September 21, 2013

The Next Episode...

by Chris Randall

The first production run of Audio Damage modules is officially sold out, at least as far as we're concerned. We've sold the entire production run to Analogue Haven, Alex4 (which is a European distro company started by SchneidersBuero), and EquionoxOz. We've pulled the trigger on the second production run, and will have more backplanes in early November. When this second run shows up, we're going to introduce at least one more new module. Possibly two, but not likely.

Simultaneously, we've begun development on a more powerful CPU/RAM backpack that will enable us to make much more sophisticated modules (think a pretty much full-featured Replicant or Dr. Device in hardware). This will take some months, as these things go, and we'll discuss the feature set here and get some input. We made every attempt, and were largely successful, at keeping the initial Euro release secret. But now that the cat's out of the bag, we'll be pretty open about what's upcoming, unless it's a case where spilling the beans would mean opening ourselves up to competition. However, something like Replicant is an advanced case study in DSP in a Euro context, and is difficult to pull of without starting with an existing DSP library tailored to the task, so I'm not too worried about that. If someone else could have done it, they already would have, since it's such an obvious effect for the Euro environment.

Now, this is not to say that we'll only be releasing DSP-based audio effects. We have plans for several different things, now that we have a WORKFLOW, and finally I get to my point, such as it is. Adam is on the way to Japan, and I'm in charge, and when that happens, my imagination runs wild. (Every time he gets back from Japan, I spend the first three days interrupting his tales of travel to tell him about The Next Big Thing I thought of while he was gone.) One of the things I'd like to think about is a desktop synth.

Now, there is no shortage of desktop synths. One could make the argument that market was all full up. But one could (and in fact did) make the argument that all DAWs come with a delay, so why make one? We built a pretty nice business on that concept. So...

Now, this wouldn't have to be a digital synth (like, say, the MeeBlip -> Blofeld range of devices.) We have strong analog chops up in here. My question is this: if you were presented with a new desktop, a little guy, what would you like to see that you haven't seen before?


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Sep.22.2013 @ 12:28 PM
Audio Damage has enough secret sauce that the synth itself is almost a no-brainer - eg Axon, Tattoo and Filter Station in a box. That would be pretty compelling. I think the hardware could make a huge difference though. There are lots of small desktop synths out there with uniformly bad ergonomics. Small panels crowded with small knobs with no attention to usability or playability. It would be great to see oscillator pitch controls with big knobs and vernier dials like an old-school signal generator - in fact all the important knobs should be big and chunky so you can actually 'play' the important parameters.

Sep.22.2013 @ 12:56 PM
I agree on layout comfort and usability. But I'd go so far as to say that Chris is an aficionado of small desktop synths, given he's used/owned many over the years, so I'm pretty confident a comfortable layout is high on the priority list.

Sep.22.2013 @ 1:01 PM
Chris - given your descriptions I'd have to say I'm talking more on the wavetable side of things. I don't have Borderlands or Curtis so I cant say for certain. Granulator by Robert Henke does the type of thing I'm after. As does Steinberg's Padshop.

Granulator: link []

Sep.22.2013 @ 1:18 PM
I'm with Bleanoobs

can we just roll all that up into a synth burrito and throw some hot sauce on it?

Sep.22.2013 @ 1:38 PM
If I didn't know boobs IRL (wait, that didn't come out right!), I might be concerned with the direction this thread is taking....

Sep.22.2013 @ 3:52 PM
When it comes to any new hardware, I'd say the two big selling points for me are 1) interesting and 2) inexpensive. But I may not be your typical customer.

And from an actually-building-and-selling-and-not-going-bankrupt point of view, you need to work backwards from what actually exists. There's no point in building something that overlaps with other available products without enough difference to make your thing compelling.

So it can't be a Volca, a Sjhruti, a Meeblip, an MPC1000, etc.

One thing that there isn't enough of in my opinion is a really useful desktop sequencer, something that could take the place of an Alesis MMT8, for example. And all the previous attempts to fill that niche are discontinued and hard to find. Something like a hardware Axon would be brilliant, but mostly if there was a decent way to fulfill other more traditional sequencing jobs, like drum sequencing, recording, triggering MIDI loops and editing and quantizing.

But I don't know exactly. There really is so many nice thing available now, it's hard for me to dream up something that I can't already buy that I would actually need. If you come up with _that_ well then you'd really have something.

Sep.22.2013 @ 4:27 PM
the cirklon is a pretty deep midi sequencer.. the elektrons do a nice job of it.. the Octatrack in particular.

but today i saw a pic of some dude's studio and he has 2 latronic notrons in it.. the blue ones.. and it's hard for me to not get excited by that. not sure why..

the genoqs stuff was kind of overblown it seemed.

so many of those things seem unobtainable and un-marketed. it's hard for me to get the niche that a new funky hardware midi sequencer could fit into. soooo many cool maxforlive sequencers exist as does numerology etc.. it's tough for me to get excited about it.. but i do have an octatrack so maybe that's why.

i don't know what the market is.. that's why AD is in charge here. :)

i think a nice desktop digital/analogue hybrid with some cool synthesis features will always sell even if there is overlap. if it's priced right, sounds good and marketed well enough it'll create its own market to a degree.

edit: i guess i contradicted myself so just ignore me

Sep.22.2013 @ 5:13 PM
I'm also intrigued by what parma's been talking about, though, the true granular synthesis end of things is interesting, too.

We're staring to see some more polyphonic/paraphonic synths hit the market as well - Volca Keys, Pulse 2, and this Shruthi inspired project over here: link [] - I vote for striving to do something that's not solely monophonic.

On the more sequencing end of things, there's this project that's in development: link []

It's a synth/sequencer combo, and while I don't have a set of specs for you, it feels Axon-ish. Here's a video of it in sync with Traktor: link []

Sep.22.2013 @ 5:22 PM
A hardware version of Aalto combined with a granulator, implemented as box no larger than a DSI Mopho, costing about the same. Purchases include a free ragdoll kitten and should be delivered by a unicorn.

Kidding aside, A desktop synth with a complex oscillator like Aalto's (plus, say, 2 EGs, 1 LFO, nice mod matrix) that didn't cost an arm and a leg would be a nice product. If it had independent outputs for each voice, it could double up as a percussion synth.

Guess I'm with chaircrusherboobs.

Sep.22.2013 @ 5:29 PM
For me, as far as desktop synths are concerned, I like to have a deep sequencer and a polyphonic and/or multi-timbral synth. That seems to be table stakes for the form factor/WORKFLOW.

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