(5th Sept 2017) Handcrafted in Denmark comes the latest of Gotharman’s remarkable musical instruments. PolySpaze is a strangely named desktop box with an intriguing set of features. It’s a multi-timbral, polyphonic synthesizer and sampler. It has 8 oscillators and 22 minutes of sampling time along with filters, effects and multitrack sequencing. Let’s check it out.
Multi-timbral is not a term you hear so often in synthesis these days. Most synths tend to do their one thing. With the PolySpaze the 8 oscillators handle 4 independent voices in different configurations. There’s straight forward 4-voice poly mode, and there’s huge monosynth mode of all the oscillators playing together. And between the two in multi-mode you can address each voice separately on different MIDI channels and key ranges. Combine it with a 4 track sequencer and you’ve got an awesome little workstation on your hands.
For each of the voices two oscillators, the first one handles morphable waveforms, samples, PWM and FM to the second oscillator. Oscillator number 2 handles triangle, saw, pulse and noise waveforms, PWM and sync to the first oscillator. From there each voice routes through two filters, a high pass and a low pass in serial. All 8 filters can be employed as a filter bank with the 8 oscillators playing through paraphonically. Each voice then has a ring modulator, an effects processor, VCA, LFO, a random generator and two ADSR envelopes. And all of that repeated for each voice. That’s a lot of sonic cleverness going on in the box.
Along with the 4 track note sequencer is an 8 track control sequencer giving lots of modulation and sound movement possibilities. You can store up to 1024 songs. The big touch screen in the middle gives access to a mini keyboard with y-axis modulation. You get 4 trigger buttons, MIDI as well as CV in and out and a USB port for import/export of samples and other data. The website talks about “Morphing between 2 layers of sounds” but I’m not entirely sure what that refers to. Is it a doubling up of voices, or something else?
This side of the box is the least explained. 22 minutes of sampling time is loads and it says that it’s stored in up to 256 samples in NOR FLASH memory. Although there’s also some “sub sampling” where each sample can have 64 parts. No mention of editing or placement, or how they are incorporated into the voices. There’s a mention of using a sample waveform in oscillator 1, but how much control or editing power you have over that sample remains to be seen. There also seems to be a “Stereo Bank” mode which plays stereo samples through a dual filter bank formed by 2×4 analog filters. Sounds like a lot of fun but we need some demos!
What’s it all about?
Gotharman really needs to expand, explain and most of all demonstrate the features of this potentially awesome box. There are a couple of YouTube videos that give you some idea, but it’s hard to get excited by something which doesn’t explain itself very well. Half the webpage is taken up describing the huge effects section, which is great, but we need to know more about the sound generation.
At €1400 for a pre-order, or €1700 for the version with CV in/out, it’s a large investment and it needs to hit us straight between the eyes with how fabulous it is. It doesn’t really do that so far. On paper it looks very interesting indeed but the information and demonstrations need a bit more attention to detail if it’s going to convince people to hand over money.
- on the website.
A slightly uninspiring but helpful look at the multi-timbral sequencing: