Friday, 29 March 2013

Super Sawtor Demo

A review of Happy Nerding's Euro-format sawtooth animator.

As the name suggests, the Super Sawtor is designed to produce the sort of multi-oscillator unison sounds known from certain Roland synths and dance genres. Feed it a single saw, triangle or sine to get a dense, buzzing cluster. Too Trance for you? Have a listen:

The two tracks should give you an idea of the Sawtor's sonic scope. If you want to hear more, pay as-you-like to download the source files (10 tracks, @ 25 mins).

The Sawtor is solidly built and simple to use - the only parameters are the dry/ wet mix and the amount of spread. Its internal LFOs change speed in response to the incoming signal's pitch. That keeps the amount of spread even for most of our hearing range. The result is rich, vibrant and less prone to the phase-cancellations I know from my Roland Super Jupiter. Indeed, although it is analogue, the Sawtor emulates the beating of a digital super-saw.

It's this 'intelligent' modulation that sets the Sawtor apart from Doepfer's sawtooth animator and draws a parallel to Cyndustries'. It also limits its use. The only parameter you can affect is the 'spread' i.e. the number of stages. Once activated, the saw-multiples are constantly in motion. They can't be 'stopped' and spaced statically to produce new waveforms as is possible with Doepfer's A-137-2. To improve audio fidelity, the Sawtor is AC-coupled. This rules out certain CV-processing tricks.

So, does that make it a one-trick pony? Yes, but only in the sense that spring reverbs or fuzz boxes are too. Because you can't independently influence the modulation speed, the choice of input becomes important. Gated, sync'd, FM'd or even polyphonic sounds can make interesting fodder if you want to go beyond the Hardcore Hoover. But maybe that is to miss the point of the Super Sawtor: it makes one VCO sound like many and does so without fuss.

Many thanks to Igor for the module and for answering my questions.