We’ve had a flavour of SPICE recently in the 3 Eurorack modules Plankton announced over the NAMM weekend. But now the SPICE references start to make sense when we see these modules built into a single modular unit designed to boost, melt, crush, distort, warm, saturate and destroy.
This is a desktop and Eurorack compatible saturator unit capable of a huge array of sounds and colours. They say it can produce anything from subtle tube warmth to extreme fuzz distortion – sounds like fun!
SPICE consists of 6 main sections and 7 types of analog distortion circuit. There’s a Prefilter with simultaneous low and high pass modes controllable, unusually, with sliders. Next, there’s a Digital section with 12 bit Bit Crushing and a Sample Rate reducer. It also has a control for the input level and another low pass filter. Then comes the meaty Analog section with 7 selectable distortion circuits which I’ll come to in a minute and yet another filter. Then we have a mixer to find a balance between the original signal and the saturated one. An Envelope Follower provides the ability to capture the envelope of the incoming audio and apply that to any of the CV controllable parameters. Finally, a Feedback section sends the wet signal back into the Prefilter, Digital or Analog sections. There’s a lot to play with in here!
The analog section gives you a nice wide range of ways to corrupt your audio. This includes 2 options that use the Korg Nu-Tube technology that you can see glowing behind the glass at the top of the section. The modes are as follows:
- BOOST: A clean circuit. It is used when you want to use the filter without any distortion.
- SATURATION: A soft clip saturator. It adds a few harmonics to warm up your signals.
- HARD CLIP: A classic circuit that distorts the signal in a stronger way.
- NU-TUBE: A tube distortion from the Korg Nu-tube vacuum fluorescent display.
- NU-TUBE X2: Both channels of the Nu-tube for a higher gain tube distortion.
- FUZZ: A transistor based fuzz circuit for strongly clipped effects.
- STOMP BOX: a filtered high gain distortion based on some popular guitar pedals.
It’s a comprehensive box of distortion that gives you a lot of possibilities and applications. Everything is CV controllable and you can unscrew it from the box and screw it into your Eurorack case if you prefer. There doesn’t appear to be any way to access the sections independently but perhaps that’s where the aforementioned Eurorack modules come in. The NUTONE, SPICEVCF and ENVF modules are also included in this Kickstarter campaign and perhaps give you the option to have a dedicated module for a single task. They are not exactly the same though, they take the technology from SPICE and offer a different approach and level of control.
Pledges start off from as low as €25 for the ENVF PCB and panel. But then it gets all a bit complicated with EU and Non-EU pricing differences so you end up having to navigate your way through 50 different pledge options. It’s all a bit untidy! However, pulling out the SPICE prices you can get one for €441 in Eurorack or €468 in desktop if you are outside the EU. That goes up to €534 and €566 for EU customers due to VAT. I’m sure there’s a more elegant way to handle tax within Kickstarter, but hey I think we all grasp the concept.
SPICE looks like a lot of fun and sounds fabulous. Check this out:
- Plankton SPICE Kickstarter page.