From the makers of Ruismaker, Ruismaker FM, and Phasemaker comes a new bass synth, Troublemaker! Apparently it is not a 303!
Here’s what to expect …
The legendary TB-303 has magical properties; it is filled to the brim with analog shimmer. Its output jack is a gateway to a parallel universe and when you twiddle the filter knobs an army of highly trained pixies chisel the square waves from freshly harvested unicorn souls. So if you want a TB-303, you should buy a TB-303. But if you’re after *that sound* Troublemaker will give you everything you need in spades.
Troublemaker sports a carefully crafted diode filter emulation and among the available oscillators are the typical raspy, nasal sawtooth and rubbery squarewave with its oddball shape and shifting pulsewidth. It also has the wow.
Troublemaker is fully Audio Unit (AUv3) compatible, so you can go wild running multiple instances in your favorite DAWs.
It also has:
Ableton Link synchronization,
MIDI CC mapping,
Core Midi, Virtual Midi, Bluetooth Midi input,
Exports MID and WAV files from the standalone sequencer
And unlike the TB-303, it can actually sound like a bass guitar 😉
I’m a fan of Bastl and I have been since I first saw them in Frankfurt in 2014. They’re makers of excellent hardware and ever since I first met them they’ve made more and more excellent devices.
I met them in Berlin this year at Loop, as they were running a workshop and I was using the space for a workshop directly after them. They were kind enough to provide me with one of their new Kastle synths. I posted about Kastle a few weeks ago. It’s an awesome little device and packs way more punch than you’d ever think from a tiny little micro modular.
Bastl’s latest video on Kastle gives a detailed walk through of the synth and is really worth watching. But be warned, you might not be able to turn back!
But of course Bastl Instruments do so much more, and in fact their latest foray into DIY is a cause for celebration in itself. OMSynth miniLab is a circuit development and performance interface designed to help inventors quickly build and experiment with creative circuits. It was designed with beginners in mind but is perfectly suited for seasoned builders and complex circuit development.
In many ways OMSynth miniLab seems like a likely successor to Teenage Engineering’s now discontinued OpLab, although in many ways a lot more hands on and experimental. This is a device that could get people involved in some real experimentation, which can only be a good thing as far as I’m concerned.
If that wasn’t enough Bastl have also announced bitRanger ADDON boards, BITBOARD & SYNAPSIS. bitRanger in itself is an excellent experimental synth and these new add ons take it up to the next level. The BitBoard is a breadboard add-on module that allows users to build custom circuits and user interfaces for the BitRanger, and the synapsis is a 4×4 pushbutton matrix that offers performative control of the Bit Ranger.
When you add all of this up, what you get is a synth company who are really pushing the boundaries of modular, of experimentation, and of miniaturisation too. These are not easy boundaries to push. What Bastl are doing is hard, and yet they make it seem easy, effortless. That requires real skill and a generous helping of excellent design talent.
Personally, I think that Bastl have a very bright future. Who knows where they’ll go next, but wherever it is it’s going to be exciting and probably break some new ground. I’ll be watching whatever it is they do in 2017, and I bet it’ll be great.
I’ll leave you with this interview with Bastl after the workshop they did at Loop.
Klevgränd are steadily building a very credible and impressive set of apps to their name, and Pads adds nicely to that.
Pads is basically a wavetable synthesizer with a noise/grain generator and a high cut filter. With a carefully developed ”wobbler” that detunes the waveforms and makes small inconsistencies to several internal parameters and a nice sounding chorus, this synthesizer is able to create some really interesting and non-statical pad sounds.
AUv3, works with AUv3 compatible hosts like GarageBand, Cubasis, Auria, AUM etc.
30 handcrafted presets created by professional musicians
Filter, Attack and volume can be modulated by velocity
Controllable grit/grain level, sampled from a real hammond organ with a broken tone wheel
Controllable wobble factor that adds analogue unpredictability
Important: Pads in stand-alone mode does not support IAA, Audiobus or MIDI. You can try it out using the keyboard at the bottom, but that’s it. We recommend using Pads with AUv3 compatible hosts.
Another unexpected goodie from Korg, iWAVESTATION (universal) arrives for iOS only a month after ARP ODYSSEi arrived! What’s more, their sale is still on as well, check the App Sales page for details.
Here are the app’s full details:
Creating sounds with time-varying timbre, on your mobile device. KORG iWAVESTATION – A wave sequence synthesizer for iOS.
The WAVESTATION synthesizer went on sale in 1990. This instrument featured an advanced vector synthesis system which created new sounds by combining and connecting multiple waveforms; it provided a mix/morphing function that let you use a joystick to change the balance of four oscillators, and a distinctive wave sequence function that allowed you to place waveforms in a desired sequence to create sequence patterns. To this day, it continues to be considered a legendary and still-unique instrument.
Now in 2016, the WAVESTATION has been reborn as “KORG iWAVESTATION,” an app for iPad/iPhone. In addition to completely reproducing the programs, it also features a renewed design that lets everyone experience the stupendous sound-shaping potential of the WAVESTATION. It features touch-based operation that’s distinctive of iOS, in conjunction with a new graphic interface that allows you to visualize and edit the time-varying timbral changes that are distinctive of the WAVESTATION.
A faithful reproduction of the original WAVESTATION sound: In addition to providing the sounds from all PCM memories of the WAVESTATION, the new iWAVESTATION also reproduces in software every detail of the parameters, based on an analysis of the original hardware circuit diagram.
A new wave sequence view that can be graphically controlled: The iWAVESTATION, we advance another step with a graphical user interface that takes advantage of the touch operations that are a characteristic of iOS. Even more than ever, we’ve updated the screen design with an emphasis on creating sequences.
1,500 sounds, more than 700 waveforms, 55 effects, and a powerful random sequence engine: This new instrument includes a stupendous number of presets and waveforms, covering all models of the series. iWAVESTATION also provides a new random sequence function which will give you different perspectives to inspire new sounds.
Produce music together with KORG Gadget integration: iWAVESTATION can be used in conjunction with the “KORG Gadget” music production DAW app that has won numerous awards around the world. If both apps are installed, it can be used as the “Milpitas” gadget inside the KORG Gadget app.
Special Sale for a limited time to celebrate the debut of KORG iWAVESTATION (33% OFF) until Jan 5!
This is another app from the maker of the rather lovely Jack the beat maker, which I posted about a little while ago. Sound Maker Synth is a synth, but with the same signature interface which I find myself very drawn to.
Here are the app’s details:
This app is capable and complex FM synthesiser that can create rich and very strange sounds combining up to 10 sound generators. Every generator can be adjusted up or down from the main frequency almost without restrictions in range. There are 4 possible wave forms for the generator output and you can tweet the volume, modulation and add some tremolo effect. You can listen to the result sound while you are adjusting the new generator and just add it to the result when it sounds good.
With the Sound Maker Synth you can also add reverb and then play it as a one voice synth using the one octave keyboard at the top. The app is very capable to create some strange and alien like pad sounds as some dubstep bass.
Sound Maker Synth costs $1.99 on the app store now:
IceGear Instruments have been around a long time and have consistently supported the iOS music making world. Their first app, Argon (a personal favourite) was released back in December of 2009, and ever since they’ve brought us updates and new apps that have been exceptionally popular with the iOS community. I’m sure that their newest offering will be no exception.
Redshrike Synthesizer is a Polyphonic Subtractive Synthesizer for iPhone. Here are the main features:
Waveform Morphing: Saw – Triangle – Pulse
Frequency Modulation: Type, Frequency, Depth
Type: White, Pink, Blue, Pitched, Digital, Glitch
Type: 24dB/Oct, 12dB/Oct
Effects : Chorus, Delay, Reverb
You can easily create your own pattern.
You can stream live audio directly to other Inter-App Audio host applications.
You can stream live audio directly to other Audiobus-compatible apps. See http://audiob.us for more information.
Ableton Link is a new technology that synchronizes beat, phase and tempo of Ableton Live and Link-enabled iOS apps over a wireless network.
CoreMIDI / Virtual MIDI Input
MIDI Controller Mapping with MIDI Learn
External MIDI sync
You can change which octaves are shown by dragging on bottom of keyboard.
Redshrike Synthesizer is on launch sale right now with 40% off for a limited time only
I was lucky enough to bump into the guys from Bastl Instruments at Ableton’s Loop Summit. They were running workshops building their Kastle micro modular synth in the space I was using after them. I’ve bumped into these guys once before a few years ago at Musik Messe, but this time I got to spend a bit more time with them, and they’re really cool.
But enough of that for now. What I did do is get a chance to take a longer look at the Kastle synth and have a really long play with it.
The Kastle synth is tiny. I mean really tiny. It’s footprint is the same as 3 AA batteries. You can plug it into headphones and it sounds awesome. The real power of Kastle is its tiny patch cables, like patching any other modular but on a very small scale. It’s tiny patching capability gives it enormous power and verstility, but much more importantly it makes it loads of fun and that’s what’s really attracted me to it.
So let’s find out a bit more about what Kastle is from the Bastl Instruments site:
Kastle is a mini modular synthesizer with headphone output, 2 in/out ports for interfacing other gear and it runs on just 3 AA batteries. It is DIY friendly and ideal for beginners in modular synthesis, but it will add quite some unique functionality to any modular synthesizer systems. It delivers the fun of modular synthesis at cost and fits into your pocket so you can play it everywhere!
It has unique digital lo-fi sound and it can be melodic as well as very noisy and drony, soft or harsh. It is designed to be fun on its own but it is most powerful when combined with other modular gear.
Kastle is an open source DIY project which runs on two Attiny 85 chips that can be reprogrammed with an Arduino (google: “programming Attiny 85 with Arduino”). One chip is dedicated to sound generation while the other handles modulation. Several firmwares for the Attiny chips are available.
The Synth version combines complex oscillator and LFO with stepped waveform generator.
The oscillator section has 3 sound parameters pitch, timbre and waveshape – all under voltage control and with 3 different synthesis modes. It has a main output and a square wave output. Both can be used independently or combined. The 3 synthesis modes are phase distortion, phase modulation (also known as FM) and track & hold modulation. Each mode utilizes two oscillators. The Pitch controls the main oscillator, the Timbre sets the pitch of the modulating oscillator and the waveshape depends on the synthesis mode. The waveshape also controls the pulse width of the square wave output from the main oscillator.
The voltage controllable LFO has a triangle and square output and a reset input. The stepped waveform generator is inspired by the Rungler circuit by Rob Hordijk. It can produce 8 different voltages either in random order or in 8 or 16 step looping patterns depending on how the BIT IN is patched.
Here are the main features of the Kastle:
3 synthesis modes: phase distortion, phase modulation and track & hold modulation
pitch control with offset and CV input with attenuator
timbre control with offset and CV input with attenuator
waveshape control with offset and CV input
voltage controllable LFO with triangle and square outputs and reset input
stepped voltage generator with random, 8 step and loop 16 step mode
2 I/O CV ports are available and can be routed to any patch point
the main output can drive headphones
3x AA battery operation with power switch
possibility of exchanging different LFO and OSC chips
the pattern on the sides changes and every unit is an original
From using the Kastle for a couple of weeks now I can safely say that it fantastic and enormous fun to play with and experiment with. I’d highly recommend it to anyone.
Modulars are hugely popular right now, but, so far, as far as I’m aware, there isn’t a really mobile version, and you might ask, why you would you want one. That’s probably a good question, and one that could only really be answered once someone has created a really compelling mobile modular.
For now I’m interested in talking about some of the smaller modulars that are appearing at the moment. Like the AE Modular on Kickstarter right now.
This is a smaller format than Eurorack and is not compatible either, so it’ll be interesting to see if it takes off and gets adopted by other manufacturers. It’s passed its funding goal so it’s going to happen, but where it goes from there will be the real test.
Another similar development is the Erica Synths Pico Modular System, which is Eurorack compatible, but is just nice and small and tidy. This actually looks pretty cool and quite a lot of fun, and also as a nice way to get into modular in a compact format.
Of course there are other ways to get into modular. You could just use one of the many excellent modular apps for iOS, like Audulus, Model 15, Reactable ROTOR, or the excellent zMors Modular for example. If nothing else then these are very good ways to keep a modular synth in your pocket at all times.
But for many the app route isn’t quite enough, and they’d prefer a real modular that can be portable. Well, there is one. When I was at Loop earlier in the month I bumped into Tom Whitwell from Music Thing Modular, and he showed me this.
And this is battery powered and very portable. He called it a lunchbox modular, and it was very cool.
Is it the shape of things to come? I’m not sure. I think that there’s still a space for a modular that is battery powered and portable but perhaps that doesn’t look like what we have now.
As a lover of all things generative I look forward to enjoying this app!
Synth Automata is an app designed for making Generative music. Synth Automata achieves Algorithmic composition via the uses of an interactive Cellular Automata (Conway’s Game of Life) as a tigger for notes. The user can select what scale the Automata maps to, The generated notes are then passed on to the synthesizer and onboard effects.
It was inspired by a talk given by Brian Eno and Will Wright