it begins

I didn’t mention that I bought the Flexshaper, did I? I did, and it arrived yesterday from Glasgow in a relative jiffy. Signal Sounds is a helpful resource to the synth community, and even though I’m unlikely to ever attend any sort of event there or check out their mini-museum of vintage synths, I am happy to support them a bit.

Flexshaper is pretty brilliant in its flexibility. Basically it takes this:

And lets you set the height of each point, to remap the output to something like this:

That’s essentially what the Instruo tanh[3] does, without any control over the actual shape. One could instead choose something more like this:

You can use it to reshape audio or control signals — whether envelopes, LFOs, pitch sequences or whatever. Add saturation or folding, invert signals, make a simple decay envelope into something with an extra bounce. With a mode button and two outputs, it can convert in either direction between unipolar and bipolar signals, or you could use the knob settings to flatten or invert half the signal.

And then there’s the even more clever bit: CV control over each of those five levels. You can alter an envelope shape with a sequence, or alter your waveshaping with an envelope, or set up a sort of waveshaping tremolo with a quadrature LFO (like Filter 8). It’ll even respond at audio rates, but at lower resolution — so that means it’s also a bitcrusher. You can run audio through the “Middle” CV with nothing into the main input if that’s what you want, or even (kinda) fade between the crushed sound and a clipped sound by altering the input level (since quieter signals spend more time in the middle area, and louder signals proportionally less).

Overall I’m quite pleased with the module. I need to play with it a bit more as a relatively simple saturation tool, but I expect I will go ahead and let go of tanh[3] at the appointed time.

And just a little while ago, I pounced on a used Hertz Donut mk2 at a price I liked a lot. I look forward to comparing it to the mk3. I fully expect the mk2 will win, but I will know for sure after a few months with them side by side.

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