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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Our 2019 NAMM experience began a little earlier this year when we stopped by Behringer’s offsite event in the Chatsworth neighborhood of Los Angeles. It was an opportunity to check out their current and upcoming synthesizer offerings. You can see some of them in this video.https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ylvIpER
There is perhaps no synthesizer maker more controversial and more talked about these days than Behringer. Some dismiss them outright, others condemn their cloning of classic instruments, and others applaud their making affordable synthesizers that sound good and play well. Mention them in any synthesizer forum, and you are likely to get more responses than with any other topic.
Overall, I was happy with what I saw from them this year. I particularly liked the Vocoder VC340, a clone of the legendary Roland VP330 vocoder.
I already own a Roland Boutique VP-03, so I have access to this sound and signal path, with all its temperamental qualities. But the VC340 comes in a larger package with full-size keys, with electronics more similar to the original, including the voice and string synthesizers. It would make a great stage vocoder if I had need and space for one. It is also easier to get external signals into it, and we played around using Behringer’s new Rhythm Designer RD-808 as the modulator signal (you can hear it in the video).
Behringer has also come out with a clone of the Odyssey, simply called Odyssey.
It’s industrial design, font, and colors are remarkably similar to the original (something which probably makes Behringer’s critics howl). But it’s a good sounding unit, and quite rugged looking. The layout of the sliders is a bit different from what I know from the original, the Korg clone, and my Octave CAT, so I didn’t have the opportunity to dial in the “Chameleon” tone and give it the Herbie Hancock test, but I did get some interesting modulated sounds familiar from the original Odyssey.
It is important to note that Behringer has also produced original instruments such as the Neutron.
The Neutron is a Eurorack-compatible synthesizer with all the expected VCO, VCF, and VCA sections, as well as an extensive modulation matrix. It does not have a sequencer, but the Eurorack ecosystem is awash with sequencers so that shouldn’t be much of an issue. The Neutron is on the surface similar to the Moog Mother-32 and Arturia Microbrute (sans sequencer), but it does have its own sound. Is it different enough to want it if you already own those instruments? That is subjective. But it played well, and at $399 is quite affordable.
There is also the clone of the Minimoog, the Model D, affectionately known by many of us as “The Boog.”
It sounds like a Model D. And it is Eurorack compatible. It’s a great affordable option to get that sound. End of story.
And finally, there is the new MS-101, a clone of the Roland SH-101, complete with red and blue finishes.
I don’t think the controversies around Behringer will fade anytime soon, especially as they continue to ramp up their synthesizer catalog. For those who complain about their cloning, there are others who charge “elitism” at their critics, considering the high prices vintage instruments and even current Eurorack modules command. Plus, these instruments have MIDI, USB, and other features that are rather handy when making music. We at CatSynth come down somewhere on the outside of this discussion, and simply enjoyed playing the instruments; and we might look into that vocoder.