Future Sound Systems hoped to have this, their first Eurorack oscillator, ready last summer and we saw the prototype at Superbooth 2018. A year later preorders on the OSC1 Cyclical Engine have just opened and they are planning to ship in July. Let’s hope that FSS take on the humble oscillator is worth the wait. Meanwhile, we caught a glimpse of the very interesting Recombination Engine triple oscillator.
OSC1 Cyclical Engine
The name already sparks a bit of intrigue and interest. What is a Cyclical Engine all about? Well, apparently it’s all about modulation and intermodulation-type effects which can open new realms of chaotic oscillations. Sounds like fun!
The OSC1 has a built-in VCA through which all four waveforms (sawtooth, triangle, sine and pulse) are passed before reaching a Mix Output. They are also available on individual outputs pre-VCA for regular, boring old oscillator tones. The Mix output can be switched between 2 and 4 quadrant multiplication modes. These two modes allow for a whole load of amplitude modulation effects. The level controls on the waveforms acts as both a static level for mixing and also a depth of the modulation control.
More modulation is brought with the Shape control that skews the waveforms, pushing the sine and triangles into ramp-like shapes while acting as pulse width modulation on the pulse wave. FM is available in linear and exponential modes. You can also switch the oscillator into an LFO mode so it becomes a modulator.
It has both a sync input for resetting the waveform and an “Input” for routing in any external signal to mess around with the waveforms.
Essentially the OSC1 is a regular oscillator with a lot of fun modulation possibilities built-in to give you the grunt that we expect from FSS.
It’s three oscillators in one that uses a stack of Curtis 3340 chips as the core and uses a different way of looking at waveforms. You have a “scissor” oscillator and a positive and a negative oscillator which work together. The scissor square wave sets the negative and positive regions for the other 2 oscillators.
Try as I might with FSS descriptions I’m never entirely sure that I understand what they are going on about, but I go with it!
So, on the “Positive DNA” side you might set up a mix of waveforms to give you three peaks and then on the “Negative DNA” section you might have a couple of troughs. And then I guess these are mixed with the scissor to give new and interesting sounds. There are all sorts of sync and CV sharing options along with skew which adds pulse width modulation to the scissor square which in turn squashes the positive and negative waves within those pulses. That could get very interesting. Unfortunately, there are no audio demos at the moment. It will also act as a regular triple oscillator.
FSS had some other releases at the show, the Makrow and the Stumm in collaboration with Mute Records. Looks like they have lots more goodies to come.
- FSS website.