One of the more interesting devices to come out of NAMM this year is the Microvolt 3900 from Pittsburgh. It’s quite a different vibe from the stalwarts of American Eurorack and is beautiful, smooth and sounds fabulous. They are now coming off the production line and will be shortly arriving into the sticky hands of the customers. I’m looking forward to all the YouTube jams.
So what makes this synthesizer special? Well, firstly it comes from Pittsburgh Modular who have been making high-quality synthesizer modules for many years. The look of the Microvolt, and the Electronic Sequence Designer are a welcome diversion from Pittsburgh’s usual silver. These have an elegance and a design aesthetic that sets them apart and they aptly call the Microvolt a “Love Letter to the Analog Monosynth”.
The sound of the Microvolt is built on a single oscillator with a West Coast wavefolder and waveform mixer. It then runs through a binary filter and a newly developed Dynamic VCA. It’s a VCA with a third dimension that works on harmonics, giving an organic texture to the sound and the possibilities with plucking and striking. A Function Generator brings some additional interest and can be a 2-stage envelope, an LFO or an oscillator offering FM potential to the main oscillator. An ADSR envelope completes the modulation package. This is all without even touching the 39 point patch bay.
Hidden away is a 128 note MIDI-to-CV converter with assignable modulation output and variable pitch bend paired with a multi-mode arpeggiator. The arp can handle notes in all sorts of directions and can become a 16 step sequencer with rest and note repeat modes.
They’ve packed a lot into this synthesizer and I don’t think we’ve discovered the half of it yet. The usual two semi-modulars, the Make Noise 0-Coast and the Moog Mother-32, are looking a little bit old and tired next to this lively newcomer.
The Microvolt 3900 is available now for $629.
- Pittsburg Microvolt 3900 webpage.