Novation Circuit Review

The Novation Circuit portable Groovebox

This Circuit review is one that I specifically requested from Novation. I was quite interested in the idea of a portable groove box that held one of my favorite synth engines in a battery controlled, forward thinking design. I was concerned about the macro control layout as I wasn’t quite sure what to make of the layout. I came away from my time with the circuit gaining a new appreciation for this different take on a portable synth. Instead of focusing on specifics like ADSR settings or complex oscillator set ups, This groove box opts to give you macros that can control 4 parameters on any given patch. While this might be a bit confusing, it also serves as the pathway to inspiration and discovery of new unexpected sounds. This is where Circuit can come into its own… The sequencer is a bit on the basic side being only 16 steps but it does allow for independent note lengths and pattern chaining. You can launch patterns in a similar way to the ableton live clip launching method. Speaking of Ableton Live, a copy is included free with Circuit and Circuit can be used as a controller for live.

The Battery power and the fact that it has a built in speaker was a large draw for me. I’m happy to say that through out this entire review I never once needed to actually plug it into the wall (though the wall adapter is included in the box). The internal speaker is quite adequate to get its sound across in a quiet setting (don’t expect it to be loud enough to get peoples attention in a noisy bus station but it will certainly turn heads if you are sitting in a starbucks.)

I found the over all build quality to be extremely good. The knobs feel VERY nice , smooth with decent resolution. the body didn’t creak or feel hollow and plasticy.  The build felt so nice I let my 2 and a half year old son bash away on it with not so much as a scratch or a worry. I have to say he quite enjoyed it as well.

I was skeptical of the layout but came away impressed with the build quality. The constant updates from novation is a very promising sign and the addition of sample import and “sample flip” is not to be over looked. the rigid 16 step sequencer resolution is probably my biggest gripe but for what this product is, its hardly a deal breaker.

If you are looking for a groove box that you can confidently take with you on the go and is truly stand alone… this might be right up your alley.

Siglent SDS1202X Oscilloscope review for the Synth user

Siglent is a leader in the oscilloscope market. Both win affordability and features Siglent scopes continue to impress. This review I decided to show how these wonderful scopes can be used by audio professionals to better understand our gear and sounds. This particular scope is in their upper mid range segment with a absolutely stunning display. check out the video below for more details!. Head to Siglent to order one of these or their other scopes today! 

Audio Damage Shapes Eurorack Module wave shaping demo

Audio Damage Shapes

This is a digital effect module that can take a sine wave and turn it into a wavetable, it can also be used as a complex distortion module. available now from most Eurorack Module dealers it retails around $289, get it direct from Audio Damage . shapes

Shapes includes 16 smoothly interpolated wavetables as well as 9 lookup table algorithms 

It is a true stereo module as well. 

Features 

 » The WAVE/ALGO knob and CV input control which wave or algorithm is active. In LOOKUP mode, the knob controls which of sixteen tables the input will scan. In ALGO mode, the knob controls which of nine algorithms will affect the input. 

» The PARAM 1 knob is a variable function knob. In LOOKUP mode, it controls the width of the table scan, from about 15% of the table (at full anti-clockwise) to the entire table (at full clockwise.) In ALGO mode, its function varies, but it is usually Drive or Amount. (Basically “more.”) 

» The PARAM 2 knob, in LOOKUP mode, controls the start position of the table. It can effectively be thought of as a phase control. In ALGO mode, its function varies, and it is not used in every algorithm. 

» The MIX knob controls an equal power wet/dry mix. At full anti-clockwise, you only hear the input, and at full clockwise you only hear the effect. 

» The MODE switch controls whether the module acts as a wavetable scanner or a waveshaper. In LOOKUP mode, the wavetables are active, while in ALGO mode, the algorithms are active. 

» Shapes is true stereo; the left and right signals do not intermingle internally; thus you can, for instance, run a kick in the left channel and a snare in the right, and vary the effect by attenuating either channel before it enters the module. 

» 48kHz 24 bit audio path with a high-quality Cirrus-Logic AD/DA convertor. 10Vpp CV control over all parameters. 

» USB port (on the PCB board) for easy firmware updates. 

» High-quality 100% Made In The USA construction, including panel-bolted 100,000-cycle BI potentiometers and custom stamped Rogan knobs. 

» Power draw is 40ma from the +12V rail and 9ma from the -12V rail. This module has an on-board regulator and does not require +5V. Module depth is 25mm.

» Shapes, like all Audio Damage hardware products, includes our lifetime unconditional warranty.

Audio damage Kompressor Eurorack effect module

The Audio Damage Kompressor is a digital true stereo compressor that can also work as a Mono with side chain input compressor. occupying only 6 hp, this compressor packs a big punch for its small size. RATIO is a scaled control. The first half of the rotation goes from 1:1 to 1:10, and from 12 o’clock to fully clockwise, it goes from 1:10 to 1:1000 (infinite). Gain can give you up to 30+db of additional gain along with a soft internal saturation emulating an analog circuit.

The Build quality feels very solid and the compression is really quite well controlled. I’ve been using it both as an final mix compressor and as a drum squashing beast as well.

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Available now for only $289

Elysia Character Discrete Class A saturation and distortion

The Elysia Karacter is a really interesting rack unit and not just because it’s a high quality distortion or saturation.  The Karacter gives you a ton of tone shape characteristics and control in one simple 1u rack space. Control Voltage seems to be a buzz these days and for good reason. Control voltages give you extremely fast precise control over parameters and allow for easy interaction not just with modular gear but with various studio pieces. Karacter Gives you CV control which isn’t very common in units of this style. Lets talk more about the sound. There are a few modes of color to grab from this unit, the first of which is saturation. Continue reading

ZAOR Studio desk “Yesk” Review

ZAOR Studio Furniture YESK Production desk

review by Fluxyesk1    The Yesk is the latest production desk from boutique studio desk manufacturer ZAOR. The Yesk is a three tier desk with a slide out keyboard tray perfect for 49-61 keys. the center console features two bays of 4U of rack space at a nice working angle. The construction is of solid wood and feels extremely sturdy. One of my personal concerns about this review was that I know I will be moving in semi near future, will this desk hold up after a tear down and rebuild. I can say that after putting the desk together and seeing the smart anchor system that it uses to assemble the individual pieces (it comes flat packed), I have no doubts it will fair well in the move. Build time was pretty short (under two hours with me basically half paying attention to the build and half paying attention to another project I was working on. I’d bet with some focus I could have pulled it off in about 45 minutes.  The instructions are very well layed out and it is really only about 11 parts or so you need to join together. The only gripes I had during the build was that the adapters for the rack screws could have come preinstalled and that the bottom row of them are a very tight fit to the desk. Nothing really upsetting just nitpicking for the sake of this article really.  Continue reading