DWe’ve been intrigued by the Dreadbox Medusa ever since it appeared looking completely different and a load more radical. It evolved from a monosynth that looked a lot like some of their other synths into this excitingly swish hybrid synthesizer and performance pad combination. Its potential started coming through at Superbooth but now it’s poised for release and soon we’ll all be able to get our hands on one.
This collaboration with Polyend has resulted in a beautiful desktop synthesizer unlike anything Dreadbox have attempted before. Blending in some digital technology has allowed them to take the sound palette to all sorts of unexpected places. This does mean that the same controls are used for multiple versions of things. But it also brings enough depth and complexity that you’ll forgive the loss of one-control-per-parameter and the odd bit of menu/screen action.
There are three analogue oscillators, each with 4 waveshapes, and a classic 24dB Dreadbox analogue filter. FM is available on both the oscillators and filter separately. Along with noise generation there are three digital wavetable oscillators. Three play modes give you monophonic, paraphonic x3 and paraphonic x6. So that’s up to 6 voice polyphony but running through a single signal path architecture. There are 5 LFOs, 5 loopable envelopes and a mixer for 7 sound sources. Potentially a great little synth all by itself.
But that’s not all. Half of the hardware is dominated by The Grid of 64 fully responsive and 3-dimensional expressive pads. I think that means it has strike, velocity and pressure parameters on each pad. You can use it as a performance controller or employ it as the sequencer interface. Each step can be programmed with all its own synth voice parameters. So every step could be different, or you can lock in parameters to change as it goes. It’s a powerful sequencing engine that’s brilliantly integrated into the Medusa’s sound engine. Sequencers on synths are often either a bit basic or too complex for the small amount of controls given to them. Medusa breaks that trend with the most fully featured integrated sequencer we’ve seen in a long time.
Dreadbox say they are shipping preorders now and will then be fulfilling all international store orders. So we should expect to see them in the shops and user videos emerging on YouTube in the next few days. They don’t appear to have sent a load out to VIP users in exchange for a mass of videos, as seems to be the norm these days, so hopefully that will give a broader scope of opinion as genuine user reviews start to come in. I’m definitely looking forward to it.
At €999 it’s expensive. It puts it in the company of the Novation Peak, the Korg Prologue and Moog Grandmother. There needs to be a lot of synthesizer in there and remains to be seen if it can hold its own.