Blast Beats takes its sound from the FM chip found on the classic SoundBlaster cards from the 90s. It has 6 drums sounds, 4 synths parts and a whole bunch of sliders.
Not really sure that I wanted those sounds back but this is going to be familiar territory for anyone who played computer games back in the 1990s. At the heart of Blast Beats you have the OPL3 FM chip that ran the music for many classic games on the SoundBlaster and Adlib Gold engine. Here’s my favourite:
Anyway, back to the Blast Beats. It has 10 voices giving you 6 drum voices and 4 synth instruments. The front panel is split into two halves with the top half dealing with drums and the bottom half dealing with the 4 synth voices. Half the top row are to do with the bass drum giving you full control over both the carrier and the modulator. Then you have a Snare section and then the last 7 sliders cover the hats, tom and cymbal. They’ve put together 100 kits for you to play with so you don’t have to program each sound yourself.
The bottom half gives you 7 sliders for each synth voice (OP1-OP4) with controls that feature wave selection, tremolo, vibrato and envelope. You get feedback on OP1 and OP3 depending on the selected algorithm. There are 8 waveforms to choose from and 5 algorithms.
At the bottom, you can see a step sequencer line of 16 steps and above those are the instrument selection buttons. Each track can have up to 64 steps and you build up to 160 songs with 16 patterns in each. There’s some probability, swing and randomisation in there along with pitch effects, freeze and stutter. All slider movements can be recorded as automation.
Old sounds renewed
It’s quite an interesting little box, especially with the potential for sound discovery through the sliders. It’s always great to explore FM in this way and Twisted Electron has done a great job of pulling out the potential of this forgotten little chip. You’ve also got 4 audio outputs, MIDI, and audio sync so it’s going to drop well into most setups. This walkthrough gives you a good measure of what it can bring to your table.
Preorders are open now for €599 and delivery is expected in February 2022.
Demo video by Limbic Bits
- Twisted Electrons Blast Beats: Twisted Electrons