The handsome Ansel poses next to a Yamaha QX3 sequencer in mid-repair. From our friend Charles Whiley.
The QX3 features the distinctive Yamaha industrial design that they used for most if not all of their instruments in the mid-1980s. This look holds a special place for me as it was the time when I started exploring synthesizers and electronic music. The QX3 also has those vintage computer-style keys, which is a very nice touch. As a sequencer, it is less convenient than many hardware sequencers, but still quite powerful, especially in an era where analog sequencers with short step counts have enjoyed a renaissance.
“Another piece of sonic adventure from Alna and his helper. Polyend Seq & Poly couple ruling the Eurorack modular and DSI Prophet. Enjoy!”
Here is another video of the Polyend sequencer, sans cat
“Equipped with a wide array of Ins and Outs, allowing you to communicate freely with other devices of every era and genre. You can also feed tracks with MIDI notes using your favorite MIDI controller. Every track can be recorded step by step or in real time and then quantized independently”
We continue to work our way slowly through the embarrassment of riches from NAMM 2018 with a look at new modules from Erica Synths.
The biggest of the new modules, both physically and in terms of garnered attention, was the Drum Sequencer module. It has an attractive retro look and feel with a raised keypad and red LED display, reminiscent of instruments and studio gear from the 1980s. It also features 12 independent trigger outputs and 12 separate accent outputs – of course in the context of a modular synth one need not use the accent outputs for “accents”.
The sequencer itself is full-featured with separate meter and length per track as well as independent shuffle and probability per step. The probabilistic step function is intriguing, and one I did not have a proper opportunity to explore at NAMM, so hopefully I will get a chance to do so in the not too distant future.
The Graphic VCO returns to a more contemporary design found in many digital Eurorack modules.
This module allows the user to draw his or her own waveforms Etch-a-sketch style to use in two simultaneous wavetable oscillators. In addition to mixing, they can be arranged in different topologies for FM, ring modulation, waveshaping and more. The waveform selections and configurations can be sequenced for continuously morphing sounds. It would be interesting to use with the Drum Sequencer.
The final module we looked at was the Resonant Equalizer. It is basically a 12-band bandpass filter with each band independently controllable via CV. One can also control all the bands with a single CV input for sequencer-based changes. Again, this feels like a module that would work well in tandem with the Drum Sequencer. It also has an attractive visual look for live performance use.
You can see all these modules in action in our recent video, which also features a “virtual appearance” by Tuna, the official Erica Synths cat 😺
We congratulate Tuna and rest of the team from Erica Synths on their offerings for this year’s show, and hope to someday visit them in Latvia.
“Kitteh! Steve’s cats Perrey and Kingsley’s homage to CatSynth“
Thanks to Steve Litt and Cici Moss of Rhizome for the tribute :). More information from the article on the CrudBox:
While a graduate student at NYU’s ITP program, Steve developed a machine known as the CrudBox. Central to his installations and performances, the CrudBox allows users to plug electronic or electromechanic devices into a 16 step, 8 channel step sequencer. While normal sequencers draw from a set bank of sounds, the CrudBox allows one to plug in devices such as turntables or solenoids or power tools, opening up the range of sounds one can sequence.
This would certainly be an interesting device to use in live performances.