I usually try to avoid using the word “gnarly”. For me, it will be forever wrapped up in California surf and skateboard culture, drawing memories of Pauly Shore, grunge music, and mushroom cuts. However it must be said: The Crush Delay from Befaco is definitely a gnarly sounding module. Delay is only half of the equation because the module is also a circuit bent digital mangler. As noisy and glitchy as this guy can get, the feedback path thankfully features automatic gain control to protect your ears and speakers.
Along with the satisfyingly big knob to control the delay’s speed, the crush has knobs for feedback, delay input, return level, and wet/dry balance. There are also three switches to engage the circuit bent behaviours and these parameters are all controllable via CV. Interestingly, the speed knob functions like a classic delay clockwise from the 1 O’clock point, while counterclockwise it enters the domain of digital distortion and bit reduction.
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Rings from Mutable Instruments is a physical modeling resonator eurorack synth module with a healthy dose of joyful surprises lurking in its patch points and parameters. It’s designed to mimic the resonant behaviour of vibrating bodies like metal bars, plates, strings, and more, with the ability to blend and bend their attributes. Controls are available for Coarse Frequency, Structure, Damping, Brightness and Excitation Position. Each of these parameters has an input with a handy attenuverter to control the amount and polarity of external modulation, making it easy to integrate with other modules.
A while back I had a look at another resonator module from 4MS (you can read my thoughts here). The 4MS Spectral Multiband Resonator works as a collection of six bandpass filters tuned to selectable frequencies with glassy ringing resonance at high Q values. If you’re asking which one to get, I’m afraid in my case the answer was both.
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Last month we took a look at the functionality of the AIRA Modular series straight out of the box. You can have a look at that review here. Now let’s check out the other part of the equation: The AIRA Customizer software editor. The app works on Mac, Windows, iOS and Android systems, and for this review I’ve been using both the OS X and iPad versions. The customizer unlocks six slots for any configuration of their 31 virtual sub modules to use in addition to the features of the original module. Changes are then saved into the module’s firmware so you can use your new creation in whatever setting you want. You can even save your patch as an audio file that you can play back from your phone into the Remote input of a module to reconfigure it. This greatly expands the abilities of all the AIRA modular units and really lets you convert them to your personal taste.
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Part of Roland’s return to the modular world took the form of four effect units. Each piece was made to work both standalone as a tabletop unit, and as part of a eurorack system. Roland’s AIRA line features the use of their Analog Circuit Behaviour technology; taking Virtual Analog to the next level by digitally recreating hardware from the inside out. It was first employed in re-imaginings of classic pieces that took shape as the TR-8, TB-3, and VT-3. However with these effect units they’re creating something entirely new for Roland.
The AIRA modules look great all racked up together and possess a reassuring build quality with larger knobs for primary functions and smaller knobs for the attenuation and secondary features. Each unit features a USB connection that functions as a 24bit/96kHz audio interface, and also sends MIDI and Sync information. The controls boast a resolution of 16 million steps to avoid any audible stepping or aliasing and ensure smooth sweeps as you twiddle and tweak.
Squeezed into the 21HP footprint are 11 patch points, 7 knobs, and 2 buttons; except in the case of the Scooper, which has 5 knobs and 3 buttons. Each unit has a dedicated volume knob, so you can quickly control the level of your signal. The 1/8” dual mono inputs make them compatible with a eurorack setup, but limit their intended use as tabletop effect boxes with other equipment. Roland would probably benefit from offering or including an adaptor or cable that takes stereo 1/4” and/or RCA connections and outputs dual 1/8”, similar to Elektron’s Audio/CV Split Cable Kit. To power the units, they cleverly come with both a standard wall wart, and a ribbon power adaptor.
A standard wall wart and a ribbon power adaptor are both included with the units.
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Feel like surfing the rising tide of patch cables and joining the eurorack revolution? Here are a few things to consider before getting your feet wet. I recently went through this process and started my own system, and I thought it would be helpful to share the information that I gathered along the way. I’m assuming you already have a basic understanding of synthesis and CV if you’re here. If you don’t then these video courses in The AskAudio Academy are worth watching.
A 2Egress 18U168HP case all filled up and ready for action!
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