Ana­logue So­lu­tions Fusebox

Ana­logue So­lu­tions are back with the colour­ful Fusebox monosynth. Bruce Aisher grabs some ca­bles and gets patch­ing

Future Music - - CONTENTS -

Ana­logue So­lu­tions, a fix­ture on the UK synth scene for years, have seemed some­what im­mune to the va­garies of mu­sic-mak­ing fash­ion. Rather than sim­ply be­ing out-of-touch, they’ve stuck to what they do well – mak­ing all-ana­logue synths. Re­cently they’ve donned a few hip­ster ac­ces­sories by mov­ing into small-foot­print synth and ef­fects box ter­ri­tory, but their val­ues re­main the same. Their lat­est monosynth takes on the colour­ful in­ter­face de­signs and sonic flex­i­bil­ity of some of their Syn­thBlock units, while em­ploy­ing as­pects of their ear­lier syn­the­sis­ers.

Fusebox is a three-VCO (Voltage Con­trolled Os­cil­la­tor) monosynth which uses en­tirely ana­logue cir­cuitry for all its sounds gen­er­a­tion, mod­u­la­tion and in­ter­nal con­trol func­tions. The only de­sign as­pect that ac­knowl­edges the dig­i­tal age is the in­clu­sion of a MIDI in­ter­face that gen­er­ates a range of CV and gate sig­nals from the ex­ter­nal world.

The three os­cil­la­tors of­fer core fea­tures that over­lap, but with some vari­a­tion in each case. VCO1 is the most con­ven­tional it­er­a­tion of the three, gen­er­at­ing Square or Saw­tooth waves si­mul­ta­ne­ously, with the de­tune and oc­tave con­trols de­ter­min­ing the pitch range. There’s also a knob for con­trol­ling Pulse Width, and a switch to en­gage Cross Mod­u­la­tion (a form of fre­quency mod­u­la­tion from the square wave out­put of VCO2). Pulse Width can be mod­u­lated via the PWM Con­trol (that is hard­wired to the main LFO, but that can also come un­der ex­ter­nal con­trol by plug­ging in a mod­u­la­tion sig­nal to its ded­i­cated in­put jack socket). There is a sim­i­lar sys­tem for mod­u­lat­ing pitch. Al­though there’ll be some over­lap, this abil­ity of the Fusebox to com­bine a de­cent range of hard­wired con­nec­tiv­ity with a plen­ti­ful sup­ply of socket-based patch­ing makes for a lot of flex­i­bil­ity.

VCO2 fol­lows sim­i­lar lines, but this time XMOD is re­placed with Os­cil­la­tor Sync (from VCO1) and Wide Tune in­stead of the oc­tave switch. When in Wide Tune mode, the os­cil­la­tor range ex­pands to take the VCO be­yond the au­dio range. This is es­pe­cially use­ful when need­ing an ad­di­tional LFO source. My only is­sue is that mak­ing fine ad­just­ments to the os­cil­la­tor pitch be­comes pretty tricky, mak­ing the synth cry out for an ad­di­tional fine pitch con­trol. VCO3 fol­lows the theme of VCO2 with the sync switch re­placed by MIDI Pitch, mak­ing it pos­si­ble to dis­en­gage this os­cil­la­tor from MIDI pitch con­trol – and al­low­ing it to func­tion as a true in­de­pen­dent LFO. This is also the only os­cil­la­tor that has a tri­an­gle wave­form out­put. Un­like VCO1 and 2, VCO3 is not hard­wired into the mixer sec­tion, though its square-wave sub-os­cil­la­tor (one oc­tave down) is.

The mix­ing sec­tion com­bines the out­puts of the os­cil­la­tors with a Noise source. How­ever, un­less you re­sort to us­ing some of the in­cluded patch ca­bles, your op­tions are lim­ited to choos­ing one wave­shape from each of the first two os­cil­la­tors and high/low/ off op­tions for Noise and the sub. This seems a fair com­pro­mise as there are three spare in­puts to the mixer sec­tion which can be used when re­quired. The only is­sue I found here was a small amount of au­dio bleed from the sub even when muted.

It’s worth say­ing a bit about the ded­i­cated LFO. This has both sine and square-wave out­puts (via front

panel sock­ets). The Speed knob con­trols both, though the sine out­put also has a Fade In pa­ram­e­ter (trig­gered by in­com­ing MIDI notes), which is com­monly used to cre­ate de­layed vi­brato ef­fects. The sine out­put is also hard­wired to fil­ter cut­off and pulse width (of all VCOs) via the ded­i­cated depth/amount pots. Al­though there’s no hard­wired pitch mod­u­la­tion here, it’s a sim­ple pro­ce­dure to patch the LFO to all the VCOs via the Global Pitch CV in­put in the sec­tion above.

The Fusebox fil­ter is of the 12dB/ oc­tave mul­ti­mode va­ri­ety, sim­i­lar to that found on Ana­logue So­lu­tions’ re­cent Mr Hyde. Three of the fil­ter types can be nav­i­gated us­ing a sin­gle pot – from low-pass to high-pass via the com­bined notch shape. Band­pass is se­lectable as a sep­a­rate fil­ter shape.

Flex­i­bil­ity is again em­braced by pro­vid­ing each of th­ese fil­ter out­puts as sep­a­rate patch­able sig­nals. This fil­ter won’t pro­ceed into full-on self os­cil­la­tion, but it is very char­ac­ter­ful, with de­cent bite when re­quired. Some no­tice­able au­dio bleed of high fre­quen­cies into the llow-pass sig­nal path was ev­i­dent on the re­view unit (au­di­ble when try­ing to cre­ate sub-bass parts or longer sweeps). This may not be an is­sue for many: I’d urge you to judge for your­self.

The en­velopes on the Fusebox are straight­for­ward four-stage (shared De­cay/Re­lease) af­fairs, hard­wired to fil­ter cut­off and VCA level du­ties re­spec­tively. They both also have two sep­a­rate out­put jacks. Each can be trig­gered via MIDI or from the built-in ‘Pat­ter­na­tor’ (see above) or LFO.

The Fusebox is a great-sound­ing synth in its own right, but add the pat­tern gen­er­a­tion, arpeg­gia­tion, MIDI con­trol and patch­ing and it takes on a char­ac­ter and style very much of its own.

OS­CIL­LA­TORS I/O PAT­TER­NA­TOR MIDI

As with many other as­pects of the synth, cer­tain as­pects of the MIDI in­ter­fac­ing are hard­wired.

A novel CV and gate se­quencer with a power that be­lies it’s ap­par­ent sim­plic­ity.

A host of CV in­puts/out­puts al­low the Fusebox to be rewired for un­usual rout­ings or con­nected to ex­ter­nal gear.

The Fusebox fea­tures three very flex­i­ble all-ana­logue os­cil­la­tors.

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