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.
Purim is the “most synthesizer-y” of Jewish holidays, given that one of it’s central rituals is noisemaking. This year we created a synthesizer demo running sounds from a gragger through several modules.
The demo uses a mixture of pre-recorded gragger on the QuBit Nebulae and live sound via the Mikrophonie and Make Noise Echophon. The full list of modules used in the Purim demo is:
Make Noise Echophon
Qu-Bit Nebulae (v1)
Rossum Electro-Music Morpheus
Make Noise Maths
Make Noise Tempi
Malekko Heavy Industry Noisering
I do wish I already had a Qu-bit Nebulae v2 for this project. You can see our review of v2 from NAMM 2018 here.
Purim is a holiday that commemorates the saving of the Jewish people in the ancient Persian Empire from the king’s wicked advisor Haman, as told in the book of Esther. Traditionally, the gragger is used to mask the name of Haman when said out loud during readings.
One of our first stops at NAMM 2018 was to visit our friends at Qu-Bit Electronix to see what they are up to. They have three new modules, Synapse, Nebulae MK2, and Scanned. We had a chance to try them out for ourselves – you can see a bit of our experience in this video.
We at CatSynth own and enjoy using the original Nebulae module, but the MK2 is a significant improvement, with more versatile and expressive controls for pitch, speed, and granularity (rate, window, etc.). The main speed button traverses quite a range both forward and backward, and features a quick reset to unity by pressing. Similar functionality is available with the pitch button. The granularity features go beyond the original, including the ability to freeze the sound in place to create a steady timbre from any section of a recording.
The Scanned module is perhaps the first hardware implementation of scanned synthesis technique pioneered by Max Matthews and others. The simplest way to describe it is as a system that provides the control of a struck or plucked string, but with a far greater range of sound than a vibrating string, such as any wavetable source. The module has independent controls for pluck, tension, and many more parameters, of course all individually controlled via CV. With pitch and gate input, it becomes the starting block for a rich modular instrument.
Although not included in the video demo, the Synapse is an interesting and handy module for mixing, switching, and otherwise routing a variety of CV sources to various destinations all from a single module. It makes your CV sources more like a mixer with cross-fades and such.
It’s always fun to check in with Qu-Bit, and we look forward to seeing more of these modules.