Kingswinfordz, UK - British boutique electronic instruments innovator Analogue Solutions has announce availability of Mr Hyde and Dr Strangelove, which introduce its SynthBlocks series of small and affordable desktop signal processors with two tantalizing new products squarely aimed at laptop-and-plug-ins-focused digital musicians wishing to apply analog, hands-on hardware processing to their sometimes sterile-sounding computer-based creations.
The SynthBlocks series represents an all-new range of small and affordable desktop signal processors produced by British boutique electronic instruments innovator Analogue Solutions, an acclaimed company with over 24 years of designing serious-sounding synthesizers featuring fully-analog audio paths with analog LFOs (Low Frequency Oscillators) and EGs (Envelope Generators) to its notable name. Similarly, SynthBlocks are all-analog affairs — albeit with some lo-fi digital effects thrown in for good (musical) measure. Menus and software are all eschewed in favor of a hardy hardware approach. As such, SynthBlocks are squarely aimed at laptop and audio plug-ins-focused digital musicians. Cue simply plugging the SynthBlocks in question into an audio interface’s I/O connections, then routing drums, synths, vocals, or whatever out of the DAW (Digital Audio Workstation) and through the transistors and op-amps of the SynthBlocks and recording the results back into the DAW.
Something similar can be achieved by connecting the SynthBlocks to the auxiliary buss of a mixing console — just like any other effects processor. Whatever the workflow, turning the dials and flicking the switches by hand of course changes the sound in real time — often with radical results. Those results of course can be radically different — depending on which of the two available SynthBlocks are applied to any given sound signal.
Many might have heard of Mr. Edward Hyde, an abominable alternative personality of Dr. Henry Jekyll, a fictional character in Robert Louis Stevenson's Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde gothic novella first published in 1886. However, hearing Analogue Solutions’ Mr Hyde in the here and now is something else entirely!
As announced, Mr Hyde was the first out of the starting blocks in its SynthBlocks series as an analog filter effects box bringing subtle to extreme filtering and modulation effects to the analog processing production table. To further aid ease of use, Mr Hyde has quarter-inch input and output jacks on its rear, so can be connected straight to an audio interface or mixer without the need for adaptors. The topside of its distinctive blood-red panel features minijack sockets to patch with a semi-modular synth, such as Analogue Solutions’ relatively recently released Fusebox — an aptly-named, three-VCO (Voltage-Controlled Oscillator) true analog monophonic synthesizer that favorably fuses the company’s characterful vintage sound with an advanced choice of modulation and melodic possibilities (in a beautifully-built box); ever-popular Eurorack small-format modular systems; or other modular systems.
Specification-wise, Mr Hyde doesn’t disappoint by boasting a two-pole 12db/octave analog multimode filter (featuring low-pass, high-pass, band-pass, and notch filtering options); resonance with a Q Boost feature to make it Scream (self oscillate); LFO with triangle and square wave signals; and a range switch (to bring the modulation speed into audio frequencies). Hands-on control comes quickly, thanks to a selection of switches and knobs — not least the largest knob of all: Freaq (filter cutoff frequency). Furthermore, the smaller Q knob sets the resonance level, Change changes the frequency range of the LFO from Slow to Fast at the flick of a switch, Speed sets the LFO modulator’s speed, and Level controls the modulation level/depth that affects the filter cutoff. More meaningfully, Mr Hyde can change sounds subtly, such as satisfying sweeping filtering, right up to mangled FM (Frequency Modulation) mayhem — perfectly in keeping with its naughty name!
Dr. Strangelove is an altogether different character, both literally and figuratively speaking — Stanley Kubrick’s 1964 political satire black comedy Dr. Strangelove, or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb. Actually, Analogue Solutions’ Dr Strangelove is a compact, high-quality analog ring modulator (with two audio inputs) and an analog LFO capable of going into audio range (with two waveforms), plus a lo-fi echo (giving an ‘analog’ bucket brigade-style sound). The ring mod itself does not have any controls as such, since a ring mod does not have parameters that can be altered — other than input and output levels. Just plug in audio cables and it does its thing! Ring mods do need two audio sources, however — namely, the main signal to be processed (carrier) and the signal that will modulate the carrier (modulator).
In the strange case of Dr Strangelove, one of those sources, the Mod (modulation) input, can be audio or a low frequency signal (from, say, an LFO). Literally switching switches — Hard//Soft (selects between square and triangle wave modulation signals — triangle resulting in softer modulation while square results in sudden, harder changes) — and turning knobs — Change (sets the modulation depth or ‘loudness’ of the modulating signal fed into the ring mod’s modulation input), Rate (sets repeat rate), and Mix (sets the mix level between fully dry and a 50/50 balance between wet and dry) — makes music mangling child’s play. Other controls clearly allude to the aforesaid film: Fallout alters the speed of the analogue LFO modulator while Half Life sets delay time. All told, then, Dr Strangelove is ideal for subtle or extreme modulation effects. Like its Mr Hyde synthBlocks sibling, Dr Strangelove includes minijack (Eurorack-accommodating) audio and CV (control voltage) I/O for direct connection to modulars.
Mangling music setups sonically while adding analog warmth is a SynthBlocks speciality, and all without breaking the bank, while fitting in your palm. They’re hand built and designed and engineered in England by Analogue Solutions.
North American availability of the Mr Hyde and Dr Strangelove synthBlocks is being handled via Voltage & Company — full-service reps of high-quality manufacturers from around the world — with a retail price of $279 USD, while (most) EU distribution is being handled by Sonic Sales — one of the largest full-service MI (Musical Instrument) distribution companies in Europe — priced at €279.00 EUR (including VAT).
About Analogue Solutions
Analogue Solutions is a UK-based boutique instrument innovator that specializes in true analog synthesizers, sequencers, and Eurorack modules. More than 24 years experience in the industry means that they were right there at the start of the Eurorack revolution — the third company to start producing modules, in fact. Furthermore, Analogue Solutions products are all hand built in England — many being tested by founder Tom Carpenter himself, who has hands-on involvement in all aspects of the company. Characterful to boot, Analogue Solutions innovative instruments are applauded for proudly possessing a truly vintage sound — synthesizers featuring fully-analogue audio paths with analogue LFOs (Low Frequency Oscillators) and EGs (Envelope Generators) are the order of the day here. Having no memories means that nothing is being made to sound sterile by CPU (Central Processing Unit) control; conversely, turning a knob directly changes the voltage or current in an actual synth circuit to audible affect. Analogue Solutions founder Tom Carpenter consistently constitutes proof of a genuine passion for analogue synths, drawing upon his years of owning and using vintage analogue synths and drum machines that he still uses in his own music productions — alongside Analogue Solutions products, predictably!