NAMM: Analogue Haven

The visit the Analogue Haven booth is another of the annual pilgrimages at the NAMM show. The highlight of my visit this year was a performance by Richard Devine on a system consisting exclusively of Make Noise modules.

This virtuosic performance showed what these modules are truly capable of with practice. The music moved between rhythmic staccato textures and longer resonant tones in multiple layers. It was also a showcase for the DPO, Make Noise’s oscillator, which was the only tone generator in this system. I have a Make Noise Maths and an Ecophon, and the performance inspired me to practice these along with the other modules to get more complex musical results.

Analog video is looking like a potential area of creative expansion, and LZX Industries was prominently demonstrating their video modules. Here we see our mascot being processed live.

One thing I would like to see more in video synthesis is interaction between analog audio, video and control signals.

On the opposite end from the modules was the massive Schmidt Eightvoice Polyphonic Synthesizer. A beautiful looking instrument with an interesting set of filters inspired be Moog and Oberheim:

This synthesizer is truly a labor of love by its creator Stefan Schmidt, who spent many years on this project. It remains to be seen if it will sell.

Other quick views from around the Analogue Haven booth included this demo of modules from Snazzy FX:

Percussion modules and a novel sequencer from Delptronics:

And the distinctive orange controls of the Harvestman modules.

There were three new releases from Harvestman, including a new Hertz Donut.

And the distinctive clean white design of Koma Elektronik, including the SVF-201 Vactrol Filter module and their infrared controller.

It is great to see the popularity of the analog instruments and new designs coming each year. If there are any drawbacks, it is that the field of available modules and effects boxes has become quite bewildering, and that the Analogue Haven booth is always quite crowded.

Analog modular improvisation

Here is a little track I created last night improvising with a few of the modules in my Eurorack system. Enjoy!

This analog modular improvisation featured the Wiard Anti-Oscillator and Noisering from Malekko Heavy Industry, Make Noise Maths, and KOMA SVF-201.

CatSynth video: Luna and Eurorack Modular

Today, we at CatSynth have our very own “CatSynth video”. Luna looks on from her favorite beanbag chair as I attempt to operate the newly installed Eurorack modular synth.

This particular improvisation features the Metasonix R53, Make Noise Echophon, MOTM E350 Morphing Terrarium, and Circuit Abbey ADSRjr.

Our video was also posted yesterday by matrixsynth 🙂

CatSynth video: Donna 6/8

From Ebotronix on YouTube, via matrixsynth.

“4ms Peg V4 RCD
Analogue Systems RS 100 RS 110 RS 360
ARP Odyssey 2821 Noise
Doepfer A 143-9 A 134 pan by Moog MP 201
Flame Chord Machine Talking Synth Modul
Make Noise Brains PP Maths Moddenix Optomix QMMG Wogglebug
Malekko 4x Oscillator 4x Anti Oscillator
Moog 2xFreqBox
Oberheim Sem
Roland System 104 Sequencer
Toppobrillo Quantimator Sportmodulator TWF
Master Clock Logic via Kenton Pro 2000II and 2x 4ms RCD.
Drum Logic Ultrabeat 12/8 ohm force Compost”

Analog Haven at NAMM

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.

[Click to enlarge.]

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.


CatSynth pic: Monsturo: modular set-up

From Analogue Haven on flickr, via matrixsynth:

“Beautiful photo of a nearly full Monorocket Lexington by Monsturo. Nice selection of modules from a variety of manufacturers. Lots of oscillators, multiple filters and several sequencers for control. The Harvestman Stilton Adaptor is used for integrating external effects. LINK:”

I have tagged some of modules I recognize (e.g., from NAMM).  Click on the tags for other pictures, info and articles.

CatSynth pic: Aki, Arp 2600 and modular

Submitted by Phill Hendricks via facebook:

[click photo to enlarge.]

“That’s Aki, he’s on the Arp 2600. As for the modules, a little bit of everything- Metasonix, 4MS, Malekko/Wiard, Make Noise, The Harvestman, FoH, …. and even a little bit of Buchla in front of the 2600.”

Analogue Haven

Our last post from NAMM 2010 features more images from the Analogue Haven booth, where I spent a fair amount of time.

First up, a modular from Make Noise:

I was particularly intrigued by the two-dimensional sequencer module (in the lower left). A wide variety patterns can be generated along the X and Y axis and modified by selectively removing elements or subsections.

This video probably doesn’t do it justice, but it at least provides some atmosphere:

A portable modular rock (from Analog Rocket) featuring modules from The Harvestman, including the Hertz Donut and Piston Honda:

If I put together a modular system anytime soon, I would want that monorocket case.

Livewire modules, also some remakes of Wiard modules by Malekko Heavy Industry:

Of course, there are a splattering of Doepfer modules in many of these setups.

A compact modular setup from Tiptop Audio: