I often find myself spending quite a bit of time at the booth of Analog Haven at NAMM. It is an opportunity to see quite a variety of analog instruments (and a few not-quite-analog), and meet several of the small independent makers. The visit took on added significance as I cautiously wade into adding analog modular to my own arsenal of musical instruments.
We big with KOMA Elektronic, who showed off a prototype of their new Kommander, an infrared motion controller with multiple axes of control. It joins their existing effects boxes in their product line:
We also had fun with the fact the industrial design, particularly the geometric black-and-white pattern, match my own aesthetics in terms of dress and decor.
Make Noise is known for their unique and complex modules for audio processing and control. They had several new offerings, including the Echophon whose sound I quite liked.
The Echophon is a collaboration with Tom Erbe of SoundHack, and is a reverse of the usual trend in that digital character is re-imagined in the analog domain. Make Noise also presented their first oscillator, the DPO.
Another module that particularly caught my fancy was the Morphing Terrarium from Synthesis Technology. It is a wavetable VCO that contains numerous waveforms, but more significantly it has parameters for “morphing” or moving among the different wavetables. With the right self modulation, this can lead to very surprising and complex waveforms:
Another interesting new find was an analog modular video synthesizer from LZX Industries.
Like analog audio counterparts, the LZX modules generate, process and modulate analog video signals. Think of it as being the boxes that each do all the little pieces of an old TV studio but with creative routing and control. You can see a little bit of video below:
I did specifically ask about mixing audio modules with the video modules (LZX uses the standard Eurorack format), and was informed that yes, this can be done, though one would need to match the voltages between the two domains, and keep in mind that the frequency ranges of video are much higher.
Visual interest and catchy names are a big part of the inspiration in many of the small boutique offerings. These pedals from Audible Disease were quite creative.
Among the visual designs, this simple switcher caught my attention. It reminded me a bit of my visit to the Communist Propaganda Museum in Shanghai.
Other offerings included the ARCHANGEL, an analog sequencer with touch plate controllers, from Detachment 3.
And these pedals from Lightfoot Labs:
The Goatkeeper 3 is a tremolo pedal with analog signal path, but with a variety of waveforms (including the ability to record your own), and a sequencer for even more complex modulation.
There was a lot more at the booth, more than I can do in one article. I hope to see more of these instrument makers as I personally explore analog synthesis in greater depth.