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Analog Gear News
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PostPosted: Tue Jun 20, 2006 6:30 am    Post subject:  Analog Gear News
Subject description: Issue 6
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Analog Gear News
Issue 5

By Per Wikström

The wonderful and weird Wiard

Wiard Noise Ring
If there would be a competition of the oddest synth module in the world, The Wiard Noise Ring http://www.wiard.com/ would win it. It should also be a competitor in the class of most versatile module, as well as the least useful, all depending on the attitude of the user. I have used many modules, but I've never met anything like the Wiard Noise Ring. Let's start with the simple things:

1. It has noise out as well as a pulse out that can be adjusted to different levels of randomizing. Nothing dramatic to say about that, except that it delivers it.

2. It is a random/pseudorandom CV (control voltage) source. It works much like the classic Buchla “Source of uncertainty” with one 2n output and one n+1 output. I practical use, there is one random output with 9 voltages, rather close to each other, and one where the voltage levels are more spread, selected among 256 fixed levels. In both outputs the spread of the voltages and the timing is determined by the knob settings. At a low rate on the change knob, it gives something close to a sequencer melody.

So far things are pretty simple. But adding LFO or sequenser voltages in a chance input and an external change input creates patterns around the input CVs. Extremely complex, but still repeating pseudo random voltage patterns can be made. Just playing around with this function can give a lot of different results.

I ran it through a voltage quantizer and got instant “Elelctronica of the 60s” patterns from the Noise Ring. It is possible to big real soundscapes from just a Noise Ring and a VCO, and manipulate them in real time by the knobs.

3. When competitors in this area, like the Doepfer “Source of uncertainty” clone refuses to work in audio area, the Noise Ring runs through the whole spectrum from 1 Hz to 10 KHz. As it can run on an external clock from an audio VCO. It can be used as a sort of slave VCO, but with extremely odd sounds coming out of it. Some of it is close the pitched noise, as the delivered from the Clavia Nord Lead 3, other sounds are just freaked out FX electronica.

The Noise Ring can work in audio area as a freaked out VCO, or modulation generator just running on CV from a sequencer or another voltage source. I tried to run it in parallel with an ordinary VCO, but it could not track an ordinary 1 V/octave CV.

4. Basically, it is a noise source, delivering material to a digital shift register. Some of the material in the shift register is circulated back again, giving it that pseudorandom character. But as the noise can be replaced with other sources, like LFO, a VCO or audio signals, it can work as a wave shaper, distortion, pitch shifter, and/or cross modulation unit. And it can deliver sounds that I have never heard before from a synth module.

So, this is a module that can do several things at the same time. The sound of it is bright and punchy. It has a lot of unexpected coloration. It is not so easy to handle, and the manual gives only a minimum of explanation.

In some aspects, it is a wonderful piece of equipment. It delivers sounds that no other module can do, and has a totally unique character. This is only crap to a Pet Shop Boys-lover, but can be gold in the hands of an experimentally minded musician. Just the function for random/pseudorandom voltages makes it worth buying it.

The price is $249 US, but for the money you get a unique module that covers many needs and make unique sounds.

Unlike many other esoteric modules, it can be can be used in small modular system, as it can deliver so many things, and replace common modules as noise, pulse source and S/H modules. But be prepared to spend some learning hours on it.

Other news:
Cwejman Sound Synthesizer

Cwejman Sound
is a new star in modular universe, and are now preparing to launch a series of modules in the Eurorack format. Cwejman is a Polish sound engineer, working in Sweden. He has got a reputation of high quality in sound and construction from his semi modular synth. An enthusiastic review can be found on http://www.soundonsound.com/sos/aug04/articles/cwejman.htm

We have a special forum on electro-music.com just for Cwejman Sound.

Now Cwejman has chosen to pack his constructions in Eurorack modules. Unlike other companies, he uses black front plates and knobs with more of the classic Moog look. He packs multiple functions in each module. One contains, for example, two LFOs with sync, two different S/H modes and a ring modulator. If there is a downside, it is the price; $499 US is a lot of money for two LFOs, no matter how good they are. Two Cwejman modules have price tags that seem to be close to what others offer: For $515 US you get a module with two independent VCOs and a ring modulator. Thinking of all the single VCOs that cost you more than $250 US, it is a reasonable price.

The VM-1 is $599 US, but it is a whole voice module with VCO, VCF, VCA and two envelope generators. Much money, but is within the same price area as for example the Analogue Solutions MiniModular module.
Other modules in the series are one with double VC envelope generators, the MMF-1 multimode filter and the RM2S double ring modulator.

Interesting in its design is the Cwejman VCEQ-3. It consists of three independent band pass filters, where frequency, bandwidth and amplitude can be voltage controlled. I can see a lot of situation where it can be used for unique filter effects, alone or together with other gear. But the downside is again the price: The US retailer BigCityMusic wants $515 US for the filter. The BigCityMusic site is also a good place to study the modules as they are not yet exposed on the Cwejman site.

And that is about all this time. I have run into a problem that each modular musician gets to sooner or later: How will I configure the system? Now it is two stacks of 19 “ racks, but with my latest expansion, it is getting too high. Should I split it into three stacks? And where should all the CV sources be? I have not solved it yet, and I have given up the idea of limiting the size. There are always new modules out there, longing to get into the system…

[edited by mosc]
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