Lifeforms Systems 301

Lifeforms Systems 301

Specifications
Polyphony –
1 Voice
Oscillators –
2 VCOs
Waveforms –
Sine, Triangle, Sawtooth, Pulse, Square
LFO –
1 LFO with Sample & Hold, Square, Triangle
VCA/Envelopes –
1 VCA with Decay, Sustain, Release
Control –
MIDI in, CV In, CV Out, Gate Out,
Sequencer –
64 Step Sequencer
Arpeggiator –
Multi Mode Arpeggiator

Naomi Bolton
Tue, 10/20/2020 – 09:09

Pittsburgh Modular released the System 301 in 2016 as part of their “next generation of modular synthesis” range. The system features two all-in-one modules, namely the Lifeforms SV-1 and the Lifeforms KB-1. The first is a dual oscillator synthesizer, which is complemented by the pressure-sensitive keyboard controller. System 301 not only features these two components, but the case is also large enough to add additional modules. In total it has 112hp of room left over, so it has plenty of potential. 

System 301 is aimed at users interested in the Eurorack system format, but not necessarily interested in having to buy a bunch of different modules just to get started. Highlights of the system include its classic Pittsburgh Modular filter along with two full-range analog oscillators. It provides users with a rich sound palette, but still offers the flexibility of an open, fully patchable analog voice architecture. The Lifeforms KB-1 is not just an afterthought either as this pressure-sensitive keyboard is capable of arpeggios, sequences, triggers, voltage memory, and much more. 

The analog synth engine of the System 301 provides access to everything from bass and leads to pads and drones. The analog oscillators also cover all the classic waveforms including sine, triangle, sawtooth, pulse, and square. For further sonic sculpting possibilities, it has an exclusive blade wave on Oscillator 1 and the system also has two sub-octave generators. All the tools needed for modulation are also present, so you get a dedicated analog LFO, noise, sample and hold, and a clock syncable digital LFO. Fans of west coast synthesis style FM timbres can use Oscillator 2 as a voltage controllable low-frequency oscillator. 

The big selling point for the System 301 was also the unmistakable Pittsburgh Modular Filter that provides voltage control over the entire frequency range. Thanks to the provided attenuverter its possible to dial in exactly how much CV to feed the frequency input or invert the input if desired. For a larger tonal palette users can make use of the separate highpass, lowpass, and bandpass patch points that are provided. 

Overall the System 301 is a decent stand-alone synthesizer that can provide sound generation without any patch cables thanks to its hardwired signal path. Since it is a fully-fledged synthesizer with everything from a MIDI-to-CV converter and VCA, to voltage-controlled multi-mode filter, LFO, and much more, everything needed to get started is available right away. Even better, thanks to the patch points its possible to override the internal audio and CV signal paths. Users who wish to use its component as a stand-alone module are free to do so.

Year
2014

Musical genre

Synth type

Interface features

Format

Sound types

Price range

Image
Pittsburgh Modular Synthesizers Lifeforms Systems 301

Files
Type
File

Title
Manual

Description
Pittsburgh Modular Synthesizers Lifeforms Systems 301 Manual

YouTube

Introducing Lifeforms Systems by Pittsburgh Modular

by

Pittsburgh Modular Synthesizers

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Monophonic instruments

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Play a TR-808 and TB-303 Online Thanks To Roland

Play a TR-808 and TB-303 Online Thanks To Roland
Naomi Bolton
Sun, 10/18/2020 – 08:54

The Bumblebee

The Bumblebee

Specifications
Polyphony –
1 Voice
Multitimbral –
1 Part
Oscillators –
3
Waveforms –
Square
Filter Slopes –
24dB Slope (4-pole), High Pass, Low Pass, Resonance
LFO –
3 LFO with Square

Naomi Bolton
Fri, 10/16/2020 – 09:25

The Bumblebee is a noise machine and drone synth released in 2014 by Plankton Electronics from Barcelona. It was sold as a DIY instrument that provided users with the PCB and all necessary components. A fully assembled desktop version of The Bumblebee was also released.

Plankton Electronics marketed The Bumblebee as a synth for DIY beginners and that it was able to generate the most annoying sounds in the neighborhood. It features a very straightforward signal flow with three square-wave oscillators that are routed through two filters and an amplifier. All three of the oscillators have a level knob as well as individual outputs for mixing them separately. To modulate pitch each oscillator has two CV inputs while modulation depth is controlled with an attenuation knob.

The Bumblebee also features three LFOs, each with a CV input and attenuation knob. The high-pass filter and low-pass filter that the oscillators are fed to help give The Bumblee a nice aggressive tone. The main audio-out for this synth is a single mono output. Unsurprising given its name the Bumblebee can indeed sound like a swarm of angry bees. Since it has patching capabilities this little synth is capable of a lot of sounds on its own, but fun can also be had by using it with other synthesizers.

Although it is a straightforward build The Bumblebee can take a while to assemble for beginners. Plankton Electronics has simplified the process slightly by ensuring that all the things such as potentiometers and jacks are mounted to the circuit board instead of requiring wires. Since the oscillators and LFO are all square waves The Bumblee does lack the versatility of wave shape-variable ones. However, this limitation also makes The Bumblebee more of an experimental synth, which is something some users will enjoy.

The Bumblebee is indeed capable of creating very annoying sounds, so it is not something that is going to appeal to everyone. However, fans of drone machines will really appreciate what it has to offer and it also serves as a nice introduction to DIY synths for anyone with the patience to assemble it. Unfortunately, Plankton Electronics discontinued The Bumblebee two years after it was released, which can make it harder to track down. Overall, this is one for anyone interested in weird sound enthusiasts or those who would enjoy connecting it to other modular systems to experiment with the results.

Year
2014

Musical genre

Synth type

Interface features

Sound types

Price range

Image
Plankton Electronics The Bumblebee

Files
Type
File

Title
The Bumblebee Assembly Tutorial

Description
Assembly Tutorial for The Bumblebee

YouTube

Plankton Noise #01: The Bumblebee

by

Plankton Electronics

User Rating
Texture
Monophonic instruments

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Roland Tackles Cable Clutter With WM-1 Wireless MIDI Adaptor

Roland Tackles Cable Clutter With WM-1 Wireless MIDI Adaptor
Naomi Bolton
Tue, 10/13/2020 – 08:16

Prophet-5 Synthesizer Making A Comeback

Prophet-5 Synthesizer Making A Comeback
Naomi Bolton
Fri, 10/09/2020 – 08:19

Noise Machine Is A Tiny Midi Controller That Fits In Your Hand

Noise Machine Is A Tiny Midi Controller That Fits In Your Hand
Naomi Bolton
Tue, 10/06/2020 – 08:35

Little deFormer 2

Little deFormer 2

Specifications
Polyphony –
4 Voices
Multitimbral –
16 Parts
Oscillators –
1
Waveforms –
Pulse Variable, Saw Up, Sine, Square, Triangle, White Noise
VCA/Envelopes –
1 VCA with ADSR envelope
Control –
MIDI In/Out
Sequencer –
32-track, 32-step sequencer
Memory –
512 Patches (RAM)
Sampler –
Max 100 minutes (unexpanded) Max 200 minutes (expanded)

Naomi Bolton
Sat, 10/03/2020 – 09:08

The original Little deFormer was released by Gothermans in 2009 and aimed at musicians who wanted to play live without having to set up all of their gear. It was a more unique alternative to the boring method of sampling phrases from your gear and then triggering those live. Since the Little deFormer had a sampler as well as a synthesizer section it made it possible to tweak the samplings for some interesting results instead of simple, boring playback.

The Little deFormer 2 takes everything that was great about the original hardware and enhances it all even more. In fact, the Little deFormer 2 now packs enough features that it could be considered a workstation. It offers a sampler, synthesizer, sequencer as well as granular effects in one box. Overall, it’s a more powerful bit of equipment than the original deFormer and has more effects, more filter types, and a much better sequencer.

The Little deFormer 2 is available in two versions, expanded and expanded with the unexpanded version holding 512 presets, 512 samplings, and 512 songs. The expanded version on the other hand doubles this to 1024 presets and 1024 samplings while also increasing the maximum sample length from 100 minutes to 200 minutes.

With the Little deFormer 2 users can assign a sampling or an oscillator to each of the 16 sampleslots that are available for each preset. it is also possible to adjust and modulate various parameters separately for each of these sample slots, including things like waveform, loop, sample start and length, tune, and more. In addition, each sample slot has its own filer that can be set. It’s even possible to form a Filterbank from the sample slot filters.

To handle sequencing the Little deFormer 2 has a built-in sequencer with 32 step tracks for recording notes as well as 4 controller tracks for parameter controls. It’s no slouch in the modulation department either with a maximum of 32 modulation routings per preset. The sample engine of the deFormer 2 is 4 note polyphonic. The design of the deFormer 2 is compact, but rugged enough for live use. It features a clear layout for the front panel and plenty of dials and buttons to access all the features without too much menu diving.

Since its release in 2012, the Little deFormer 2 has been surpassed by the Little deFormer 3, which features even more sequencing, effects, and synth/sampler power. The Little deFormer 2 is definitely a very boutique workstation but has won over many users with its quirky design and features.

Year
2012

Musical genre

Synth type

Interface features

Sound types

Price range

Image
deFormer 2

Files
Type
File

Title
Little deFormer 2 User Manual

Description
Little deFormer 2 User Manual

YouTube

Gotharman’s Little deFormer 2 – New design, new presets

by

Gotherman

User Rating
Texture
Polyphonic instruments

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Nozoid MMO-3

Nozoid MMO-3

Specifications
Polyphony –
1 Voice
Multitimbral –
1 Part
Oscillators –
3
Waveforms –
Pulse Variable, Sine
LFO –
3 LFO with Saw Up, Saw Down, Square, Triangle
VCA/Envelopes –
1 VCA with ADSR envelope
Controls –
MIDI In

Naomi Bolton
Fri, 09/25/2020 – 09:37

MMO-3 was released by the French company Nozoid in 2017 and is a digital, semi-modular synthesizer. Despite being monophonic, it is stereo and was designed to be mostly dedicated to atonal sound generation. Users who are fond of panning effects will appreciate the stereo output. It was built around AM, FM, PM, and other types of modulation synthesis. Since the MMO-3 provides users with access to rich and complex timbre control, it is possible to coax some interesting sounds out of it.

For the MMO-3, Nozoid decided to not follow the route of typical FM synthesizers and limit it to a specific modulation routing. Instead, all other oscillators or LFOs are able to modulate all three of its oscillators. It also features nine knobs that can be used to adjust modulation parameters. These ensure that continuous and accurate adjustments are possible.

It would be wrong to regard the MMO-3 as simply an FMV synth as it also has Phase Modulation, Amplitude Modulation, and a custom Wave Shaper modulation technique. The latter is particularly interesting as it allows for the amplification of oscillator amplitude prior to a wave-shaper. This makes it possible to add harmonics without frequency variation. Nozoid also incorporated a joystick in the design of the MMO-3 to make it even easier to manipulate modulations. This is a great feature for anyone who wants fast and expressive control of the sounds created by the MMO-3. Along with the joystick, the MMO-3 has a total of 30 knobs that are divided into sections for OSC 1, OSC 2, OSC 3, LFO 1, LFO 2, LFO 3, MIX, and AUDIO. In addition to the oscillator and LFO section, the MMO-3 also has a classic attack, decay, sustain, release envelope which is not as simple as it might appear at first.

Those who are used to normal subtractive synthesizers may find the MMO-3 a bit tricky to master, but with a bit of effort, it has a lot of possibilities to explore. The MMO-3 was released at a time when analog synthesizers were very much coveted by everyone, which meant that it was somewhat overlooked by those who scoff at digital synthesizers. The MMO-3 shares a lot of similarities with its predecessor, the OSC-2, in terms of design and features, but obviously also has plenty of refinements and additional features.

The most obvious are the three LFOs as well as the inclusion of the joystick. Overall, the MMO-3 is a pretty neat little synth for fans of West Coast synth designs or anyone brave enough to experiment with something that doesn’t have a classic filter. One thing that users might miss is a display as it can be tricky to keep track of what processes you have active without it. Instead, users will have to rely on their hearing for feedback on which functions are active.

Finally, the design of the MMO-3 is pretty neat with a blue board and wooden frame to hold it all together. Nozoid also opted to put the MIDI connections and audio connections directly on the front panel instead of at the back. The power supply input is still on the back, though. Overall, the MMO-3 is not for anyone who prefers the warmth of analog synthesizers, but if your taste runs towards glitchy and noisy, then this synth has got you covered.

Make

Year
2017

Musical genre

Synth type

Interface features

Sound types

Price range

Image
Nozoid MMO03

Files
Type
File

Title
MMO-3 User Documentation

Description
Nozoid MMO-3 User Documentation

YouTube

NOZOïD MMO-3 SYNTH “SEMI-MODULAR” / TESTIN GEAR DJ CLAIM

by

Star Wax Mag.

User Rating
Texture
Monophonic instruments

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Resources

Images from Nozoid

Bob Moog Foundation Gives Away Three Legendary Vintage Synths

Bob Moog Foundation Gives Away Three Legendary Vintage Synths
Naomi Bolton
Wed, 09/23/2020 – 10:28

Native Instruments Reveals Maschine+

Native Instruments Reveals Maschine+
Naomi Bolton
Mon, 09/14/2020 – 08:41

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