New $499 Two-Voice Mini-Modular Synthesizer, Pluto

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Modern Sounds has announced the availability of Pluto, a new compact two-voice mini-modular synthesizer.

Here’s what they have to say about it:

“Pluto is compact and portable, with abilities that belie its small size. Five channels of modulation (named for the five moons of Pluto), two voices, two sequencers, a mini-keyboard, and onboard effects make Pluto its own complete sound environment, but it can happily play with all your other gear.

The design of Pluto draws from a legacy of portable electronic instruments, from the Buchla Music Easel to 80s Casio synthesizers. With a focused, approachable interface, Pluto invites exploration.”

Features:

  • Portable 2-voice, 2-sequencer patchable synthesizer
  • Create complex, randomized sequences
  • Low-aliasing digital oscillators, wavetable oscillators
  • Rechargeable battery
  • Built-in delay and reverb effects
  • Mini touch keyboard
  • Clock range from 1 bpm to audio rates
  • Audio input for audio processing
  • Audio output (stereo headphone, line)
  • Quantize to preset scales, MIDI, or even audio input
  • Eurorack-compatible patch signals (5v)
  • Sync In & Out
  • MIDI In & Out (TRS, USB)
  • 2 channels CV Out (0-5v, 1v/oct)
  • USB C cable included
  • 5 patch cables included
  • 7.5 x 3.5 x 1.57 inches, 12oz

Audio Demos:

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Pricing and Availability

Pluto is price at $499. Modern Sounds says that the July 2022 batch has already sold out, but you can sign up for updates on the next batch.

Teenage Engineering OP-1 Field Review – “It’s So Much Better!”

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In this video, SON WU takes a look at the new Teenage Engineering OP-1 Field, a $1,999 portable studio that WU says is “so much better” than the original.

The Teenage Engineering OP-1 Field features an updated design with 100 new features. OP-1 field has a new low profile frame with floating keyboard, new field color palette, a high resolution screen with flush glass cover, stereo throughout the whole signal chain, bluetooth midi, 24 hr battery life, multiple tapes, styles and recording formats, a new reverb and the ‘dimension’ synth engine.

Topics covered in the video:

00:00 Intro
00:20 UNBOXING
00:45 Hardware Overview
04:15 Internals
05:25 Samplers
10:50 FX
17:10 Velocity LFO
18:40 USB host (OP-1 & OP-Z)
19:44 TAPE TYPES (sound comparison)
23:05 RENAMING
24:10 EQ bypass

Check out the video and share your thoughts on the OP-1 Field in the comments!

Moog Mavis Synthesizer Review

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In this Bloom Music video, Donald Jordan gives an in-depth review of the new Moog Mavis synthesizer.

Mavis is a DIY synth (no soldering required) that offers an affordable, but powerful, synth voice, with classic Moog sound. It can be used as a standalone synth, or removed from its case to be used as a 24-point CV-controllable 44HP Eurorack module.

Jordan says that it’s a bargain and an excellent sounding synth, but that its relatively rigid audio path means that it’s much more interesting when used as part of modular system.

Topics covered:

Intro: 00:00
Architecture: 1:47
Oscillator: 3:11
Filter: 5:20
Wave Folder: 7:44
Modulation: 13:02
Patchbay: 16:08
Eurorack Use: 22:16
Patches: 24:03
Conclusion: 27:36

Audio demos:

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All synth sounds and music in this video were created using the Mavis.

Check out the videos and share your thoughts on the Moog Mavis in the comments!

A Complete Guide To The Behringer Crave Synthesizer

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This series of videos, via XNB, offers a complete guide to the Behringer Crave, a standalone semi-modular synth design based on the Moog Mother-32.

The first video, above, offers a complete walkthrough of the Behringer Crave and its capabilities.

Topics covered:

0:00 – Intro
02:13 – Output VCA
04:55 – Envelope
10:53 – OSC
20:11 – Filter (VCF)
28:01 – Modulation (LFO)
29:50 – Glide
33:17 – Keyboard mode
37:16 – Rec a pattern
42:48 – Banks,Pattern,step,save
52:59 – Accent, Rest
56:43 – Edit patterns
01:02:26 – Gate and Tie
01:09:03 – Glide
01:15:37 – Ratchet
01:19:22 – Put in practice
01:23:04 – Step mode
01:27:26 – End,Reverse,Hold,Mute
01:31:35 – Arp
01:37:22 – Conclusion

The second video, below, takes a look at the Crave’s patchbay:

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Topics covered:

0:00 – Intro
01:16 – LFO Tri, LFO Squ OUT
08:02 – Cutoff, Res IN
10:02 – MIX 1&2 IN, VC MIX Out
18:36 – OSC CV & OSC FM IN’s
26:07 – LFO Rate, Env, KB CV
38:26 – Multimeter
44:05 – OSC MOD
49:29 – EXT Audio, SQR & SAW OUT
55:09 – Mix CV & MIX VC Mix
01:03:43 – Multiple In & Out’s
01:07:47 – Gate OUT
01:11:29 – ENV GATE IN
01:17:42 – Tempo & Play/Stop
01:27:54 – Reset & Accent
01:30:09 – VCF, VCA CV
01:38:11 – ASSIGN

Note: Since the Crave copies the Mother-32 design, most of this discussion will apply equally well to the original Moog design.

Check it out, and share your thoughts on the Crave in the comments!

Roland AIRA Compact Series In Action

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The latest Red Means Recording video takes a look at the new Roland Aira Compact Series.

Topics covered:

00:00 overview
02:40 t-8 drums
07:43 j-6 chords
14:48 t-8 bass
18:08 e-4 voice
21:22 jam
25:07 recap

The Roland AIRA Compact line features three new instruments:

  • The T-8 Beat Machine – a mini rhythm factory, with six tracks of TR drums, plus a TB-303 bass track.
  • The J-6 Chord Synthesizer – a “portable synth toolbox”, featuring a four-voice JUNO-60 synth engine, based on Roland’s circuit-modeling technology.
  • The E-4 Voice Tweaker – a compact voice effect that lets you harmonize, auto-pitch, vocode, loop, and glitch your voice.

Pricing and Availability

The Roland AIRA Compact series devices are available now with a street price of around $200.

Moog Intros $349 Mavis Analog Semi-Modular Eurorack Synth Voice

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Moog Music today introduced Mavis, an all-in-one semi-modular analog synth voice in Eurorack format.

Mavis is a DIY synth (no soldering required) that offers an affordable, but powerful, synth voice, with classic Moog sound. It can be used as a standalone synth, or removed from its case to be used as a 24-point CV-controllable 44HP Eurorack module.

Mavis brings new sonic capabilities to Moog’s palette of Eurorack systems.

The compact synth features Moog’s archetypal oscillator and filter circuits, but also features a diode wavefolder, the first analog wavefolder to appear on a Moog instrument. Combining traditional subtractive synthesis with additive wavefolding means that Mavis takes the traditional Moog sound into new territory.

With Mavis, users of any skill level can quickly build an analog synthesizer, with minimal tools and experience. No soldering is required. Once the instrument is built, Moog introduces you to the synth’s capabilities through a selection of patch books and educational materials, designed to encourage creative patching and sound design.

Features:

  • 24-Point Patch Bay: Mavis features a useful collection of utilities and flexible control voltage routing.
  • Full Range Analog Oscillator: Mavis’s Voltage Controlled Oscillator (VCO) with pulse-width modulation (PWM), waveform mixing, and mod source mixing delivers rich harmonic character and motion.
  • Voltage Controlled Filter: Sculpt your sound with the -24dB Moog Low Pass Ladder Filter, delivering the sonic power behind the distinct sounds of Moog basslines and leads.
  • Audio Rate LFO and 4-Stage Envelope Generator: Mavis uses crossfaders in its modulation routing instead of switches, allowing you to blend between a variable shape LFO and 4-stage envelope generator, for interesting and unusual modulation contours.
  • Wavefolding and Modular Utilities: Mavis features Moog’s first-ever wavefolding circuit, allowing for additive synthesis to sit alongside traditional subtractive synthesis, and features a broad modular utilities section, complete with attenuators, offsets, mults, and a flexible DC-coupled mixer.
  • Patchable Sample and Hold (S+H) Circuit: This circuit generates a random CV pattern that can be patched to modulate other parameters, including setting Mavis into a “random sequencing” mode of performance.
  • Protective Cover: Mavis includes a fitted protective cover for use during studio downtime or taking your instrument on the go.
  • Seamless Configuration with Eurorack Systems & Moog’s 60HP Semi-Modular Synths – In 44HP, the synthesizer offers two oscillators, full ADSR, ladder filter, sample and hold, wavefolding, attenuators, mixer, mults, and much more.

Moog Mavis Audio Demos:

A Nod to Moog’s DIY Beginnings

Moog notes that Mavis isn’t the first DIY instrument from Moog – in fact, the company was built on the build-it-yourself kit.

In 1949, a teenage Bob Moog discovered a copy of Electronics World that featured an article with details on how to build an electronic musical instrument at home. Shortly after, he built his first model of the instrument, a theremin, from plans published in the magazine. By 1953, Bob and his father established R.A. Moog to market and sell theremin kits out of their home in Queens, NY.

With the release of Mavis, Moog celebrates its roots by providing the end user with the unique experience of constructing their own instrument. Every Mavis is custom built and hand assembled—like the instruments Bob Moog built years ago and the synthesizers and theremins that Moog’s employee-owners assemble by hand to this day.

Pricing and Availability:

The Moog Mavis synthesizer is available now for $349 USD.

Free Wavetables For The Novation Peak & Summit Synthesizers

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Sound designer Anton Anru shared this video demo of a free collection of 50 custom wavetables for Novation Peak and Summit.

The collection is designed to expand the sound palette of these synths. The wavetables offer a wide range of tones, from “warm, soft, analog-style to bright, metallic, harsh”.

“The waves sound nice in a ‘static mode’,” notes Anru, “and they give a pleasant movement, when the Shape is modulated by LFO, Envelope or other sources.”

Pricing and Availability

Anru has released the wavetables as a free library, but donations are appreciated.

20 Sounds On The Erica Synths DB-01 Bassline Synthesizer

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This video, via Richard DeHove, explores the sonic range of the Erica Synths DB-01 bassline synthesizer.

The video explores the sonic range of the Erica Synths DB-01, using 1 pattern with 20 different bass sounds.

Here’s what DeHove has to say about the video:

On a recent video one comment said “Cool machine, but it only has one sound”. The truth or otherwise of that here is in the ear of the beholder.

With the very distinctive Polivoks filter and a single oscillator maybe every sound does sound a bit the same? And this is a bass synth after all. But to my ears there is a lot of difference. At the very least, the different settings emphasize different parts of the pattern, in this case the pitchmod drum-like thumps and the noisy highs.

Sounds:

0:00 One – Square
0:47 Two – Shakey
1:02 Three – Ramp
1:52 Four – Skinny
2:03 Five – Drive
2:23 Six – Harsh
2:43 Seven – Squelch
2:56 Eight – Poke
3:26 Nine – Noise
3:38 Ten – Dirt
3:56 Eleven – Discord
4:10 Twelve – Noise
5:00 Thirteen – Filth
5:38 Fourteen – S&H
6:13 Fifteen – Bandpass
7:10 Sixteen – Vocal
8:13 Seventeen – Zap
8:26 Eighteen – Unison
8:40 Ninteen – Smooth
8:50 Twenty – Grit
9:07 Twenty-one – Hollow

New Lisa Bella Donna Album, Photophobia, Conjures Paranormal Experiences, “Timeless Spaces”


This week, Synthesist and composer Lisa Bella Donna released a new album, Photophobia. The album uses Moog Modular System, ARP 2600, ARP Axxe, ARP String Ensemble synths to evoke a spooky vibe.

She says of the album tracks:

“These compositions are old stories from the late 70s & early 80s.

Reflections and impressions of a few real life paranormal experiences I had growing up in deep rural West Virginia. Far away journeys in timeless spaces. Transfigurations of twilight on hallowed ground. Astral apparitions. Everlasting passageways through the electronic forests…

Lifelong lasting impressions for sure. Come away with me…”

Photophobia is available for streaming (free) and purchase/download on Lisa Bella Donna’s Bandcamp page.

New England Synth Fest Features Monthly Live Planetarium Performances This Summer


The New England Synth Fest has announced a summer series of live electronic music performances. The shows will be performed in the immersive full dome environment of the Charles Hayden Planetarium at the Museum of Science in Boston.

This summer’s Synth Fest events happen on the second Thursday evening of each month, beginning June 9.

The June show will feature dome performances by Metal Tiger with visuals by Anagram, Jade Rose & Jame Coyne, and Violet Nox with visuals by DebStep, as well as lobby performances by Campos, Snowbeasts, and Oxalis. Tickets are $10 and can be purchased on the Museum of Science website.

The New England Synthesizer Festival calls itself “a loose-knit inclusive community of synthesizer hardware and music enthusiasts.” Since 2004, the group have been supporting exhibitions, meet-ups, performances, and education, all surrounding topics related to synthesizers. Their events are open to the public and welcome attendees with experience from beginner to expert. To learn more about the group and about the summer concert series, visit nesynthfest.org.

Update, June 8, 11pm: The June 9 SynthFest performance has sold out, but tickets for the July 14 and August 11 shows are still available.