Synth Geekery is a weekly podcast/live stream (YouTube) show about everything synthesizers, drum machines, samplers, sequencers, eurorack and music technology. We take the “one of the masses” viewpoint, where we are also users of gear just like you (read: we’re not influenced by commercial product placement).
The show relies on the generous contributions of the synth community. You can contribute in many ways including supporting us via our YouTube Channel Membership or Patreon. We also have regular and special video guests: if you would like to take part in future shows – please contact me via email on the about page here.
Ian is a musician, composer, sound designer and producer currently producing solo ambient electronic music. He also runs Sinners Music which is a Record Company and Online Music Retailer in East Yorkshire, England
The funny side segment is a collection of memes that are somewhat relevant to the synth geekery community. Some of these images are taken from Facebook, Instagram and other social media sources. Please respect the creators. Hope you enjoy this week’s selection:
Moog acquired by inMusic
Moog acquired by inMusic brands – discussion on the show!
Wavefonix P401 – Poly-4 MIDI interface
The UK based eurorack/modular manufacturer have announced the P401 – a new Poly-4 MIDI Interface which adds four-voice polyphony to your modular system.
With all 4 voices in Poly mode – each voice has Note, 5V Gate and 10V Velocity CV outputs. The Note output has normalised pitchbend. There’s also a 4 PPQN Clock (5V) output and 10V modulation wheel output included.
The mode switch can be set to polyphonic, monophonic and unison. Polyphonic and unison modes can be mapped to MIDI channels 1, 3, 5 and 7 using jumpers on the PCB. Monophonic mode outputs four separate voices to outputs 1, 2, 3 and 4 on MIDI channels 1, 2, 3 and 4 respectively, allowing for multitimbral capability.
Polyphonic mode has two voice allocation algorithms that can be assigned with a jumper on the PCB, including lowest note (featured on the original Prophet 5) and round robin, allowing for different tonalities to be achieved.
Finally, the note priority for monophonic and unison modes can be switched on the front panel between last, highest or lowest.
Adds four-voice polyphony to your modular system.
Features a wide range of functionality in a compact design.
One note output per voice, with precision 12-bit DACs with a typical deviation of only ±1 cent (±0.001V) over ten octaves.
Note outputs feature normalled pitchbend.
Each voice also has 5V gate and 10V outputs.
4 PPQN clock output (5V).
10V modulation wheel output.
Different modes including polyphonic, monophonic and unison.
MIDI channel for polyphonic and unison modes can be assigned to 1, 3, 5 or 7 using jumpers on the PCB.
Monophonic mode is mapped to outputs 1-4 via MIDI channels 1-4, allowing for multitimbral control.
Polyphonic mode features two voice allocation algorithms including lowest note and round robin.
Note priority for monophonic and unison modes can be changed between last, highest or lowest.
Weston have release their new eurorack module – the H1. The Analog Harmonizer is designed to make it easy to add harmonic layers or basic polyphony to your modular patches. The 18HP module has connections for Oscillator in and a replicated set of A & B outputs for CV, Trigger, Triangle, Saw and Square waves. There’s also a mix output which contains a combination of Osc In and a mix of channels A+B – using the 4 knobs to control their levels.
The controls across the top provide functionality and the 12 buttons double up as a chromatic octave.
You can use it by patching the output of a VCO to the “osc in” input and letting the H1 derive 2 notes that are related to the pitch of that oscillator (ie a 3rd and 5th to form a major triad).
However, H1 can also be used as a dual quantizer, a frequency-to-voltage converter, or simply as 2 analog VCOs. The choice is yours.
The H1 has other uses such as frequency doubler/multiplier, drone oscillator, frequency-to-voltage converter and tuner.
Many ways to use: Chord generation, quantizer, frequency doubler/multiplier, drone oscillator, frequency-to-voltage converter, tuner…
Fast and precise frequency tracking from external oscillator
2 stable analog oscillators with digital control
Mixer output for reducing cable clutter with -9db pad option
True analog through-zero FM on both oscillators
18HP module size, 25mm Deep
Power 200mA +12V / 85mA -12V
There is a lack of labelling on some of the buttons, and you’ll have to consult the user manual to remember what they’re for. It might be worth screen printing “Option” on the button underneath Display as it is such a significant button in the module’s functionality (even though there is a circle around it).
After the release of Telepathy at Superbooth23, it was inevitable that the Greek modular creator would bring out a complimentary mixing module. The Psychosis is a 6 channel stereo mixer packed into a tiny 10HP form factor. With 6 to 1 analogue true stereo mixer and extensive panning options, built-in LFO, and four true stereo effects, it brings a versatile sound-shaping tool to your setup.
6 to 1 Analog True Stereo Mixer for modular level signals
Single knob panning from Stereo to Mono to Inverse Stereo with CV control 1 x LFO for auto-panning and Leslie effect
Koma Elektronik have re-introduced the Komplex Sequencer. It was originally halted from production due to Covid-19 and chip shortage issues. The company has stated on their website and socials that the new units are shipping September 2023 and have a few new features! Let’s explore …
The Komplex Sequencer is a unique step sequencer with four 16-step sequencers communicating via both MIDI and CV/Gate. There are no screens or submenus. All features have their own dedicated controls and have their own dedicated ins and outs on the large 87-point patch bay. Every aspect of this sequencer is CV patchable. Ther’s also a seven bank CV Recorder is on board and can output up to 5 banks at once!
The Transpose CV input now also transposes the MIDI notes that a sequencer is producing.
Some circuitry had to undergo changes to account for non-available and now obsolete chips.
MIDI or CV or both!
The Komplex allows for control of the 4 sequencers via MIDI or CV independently or both!
The sequencer is compatible with almost any synthesizer with CV/Gate, MIDI note, velocity and CC information can also transmitted by any of the four sequencers.
On the MIDI side there’s: MIDI In, MIDI Out, MIDI Clock Out (1 trigger per quarter note).
On the CV side there’s:
CV IN: Clock, Rec Clock, Transpose, Start, Stop, Skip Step, Sequence Start Point, Repeats, Seq Length, Gate Length, Play Mode, Glide, Division, CV Recorder (CV In, Clock, Start, Bank Up/Down)
CV OUT: CV Out, Gate Out, Start Of Sequence, End Of Sequence, Clock, CV Recorder CV Out (A, B, C, D and CV)
Each sequencer has it’s own set of controls and therefore you will see no menu-diving! Controls include Speed, Sequence Length, Gate Length, Play Mode, Glide, Division, Transpose, Repeat, Sequence Start Point and Skip. Additionally, the sequencer can vary output range and also has a quantizer on board operable in different scales.
The sequencer is equipped with the following controls: 64 Sliders and Step Select Buttons, Speed, Sequence Length, Gate Length, Play Mode, Glide, Division, Quantizer and Scale, Output Range, One-Shot Mode, Play/Pause and Stop, Global Play/Pause and Global Stop.
Features and Specs:
Clock, Rec Clock, Transpose, Start, Stop, Skip Step, Sequence Start Point, Repeats, Seq Length, Gate Length, Play Mode, Glide, Division, CV Recorder (CV In, Clock, Start, Bank Up/Down)
CV Out, Gate Out, Start Of Sequence, End Of Sequence, Clock, CV Recorder CV Out (A, B, C, D and CV)
64 Sliders and Step Select Buttons, Speed, Sequence Length, Gate Length, Play Mode, Glide, Division, Quantizer and Scale, Output Range, One-Shot Mode, Play/Pause and Stop, Global Play/Pause and Global Stop
MIDI In, MIDI Out, MIDI Clock Out (1 trigger per quarter note)
Banks A, B, C and D available at corresponding sequencer patch bay outputs. All 7 banks selectable at CV Recorder CV Out by the Select control or Bank Up/Down inputs. CV is recorded and clocked through the CV Recorder CV and Clock inputs or Sequencer Rec Clock inputs.
Mode Menu (Skip Step Mode, Repeat Mode, Unipolar/Bipolar CV Output, MIDI Message, MIDI Channel, MIDI CC) and Firmware Updates
Powder coated aluminum casing, silk screened printing and wooden side panels.
46.2 cm x 29 cm x 4 cm (L x W x H) 18.2″ x 11.4″ x 1.6″ (L x W x H)
3.2 kg / 8.8 lb
4.5 kg. / 9.9 lbs including power adapter and instruction manual.
9VDC power adapter. Only use the KOMA adapter shipped with the unit.
Included: dust cover, manual and power supply unit. Rackmount kit available separately
Check out the video from Koma Elektronik:
How does this compare to a Korg SQ-64 or BeatStep Pro? You’ll always find something that can compete – but it’s not really about that here.
The price is indicative of component availability and inflation post covid-19.
The tight clock timing and sheer amount of control shows this as a professional piece.
They are all hand-built in Berlin, Germany
Price: €1,999,00 – Limited run 2 batches of 25 pieces each avail Sep 2023
GRAVEDAD is an analogue gravitational VCO from Argentinian eurorack company Olivella Modular. precise tracking up to 10 octaves. The main oscillator controls coarse and fine tune 20Hz to 20KHz range. Built in 5 octave slider with CV control. The heart of the module is a suboctave/subharmonic generator. You can use the suboscillator to track the main VCO and you can control this via CV. There’s a through-zero FM input. You can use two of these modules to modulate each other in an infinite wavefolder way.
Under the hood is an SSI2130 chip. The Mass knob cycles through the waveforms from Square to Sawtooth to spikes! The Force knob is a DUSG style ramp that is triggered by the core 2130 chip. The Force acts as a sort of panner and waveshaper for the MASS. This turns the module into a pseudo stereo oscillator.
Depth: 30 mm
2 mm anodized aluminium panel
Input impedance: 100 kΩ
Output impedance: 510 Ω
Reverse-polarity power protection
I think the module should have included two VCO’s features – and that way you can get the real character of this setup (using two modules). There may also have been more from the 2130 that could be used?
Behringer have announced they are putting the Kobol synthesizer into production. This means you’ll be able to have one in the next few years.
In Synth Geekery episode 158 we talked about the original announcement Behringer made when they said they’re considering making an RSF Kobol synthesizer. Here’s what we said:
Behringer Kobol – Prototype
Behringer announced on their facebook channel that the Kobol is now ready for testing. The prototype looks to be a replica of the Kobol Expander – with similar functionality layout. Similar to their other synth modules – it will feature a euro-rack mount desktop case that can be removed.
The synthesizer features a unique continuous waveform morphing selector which leads to some special timbres. It features 2 VCOs, a 24db LP filter, 2 EGs, VCA and a multi-wave LFO. If Behringer modelled this after the Expander II it also featured a Ring Mod, S&H and Envelope Follower, as well as extra VCA and LFO options.
The original RSF Kobol synthesizer came out in 1979 and wasn’t very well known. Some famous musicians like Jean-Michel Jarre used it in albums like Magnetic Fields. You can hear it distinctively in the track Magnetic Fields Part IV as the melodic bass line (not the sequenced bass).