Review: Furthrrrr Generator

The Furthrrrr Generator from is an analog dual oscillator module with an emphasis on west coast synthesis. It features their trademark gold panels and multicoloured knobs, with massive ten-turn knobs for controlling the frequencies of the oscillators. Rather than adopting the vintage airline motif of the Grand terminal, the Furthrrrr Generator panel is festooned with cartoon doodles of flowers, a cyclops creature and other miscellany. The Furthrrrr Generator provides the centerpiece of the 84HP Shuttle system, but also works as a standalone module. Let’s take a look at how much further it can go.

Back To Basics

For those not familiar, west coast synthesis refers to the Buchla approach of taking simple waveform oscillators like sine waves, and applying audio-rate frequency modulation and other techniques to produce more complex timbres. This is in contrast to the more familiar east coast approach used by Moog and others where multiple oscillators are used to produce a thick complex timbre, and then a filter is utilized to tame the tone into the desired range. Eventually, John Chowning would employ digital precision to refine frequency modulation techniques and produce more realistic tones better able to mimic acoustic instruments, leading to synths like the Yamaha DX7.

Frequency Modulation, or FM synthesis depends on having a carrier oscillator and a modulator oscillator. If the modulator’s frequency has a whole number ratio to the carrier’s frequency, the result will be a pleasant harmonic, whereas ratios with decimals will produce more dissonant overtones. The particular type of frequency modulation used by FM synths is called linear through-zero frequency modulation.

Exponential frequency modulation is more common on oscillators because it relates to the human perception of sound. In order for our ears to detect a change in pitch, the difference in frequency must increase exponentially the higher up the scale it goes. When you connect a melodic CV input into an oscillator, if it didn’t use an exponential curve the response would be rather atonal. Linear frequency modulation means that if the carrier and modulator are changing frequency, but maintaining the same ratio to each other, the timbre will stay consistent.

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