Austrian synthesizer company BirdKids had a cool little 42hp modular synthesizer on show last year. This year they’ve stepped into an entirely different planet. CROW Intelligence? What’s that all about?
It’s a generative hardware interface for modular setups with an integrated, cross-platform, node-based patch editor. It’s like a hyper-intelligent, pan-dimensional, high-resolution MIDI controller but without the constraints that MIDI implies.
You get 16 very pretty and colourful rotary encoders, 8 buttons and some patch points. There are USB inputs for attaching a MIDI controller or MPE device. Inside is an ARM-processor running a real-time OS and 16-bit ADC/DAC networks. Patches are created in a web-based editor. You can drag and drop in a bunch of functions, and apply operators and route it all out to a node. Functions could be seen as LFO’s, S/H, pulses, noise etc whereas Operators would be the logic or maths involved in their combining. Various parameters get assigned to the various knobs for all the feel and control you could want. The big LCD screen keeps you in the loop when using the patch.
In an interview with CEO Michael Beim on Synthanatomy.com he said:
It’s about simplifying the process of capturing THE MOMENT . Achieving full potential is not a magic formula, it requires the right environment, the right mindset and the right tools – and our role is to provide those tools . With that in mind our goal was to develop the centerpiece, the brain of your performance setup. And in turn to declutter the working environment. CROW Intelligence will provide all the generative modulation and parametric control needed for virtually any setup. Just B.Y.O sound-sources, we’ve got the rest covered!
CROW Intelligence comes with 4 x 16-bit scalable CV outputs and 4 x binary outputs for gates and triggers. This can be expanded upon with the CROW XO expander to add another 16 of each. That would be some pretty comprehensive CV control to run through your rack.
Small, phenomenally powerful computerised boxes seem to be a bit of a thing at the moment. Through relatively simple interfaces they have the ability to be almost anything. The seemingly limitless nature of the computer refuses to stay in its Windows/MacOS box, separate from the joys of using hardware. Maybe this will unlock the creativity in a modular system or maybe it will put us back in that software-driven realm of limitless indecision. I’m looking forward to seeing what it can do.