This week we take a look at rolling Dice for output routing, shaping up a Mandrake Kick Drum and controlling new modules in VCV Rack with hardware patching.
But first this week, we saw Der Mann mit der Maschine up his game with the M4 motorised faders for the Droid Eurorack control system. Read more about it here.
Apollo View released the Allscillator that manages to pull eight waveforms out of a 3340 oscillator. Read more about it here.
And Tiptop Audio announced the arrival of the Source of Uncertainty from the Buchla Eurorack 200 series. Read more about it here.
Here are some modular-related news items that caught my eye this week, kicking off with a couple from the software emulation world of VCV Rack.
Surge XT for VCV Rack
Surge is an open-source hybrid synthesizer that you might have already seen in VCV Rack. With the new Surge XT version, the Surge community decided to give modular another go, and the results are quite stunning. This time they are not messing about. The design, layout, visualisations, and overall vibe gives Surge XT a whole new level of interest and possibility.
In the 36 completely free modules, you will find the core capabilities of Surge XT laid out for your use and abuse. Because this is modular, you now have the ability to wire it up however you want. You can choose your own architecture, reroute controls however you feel or simply pull out an aspect and feed it into a completely different bunch of modules.
One interesting feature is that for modulation, each module has four CV inputs which can be mapped to any or all parameters on the module; that’s the beauty of software.
Midilar has been working on a way to better incorporate hardware control over VCV Rack. It makes a range of elegant MIDI controllers that can provide control over anything you like. What’s got them obsessed is the idea of using actual patch cables to mirror the virtual patch cables on screen. It’s a fascinating concept, and the latest version is called Midilar Knots.
Midilar Knots is a 42hp USB-powered module that you can drop into your Eurorack case or run on your desk. The layout of the Knots is in a configuration that should be able to mirror most VCV Rack modules. The first two columns mirror a VCO; then the next two are a VCF, followed by Envelope, LFO and Mixer. Then there are some utilities like mults, MIDI I/O, effects chain and audio outputs.
The magic connections are done with a Midilar VCV Rack control module. Once the mapping has been done, then as you plug in patch cables into the Knot, the virtual cables appear in VCV Rack. It’s quite incredible really.
I can’t quite decide whether this is a huge thing that will take over the world or an overly complex way of solving a problem that’s not really there. See what you think.
Malstrom Audio Mandrake
We all need a solid kick drum, and Malstrom Audio has a very feature-rich option for you in the shape of the Mandrake Kick Drum Synthesizer. The design is built around the physical modelling idea of using a Hit and a Body to shape a sound.
The Hit comes from a saturated resonating filter to generate a short pulse which can be tuned and attenuated. The Body comes from a different filter that uses harmonics to emulate the sound of a drum. As the resonance increases, it gives out a more liquified sound. You then have control over these two aspects via several knobs, sliders and modulation inputs.
It’s interesting how you can tune and sculpt the front and rear of the kick drum differently. There’s a lot of scope here for varied timbres using tools like the two VCA shapes, ducking or normal envelopes, accents or VCA control, decay and damping.
- Malstrom Audio webpage.
Divergent Waves Dice
Newcomers Divergent Waves have just put a few kits out there The one that appeals to me is called Dice. Dice is a 6-output probabilistic signal router which is a concise way of saying that whatever you plug into the input can come out of 1 or more of the 6 outputs. You then decide the routing on the roll of a dice.
You can roll the dice by plugging a clock, gate, trigger or some kind of rising CV, into the Roll input. Each time it receives a suitable pulse, the output configuration gets messed up. You can restrict the outputs to activate one at a time or skip things until you’ve hit the reset.
The nice big fader in the middle weighs the dice in one direction or another making those outputs more likely. You can also activate outputs manually using the buttons, so it doesn’t have to be all about the probabilities.
What could you use it for? Probably the most immediately obvious is being able to feed in trigger patterns and have them play up to 6 different percussive sound sources. It’s like going mad on a drum kit and then using the slider to push heavier into the kick drum. But you can, of course, use those outputs to gate all sorts of things from a single stream. Very interesting. I’d like to see Divergent Waves come up with a website or some kind of social media presence so I can find them more easily!
- Tiptop Audio Buchla Model 266t: Tiptop Audio