CatSynth Pic: Coco and Modular

Meet Coco, who presides over an impressive modular-synth setup. From cary_crank via Instagram.

This is my longtime studiopartner in the background. Please give a big welcome to Coco.

CatSynth Pic: Lilli and Teisco 110f

Beautiful Lilli sits atop a Teisco 110f synthesizer. Submitted by Edda Hill via our Facebook page.

Our Lilli is holding an arpegio down on the Teisco 110f 😍

I confess I am not that familiar with Teisco synthesizer line, let alone the 110f. Here is a bit from Vintage Synth Explorer.

In the beginning of the 80’s Kawai began manufacturing synthesizers under the company name of Teisco. Their early designs resulted in synths like the S110F above. The Synthesizer 110F is an upgraded S60-F, with dual analog VCO’s and an updated look. It has a small but usable 37 note keyboard. Classic analog sawtooth, square, and triangle waveforms plus noise are on-board and can be mixed with external sounds run through the 110F’s filters and envelopes. The oscillators can be de-tuned for duophonic textures or phatter leads and bass sounds.

http://www.vintagesynth.com/misc/110f.php

Owlsynth Pics for Superb Owl Day

We at CatSynth feel there is no better way to celebrate Superb Owl Day than with “owlsynth pics”. Here is our stuffed owl atop our main modular system.

And with our trusty Roland Boutique VP-03 vocoder.

And with our Arturia MiniBrute 2.

(Definitely need to tidy up a bit there.)

Owls are quite captivating as they are so different from other birds, even from other birds of prey. We all know their unique front-facing faces and nocturnal behavior. But they also have amazing auditory capabilities.

Both the cat and the Barn Owl have much more sensitive hearing than the human in the range of about 0.5 to 10 kHz. The cat and Barn Owl have a similar sensitivity up to approximately 7 kHz. Beyond this point, the cat continues to be sensitive, but the Barn Owl’s sensitivity declines sharply.

Some Owl species have asymmetrically set ear openings (i.e. one ear is higher than the other) – in particular, the strictly nocturnal species, such as the Barn Owl or the Tengmalm’s (Boreal) Owl. These species have a very pronounced facial disc, which acts like a “radar dish”, guiding sounds into the ear openings. The shape of the disc can be altered at will, using special facial muscles. Also, an Owl’s bill is pointed downward, increasing the surface area over which the sound waves are collected by the facial disc. In 4 species (Ural, Great Grey, Boreal/Tengmalm’s & Saw-whet), the ear asymmetry is actually in the temporal parts of the skull, giving it a “lop-sided” appearance.

Owls and Hearing – The Owl Pages

We at CatSynth hope you all have a fine and enriching Superb Owl Day!

Weekend Cat Blogging with Sam Sam: Sick Days and Stormy Weather

It happens almost every year. After returning home from NAMM, a few days later I fall ill with what we affectionately call the “NAMMthrax”. I suppose it’s not surprising, being in close quarters with thousands of musicians and others over four days and compromised immune systems from all our drinking and debauchery. This year’s hit hard around Wednesday, and has lingered into the weekend. But fortunately Sam Sam is here, and being both a great companion and a great nurse.

When I lie down to rest, she is usually by my side. Of course, being a cat, she takes frequent naps herself.

There is something so peaceful and calming about her curled up and resting. And it seems to fit well visually and spiritually with the stormy weather that has settled in this weekend. Since December, we have been hit with a series of really nasty winter storms with high winds and flooding. It is not pleasant, and sometimes even stressful, but I know I shouldn’t complain as much of the country is in a deep freeze.

I like this portrait of Sam Sam sitting down in “loaf” pose on the ledge. And if you want to see a bit of action, here she is in our most recent Instagram.

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Morning routine #catsofinstagram

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We hope you all have a warm, dry, and safe weekend. More post-NAMM coverage on the way soon.

CatSynth Pics: Mr. Maximillion in the Studio

Mr. Maximillion is napping peacefully in the middle of the studio. Identification of the synths left as an exercise to the reader.

From our friend Charles Whiley via Facebook.

I can leave him down here. In fact he finds peace in this room. The others…not so much.

Sam Sam can be found napping in our studio as well. It is, of course, part of her territory, but she sees it as a safe space. If she is particularly anxious, she sometimes hides behind the mixer and equipment rack.

NAMM 2019: Qu-Bit Electronix

One of our first stops at NAMM 2019 was to visit our friends at Qu-Bit Electronix. This year they had three new modules to share.

The first of the three was the Prism (center in the picture above). It combines three audio processors that are mapped to a three-dimension “prism” control space. One axis controls a comb filter, another a bit crusher, and the third is time/speed control. The audio processors operate on a buffer, which can either be continuously updated from audio input or “frozen” in time and looped. Finally, there is a multi-state filter that can either operate at the beginning or end of the signal chain. Of the three, this one perhaps intrigued me the most with the possibilities of mapping these different functions to CV input (e.g., from a Maths or a sequencer) in ways that push traditional music. You can hear a bit of it, along with the other two modules, in our video which features all three modules.

The second module was the Chord, or rather the new incarnation of the chord. It’s a four-voice polyphonic oscillator with both traditional waveforms (continuously morphable) and a new set of wavetables. The oscillators can be stacked into chords, or in this new version each controlled separately for polyphony in the music-theory sense of the word – yes, with the right sequencer, this module can do four-voice counterpoint. The chord mode includes a variety of standard western four-voice chords (i.e., with a seventh degree), but also the ability to add custom chords that include microtones or dense tone clusters. It’s also more compact than the original, slimmed down to just 14hp.

The final module was the Bloom, a sequencer that could generate variations on the fly using a proprietary fractal algorithm. The amount of variation, from none to completely random, can be controlled dynamically via CV, as can the number of steps in the sequence, for quite a range of variety. And with two channels, it would seem to pair nicely the Chord.

As always, it’s fun to visit with Qu-Bit and see what they up to, especially as they are CatSynth superfans. And we look forward to seeing these modules out in the wild over the course of the year. The Prism is due in March, the Chord in late spring, and the Bloom in the fall.

CatSynth Video: Korg M1 Modded circuit bent with Marcel

From polynominaldotcom on YouTube, via matrixsynth.

Just modded and bent the classic M1/M1r wavetable with 6 switches on the back of the machine. 5 sounds demo with circuit bent options.
First 3 demo with normal Midi keyboard, In 2 others, the Mi1r is driven by an algorithmic generator module ‘Turing machine’. Generated patterns are midi converted with a Doepfer a-162 cv to MIDI module.

Very interesting to see a Korg M1 and M1R “bent” this way. And if that feline portrait looks familiar, it’s probably because you’ve seen it before. Eric of Polynominal.com and his cat Marcel are good friends of ours at CatSynth, and we have featured many of Marcel’s pictures.

CatSynth Pic: Giuliano and MPC Live

Handsome Giuliano poses with an Akai MPC Live. From automageddon on Instagram.

Giuliano and MPC Live: Maine Coon Production Centre


CatSynth Pic: Häbbmaster modules

Cat showing off this collection of unique custom synth modules from Häbbmaster. Via haebmaster on Instagram.

You can hear a bit of of his percussion modules in this video.

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A little bouncing ball demo. #sdiy #sergesynthesizer #sergemodular Sound is from the smooth generator, pitch modulated by a sequencer . Upper half of the DUSG is a sawtooth modulating the speed of the lower half and triggers the sequencer. Lower half triggers the envelope which controls a low pass gate.

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NAMM 2019: Korg Volca Modular and Minilogue XD

We can always count on something new from Korg these days. Sometimes it’s completely new, but this year it was new incarnations of existing lines. We introduced them in a recent CatSynth TV episode and describe them in more detail below.

The Volca series continues to grow with its newest offering, the Volca Modular.

Korg Volca Modular

The Volca Modular is a self-contained semi-modular synthesizer in a tiny volca-sized package. It has a VCO and modulator for complex waveforms, a function section with envelopes and an LFO, a sequencer, and various patch points for splitting and mixing. Its novel element is the LPG, a low pass gate that can be used as an amp, a filter, or something completely different a la west-coast synthesis. It puts quite a lot in a little box for just $199.

It reminds a bit of some other “tiny tabletop semi-modular synthesizers” such as the Moog Werkstatt or the newer Bastl Instruments Softpop (my CDP bandmate Tom Djll uses one of these and thus I want one, too). Like those, the Volca Modular has tiny little patch points and chords, which are adorable. But unlike those, I found it difficult to patch. The wire tips were a bit flimsy and I bent at least one of them trying to create a new patch on the fly. Otherwise, though, I think this is a fine little instrument, and could end up in my Volca collection.

Minilogue XD

The other new instrument was the revamped Minilogue XD. The original Minilogue made quite a splash a couple of years ago as an affordable polyphonic analog synthesizer. In addition to a nice, darker finish, the XD adds their expandable digital wavetable technology from last year’s Prologue. The digital engine has several different oscillator types and functions, and is essentially a “third sound source” for the instrument. It’s not clear to me whether this includes the same open API that the Prologue has, which would be an unfortunate omission for us at CatSynth, though probably not an issue for most users. It also has microtonal capabilities, something which is missing from many structured MIDI-analog combinations.

Both of these instruments are interesting, incremental changes, with Korg seemingly defending the turf it established in the synthesizer resurgence. Neither is a top priority for us at CatSynth, but I would be surprised if they find their way to us at some point.