Working on Space Explorers really got me in the synth mindset. I plan on/am working on designing a standalone tabletop synth a la the Space Explorer, but my intense search into synth parts yielded something I would not have expected.
That's right folks, a modular synthesizer. I had shied away from the vast world of modular mainly due to cost and how addicting I knew it would become, but building my own modules allowed me to develop things I wanted within my budget and on my own time. You can see in my case that I've got a few oscillators, some LFOs, and some different logic gates, as well as a few mixers, a sequencer, and some delay/reverb. My current pride and joy is the set of drum modules that I've made, since I'm a particularly big techno fan and look forward to breaking out a few tracks along those lines.
The case is full, but I'm already noticing what's getting use, and what will be replaced, and already have a few modules ready to take some space over.
Here's a jam I did when the case wasn't as full. One of the synth voices is coming from my volca keys.
Stay tuned for more info on synth happenings. I'll probably be posting a few more demos in the coming days. I haven't forgot about pedals! More on that front soon also.
I'm now building custom space explorers, available over in the etsy shop! You can either work with me on a design, or allow me to go nuts on the artwork for you. This one was sent to Allan in Wyoming. If you haven't already, check out my previous post on these guys: http://www.sonusfluxa.com/news/heterodyne-space-explorer .
This is a project I've recently finished for Santiago, a friend of mine and a member of the amazing band Winkie.
After discussing the various tribulations he had using an older big muff, I offered to build him a pedal to his specifications. We sent ideas back and forth, and settled on the quadrafuzz as a starting point. However, he wanted something that could produce synth-like textures with his bass. We went in the direction of a classic octave down circuit, and had that drive the fuzz. The resulting pedal, as you can see, has tons of flexibility within the parameters. The octave acts as a sort of pre-gain (with the additional octave down, of course), which is then shaped by the four band fuzz of the quadrafuzz. I've been calling it the quadoctave.
One of the ideas we had was for Santiago to design the artwork for his pedal. The image is a hand painted replica of a Cocteau drawing, and I think it captures the sounds within in a classy, oneiric way.
I'm happy to have built this for a friend and musician that I respect. To that end, Winkie has just released their latest album, 'Come to My Party'. Like everything they've done and continue to do, it's a brilliant piece of music/sound/noise. If you're a fan of industrial rhythms, shoegaze textures, or post punk of any stripe, you'll dig this. Check it out at their bandcamp page. While you're at it, check out the mix they did for The Brvtalist. It reminded me just how much I love Dead Can Dance!
I'll be back reporting in very soon with news of a few effects that I've been working on. Until then, be well.
I'm very excited to announce the newest addition to the Sonus Fluxa line. The Page of Wands is a free spirit, embodying exploration and transformation. He goes beyond his limitations.
This is a delay pedal with a unique random modulation. The variety of sounds that come out of this thing are pretty amazing, from subtle warbles to aggressive jumps in pitch and volume. See for yourself.
I found myself searching for a delay pedal that had modulation that didn't just go up and down, back and forth. I wanted something that leapt from here to another astral plane, and came back unannounced with gifts of esoteric knowledge. As far as I know, this pedal didn't exist in the capacity that I desired, so I sought to create it myself.
The heart of the character is the random modulation source. Normal modulated delays have a wave that tweaks the delay time as it ebbs and flows. This pedal has multiple waves vying to shape the delay, all at slightly different rates, which produces a random effect.
The delay time and modulation depth controls on this are very interactive. On one end you can have an eerie reverb that can trail off indefinitely. On the other end, you have a choppy delay that asserts itself and then recedes, only to come back again stronger.
The shape of the modulation wave form can also be switched between a sine wave for smoother textures, or a square wave for more dramatic shifts.
One last thing to point out about the circuit: the tone and feedback controls are also interactive. As you roll back the tone, the feedback increases. As you can see, from the drum segment at the end, I'm having a lot of fun live tweaking it.
These weirdos are now available from my store! As always, everything hand made. Hand drilled enclosure, hand etched PCB, put together by hand.
I'm already hard at work on the next addition to the family, which should be ready soon. In the meantime, let me know what you think!
As the year comes to a close, I'd like to take some time to share what I've been working on for the past few months. I haven't updated in a while, so this is also me proving that I'm still alive.
I've completed a handful of pedals for myself, and a few for others, as well. Here are all of the ones I've built for myself that I haven't previously posted about our mentioned:
The top row, left to right:
- Pitch Pirate Deluxe clone, delay/vibe/warble
- Really Nice Guy, modded Random Number Generator, mondo whacko fuzz
- Tremshifter clone, tremolo/autofilter
Middle Row, L to R:
- Lunar Module clone, vintagey fuzz that cleans up nicely
- Quadrafuzz, amazing sounding 4 band fuzz, my current pride and joy, demo soon
- All Star Reverb, sweet sweet reverb with a trippy dwell setting
Bottom, L 2 R:
- Sansamp Classic clone, amp/cab sim, dip switch replaced with spdt's for my sanity
- Loophole, lo-fi looper with 2 modulation modes and a safety switch
I've also built quite a few circuits that haven't been boxed up yet. Taking this picture was the first time I saw them arranged neatly, all together, and it was overwhelming but ultimately satisfying:
I'm not going to bother explaining what each one is. I know that there are a handful of fuzzes in there, a delay or two, a chorus, a couple of filters, a few overdrives, two octaves, two standalone drone synths, and a few guitar synth pedals.
In the coming months, I plan to release at least three new designs of my own, which I have been slowly working on. Progress on these to come soon, as well as demos of some of the above pedals/synths/circuits, and many more interesting tidbits, I'm sure. I hope everyone has had a great year, and a pleasant holiday season. Have a safe New Year's Eve, and enjoy the transition into 2016. See you then.
Finally, a bit of color! This is the Ugly Face fuzz noise snarl stutter box, designed by Tim Escobedo, designer of all sorts of interesting and insane effects. I've added the popular LFO mod to add the tremelo/auto-filter type sounds you hear in the demo below.
Knobs (clockwise from the top left) control noise, gate, volume, frequency, and LFO speed. The switch changes the LFO shape.
What can I say...this thing is insane. If you need to simulate a jet taking off then use this. Every scream and squelch and buzz is exactly what I wanted from this pedal, and more. Very happy with this build. Also happy with the way the enclosure came out. The ugly face on the front is Hedorah, the villain of probably the best Godzilla movie, and the only one I remember watching with a psychedelic freak-out mid movie.
Synth # 2, its a brilliant design from Beavis Audio (the site is currently down but check out the version saved by the wayback machine), a DIY hero, and a great inspiration upon my introduction to the world of electronics.
This synth uses 4 oscillators off of a CMOS chip, running a different ranges to produce different sounds. Each oscillator has a frequency knob, as well as a mix knob, and a switch to go between resistor mixing and diode mixing. To the left of the LED, we have (from bottom to top) a filter to further shape the sound, the power switch, and a voltage starve knob, to glitch up the oscillations real nice. All of this means a ton of options and variety in the sounds coming from this alien. The demo below is the synth by itself, but it sounds great with reverb and delay added.
Beavis also added to this circuit, producing the Heterodyne Peyote Space Explorer. I've built this as well, but am still troubleshooting it. I'll be sure to add a video of that once it's all set. In the meantime, enjoy.
Here's my build of the Devil's Triangle Drone Synth, designed by paulinthelab. Check out his site, he's got a ton of great circuits he's designed and posted for the general public to build, both audio related and otherwise.
This is a relatively simple drone box, with control over the frequencies of the oscillators, and a kill switch for each one. You can get harmonious sounds out of it, but I think it really excels when you have dissonance between the oscillators, or a bit of phasing. This is great as a base to layer further synth sounds over.
Here's a demo video for a pedal I built a while ago, the legendary Bazz Fuss. Designed by the nebulous and mystical Hemmo, this pedal does one thing, and does it extremely well and with startling efficiency: thick, rich, gargantuan fuzz. If you can't already tell, I have a special relationship to this circuit. This was the first pedal I ever built for myself, after first breadboarding it and being nervous as to whether or not I could actually build a functioning stomp box. This isn't my first bazz fuss (that box has been repurposed), but a more elegant, 1590A encased specimen. Put on a denim vest, grow your hair out long, and listen to the demo below.
Here's a build I did a while ago, the analog bit crusher, designed on the Experimentalists Anonymous message board. I'm mostly happy with this effect, although it isn't perfect for all applications, due to the persistent audible frequency, especially apparent at lower settings. If I were to build this again, I would change the amount of total bit crush available, since everything basically becomes noise past the half way mark on the pot. Definitely a fun build, and awesome to see an analog take on a normally digital effect.