Stry­mon Mag­neto

The lat­est Euro­rack mod­ule from the well-loved brand shows the ben­e­fits of lis­ten­ing to your crit­ics, says Phil Wise

Future Music - - CONTENTS -

Stry­mon are well known pur­vey­ors of high-end ef­fect boxes, with their Big Sky Re­verb and Time­line De­lay at the top of many mu­si­cians wish-list. At NAMM in 2016 they un­veiled their first pro­to­type Euro­rack mod­ule, a four-head tape echo sim­u­la­tion called Gen­er­alis­simo. This caused a lot of ex­cite­ment, but the pro­to­type also caught some crit­i­cism for its lack of CV in­puts. Two years later, the mod­ule has fi­nally been re­leased un­der the name Mag­neto and Stry­mon have not only lis­tened on the CV front but have also ex­panded the mod­ule be­yond a stan­dard de­lay with new Looper and Phrase Sam­pler modes.

At 28hp and nearly £600, the Mag­neto is a big, ex­pen­sive mod­ule at a time when the trend seems to be for fewer and fewer hp.

Be­hind the panel it’s just as large with five sep­a­rate cir­cuit boards, it was quite a job just get­ting it into my case. So does it jus­tify the price tag and the real es­tate?

They’ve not only lis­tened on the CV front but have also ex­panded the mod­ule be­yond a stan­dard de­lay

It’s well laid-out with a nice big cen­tral tape speed knob, although the Wet and Dry knobs are tricky to turn when the unit’s fully patched.

How does it sound? Well the Mag­neto’s pro­ces­sor-in­tense dTape al­go­rithm de­liv­ers buck­et­loads of char­ac­ter, with au­dio qual­ity rang­ing from high-fi­delity down to crinkly, warm and wob­bly. Tape de­lays were the orig­i­nal echo boxes, in­vented in the ’50s, and loved ever since for the warmth of the tape sat­u­ra­tion and the or­ganic sound and cho­rus­ing ef­fects caused by the sub­tle vari­a­tions in tape speed. On the Mag­neto, four ded­i­cated con­trols are avail­able to ad­just th­ese tape me­chan­ics. A low-cut or high-pass fil­ter is first, in case you need to roll off the bot­tom end. Tape age acts like a low-pass fil­ter: the older, the less high end. Crin­kle af­fects how knack­ered your tape sounds. Wow and flut­ter con­trols tape speed fluc­tu­a­tion. The speed knob af­fects how much th­ese con­trols al­ter the sound: the slower the tape, the greater the ef­fect. The record in­put level can also be pushed into sat­u­ra­tion which ranges from warm rich tones to gritty dis­tor­tion.

The clock in­put or tap but­ton can be used to set the de­lay in quar­ter notes. This tempo sets the po­si­tion of tape head 4 with the other three heads spaced at in­ter­vals. Th­ese can be switched be­tween even, triplet and rhyth­mi­cally-shifted spac­ings. Each de­lay head has a feed­back but­ton to send its sig­nal back to the record

head, with the re­peats knob con­trol­ling over­all feed­back level.

There are three stan­dard pan­ning modes for de­lay heads, two va­ri­eties of ping-pong and a cen­tralised psy­cho-acous­tic stereo mode. An ex­pert mode also lets you set the pan­ning in­de­pen­dently for each head.

The Feed­back but­tons dou­ble as trans­port con­trols let­ting you Re­verse, Start and Stop the tape. The time the tape takes to fully stop de­pends on the speed knob, and some great slow-down ef­fects can be cre­ated this way. There’s also an in­fi­nite but­ton that con­tin­u­ously loops the most re­cent de­lay cy­cle.

Be­fore your re­peated au­dio hits the out­put, you can treat it with the built-in spring re­verb sim­u­la­tion which pre­dictably sounds beau­ti­ful. The re­verb’s gain struc­ture is de­signed to sound smooth and open with mod­er­ate in­put lev­els be­com­ing trashy and lo-fi when pushed hard. With spring con­trol fully open it gives a big re­verb, far larger than any spring tank I’ve heard. The re­verb ef­fect can also be used in­de­pen­dently of the tape de­lay and the mod­ule can be switched into a dual mode giv­ing you a sep­a­rate mono tape de­lay and a mono spring re­verb.

The send/re­turn jacks can be used to in­sert other ef­fect mod­ules into the sig­nal chain. I tried a few dif­fer­ent dis­tor­tion and bit-crush­ing mod­ules to roughen up the de­lays, and played with the Man­nequins Three Sis­ters fil­ter, dy­nam­i­cally fil­ter­ing the de­lays, and then us­ing the re­turn as an ex­tra in­put to bring its self-os­cil­la­tions in and out of the mix.

The sec­ond mode is a sound-on­sound looper, head 4 is the main play­back head with 1-3 still avail­able for de­lays. The tap but­ton is used to record a loop, the re­peats mode con­trols how many times it plays, and ad­di­tional splices record on top. Al­ter­ing tape speed while record­ing lets you build multi-lay­ered tex­tures. Once your loop’s recorded, use the speed knob to scrub through while the tape’s paused.

The third mode is the phrase sam­pler and, again, the tap but­ton con­trols record­ing. This can bring tape flavour to any of your synth patches. Once your root note is recorded, v/Oct pitch can be sent to the Speed CV In and the Wet con­trol can be used as a VCA to mod­u­late sound be­fore it hits spring re­verb. There’s even a Quan­tized mode with 15 scales and a two oc­tave range on the tape speed knob.

This doesn’t dis­ap­point as an ef­fects mod­ule but it ful­fils so many other roles that any patch would ben­e­fit from it one way or an­other.

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