is that our society has become so comfortable with those processes – ones that would have seemed magical to someone just over a century ago – that we have failed to distinguish between the representation and the real. But any photograph, any recording is distinct from its original subject.

Analog and digital signals are, like words and numbers, a means of encoding information. Each has limits. In sound, those limits are measured in the dimensions that measure audio, frequency and amplitude.

Digital is no less “real” than analog – and because we listen, in the end, to sound and not the signal, the two can achieve the same results. That means that you don’t have to choose. This is not a religious matter. It’s an implementation detail.

That’s not to say that the difference between analog and digital itself is irrelevant – implementation details can be very important. If you realize that fundamentally, digital and analog signals can create and capture the same sounds, then you turn instead to all of the other potential decisions a designer might make. There are many varieties of different filters, for instance, each with different characteristics. The choice of analog or digital circuitry then becomes dependent on what is most economical, most logical, and what desired sound and usability characteristics a circuit would have.

And as people over-emphasize the difference in signal and fundamental sound characteristics, they also ignore everything else.

The choice of analog control or digital control, for instance, is significant. (In short: without smoothing, digital controls can cause stair-stepping effects, and likewise analog controls may be more limited in terms of features like automation.)

This also puts in sharper relief the other reasons people favor analog technology. Analog’s “warmth,” for instance, may not be a fundamental characteristic of analog signal, but it is characteristic of other tendencies of analog designs. It tells us in part that having more literal data fidelity is not always better. Analog gear also behaves in unique ways, susceptible to variations in climate, age, dirt, and other features – something that can be positive in some cases and negative in others, but that is harder to model in digital form.

Most of all, it’s unfortunate that the term “analog” has substituted for “physical,” particularly outside sound contexts. No hardware is truly “digital.” All of it incorporates some amount of analog circuitry, for one, and it’s also the sum total of many design decisions. The fact that we think of computers as not having physical interfaces is perhaps itself a critique of the physical interaction design of computers – we’re in a way used to the mouse and keyboard that we may forget we’re having a tangible experience at all. The advantage of other designs can be to remind people of that experience.

When people describe the appeal of vinyl records, hardware synths covered in knobs and switches, patch cables and modulars, and other “analog” experiences, what they’re really saying is that they like the physical qualities of these things. And there’s no reason digital technology can’t be involved. Increasingly, it is: music is now very often digitally recorded, mixed, and mastered before being pressed to vinyl, and digital instruments are making use of more knobs and switches and even patch cords, rather than focusing on “virtual” experiences of screens and the like.

Instead of getting stuck in meaningless debates like whether analog or digital is “better,” in other words, we need to have very meaningful debates about design, sound, music, and art. But that sounds, by contrast, like a good use of time.

Spend the 25 minutes – you won’t regret it, even if this stuff is review. Thanks to Chris Randall for the tip.

The post Video Explains Why Difference Between Analog, Digital Isn’t What Most People Think appeared first on Create Digital Music.

Video Explains Why Difference Between Analog, Digital Isn’t What Most People Think

“Analog versus digital” – the discussion, it seems, is everywhere. The problem is, many people simply don’t understand what these terms mean. In one 25-minute video – engaging and entertaining to watch straight to the end – the biggest myths all get busted.

In short:
1. 16-bit, 44.1 kHz really is okay for many tasks. (You’re saving that data for the computer and processing rather than your own ears. Hope to talk about this question in more detail soon.)
2. Digital audio doesn’t involve stairstepping.
3. Digital signals can store and be used to reproduce sound that’s identical to what’s stored in analog form.

“Choosing” between analog and digital, as categories, therefore doesn’t make any sense at all. Now, choosing between individual filters, for instance, or caring about the physical design of electronic instruments, or recognizing that you can screw up a digital or an analog recording – all those things do matter. In fact, they matter so much that obscuring them with misinformation is a very bad thing.

The video is the work of Monty Montgomery at xiph.org. (See also: http://xiph.org/video/vid2.shtml and http://xiph.org/video/) Watch the video, but here’s some discussion:

Digital technology is fairly simple to define. A system using digital signal simply represents information as discrete, sampled values. An analog signal use a continuously-varying electrical signal. Both are means of encoding – neither is the literal sound. A digital system is so-named because those discrete values are akin to counting (hence “digits,” as in counting on your fingers), whereas an analog system uses an electrical signal that is analogous to – though not literally – the original, in that it varies in the way that (for sound) pressure would.

The problem is, people imagine digital signals to be something other than what they are in reality. Ubiquity can breed ignorance. Before digital became so widespread, recording and photography were the first revolution. And perhaps part of the problem is that our society has become so comfortable with those processes – ones that would have seemed magical to someone just over a century ago – that we have failed to distinguish between the representation and the real. But any photograph, any recording is distinct from its original subject.

Analog and digital signals are, like words and numbers, a means of encoding information. Each has limits. In sound, those limits are measured in the dimensions that measure audio, frequency and amplitude.

Digital is no less “real” than analog – and because we listen, in the end, to sound and not the signal, the two can achieve the same results. That means that you don’t have to choose. This is not a religious matter. It’s an implementation detail.

That’s not to say that the difference between analog and digital itself is irrelevant – implementation details can be very important. If you realize that fundamentally, digital and analog signals can create and capture the same sounds, then you turn instead to all of the other potential decisions a designer might make. There are many varieties of different filters, for instance, each with different characteristics. The choice of analog or digital circuitry then becomes dependent on what is most economical, most logical, and what desired sound and usability characteristics a circuit would have.

And as people over-emphasize the difference in signal and fundamental sound characteristics, they also ignore everything else.

The choice of analog control or digital control, for instance, is significant. (In short: without smoothing, digital controls can cause stair-stepping effects, and likewise analog controls may be more limited in terms of features like automation.)

This also puts in sharper relief the other reasons people favor analog technology. Analog’s “warmth,” for instance, may not be a fundamental characteristic of analog signal, but it is characteristic of other tendencies of analog designs. It tells us in part that having more literal data fidelity is not always better. Analog gear also behaves in unique ways, susceptible to variations in climate, age, dirt, and other features – something that can be positive in some cases and negative in others, but that is harder to model in digital form.

Most of all, it’s unfortunate that the term “analog” has substituted for “physical,” particularly outside sound contexts. No hardware is truly “digital.” All of it incorporates some amount of analog circuitry, for one, and it’s also the sum total of many design decisions. The fact that we think of computers as not having physical interfaces is perhaps itself a critique of the physical interaction design of computers – we’re in a way used to the mouse and keyboard that we may forget we’re having a tangible experience at all. The advantage of other designs can be to remind people of that experience.

When people describe the appeal of vinyl records, hardware synths covered in knobs and switches, patch cables and modulars, and other “analog” experiences, what they’re really saying is that they like the physical qualities of these things. And there’s no reason digital technology can’t be involved. Increasingly, it is: music is now very often digitally recorded, mixed, and mastered before being pressed to vinyl, and digital instruments are making use of more knobs and switches and even patch cords, rather than focusing on “virtual” experiences of screens and the like.

Instead of getting stuck in meaningless debates like whether analog or digital is “better,” in other words, we need to have very meaningful debates about design, sound, music, and art. But that sounds, by contrast, like a good use of time.

Spend the 25 minutes – you won’t regret it, even if this stuff is review. Thanks to Chris Randall for the tip.

The post Video Explains Why Difference Between Analog, Digital Isn’t What Most People Think appeared first on Create Digital Music.

Propellerhead Reason Tutorial – WaveShaper Combinator Effect w/ Malström


Propellerheads Reason Tutorial: WaveShaper Combinator Effect w/ Malström was uploaded by: DubSpot
Duration: 734
Rating:

Quick Routing Effect Trick: Stereo Ring Modulation, in Video

Chris Stack (formerly of Moog) inaugurates a series of experimental synthesis sounds with a stereo modulation effect, using two of the terrific Moog MF-102 ring modulators as the canvas. It’s a dead-simple combination of cables – you connect the carrier output of the first MF-102 into the input of the second, and the LFO out to the frequency – but once interconnected, the double ring mod effect is capable of a wide range of sounds.

(“Double ring mod … oh my God.” Yeah, I know.)

In fact, for the impatient among you, you might here the experimental synthy sounds at the beginning and miss the subtler pads just before three minutes. This is a technique that really has a broad potential palette, beyond the conventional (and admittedly alien) sounds of the ring mod.

The Moogerfooger has a very recognizable sound, and it’s a wonderful unit. If you can’t afford two or more of these beauties, though, watch carefully – the routing here could easily be replicated in software, once you understand what’s going on. (Pd patch, anyone? Upload to comments and I’ll send you … some kind of prize.)

And if you have a computer and some Moog boxes, you can do this twice.

Chris, I look forward to what you do next! (Bonus, below – the answer to that question, and the question of what to do if you own a Little Phatty and a Slim Phatty. Or … perhaps what do if you’ve got one Phatty and your friend has another?)