CatSynth Pic: Cat in the Studio, Arturia MatrixBrute, and More

This cat has the seat of honor in this synthesizer-heavy studio.  By Charles Whiley via the Facebook group Synthesizer Freaks.

God I 💗 that 🐈 . And those 🎹.

We know the feeling!

We know the feeling!

We identify an Arturia MatrixBrute on the left and leave the identification of the others as an exercise to the reader.

NAMM 2018: Arturia MiniBrute 2 and RackBrute

We continue to work our way through our experiences from NAMM 2018 with the Arturia MiniBrute 2.

Arturia MiniBrute 2 and RackBrute

The original MiniBrute made quite a splash a few years ago with its all-analog signal path, usability, and low price.  It also had a sound that was distinct from other low-cost analog synths, in part because of the “Brute Factor” knob.  That knob is back in the MiniBrute 2 along with a Steiner-Parker filter that together with the Brute oscillator gives the instrument its sound.  But there is now a second oscillator, and, perhaps more significantly, a modulation matrix and patch bay.

The built-in synthesizer topology includes a lot more modulation than the original, and the patch bay allows for reconfiguration and expansion with the RackBrute Eurorack cases that integrate 3U or 6U or modules with the MiniBrute in a single case.  This does seem to be a trend we are seeing with built-in patch bays to full analog mono synths (the Moog Mother-32 being the prime example).  One can also interpret the MiniBrute 2 as incorporating ideas from the flagship MatrixBrute writ small.  The ecosystem also includes an alternate form-factor, the 2S, which has drum pads reminiscent of the BeatStep Pro instead of the keyboard.

We were only able to scratch the surface at NAMM, and also had a bit of difficulty with our video.  So we are hoping to provide a more in-depth look at this instrument both here and on CatSynth TV in the not too distant future.

CatSynth Pic: Monkey and ARC modular

Monkey and ARC modular

Monkey the tuxedo cat checks out an Artificial Neural Network module from Analog Research (ARC). By @synthlibrary (the S1 Synth Library) on Instagram.

Here is Monkey with one of our new modules from @arcmodular! We’re so excited to explore these new synths. #funweek#thanks#feelinglucky#neuralnetwork#eurorack#catsynth

This module captures both the look and spirit of Serge synthesizer modules with its simple function and logic blocks.  You can find out more here.

This module captures both the look and spirit of Serge synthesizer modules with its simple function and logic blocks.  You can find out more here.

NAMM 2018: Pedro Eustache Plays a WMD Synchrodyne

NAMM is full of serendipitous moments. One of those occurred as we passed the WMD booth and saw a live performance unfolding with flute and woodwind virtuoso Pedro Eustache performing on a vintage wind instrument controlling a WMD Synchrodyne module.  We featured it on CatSynth TV.

Eustache informed us that his wind instrument was an unusual one from the 1970s, and that he was using it as a CV controller for the Synchrodyne.  He found the combination to be quite expressive and complete, and we can certainly hear that in his performance.

WMD Synchrodyne

The Synchrodyne is intended to be a complete synthesizer voice in a module, and it has the combination of sawtooth VCO, filter, and VCA that are the building blocks of subtractive synthesis.  But it also includes a built-in Phase-Locked Loop (PLL) controlling the VCO, which adds a variety of new sound and control dimensions.  PLLs can be challenging to use – the concept implies stability but often includes chaotic phases – but controls on the PLL for dampening, speed and input influence provide more musical control.  Additionally, the VCO provides support for frequency modulation.  Finally, there is a wavefolder on the front end of the filter that provides additional non-linear signal processing and distortion options.  WMD puts it succinctly in their description of the module:

Containing several pieces to a traditional synthesizer voice, the Synchrodyne is a powerful addition to any subtractive oriented system. However, it is designed primarily as an experimental sound source/filter, intended to push the limits of modular synthesis…WMD style.

This is not your classic subtractive analog synthesizer voice, as one might find in a Moog synthesizer or the Korg Prologue that we reviewed in an earlier article.  It is a beast, but with practice, we see how it can be an expressive musical instrument on its own. We look forward to trying it out ourselves one of these days.  And we thank Pedro Eustace for being so gracious after the performance and sharing with us his process making music with the Synchrodyne and his wind controller.  From his official website:

“In Pedro’s own words: ‘I simply hope–and I really work hard at this, through ‘active submission’–that someday, whenever I see my Creator I would be able to give Him an answer worthy of the ‘package-of- grace’ he entrusted me with.'”

 

http://wmdevices.com
http://pedroflute.com/

CatSynth Pic: Blezqi Zatsaz + Minimoog

From Fabio Ribeiro via the Facebook group Synthesizer Freaks.

Blezqi Zatsaz (the cat) + Minimoog

NAMM 2018: Korg Prologue and Waldorf STVC

We would be remiss if we didn’t visit the Korg booth at NAMM, especially as Waldorf was there as well.  We took some quick peeks at some of the new offerings, which you can see in this video.

The Korg Prologue synthesizer was among the most hyped instruments leading up to NAMM, so we of course had to check it out.

Korg Prologue

It is quite pretty, with a sleek black front panel and wooden side panels.  The analog synth was not that exciting to us, as we at CatSynth are rather spoiled by the offerings of Dave Smith Instruments such as the Rev2 or Prophet 6.  And it doesn’t fill the niche of the Minilogue as an affordable polyphonic analog synthesizer.  What intrigues us is the open architecture for the digital oscillators that will allow advanced users to add their own programs.  At NAMM, it is difficult to impossible to explore this, but we look forward to learning more about in the future.

Waldorf STVC

By contrast, the Waldorf STVC string synthesizer and vocoder was fun to play and sounded great on our first test.  The vocoder played more smoothly with my voice than the Roland VP-03 that I frequently use (including in the opening for CatSynth TV).  But it does require dialing in the exact right patch for one’s voice.  When we returned to the booth to record our video segment, it took a while to find something that worked, and it wasn’t quite as good as that first time.  But we know this is part of the deal with vocoders, and they require practice to play well.

 

CatSynth Pic: Tuxedo Cat and Roland SH-101

Cat with Roland SH-101 synthesizer

Pretty picture of a tuxedo cat that bears a strong resemblance to Sam Sam (minus the nose smudge) with a classic Roland SH-101 synthesizer.  From verzerrung on Instagram.

Sam Sam does not have access to an SH-101, but she does seem to like the Roland Boutique synths, so maybe we will get an SH-01 for her at some point 😸

CatSynth Pic: Korg M500 Micro Preset SN 770329

Korg M500 Micro Preset SN 770329

Originally rom a now completed listen on Reverb.com, today’s pic arrives via matrixsynth, where you can see more pictures (sans cat).

The Korg Micro Preset synthesizer is a curious late 1970s beast with a slightly bizarre matrix of pre-set sounds, including woodwind and similar noises and a keyboard all housed in a wooden box! It’s a 32-note monophonic preset synthesizer with 6 push-button presets including voice, synth1, synth2, brass, string, and wood. Its single-oscillator design has only rudimentary decay/release envelope controls and no access to the guts of the sound generation stuff.

Once you’re past the outward appearance, a bit of probing will reveal a noise box that sounds remarkably similar to the MS-10 at times. There is a lot of fun to be had with the ‘traveller’ control, a sort of filter and resonance control rolled into one, offering interesting squelchy acid-style bass run effects. In fact, like the MS-10, bass is the best of what you get out of this guy along with lots of other useful noises. Add N To (X), The Human League, OMD, Jean Michel Jarre, OMD, Pop Will Eat Itself and Brian Eno are thought to have used the Micro Preset.

A few of the presets are slightly quieter. Easily addressed by turning the volume up. Since this Keyboard was only ever used in our smoke free studio, we never had a tech fix it. Our tech HAD seen this issue before and did say the fix would take 1hr and require minimal parts he, and thusly most techs, should have. This thing sounds amazing straight into a delay pedal and then a DI. Only selling it because we loved it so much we bought 2 but need only one. It’s killer for when you want a simple MS-10/20 sound but don’t want to fuss about. It’s been on a ton of records made here. Great and affordable addition to any collection and would be a great first synth.”

CatSynth Pic: Gracie, Moog Subsequent 37 and other Synths

Gracie returns, this time with a Moog Subsequent 37.  Though she does seem more interested in the Eurorack modules behind it 😸

“Hmmm. Analog …”

From Alsún Ní Chasaide via our Facebook page.

From Alsún Ní Chasaide via our Facebook page.

CatSynth Pic: “Mister Bluuuue Skiessss” (Korg VC10 Vocoder)

From Alsún Ní Chasaide‎ on the Facebook group Synthesizer Freaks.

Like I spent weeks restoring this & she can’t wait to get on it. If vocoders aren’t for sits, then why are they made of warm?

We at CatSynth had the opportunity to play with a Korg VC10 vocoder last year.  It is indeed made of warm, as are most analog vocoders 😸.  It also had a bit of the Korg grit that characterizes their vintage instruments, and best of all it allowed for external carrier signals (this is something I wish was easier to do on the Roland VP-03).

We at CatSynth had the opportunity to play with a Korg VC10 vocoder last year.  It is indeed made of warm, as are most analog vocoders 😸.  It also had a bit of the Korg grit that characterizes their vintage instruments, and best of all it allowed for external carrier signals (this is something I wish was easier to do on the Roland VP-03).