Tuesday 25 May 2010

Patch Tips #10 - Pre-Decay

Mixing envelopes to emulate a reverb pre-delay.

Here's a very simple patch I use to change the impact of a sound. Mix a short negative voltage envelope with your main envelope to duck a portion of the attack phase. If you get the timing right, it can sound like longer pre-delay settings on a reverb:


In this patch, I used a Doepfer A-143-1 for its built-in polarizing mixer, triggering both envelopes with the same gate, but any combination of envelopes and mixer would do. You could of course also do the reverse and, using a positive envelope, add a second attack or 'bite' (e.g. trumpets) or flutter (claps) to a sound. See the A-143-1 manual for more ideas.

Sunday 9 May 2010

4MS RCD update & SCM preview

An overview of the updated 4MS Rotating Clock Divider and a taste of the company's next product, the Shuffling Clock Multiplier.

I liked the RCD when I first tried it, but missed the ability to output gates and, more importantly, wished it could count on the downbeat. This latest update delivers both features and makes the Rotating Clock Divider perfect.

Here are some short examples:

Downbeat counting. /1, /2 & /4 outputs drive three envelopes, Pressure Points rotates.

Similar to the above, but with gates rather than triggers.

This third recording demonstrates an interesting side effect of the way the RCD generates its gates in upbeat mode: the /1, or mult of the source clock, is inverted, resulting in a funky offbeat. The first half of the clip is upbeat the way we know and love it from the A-160 (source plus /4), the second half is the RCD. If you want a 'normal' upbeat division to play against your source, take the mult directly from your clock rather than the RCD.

Upbeat + Gate. A-160 then RCD.

I've been very lucky to have had the beta versions of the Shuffling Clock Multiplier and SCM Breakout for testing. In the past week, I've had so much fun twisting rhythms that I'm sad to have to send them back. The final feature-set and layout will likely change, so I won't go into any great detail. Suffice it to say, that rotating, shuffled clock multiplications are an even bigger hoot than divisions.

The SCM takes an incoming clock and multiplies it. These multiplications are available at separate outputs and, like the RCD, these can be rotated. The x4, x6 & x8 clocks have twin outputs, and these can be played off against each other for swing and drop-out effects. Lastly, you can also modulate the pulse width of the resulting gates.

Here are some examples of the key functions:

Left = x4, right = S(x4). Slippage altered first, then shuffle, then both. These functions are related: one determines the amount of swing, the other which beats are swung.

Same as above. Skip selects which beats are 'dropped'.

For more details on the SCM see the 4MS website and Youtube demos.

The breakout module is key as it gives you manual and CV access to these functions and, as you can tell from this final recording, makes the SCM a very playable instrument:

4ms SCM jam by navs

Two VCOs, SCM, quantizer, analogue shift register and a couple envelopes and VCAs. Sequence sent to VCO1 (left) and multed to the ASR which is clocked by the S(x4) output. The shifted clock and pitch information is sent to VCO2 (right). Manual tweaks of the clock, SCM, ASR output and quantizer scale.

Thanks to Dann of 4MS for the updated RCD - I can't wait to get my hands on the final SCM!

Saturday 8 May 2010

Clash of the Borgs

A quick comparison of the Malekko Wiard Borg 1 & 2, also featuring Plan B Models 12 & 13.

The Borg 1 (white knobs) employs slower vactrols, allegedly giving it a mellower sound and longer decay than the more aggressive, black knobbed Borg 2. I'm a big fan of the Plan B Model 12, but sometimes find it's response to CVs either too linear or lazy, so I was keen to hear the Borg 1 for myself.

Here's a fairly representative recording of the difference between these filters:

(Borg 2, Borg 1, Model 12)

I really liked the Borg 1's soft edges and muted tones. Its response is slower than the Borg 2 and this makes it a more natural sounding LPG. It might even have the edge on the M13, which tends to lose the initial transients. I don't find either Borg particularly useful for BP or HP duties and this is where the M12 shines. I tried patching both Borgs in a BP series, but didn't find the results as interesting as the dual-peak BP mode of the Cwejman MMF-1. That said, both Borgs are fantastic LPFs with attitude and character. Sonically, the B1 sits squarely between its more aggressive sibling and the rubber-funk of the M12.

You can download the full set of recordings, including the obligatory LPG 'thwap' test, here (3.2MB), but be careful with your speakers on the 'rumble' MP3!

Thanks to Schneidersbuero for the loan of the module.

Saturday 1 May 2010

Richard Scott Live Tonight

If you're in Berlin tonight, be sure to check out Richard Scott's trio at the Sowieso in Neukölln.

Here are the details:

Sowieso Neukölln e.V.
Weisestr. 24
12049 Berlin

Richard Scott (UK) - Buchla Lightning, Analogue Synthesizer
Gustavo Aguilar (US) Drums and Percussion
Olaf Rupp - (GER) Guitar

9 p.m.