chaos and noise

It’s the little things… quite literally. I ordered a tin of Befaco Knurlies, specialized screws for Eurorack that have nylon washers built in to prevent scratches, and can be tightened with a flat or Philips screwdriver, a hex driver, or even by hand.

Honestly, I think for someone who doesn’t move modules often, M3 hex screws and separate washers (as I’ve been using, and you’ll see in the image here) are the way to go. They’re a lot cheaper! And low profile, good looking, and more secure if you go to trade shows or live gigs and don’t want individual modules to wander off in someone’s bag too easily. Knurlies are nice for quicker changes, or modules like Desmodus Versio where you need to get to the back to update firmware a little more often.

Also recently arrived: some new knobs to update the look and feel of my Mystic Circuits modules. They came with the sort of knobs that have shiny metallic tops, and the direction is indicated with a shaped bump on the side. Ana did have purple-sided knobs, and purple is sort of this company’s thing, and I think the colors work well here. The slightly larger Wrap knob is “MXR mini style” — pretty much the same as the Root knob on Ensemble Oscillator — and the others are Davies 1900h clones, a common type used in Eurorack.

I also have some Rogan soft-touch knobs on the way — the same kind that Make Noise and Mutable Instruments use, and I like them very much. Noise Engineering’s knobs are classy and have a solid feel, but they have glossy tops where glare obscures the pointer direction. In the past I’ve found they are very firmly mounted and can be challenging to remove, but the increase in visibility makes it worth replacing them.

Less little: I ordered a Xaoc Katowice “stereo variable-band isolator.” It splits the incoming signal into low, mid and high frequency bands. There is CV and manual control over the middle band’s center and width, and over the levels of each band — making it kind of a multiband VCA, or shelving/peaking EQ. There are stereo mix outputs and individual low, mid and high outputs, so you can route or process the bands separately. I also picked up a small, cheap After Later 3:1 mixer, so after such processing I can merge back to stereo without taking up 6 inputs on my audio interface.

It’s basically the hardware version of the Multiband device in Bitwig Studio. Hardware gives it the advantage of direct hands-on and CV control and zero latency. Feedback patches and interesting FM/AM/RM should be possible, and I expect it will also lead to different usage patterns than the software.

With the exception of that tiny mixer, this entire spring 2021 update to my modular has consisted of Xaoc Devices and Noise Engineering modules. Xaoc is apparently pronounced “chaos” and has a very Eastern Bloc, almost-Communist-chic, test equipment aesthetic that looks rather classy. All their modules are named after the Polish names of European cities (really putting the Euro in Eurorack). NE is very much inspired by 90s gothic-tinged dark and yet nerdy industrial music, and their module names are in psuedo Latin. They couldn’t be more different, and yet I think they complement each other well, and really have been suiting my music nicely. This kind of diversity is one of the coolest things about Eurorack, compared to other modular formats.

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