Saturday, 5 March 2011

Metasonix R54 Supermodule

Tracks like a zombie, but kicks like a mule - my first taste of yellow.

As Metasonix own video makes hilariously clear, you're never going to play Switched on Bach with the R54. Feed the Supermodule with the appropriate combination of CVs, however, and you can coax deep drums, watery plops, rubber basslines and tortured-animal sounds from this unruly, tube-based VCF/ VCO.

Metasonix R54 Supermodule by navs

Taming the R54 is complicated by some crafty normalization - both the audio and CV inputs also function as outputs. Silent Way failed to map a suitable set of voltages, but this is hardly surprising given the amount of slew of the vactrol-based inputs. I've found plugging every socket helps, typically a short trigger to the audio input and an offset, 'pitch' CV and short envelope to the rest.

The R54 is a wonderfully idiosyncratic oscillator and makes a great, if contrary, companion to the green in my system. While other VCOs might be a better choice for melodic lines, for low-end wobbles and percussive patterns the R54 is hard to beat.


Hainbach said...

If you can still remember - how did you patch the "Beats"? I find it hard to get usuable Bassdrum out of the R54, as it tends to go "pfiu" more instead of "thwack". Thx navs!

Navs said...

In short, plug it up!

As I wrote, it takes some experimentation, but once you've found your settings it's repeatable.

I use one channel of Maths: set the response somewhere between log and lin, rise at zero, fall between 8 & 9 o'clock. Send the EOR pulse to the R54's audio input and a tiny amount of the envelope to one of the CV ins. I then typically send my pitch CV (sometimes via an offset) to another CV in and tune the frequency to between 2 & 3 o'clock. Get the R54 just on the point of self-oscillation and then back off. The output can be max, but be careful with the overdrive as this will pinch the sound if too high. IIRC I keep it around 6 - 9 o'clock.

The last thing to consider is the R54's CV response, which is slewed due to the vactrol. In practice this means if you want a low thump for a kick, you want the preceding note to be a higher 'tock'. You can hear this in the recordings e.g. PP step one CCW, step 8 CW. If you just want a kick, you'll need to play with the envelope length (maybe use a 2nd to keep the 'ring' pulse short) and depth.

Hope this helps!

Hainbach said...

Thanks Navs!
So far I could not coax as beautiful sounds as you out of the module, I have to do more experimenting. It is a strange beast, this module.

QuantumMechaniKillWave said...

Hey, I have used silent way with the r54. After trimming the output voltage in the output matrix to .65 for the pitch knob and significantly lowering the r54's output before patching in to silent way it tracked very well. Also, it responds very well to audio rate modulation. The former providing the most range of tracking.

Navs said...

Thanks for the tip! I'll give it another shot.

Mosiej said...

I ca'nt believe how good you got the percussion sounds! Is this a patch just using the Maths and r-54 or are there other modules involved? Is it Sequenced at all? Very curious!

Navs said...

Thanks, Mosiej. Yes, it's just a combination of triggers and CVs from a sequencer. Because of the way its pitch glides, you can get a nice kick drum by placing a high CV on the note before. That's part of the trick to getting the R54 to thump!

Anonymous said...

I'm buying one but it will be used as an oscillator controlled via Hz/V from an MS-20 Kit keyboard and a CV attenuator.

Wish me luck!

Navs said...

Good luck - it's unruly but sounds great!