With its intuitive layout and diminutive size, the Koma Elektronik Field Kit (koma-elektronik.com) provides a platform for creative sound exploration, thanks to its ability to integrate external devices—motors, analog sensors and switches, and transducers—in musically useful ways.
Roughly the size of a hardback novel and powered by an AC adapter, the Field Kit is a standalone system available as a DIY kit (approx. $200) or fully assembled and mounted in a wooden box (approx. $255). An optional Eurorack Panel (approx. $33) and power connector, for mounting the instrument in a modular system, is also available.
The Field Kit is a flexible tool for exploring acoustic and electronic sound.
For instant gratification, Koma sells a collection of ready-made items to interface the Field Kit with the real world: The Expansion Pack (about $66) includes a small speaker, two contact mics (small and medium sizes), an electromagnetic pickup (perfect for tapping a mobile phone), a DC motor, a solenoid, three patch cables, and extras such as marbles and small springs. I highly recommend the Expansion Pack because it immediately increases the capabilities of the instrument and, in combination with the manual (50 Ways To Use the Field Kit), will help users quickly understand the instrument’s full potential.
The module provides three mono outputs—Master, Aux, and Speaker—with individual level controls. Each channel of the 4-input, AC-coupled mixer defaults to the Master output and includes a Gain control, output-level fader and passive Tone control. The Aux button on each channel sends the incoming signal, pre-fader, to the Aux Out. Additionally, channels 1 and 3 go to the Speaker output, post-fader, and a switch routes either or both channels to the output jack.
Of special note is the onboard CV-scannable radio offering AM, FM, and shortwave bands. The Search knob acts as an attenuator when a CV is present. Radio reception is extended by plugging wires into the antenna inputs, but I found the radio signal to be very strong without this addition, both indoors and out.
For generating envelope and gate signals from external input, an Envelope Follower is included. DIYers can tailor the envelope response by swapping out a capacitor behind the panel, which the manual explains.
The DC Interface is where you connect the solenoid to strike objects, as well as motors, buzzers, fans, LEDs, and the like. In PWM mode, pulse width is variable manually or by CV. In Pulse mode, you have control over pulse length.
The LFO has three shapes, three frequency ranges, and a manual tuner. Use it to sweep through radio stations or control the DC Interface, among other things.
The Signal Interface is used to derive CV signals from analog switches and sensors. The Switch interface provides invertable gate and ramp output, with selectable Length and Range. The Sensor interface includes a Level knob and manual/CV-controlled DC offset.
The Field Kit is a blast to use, and the manual’s 50 suggestions are just the tip of the iceberg in terms of what the system can do. In concert, I used it to route my iPad to and from the mixer while playing found objects with the motor and amplifying the results with the piezo mics. And there are many ways to utilize feedback within the system. But you’ll likely need more than the included patch cables: I recommend using Tiptop Stackcables because the Field Kit doesn’t have mults for splitting signals.
Based on its build quality, features, and price, I highly recommend the Field Kit to anyone interested in electronic music. It’s highly portable and, whether used on its own or within a Eurorack system, its clever design will inspire everyone from beginners to experienced synth users.