Ana­logue So­lu­tions Dr Stan­gelove

Ana­logue So­lu­tions take the nu­clear op­tion with their new desk­top ef­fect. Bruce Aisher presses the red but­ton for a closer look

Future Music - - CONTENTS -

This is the sec­ond of Ana­logue So­lu­tions’ syn­thBlocks we’re test­ing, af­ter last month’s Mr Hyde fil­ter­box. Here once again, the core prin­ci­ple is a (largely) ana­logue sig­nal path, but this time sig­nal man­gling takes the form of ring mod­u­la­tion and lo-fi dig­i­tal echo. The ‘mad sci­en­tist’ nomen­cla­ture is also main­tained in the unit’s Dr Strangelove tag (a ref­er­ence to the ex-Nazi nu­clear war ad­viser in the Kubrick film of the same name), with pa­ram­e­ter la­bels such as Fall­out and Half Life fol­low­ing the theme.

A sup­plied ex­ter­nal 12VDC PSU pro­vides power, with rear panel 1/4" jacks em­ployed for the main au­dio in­puts and au­dio out. The rel­a­tively spar­tan front panel is pop­u­lated with a switch, five knobs and a se­ries of 3.5mm jack sock­ets for eas­ier in­ter­fac­ing with mod­u­lar gear.

Da bomb

Ring Mod­u­la­tion is not a new tech­nique, with ori­gins – like so many elec­tronic com­po­nents and cir­cuits – in ex­per­i­ments car­ried out to push the ca­pa­bil­i­ties telecom­mu­ni­ca­tions tech­nol­ogy. In cir­cuit terms, ring mod­u­la­tion can be achieved us­ing four diodes in a ring for­ma­tion (hence the name), though it is eas­ier to un­der­stand when thought of as a form of am­pli­tude mod­u­la­tion. In this case, the level of a ‘car­rier’ (the au­dio to be pro­cessed) is mod­u­lated by another source (the ‘mo­du­la­tor’). The re­sult­ing wave­form will be de­rived as both the sum (Mo­du­la­tor plus Car­rier) and dif­fer­ence (Mo­du­la­tor mi­nus Car­rier) of the in­put fre­quen­cies. In general terms, if the two in­puts are har­mon­i­cally re­lated, you get a sig­nal that’s har­mon­i­cally re­lated to both out from the other end; if they’re not, (or if they con­sist of some­thing more com­plex than a sine wave), the re­sult will be much more har­mon­i­cally rich, and pos­si­bly dis­so­nant. The beauty of a tech­nique such as this is that ad­just­ing a single pa­ram­e­ter can re­sult in a mas­sive change in tone.

The sim­plest way to use this unit is to plug an au­dio source into the Car­rier In socket, and use the in­ter­nal LFO as the mod­u­la­tion source. The Fall­out knob con­trols the LFO rate, and Change de­ter­mines its level (depth). At lower Fall­out set­tings (and with Change pushed-up) a tremolo-like ef­fect is heard. As the Fall­out LFO rate gets into the au­dio range, the sound trans­forms into clas­sic ring mod­u­la­tion ter­ri­tory, as the car­rier is re­placed by two ‘side­band’ sig­nals rep­re­sent­ing those sum and dif­fer­ence fre­quen­cies. One ma­jor omis­sion is the in­abil­ity to bal­ance the ring mod­u­lated sig­nal with the original via a sim­ple mix con­trol.

Fis­sion for com­pli­ments

The echo works very nicely, and adds move­ment and ad­di­tional retro char­ac­ter to the ring-mod­u­lated sig­nal. I can’t help think­ing that some of the ‘hip’ pa­ram­e­ter nam­ing makes things a lit­tle con­fus­ing, but maybe I’m old-fash­ioned!

Mini­jacks along the bot­tom of the front panel unit pro­vide an al­ter­na­tive way to pass au­dio through the unit and also al­low ac­cess to the LFO’s sig­nal as an out­put. It’s a shame that there’s no way to mod­u­late the echo time other than by hand. CV con­trol of this would have been an ex­cel­lent ad­di­tion.

It’s a shame that there’s no way to mod­u­late the echo time other than by hand

CON­TACT WHO: Ana­logue So­lu­tions WEB: ana­logues­o­lu­ KEY FEA­TURES Ana­logue Ring Mod­u­la­tion with two au­dio in­puts, Ana­logue LFO (au­dio rate ca­pa­ble), with two wave­forms, Lo-fi Dig­i­tal Echo / De­lay (ap­prox 30 to 300ms) I/O: 1/4" au­dio in­puts and...

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