Trade shows rarely go smoothly for exhibitors. On the first day of NAMM this year, I was surprised to find the Intellijel booth in the middle of an aisle instead of in their normal booth space. It turns out that a large pipe at the back of their booth had started leaking, requiring a cleanup, new carpet, and much standing around and doing nothing by the exhibit staff. Hats off to Danjel van Tijn and the rest of the Intellijel staff for remaining calm and continuing to talk to users and dealers while they had no power for hours. Here’s what was interesting in their “booth” this year, as well as at Koma and Verbos:
This new multi-tap delay line uses the same rows-of-harmonics layout as their Harmonic Oscillator and Bark Filter. In this case, you get individual level sliders, envelope followers, and direct outputs for the original signal as well as eight evenly-spaced delay taps. The normal spacing is 75 msec between taps, but there is a Delay Time control that multiplies this over a range of x0.1 to x2 (with voltage control over the delay). There is a processing section that can add a pseudo-reverb effect, as well as shift the sound up an octave in the middle of the feedback loop. You can also patch your own signal into the feedback loop, including taking one of the individual tap outputs, filtering or otherwise processing it, and feeding it back in.
The internal technology used for the delay line is the one-bit delta encoding of the old DeltaLab echo effects. They were known for having a relatively smooth sound compared to bucket brigade devices (BBDs) and early digital delays, and behaved well when their delay time was changed. The downside is they performed poorly with fast-transient sounds, but DeltaLab’s tweaks to the algorithm over the years reduced this problem. The patents on the technique have expired, so Mark Verbos decided to try implementing the latest version of the technique, which never actually made it into a DeltaLabs product as far as he knows. The result is a relatively organic-sounding delay that excels at washes as well as distinct repeats. This module was one of my overall favorites at NAMM this year.
Koma – creators of the popular Field Kit Kickstarter last year – were showing their new Filed Kit FX companion box (a steal at €249). It contains a 4-channel voltage-controlled mixer, a digital looping delay (up to 4 seconds), frequency shifter, sample rate and bit depth crushers, a 4-step sequencer, and an envelope generator. Of course, it is thoroughly patchable. It also has the connections for a voltage-controlled spring reverb; a spring tank comes as part of the Field Kit FX Pack (another steal at €49) that also includes two contact microphones, and other cables including a Koma attenuator cable.
Another interesting gadget they were showing was a device that you can plug currently available cell phone extender batteries into, which then outputs 9v for FX pedals or 12v for the Field Kit and Field Kit FX. This will really help Field Kit fans go mobile. Unfortunately, it isn’t designed to power Eurorack cases (which usually require 15v and more amperage).
The Rubicon 2 ($399) is a nice enhancement of one of the most flexible analog oscillators available, which already supported through-zero linear FM. Two of the improvements included alternate sine and pulse waves; the latter is capable of a more pronounced phase-shifting sound during PWM. There is a Symmetry control on the through-zero frequency modulation, which produces different timbres for the same modulation signal and depth. There is also an interesting Warp circuit added to the suboctave generator, including a “Squish” switch that applies some light wavefolding to clamp the maximum signal level of the warped suboctave to avoid less-interesting clipping. The result is a more “alive”, slightly more aggressive version of the already-loved Rubicon for the same price.
The Morgasmatron ($389, shipping now) is the third evolution of what started life as a dual filter based on the Korg MS-20 VCF design. The circuitry has been updated all around to give more precise results and a cleaner sound when you want it. Other updates include an updated Q-Drive section with voltage control without the need to buy the expander, soft clipping, an overdrive section based on the old ProCo RAT fuzz pedal, an enhanced crossfading section including phase reversal, and even easier-to-follow graphics. So in other words, the Morgasmatron can get both cleaner and nastier than it could before.
The Planar 2 ($349) quad panner/vector mixer includes an updated joystick with a firmer feel. (The old Planar used the joystick from the Prophet VS, which frankly I thought was maybe just a touch loose; I like the more precise feel of the Planar II.) This update takes the Planar well beyond being a quad panner and mixer. Intellijel is still finalizing the features (and I had a nice chat with Danjel about potential ideas), but in general it will be a very useful gesture recorder that follows external clocking while recording, which can then play back those gestures and corresponding CVs that follow the gestures you made. I also want to get one just to play with vector synthesis style mixing of my oscillators and other sound sources.