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Our answer to modular polyphony: Supercritical Synthesizers
MUFF WIGGLER Forum Index -> Eurorack Modules Goto page Previous  1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6  Next [all]
Author Our answer to modular polyphony: Supercritical Synthesizers
pinkflag16
So just so I'm understanding how this works... I can hang a trs to MIDI dongle and plug in my cheap MIDI keyboard and start playing, right? What about using a Euro sequencer with CV/Gate? If I have the expander attached and am running into the CV/Gate ins on the main module, will the env/vca from the expander still be active?
TheRosskonian
donttouchmyrice wrote:
What happens when you control the voices over Midi and over V/oct inputs at the same time? is this possible?


Also curious about this along with the other ways the voices are split. Even split up between different configurations, there is still only one output? Or possibly could this be expanded?
chaosick
hzzzu wrote:


Hi! My name is Heikki and I’m from a new manufacturer called Supercritical Synthesizers. We started this as a hobby project with two other people (including our engineering genius Timo, tisaalho on MW) almost two years ago and now we decided to release it to public. The first product is the Demon Core Oscillator and accompanying it is the Demon Core Expander module.

The product itself is an oscillator, a digitally controlled one. But it is way much more. It has 16 configurable voices and some snake charming skills to control all the waves’ phases. It also might solve the long ongoing question of polyphony and paraphony in the eurorack context. We did label it as an oscillator while it wears the hats of: 1) An oscillator 2) A full synthesizer voice 3) Paraphonic sound generator to be sculpted with other modules. I believe the weirdest uses for this machine are yet to come. It surprises me every time I turn it on.

The main module makes the sound and has some traditional oscillator controls with some and-then-some. It has coarse and fine tuning with a handy indicator for concert pitch. The waves we’re dealing with are saw and pulse with PWM. The patty of this burger is that the 16 voices can be stacked in unison and/or in octave stacks. Picture a six octave stack of two oscillators each, I have no idea what to do with it. That’d be your job.

The timbral cheese comes from the spread and core stability control. Spread is a static spread (detune) and will adjust from a clockwork Juno via a creamy supersaw to a jazz player having a very bad day. Core stability is our drift control. Having played a couple of Jupiter 8’s and Timo having a dreamy OB-Xa we are fans of the VCO drift. The drift can be set from accurate modern poly drift to a broken and wandering VCO. Slightly below the middle is our favorite lush and pillowy 80’s-big-poly-machine-territory. This is the feature we crafted with care. FM, PWM, spread and stability have CV’s with offsets so you don’t need attenuverters if you don’t want to.

The bun this burger’s wrapped in is the concept of polyphony. The expander introduces us to polyphony. Connected, we can now allocate the voices to stacks, octaves and polyphony. 8x2, 16x1, 3x5. Decide on a polyphony, max the stack and divide to octaves. It’s entirely your choice. 4x4 is cool. Having four Mono/Poly oscillator setups in 20hp. It’s our favorite. We had this minimal setup in mind where the DCO would serve as the sound source and you can route it through your favorite filter modulated by an envelope and make your own tiny poly machine. I’m actively playing it in my band with the incredible Mutable Instruments Ripples filter as a poor man’s Jupiter 8. The Doepfer SEM filter is also delicious with this.

MIDI. The expander provides us with a midi interface with TRS-jacks. Midi in and a mirrored thru are accompanied with a convenient gate out. The expander has a gate switch which switches between a constant stream of sound and a gated mode. The gate mode is a polyphonic gating mode with ADSR-envelope for each allocated voice. The gate out has also a cool retrig for maximum searing funk. The DCO can played like a proper polyphonic keyboard. You don’t need extra 16 VCAs. The polyphony can be also controlled from the four FM inputs (with a global attenuator which has 1V/oct when full). We also hid some easter eggs with alternative CV modes for these four inputs.

The time sync thing: We encountered this anomaly by an accident in early dev stages. It was quite unusual so we decided to have controls for it. Since we know the phases of the waves, we start from stacked unison oscillators having all waves in the same phase. Over time the phases spread when the spread control is slightly opened. This causes a enveloped flanging effect which can be used as a thick bass sound or some flanging pads. Or something entirely else, we don’t know. It can be triggered via the main module sync trig jack or the midi note. The expander provides us also a time control which adjusts the time of the waves when they sync phases from past to future. Time travel’s always cool.

There’s a huge amount of options in this, we know. Some of them exist behind some button combos, but we tried to streamline it a bit. There’s no menu diving. There’s a magic combo to reset the module to get Dorothy and Toto back to Kansas. To trim the hedge between you and the music you can play a couple minutes’ WAV file to the FM input from your mobile phone to update the firmware updates enhancing the UI and fixing bugs in the future.

Main module tech specs:

    12hp, skiff friendly with 25mm depth.
    120mA +12V and 20mA -12V
    16 configurable voices (octave, stacks)
    Saw and pulse waves with PWM ranging from 0-100%
    Coarse tune for 6 octave range with half-step increments
    Fine tune for ± half step range
    A blinking tuning indicator for finding C note in every octave and A440 fine tuning
    1V/oct master pitch CV
    Linear FM CV (±8V) with attenuator
    Combined Spread / PWM CV (±8V) with offset function
    Stability CV (±8V) with offset function
    Trigger input for synchronizing the phases for all waves
    Mono audio output
    A function (shift) button to do magic for different controls!
    Software updates via audio
    Secure shrouded power connector with a supplied power cable


Expander module specs:

    8hp, skiff friendly with 25mm depth.
    Powers from main module, connects via supplied ribbon cable
    Connected, the oscillator draws now 130mA +12V and 30mA -12V
    MIDI interface with bipolar TRS-connector
    MIDI thru, polarity set with jumpers on the back
    MIDI channel learn function with pitch bend setting
    Gate output, 5v 4ms trigger in retrig
    Configurable polyphony, ADSR envelope for each voice
    Four pitch CVs (±8V) with global attenuator
    Control for phase sync timing
    We’re still working on the website, price and distribution but we hope to release them in a week or so.


We’re designing this by ourselves and we do most of the manufacturing locally. We’re trying to do this the eco-friendly way.

If you’re reading this far, thanks. We’re very enthusiastic about this. Ping me or Timo in this thread if you want to know more. Timo will talk for days about the technology.

Oh by the way. All of the sound coming out of the module is analog and we’re making this in Finland. Aliasing fans, sorry.

The 16 voice Demon Core Oscillator and Expander are available in May-June 2019 and pricing TBA soon.

www.supercriticalsynthesizers.com

A teaser video of the Demon Core Oscillator on YouTube:
https://youtu.be/VtylQKIf5Bk

Demon Core Oscillator sound samples on Soundcloud:
https://soundcloud.com/supercritical-synthesizers/sets/16-voice-demon- core-oscillator-sound-samples
[s]https://soundcloud.com/supercritical-synthesizers/sets/16-voice-dem on-core-oscillator-sound-samples[/s]


Wow, this is crazy. It seems like having the oscillator core of a Futuresonus Parva or something in a module.
chaosick
pinkflag16 wrote:
So just so I'm understanding how this works... I can hang a trs to MIDI dongle and plug in my cheap MIDI keyboard and start playing, right? What about using a Euro sequencer with CV/Gate? If I have the expander attached and am running into the CV/Gate ins on the main module, will the env/vca from the expander still be active?


Yes, also trying interested in this and trying to visualize.
JES
So: I play a Linnstrument. How would/could this work with MPE? Could I use channel pressure to module phase or tuning of the individual voices? Would they rotate as a I hit new triads?
PeterDeVault
Wow. I just peeked in from MU land and saw this. How awesome. One more reason to start a little Euroskiff...
Ringo
Christopher Winkels wrote:
Sounds lovely in the demo.

"Supercritical"?
"Demon Core"?

I guess one could say the modular industry is....



..... at a "Crossroads".


Very tempting oscillator...technically.

It's really a pity that it has a pentagram on its faceplate and a "demon core" because that way it s a no-go for me personally. And I'm generally very interested in polyphonic stuff. Recently, quite a few modules seem to be predetermind to be dark or even evil. i, personally, do not think that it is funny or stylish or meant that way in some cases. I understand that there are people who make nice dark music, but references to the devil are a red line for me. I mainly use 2xRoland 512 and 2xRoland 521 for 4 voice polyphonic structures. They are not predetermined to be evil.
Cortega
Ringo wrote:
Christopher Winkels wrote:
Sounds lovely in the demo.

"Supercritical"?
"Demon Core"?

I guess one could say the modular industry is....



..... at a "Crossroads".


Very tempting oscillator...technically.

It's really a pity that it has a pentagram on its faceplate and a "demon core" because that way it s a no-go for me personally. And I'm generally very interested in polyphonic stuff. Recently, quite a few modules seem to be predetermind to be dark or even evil. i, personally, do not think that it is funny or stylish or meant that way in some cases. I understand that there are people who make nice dark music, but references to the devil are a red line for me. I mainly use 2xRoland 512 and 2xRoland 521 for 4 voice polyphonic structures. They are not predetermined to be evil.


lol, that are only a symbol and a name, just put a sticker with the name Holy Cow over Demon Core and a Sticker with a picture of a any Hippie over the Pentagram and then Wiggler Heaven will appear.

and google Demon Core, should help you beware of Demons too.
Rex Coil 7
Ringo wrote:
Christopher Winkels wrote:
Sounds lovely in the demo.

"Supercritical"?
"Demon Core"?

I guess one could say the modular industry is....



..... at a "Crossroads".


Very tempting oscillator...technically.

It's really a pity that it has a pentagram on its faceplate and a "demon core" because that way it s a no-go for me personally. And I'm generally very interested in polyphonic stuff. Recently, quite a few modules seem to be predetermind to be dark or even evil. i, personally, do not think that it is funny or stylish or meant that way in some cases. I understand that there are people who make nice dark music, but references to the devil are a red line for me. I mainly use 2xRoland 512 and 2xRoland 521 for 4 voice polyphonic structures. They are not predetermined to be evil.
I completely respect your position, full-on. And it is totally ok to feel the way you do about this issue.

thumbs up
Carl Licroy
Fantastic! More chords demo please, it sounds really good so far. Is it based on curtis 3340 chips or another design?
gwpt
Rex Coil 7 wrote:
Ringo wrote:
Christopher Winkels wrote:
Sounds lovely in the demo.

"Supercritical"?
"Demon Core"?

I guess one could say the modular industry is....



..... at a "Crossroads".


Very tempting oscillator...technically.

It's really a pity that it has a pentagram on its faceplate and a "demon core" because that way it s a no-go for me personally. And I'm generally very interested in polyphonic stuff. Recently, quite a few modules seem to be predetermind to be dark or even evil. i, personally, do not think that it is funny or stylish or meant that way in some cases. I understand that there are people who make nice dark music, but references to the devil are a red line for me. I mainly use 2xRoland 512 and 2xRoland 521 for 4 voice polyphonic structures. They are not predetermined to be evil.
I completely respect your position, full-on. And it is totally ok to feel the way you do about this issue.

thumbs up


Just to be pedantic...

It doesn't have a pentagram on it. It has leds organised as an octagram (which is not a 'evil' symbol)
and 'demon core' refers to a piece of plutonium in an experiment gone wrong. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Demon_core

So, there aren't really any demonic references at all. If that makes you more comfortable with it smile
jjh
Both brand and product name refer to nuclear energy, which itself may be questionable topic to some. But this is not a matter of religion even though literally speaking "demon" is mentioned.
Orange
@supercritical congrats! thumbs up

Ringo wrote:


Very tempting oscillator...technically.

It's really a pity that it has a pentagram on its faceplate and a "demon core" because that way it s a no-go for me personally. And I'm generally very interested in polyphonic stuff. Recently, quite a few modules seem to be predetermind to be dark or even evil. i, personally, do not think that it is funny or stylish or meant that way in some cases. I understand that there are people who make nice dark music, but references to the devil are a red line for me. I mainly use 2xRoland 512 and 2xRoland 521 for 4 voice polyphonic structures. They are not predetermined to be evil.


Personally, I think you don’t know what you are talking about....
But good to know your red line SlayerBadger!
target_destroyed
Ringo wrote:
Christopher Winkels wrote:
Sounds lovely in the demo.

"Supercritical"?
"Demon Core"?

I guess one could say the modular industry is....



..... at a "Crossroads".


Very tempting oscillator...technically.

It's really a pity that it has a pentagram on its faceplate and a "demon core" because that way it s a no-go for me personally. And I'm generally very interested in polyphonic stuff. Recently, quite a few modules seem to be predetermind to be dark or even evil. i, personally, do not think that it is funny or stylish or meant that way in some cases. I understand that there are people who make nice dark music, but references to the devil are a red line for me. I mainly use 2xRoland 512 and 2xRoland 521 for 4 voice polyphonic structures. They are not predetermined to be evil.


Dude... what? "Penta" by definition means "five." If anything that led arrangement has eight "points." You're getting worked up over something that isn't there... Also the pentagram is not an inherently "evil" symbol (and was even used by the christians at one point), and as mentioned above the "demon core" was a chunk of plutonium involved in an accident in 1945. Google, man. d'oh!
JES
In Ringo's defence, I've got a PhD and write about the history of technology and didn't get the reference either. But I just looked it up, so thanks everyone.

And I get annoyed at sexist-sounding names, so Ringo's entitled to his position, whatever the actual intended reference is (i guess you know where I fall on the "is MW sexist?" debate).

Now, I've got more questions about the oscillator:

If it's not the only MIDI controlled thing in your rack, how would you set it up? Will there be MIDI through or something, or can you set it up with an Expert Sleepers FH-2 somehow?

TIA!
Ceres
Every time a eurorack module is purchased, an angel loses its wings. Praise be our dark lord.
Ringo
gwpt wrote:
Rex Coil 7 wrote:
Ringo wrote:
Christopher Winkels wrote:
Sounds lovely in the demo.

"Supercritical"?
"Demon Core"?

I guess one could say the modular industry is....



..... at a "Crossroads".


Very tempting oscillator...technically.

It's really a pity that it has a pentagram on its faceplate and a "demon core" because that way it s a no-go for me personally. And I'm generally very interested in polyphonic stuff. Recently, quite a few modules seem to be predetermind to be dark or even evil. i, personally, do not think that it is funny or stylish or meant that way in some cases. I understand that there are people who make nice dark music, but references to the devil are a red line for me. I mainly use 2xRoland 512 and 2xRoland 521 for 4 voice polyphonic structures. They are not predetermined to be evil.
I completely respect your position, full-on. And it is totally ok to feel the way you do about this issue.

thumbs up


Just to be pedantic...

It doesn't have a pentagram on it. It has leds organised as an octagram (which is not a 'evil' symbol)
and 'demon core' refers to a piece of plutonium in an experiment gone wrong. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Demon_core

So, there aren't really any demonic references at all. If that makes you more comfortable with it smile


Thanks, you are right of course. It is an octagram on the faceplate, not a pentagram. Totally my fault. And demon core - I looked it up: It is also known as a failed experiment with a nuclear bomb which caused the death of two scientists. So the symbolism and the name are really not as bad as I thought.
The oscillator itself seems to be impressive. Maybe I can overlook the demonic name under these circumstances. However, I still see it as a disadvantage, personally.
pinkflag16
Ringo wrote:


...which caused the death of two scientists. So the symbolism and the name are really not as bad as I thought.

Christopher Winkels
Ringo wrote:
a nuclear bomb which caused the death of two scientists. So the symbolism and the name are really not as bad as I thought.


d'oh!
mskala
hzzzu wrote:
Oh by the way. All of the sound coming out of the module is analog


This seems a strange thing to say about a module that generates the sound digitally. Even if it's literally true that the output is an analog signal because you put it through a DAC, that's not what most people mean when they talk about analog synthesis.
Virusinstaller
This is really cool. It kinda sounds like Hyve synthesiser, in a good way of course & of course different.
Drenched in a little reverb. Luscious!
Timmy
mskala wrote:
hzzzu wrote:
Oh by the way. All of the sound coming out of the module is analog


This seems a strange thing to say about a module that generates the sound digitally. Even if it's literally true that the output is an analog signal because you put it through a DAC, that's not what most people mean when they talk about analog synthesis.


It is described as a DCO, thus the waveforms are in fact created using a ramp or triangle core analogue circuit, not via a DAC - see https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Digitally_controlled_oscillator
mskala
Timmy wrote:
It is described as a DCO, thus the waveforms are in fact created using a ramp or triangle core analogue circuit, not via a DAC - see https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Digitally_controlled_oscillator


Does DCO mean exactly that in this context, or is it being used as an abbreviation for "Demon Core Oscillator"?
cioaudio
mskala wrote:
Timmy wrote:
It is described as a DCO, thus the waveforms are in fact created using a ramp or triangle core analogue circuit, not via a DAC - see https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Digitally_controlled_oscillator


Does DCO mean exactly that in this context, or is it being used as an abbreviation for "Demon Core Oscillator"?


The product acronym is unfortunate, but the first post does describe it as a digitally controlled ocillator (singular). I'm hoping it comprises 16 digitally controlled oscillators.
The first post does apologize to aliasing fans which strongly suggests a sampled data system is not providing the oscillators.
mskala
cioaudio wrote:
he product acronym is unfortunate, but the first post does describe it as a digitally controlled ocillator (singular). I'm hoping it comprises 16 digitally controlled oscillators.


I was really hoping for an answer from the manufacturers. The original posting is vague and makes some contradictory claims, like the "apologies to aliasing fans" thing, which if literally and absolutely true is not compatible with the temporal aliasing of traditional DCOs - so I took that as marketing hype rather than a literal technical description. Maybe they just mean the controller's clock speed is fast enough that it's not a problem. The way it's worded almost makes it sound like they are saying there's no aliasing specifically because the module is made in Finland, which is ridiculous - so what I get from it is that the wording is not careful and should not be taken too seriously. Your guess is as good as mine or Timmy's when we attempt to read between the lines of the advertisement, but without the specific technical answers that their engineer is supposed to be eager to give, we're just shooting in the dark.

The thing is, 16 analog integrators, 16 precise current drivers for them, and 16 reset circuits, plus the entire digital side, is a lot to pack into a 12HP 25mm-deep Eurorack module. As a rough guess I think they need something like three op amps per oscillator minimum, and that makes 48; 12 standard quad op amp packages. It's surely possible with a high-density multi-layer PCB, but I'd really like to see a good photo of that PCB. Even just stuff like doing the power distribution well, to prevent crosstalk among the oscillators and noise coming over from the digital side, is impressive when we're talking about that level of density on a board. If I'm understanding the ad copy for the expander right, it's adding a further 16 VCAs (so, what's that, four 2164 packages or similar, plus the driver and support circuitry for those, as well as all the other things the expander does?) in 8HP and that's impressive density, too.
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