Dreadbox Medusa monosynth

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LegWyne
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Re: Dreadbox Medusa monosynth

Post by LegWyne » Thu Jul 23, 2020 11:00 pm

The documentation desperately needs updating, I've emailed Jacek on a few things and got the response that they've basically moved on to the tracker at this stage and their position is there is not much scope left for firmware improvement due to just about maxing out the DSP.

Useful details from the exchange:
- the CC out feature from 3.0 firmware does not work at all in MPE mode
- notes can be sent out from the sequencer not parameters

The first point is a real shame for me as this feature alone would have basically justified the purchase as a controller alone. I've mainly been using it with an Axoloti and an MPE grid + CC out on 5/5 Env/Lfo with waveforms etc is extremely useful when designing patches. I basically have to choose now between the very useful CC out or the very useful MPE, but not both. Stopping just short of next level utility and greatness :/

Maybe they'll release the firmware as open source or something at some point. I imagine if this had been a hit they could have dedicated a lot more time to optimization and development. I wonder what the story is? mainly why Dreadbox did such a poor job on the filter (the actual first thing a potential buyer checks that seems to indicate quality in a synth) given their reputation i can't really believe they were satisfied with what they produced. Seems very, very odd. An unfortunate choice as its likely informed a bit of an industry precedent against more innovative and future oriented approaches to design.

Looks like we might be stuck with bolted on mono-aftertouch, 12-ET, piano keys a while yet...

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Re: Dreadbox Medusa monosynth

Post by wrngtrls » Tue Aug 11, 2020 1:27 am

So, I've had this synth since the v3 Black SE came out in May/June and it does something that is very cool for rhythm that is not really featured on any of the tutorials or really the manual much. This is a two-part description of what happens in the P1 mode:

First, the LFOs can get so rhythmic that when they are assigned to the three different voices (again, this is for in P1; Polyphonic 2 is for all six oscillators) they can sound like three different sequences, or three different note-cycles. But what is really cool - and this is the second part - is that the LFOs are assigned according to voice added to the mix. So, conversely, if you pull voices away via in the mixer, the rhythmic or note-cycled LFOs assigned to each voice are immediately reassigned to different voices so that LFO 1 is always shaping voice 1, not oscillator 1.

In other words if a sine wave in octave +1 with LFO 1 assigned to to it plays with a triangle wave in octave -2 with LFO 2 assigned, and I mix the sine wave all the way down, LFO 1 will start to modulate the triangle wave. And this terrifyingly cool thing happens with three LFOs on three voices!

Am I understanding this correctly? The mixer is changing the rhythmic shaping of the sequence according to which oscillators in have in the mix. It's like LFO juggling and it's super cool!

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lisa
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Re: Dreadbox Medusa monosynth

Post by lisa » Wed Aug 26, 2020 2:40 am

When Medusa was announced I wrote it off as being novel but a bit too expensive. Now that the price is cut by 30% I'm starting to feel a slight interest. Are there any annoying bugs or kinks in the UI at this point? Or is it just a delight to work with?
My attempt at dodecaphony, following all of the twelve-tone serialism rules but still fashioning it the Lisa style that you all know and love. ;)


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Roy72
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Re: Dreadbox Medusa monosynth

Post by Roy72 » Wed Aug 26, 2020 8:44 pm

It has some quirks, but I put it in the category of unique instrument rather than a does all things tool. The main issues for me are that the sequencer could have some more functionality - I've love to be able to split the grid into 4 regions for example, and then press a note to switch between them, and clock divide would be great. Implementing value restrictions on the random note would be cool too, so its within an octave for example. On the other hand, the being able to program sounds and then switch between them on the grid is loads of fun and seems somewhat unique and it does have the p-lock style functionality. The prices they are going for now (like at Juno) makes them a steal in my opinion.

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Re: Dreadbox Medusa monosynth

Post by Roy72 » Fri Aug 28, 2020 5:06 pm

I can't get my medusa to talk to my GRP A2 via midi, yet both can respond to other things (Keystep, Tracker) - any ideas?

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Re: Dreadbox Medusa monosynth

Post by skunk3 » Fri Aug 28, 2020 10:56 pm

I doubt that I am the only one, but my primary complaint about the Medusa from what I've heard is that the general sound of it is blehhhh.

I've watched so many videos. Listened to demos. I've really tried to give it a shot. On paper it seems intriguing and the look of it is killer, but when I actually start listening to the sounds it makes I'm like: 'no thanks'

Surely I'm not alone?
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Re: Dreadbox Medusa monosynth

Post by unclebastard » Sat Aug 29, 2020 6:11 am

I wouldn't say the sound is at all 'blehhh'. I have found and made plenty of interesting and musically useful sounds with it, and I've barely scratched the surface of what it can do with modulation; it's a matter of taking time, sitting down and experimenting.
Good deals with: Eremitalf, ben_hex, matttech, Elevator Sound

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Re: Dreadbox Medusa monosynth

Post by flashheart » Sat Aug 29, 2020 8:10 am

skunk3 wrote:
Fri Aug 28, 2020 10:56 pm
I doubt that I am the only one, but my primary complaint about the Medusa from what I've heard is that the general sound of it is blehhhh.

I've watched so many videos. Listened to demos. I've really tried to give it a shot. On paper it seems intriguing and the look of it is killer, but when I actually start listening to the sounds it makes I'm like: 'no thanks'

Surely I'm not alone?
No you're not, I'm not keen on the sounds I've heard either. That's fine, it's just not for us. I've no problem with that, it's nice for once not to have to add something to the wish list :)
I'm not buying a maths though, not my idea of fun...

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lisa
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Re: Dreadbox Medusa monosynth

Post by lisa » Sat Aug 29, 2020 2:49 pm

skunk3 wrote:
Fri Aug 28, 2020 10:56 pm
Surely I'm not alone?
I don't know. Are you talking about the sound or the sounds? The sounds in most of the videos are quite simple. The architecture is quite simple too but with six oscillators and 11 LFOs/envelopes you should be able to make rather riveting sounds.

If you're talking about the sound I disagree. Based on the videos it seems to sound fine and based on what dreadbox oscillators tend to sound like I'm sure it sounds fine.
My attempt at dodecaphony, following all of the twelve-tone serialism rules but still fashioning it the Lisa style that you all know and love. ;)


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Re: Dreadbox Medusa monosynth

Post by mmp » Sat Aug 29, 2020 7:00 pm

The demo sounds from 9:30 to the end on this video sound fine to me.



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Roy72
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Re: Dreadbox Medusa monosynth

Post by Roy72 » Sun Aug 30, 2020 12:38 am

That is the video that sold me on it.

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Nelson Baboon
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Re: Dreadbox Medusa monosynth

Post by Nelson Baboon » Sun Aug 30, 2020 1:08 am

flashheart wrote:
Sat Aug 29, 2020 8:10 am
skunk3 wrote:
Fri Aug 28, 2020 10:56 pm
I doubt that I am the only one, but my primary complaint about the Medusa from what I've heard is that the general sound of it is blehhhh.

I've watched so many videos. Listened to demos. I've really tried to give it a shot. On paper it seems intriguing and the look of it is killer, but when I actually start listening to the sounds it makes I'm like: 'no thanks'

Surely I'm not alone?
No you're not, I'm not keen on the sounds I've heard either. That's fine, it's just not for us. I've no problem with that, it's nice for once not to have to add something to the wish list :)
I actually tried one of these out about a year ago, and i found the sound and the functionality to be singularly uninspiring.

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Re: Dreadbox Medusa monosynth

Post by wrngtrls » Sun Aug 30, 2020 1:48 am

skunk3 wrote:
Fri Aug 28, 2020 10:56 pm
I doubt that I am the only one, but my primary complaint about the Medusa from what I've heard is that the general sound of it is blehhhh.

I've watched so many videos. Listened to demos. I've really tried to give it a shot. On paper it seems intriguing and the look of it is killer, but when I actually start listening to the sounds it makes I'm like: 'no thanks'

Surely I'm not alone?
It has some flatness as a headphones-only instrument, yes. I have the Dreadbox Typon, too, and that sounds much more euphonic and amazing in terms of the filter, so people who say that it's the same as the Erebus and other synths are mistaken. But Medusa's thing is not really pluck or warmth or percussion; it does pads and drama and ambience. It sounds like a Michael Mann/Ridley Scott film. And as a controller, on-the-spot sequence composer, and uniquely wtf/why-would-you-do-that? synth it's stunning. The parameter options on the controller are so inspiring and really, really do unique controlling of other instruments.

Also, anyone who has the Medusa doesn't just only have the Medusa. So the idea that this is enhanced by plugging it into other stuff shouldn't be seen as a knock against the instrument. When you plug it into other stuff it's a sweet dream. It's basically an insanely brainy desktop keyguitar, and doing the simplest thing like plugging it into an odd old amp helps you understand Medusa's brilliance. Also, it's mono-out, so plugging it into a stereo pedal / stereo groove box basically solves every headphones-bummer issue. It appeals to me too because it's another tool that helps me avoid DAWs.

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Re: Dreadbox Medusa monosynth

Post by unclebastard » Sun Aug 30, 2020 2:09 am

Well said wrngtrls ; I rarely use the headphone out, and often pair the Medusa with my Abyss via MIDI and the external audio in, so both instruments can go nuts with each other. I'll happily run the Medusa and use both hands to tweak the Abyss, which works so well like this.
Good deals with: Eremitalf, ben_hex, matttech, Elevator Sound

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Re: Dreadbox Medusa monosynth

Post by skunk3 » Sun Aug 30, 2020 2:41 pm

I typically find myself loving the general sound of Dreadbox gear. The Medusa just doesn't have that Dreadbox sound IMO, and yes, I've seen the video linked above.
"vocoders are shameful in publics"

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Re: Dreadbox Medusa monosynth

Post by lisa » Sun Aug 30, 2020 2:58 pm

It annoys me when folks say that a synth sounds bad. I just want to get one and make a great track for the heck of it. Silly trait, I know. :oops:
We'll see if I can resist it, this time.
My attempt at dodecaphony, following all of the twelve-tone serialism rules but still fashioning it the Lisa style that you all know and love. ;)


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Nelson Baboon
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Re: Dreadbox Medusa monosynth

Post by Nelson Baboon » Sun Aug 30, 2020 3:05 pm

lisa wrote:
Sun Aug 30, 2020 2:58 pm
It annoys me when folks say that a synth sounds bad. I just want to get one and make a great track for the heck of it. Silly trait, I know. :oops:
We'll see if I can resist it, this time.
well, it annoys me when i see pressure to conform to positive reviews given that people read these threads and I think it's valuable to see that there are differing opinions on it. I can see why people like this synth, and some others that I don't like, but it's just as valid to post negative opinions. However, what does annoy me (more prevalent on gearslutz, I suppose) is people offering 'informed' opinions when all they have heard are demos.

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Re: Dreadbox Medusa monosynth

Post by LegWyne » Sun Aug 30, 2020 7:59 pm

Personally I feel like the real value I get out of it is as a controller and modulation source for other gear. I feel like its a first draft of what a modern controller should be really able to do by now and nothing else gets close. It's let down in this regard by things like the ancient Midi 1.0 standard. Each CC out you send from the 11 LFO's has 277 individual steps that can be audibly steppy at times. I hope Polyend does a follow up in the future with Midi 2.0 that maybe just skips the synth part and focuses on a well developed MPE + Sequencer + ext modulation device.

Even at its current state tho you can basically do eurorack style cross modulation between devices, just not while using MPE at the same time :(
i.e: set an envelope to reverb depth, an envelope to an external filter res etc, create wild LFO cross modulation then set the last LFO in the chain to send external CC out. Partner this with something like an Axoloti where you can design patches around midi CC inputs and you have a verrry powerful toolset. There are some wild Axoloti patches/objects out there with a lot of modulation sources. Picture those envelopes and lfos integrated into a wavetable + physical modelling patch with a stuttery/glitchy delay and Clouds from MI.

I will say that recently I ran a Volca Keys through the filter and the filter sounded fekn amazing, surprisingly deep and rich and Dreadboxy. Which was weird given how thin it sound with the internal oscillators. Very strange.

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Re: Dreadbox Medusa monosynth

Post by Exit Chamber » Tue Sep 01, 2020 3:10 pm

I absolutely love my Medusa but it's not a synth I would ever really recommend to someone as it's (obviously based on the responses to this thread) very divisive.

This sums it up perfectly IMO:
wrngtrls wrote:
Sun Aug 30, 2020 1:48 am
But Medusa's thing is not really pluck or warmth or percussion; it does pads and drama and ambience. It sounds like a Michael Mann/Ridley Scott film. And as a controller, on-the-spot sequence composer, and uniquely wtf/why-would-you-do-that? synth it's stunning. The parameter options on the controller are so inspiring and really, really do unique controlling of other instruments.
I permanently run mine into a GFI Specular Reverb which sorts the mono thing and it's capable of some absolutely beautiful sounds, plus it has modulation in spades! Who doesn't love lots of LFOs and envelopes.

This is one track recorded straight into Reaper, played on the pads (with too much reverb :lol: )


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Re: Dreadbox Medusa monosynth

Post by soundinett » Thu Sep 03, 2020 9:06 am

Have one. Was long time on my wishlist. All of a sudden I got it cheep from Juno UK. Less then 500 Euros.

The Grid has interested me most. I´m a guitar player and I´m constantly searching for a controller that let me play a synth fluent without a keyboard. The Medusa Grid can be configured like a guitar fretboard which is nice. But its nicer to solo with the Grid when a scale supporting the harmonic progression of the track is chosen. The pads of the Grid respond o.k. For my way of playing I have to set it to "soft".

I have tested the Medusa in a shop months before I bought it and the sound of the synth underwhelmed me. Harsh, lots of hights and mids, no bottom. Now, having it at home, with some patience I got a lot of surprising sounds out of this machine. But compared to the Desktop Evolver which is conceptually close to the Medusa, I prefer the Evolver soundwise.
On the other hand the Medusa has its own character. Its a modulation monster. You can get a lot of fine music out of this instrument. An effectbox helps. (I have used the Alesis Ineko, also to spread the mono signal to stereo). But like always it needs a lot of time and devotion to make it do what you want, - or to surprise you totally.

I have worked with the Medusa for two month making music. There´s a playlist...





Now it sits on the shelf and waits for the second round. Further plans...
- make more generative music
- use it as a drone
- use it as a lead synth to solo in an EDM enviroment (like Stephan Bodzin uses his Moog One)
Last edited by soundinett on Sun Sep 20, 2020 9:22 am, edited 2 times in total.

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Re: Dreadbox Medusa monosynth

Post by rplktr » Wed Sep 09, 2020 11:39 am

skunk3 wrote:
Fri Aug 28, 2020 10:56 pm
I doubt that I am the only one, but my primary complaint about the Medusa from what I've heard is that the general sound of it is blehhhh.

I've watched so many videos. Listened to demos. I've really tried to give it a shot. On paper it seems intriguing and the look of it is killer, but when I actually start listening to the sounds it makes I'm like: 'no thanks'

Surely I'm not alone?
I don't know, man. Functionally this thing can be a monophonic 3 OSC Model D equivalent or a paraphonic instrument in the vein of some of the classic Mutable Instruments. I find the latter most interesting, with the digital wavetables being quite versatile. Is this a "blehhh" sound, too?

[video][/video]

Sure, the synth has no on-board effects and has no stereo output. Neither does the Subharmonicon, for example. And in both cases pairing with a reverb is mandated by the Geneva convention.
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Re: Dreadbox Medusa monosynth

Post by unclebastard » Sat Sep 12, 2020 7:50 am

rplktr wrote:
Wed Sep 09, 2020 11:39 am
skunk3 wrote:
Fri Aug 28, 2020 10:56 pm
I doubt that I am the only one, but my primary complaint about the Medusa from what I've heard is that the general sound of it is blehhhh.

I've watched so many videos. Listened to demos. I've really tried to give it a shot. On paper it seems intriguing and the look of it is killer, but when I actually start listening to the sounds it makes I'm like: 'no thanks'

Surely I'm not alone?
I don't know, man. Functionally this thing can be a monophonic 3 OSC Model D equivalent or a paraphonic instrument in the vein of some of the classic Mutable Instruments. I find the latter most interesting, with the digital wavetables being quite versatile. Is this a "blehhh" sound, too?

[video][/video]

Sure, the synth has no on-board effects and has no stereo output. Neither does the Subharmonicon, for example. And in both cases pairing with a reverb is mandated by the Geneva convention.
Nice. I'm putting mine through a Zoom MS70CDR and DOD Carcosa fuzz, or my guitar pedalboard depending on my mood. Reverb definitely helps.
Good deals with: Eremitalf, ben_hex, matttech, Elevator Sound

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Re: Dreadbox Medusa monosynth

Post by starthief » Thu Sep 17, 2020 1:12 pm

I'm considering either a Medusa or a Quadrantid Swarm for my next synth. The QS has a character I like in nearly every demo, is semi-modular and a bit cheaper. The sequencer is extremely limited (always exactly 8 steps, pitch only, always quantized) and the build quality is... let's be generous and say "Volca-like."

The Medusa... yes, many of the demos sound pretty "bleh" but some do not. I expect it's a synth that requires and rewards some sound design effort. In drone videos, where it's got external effects, often some FM, and taking advantage of the (incredible) modulation and sequencing/performance possibilities, it really shines IMHO.

It's a tough decision, but I'm starting to lean more toward the Medusa side.

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Re: Dreadbox Medusa monosynth

Post by Kattefjaes » Sun Sep 20, 2020 8:22 am

lisa wrote:
Sun Aug 30, 2020 2:58 pm
It annoys me when folks say that a synth sounds bad. I just want to get one and make a great track for the heck of it. Silly trait, I know. :oops:
We'll see if I can resist it, this time.
That's why I love the "Bad Gear" video series on youtube. he takes widely-disliked equipment and stubbornly finds something to enjoy about it, it's refreshing.

https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCOJVsj ... /playlists

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Re: Dreadbox Medusa monosynth

Post by starthief » Sun Sep 20, 2020 2:15 pm

Kattefjaes wrote:
Sun Sep 20, 2020 8:22 am
That's why I love the "Bad Gear" video series on youtube. he takes widely-disliked equipment and stubbornly finds something to enjoy about it, it's refreshing.
Huh, there's some gear on his list I have heard nothing but love for. On the other hand, he's got the Darkstar and the Rhythm Wolf on his list :) I had a Darkstar for a while, and it indeed a bad synth that one can still get some good out of.

I expect the Medusa isn't at all a bad piece of gear, and I wound up trading for one... looking forward to its arrival :)

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