12 Feb 2016

Build your own synth using your choice of modules

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Modular system: the Waldorf KB37 chassis Modular system: the Waldorf KB37 chassis Waldorf

As well as some new modules of its own, Waldorf has introduced a keyboard case for Eurorack modules that effectively allows you to build your own synth.

 The Eurorack standard continues to prove popular amongst synth enthusiasts with a number of new units appearing at NAMM. Waldorf however has decided to put a new spin on things by introducing the KB37 chassis which is based around a high quality Fatar TB9 keyboard at its heart and can house a total 100 HP of modules in its angled front panel.

What this means essentially is that Waldorf is providing a great keybed and allowing you to build your own synth using the modules of your choice. The base keyboard itself provides extremely flexible control for any of those mounted modules thanks to its high-resolution, temperature-stable 16-bit CV interface. With the additional MIDI control offering fully programmable MIDI channels and velocity curves, it makes the kb37 the perfect partner both in the studio and for taking your modules out on stage.

Alongside the base KB37 keyboard the are also a number of new Waldorf modules to help complete your new synth.

NW1

The NW1 is based on an advanced wavetable engine which historically has always been a strength for Waldorf, and given that it uses the classic wavetable banks from the Microwave & Wave synths of yesteryear we expect goods things from this module. An interesting feature with the NW1 is that also lets you easily create your own wavetables right from the front panel via time domain multiple foldover analysis. All you need to do is connect any sound source to the NW1 to transfer audio into a wavetable, or you can even use the integrated speech synthesizer to translate typed text into wavetables!

MOD1

This unit gives you up to three different modulation sources in one module which should make the MOD1 the control center of your modular patch. From simple envelopes and LFOs to complex looped multi-stage curves, the MOD1 delivers rich and endless modulation options, from gently undulating LFOs to ultra-precise hard cuts, you get it all based on innovative analogue circuits for a truly musical touch. 

DVCA1

Built around two VCAs with a wide range of options including the most importantly the ability to musically colour the signal. Starting in dry mode, you get high-precision analogue amplification, but then when you turn the colour knob, you add a warmer and more colourful timbre to the signal based on a state variable filtering circuit. Additionally positive gain control makes the DVCA1 a true “amplifier,” and flexible link modes let you create modulated panning.

CMP1

A analogue compressor that not only adds punch to your signal, but it also can be modulated in unconventional ways including side-chaining with a adjustable balance control that will open up a huge set of modular possibilities.

Kompaktklavier

The Kompaktklavier otherwise known as the Zarenbourg Module, offers the sound engine of the Zarenbourg Piano in a rack unit. Just like its larger cousin, three different sound generators delivers  physical modelling that recreates the classic E-Piano sounds with great authenticity. The direct streaming sample playback engine complete with 4 GB of sample memory provides a selection of fantastic grand, upright and electric pianos. The third sound generation system is a 6-operator FM synthesizer, perfect for classic DX pianos and a variety of other trademark FM sounds. 

Along with the sound generation capabilities it also provides a huge selection of high-quality effects, such as Reverb, Chorus, Flanger, Phaser, Echo, Auto Wah, Equalizer and Overdrive, as well as a host of effect combinations. Each sound can be freely combined with an effect / effects combination and stored in the internal memory and new sounds and effects can also be added via the integrated SD Card slot.

Mixing and matching those modules should cover a whole range of requirements and of course with the ability to add your other modules too, the Waldorf KB37 could prove to be a popular choice.


Peter Gardner

Peter Gardner has spent 20 years working within the audio industry, from an early live sound background through to devloping and writing about IT solutions in the studio. A background that also has given growth over the years, to a great enthusiasm for anything new that combines music and technology.

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