CASE 3 – MakeNoise AnyCoast Black & Gold (sort of)

CASE 3 follows the MakeNoise Shared System Black & Gold configuration, but the Echophon is replaced by a Contour ADSR and a Moog Ladder clone, seriously extending the sound palette with the best analog filter ever. I am not a fan of Moog, but the filter is of legendary beauty. I owned a MatrixBrute once, which also had a ladder on board, but it didn’t sound like this one. It’s originally an AJH Synth Mini Mod Transistor Ladder Filter, which may happen to be more than just an imitation because Bob forgot to file a patent. It could be as close to the original as a real one. instead of not taking sides (like in the 0-coast), this set combines the best of both worlds.

Case 3 started its musical career as a discontinued CV Shared System where most components where aluminum. The original had a Maths, Mod Demix, DPO, Optomix, Echophon, Phonogene, Wogglebug, Pressure Points and a first generation Rene. It didn’t look like anything familiar. I could figure out the oscillator and the echo, but where’s the LFO? Where’s the filter, the ADSR and the AMP? Why is everything mono while the case has L/R outputs? WTF? MakeNoise has a very refreshing approach to sound design and component aesthetics, using the most unreadable font on the planet, crazy user interfaces (only topped by, weird terminology and high tech innovation firmly rooted in ancient history (like the reinvention of the direct drive tape machine). 

..and did I mention ‘ugly’?

And did I mention ugly? But for some strange reason, the same ugly stuff looks stunning and cool in Black & Gold. Unfortunately MakeNoise doesn’t do upgrades and B&G modules are for the pre-built systems only. So I had three options: 1) sell the old CV shared, 2) accept the ugly configuration or 3) the Rolling Stones option: paint it black and upgrade the retired items to their latest versions, turning the old CV shared into something like this:

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Yes I agree, it’s a crazy thing to even consider. But the image as shown above is the old CV as it is now: Painted Black and upgraded to the latest version, and then downgraded back to a Phonogene. I’ll explain later.

Maths – Swiss army knife
This is one of the most popular and powerful modules in the eurorack universe. It’s most obvious tasks is a dual low frequency oscillator and AD/ AR envelopes, but you can turn it up so fast it becomes a dual sound generator. It’s also an analog computer (hence the name). It can add and subtract signals and sounds. It can trigger things, add sub harmonics, transpose a melody, provide surgical control over sound/signal editing, the list goes on and on and on. 

Another multi purpose unit. Ring modulation is it’s designated function, but it can also mix, pan, FM, transpose and quantize anything. It can probably make coffee too.

DPO – Dual Prismatic Oscillator
The DPO is an angry sound source. It has two independent oscillator sections that can work together but usually fight with each other because there are thousands of ways to keep them out of tune. You have main, fine, linear, exponential and FM detuning on both sections. The oscillators can be linked, but the amount of ‘follow’ can be (de)tuned too. This is the official ‘voltage controlled oscillator’ in the case, but it has six waveform outputs, it can fold waves (maybe even space), do FM synthesis and turn oscillator 1 into a Low Frequency Oscillator (LFO). It grinds, grawls and screams like an animal and it’s not easy to find a subtle lead that goes beyond a simple sine or saw. It’s not the easiest oscillator on the planet, and the absence of an obvious filter can feel ‘limited’. But the DPO needs to be explored and discovered. But if you’re looking for a VCO that’s able to blow a heavy metal guitarhero’s head off, this is the one. 

Here’s a DPO patch I have made 🙂

The Optomix is a two channel VCA / low pass gate with strike and damping control and sum output. I noticed my Utility case was running without any VCA’s, while the common rule is to have as many as possible. 

The Contour does not ‘belong’ in the official Black & Gold. It is inspired by and derived from the 0-Coast synth. The Contour is a ‘moog style / conventional’ ADSR Envelope with a looping option, inversion and CV control over the four stages. Attack is kind of short, but snappy sounds are awesome. It can probably do a lot of things I don’t know about, like all stuff MakeNoise makes.

AJH Synth Mini Mod Transistor Ladder Filter
The legendary Moog filter with a MakeNoise makeover. Yes, it’s sacrilege.

This is a musical instrument disguised as a reverb unit, providing simple room ambiance, moving and folding spaces from the Beyond and the Unknown, percussive sounds, and lots of fun.

Tempi’s technical job is being a clock divider, but I’d like to see it as a live beat sequencer, providing six channels of groove and rhythm. It provides machine programming and human programming. You can just tap the kick, snares and hi-hats and get moving. Excellent little module.

The Wogglebug is a random stuff generator. It has a mind of its own and can provide clock, chance, random voltage bursts, wobbles, waves and three waveforms you can use to warp your sounds.

MakeNoise Rene MK2
Rene is a ‘cartesian’ sequencer, which means it moves through a 16 step matrix of 4×4 colorful lights. While it’s possible to traverse through all 16 steps in order, it’s also possible to move in all kinds of X/Y patterns. The original Rene was cool in 2012, but now it feels kind of limited. However, the MK2 provides three separate sequencers instead of one, and a big collection of states that can save different patterns and settings. It’s also possible to sequence these states, which makes it possible to create a full song. In theory. 

Brains upgrades the touch sensitive PressurePoints into a four state sequencer. Each state can control three parameters of its target, turning the Erbe-Verb into a drum machine and the Morpha/Phonogene into a sample switcher.

I use the Brains/Pressure Points combination to sequence the Morphagene. The Morph could be called a sampler, because it will only work with external sounds either recorded directly or provided on the SD card. It’s capable of playing back these sounds in various speeds and it’s possible to change the sample start, length and loop crossover. It could also be called a digital tape machine, because all sounds are usually on a ‘reel’, separated by markers called ‘slices’, clearly inspired by cutting analog tape. You can control the order of playing back these samples, make new cuts and overdub an existing sound with a new one. The tape machine comes to life even more with the VariSpeed control that can also go backward. 
The simple Brains/Pressure Points sequencer provides really precise control over playing back these samples in a specific order. Imagine a ‘reel’ with four ‘drum sound slices’ and you got yourself a beatbox that can easily escape the confinement of a mechanical groove. In a way you can compare the Morphagene to a modular Ableton Simpler with slicing enabled, but with a mind of its own. Very musical machine.