Mod Squad: Make Noise Teleplexer

Repatching never sounded so good
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Repatching never sounded so good

ALTERNATIVE CONTROLLERS such as capacitive touch plates, force-sensing resistors (FSRs), and theremin-like modules offer greater gestural control than a standard keyboard. But imagine using such a controller to quickly change patch routings in your modular system.

You can send signals to three or more destinations by touching the end of a patch cable to the conductive surfaces of the Make Noise Teleplexer. Make Noise has come up with an ingenious way to do this by creating an instant signal router. Taking inspiration from the telegraph, where you press down a key to make an electrical contact, the Make Noise Teleplexer ($115) provides an array of 14 contact points, logically arranged in 8 rows, that you use to send signals from one module to another. This is done by connecting one end of a patch cable to the output of your source module and touching the tip at the other end of the cable to the surface of the Teleplexer, which is connected to the destination module. The instant connection allows you to quickly change tone colors or add rhythmic variety as you scrape and tap the module’s surface with the plug.

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The Teleplexer has three output jacks that route the signal from the source cable to the inputs of other modules (perhaps back to the source module itself to create a feedback path!). The outputs provide a hot enough level that you can use a passive (non-buffered) mult or TipTop Audio’s Stackable cables to route a signal to several destinations without loss.

Each Teleplexer output has an associated Aux Input jack that allows you to alter the signal going through each channel with whatever source signal you touch against the modules’s conductive plates.

The touch point layout is well thought out and musically useful. Notice that the top four rows of horizontal lines are the mirror image of the bottom four rows. The pads in the upper rows pass the source signal through unaltered, while the lower rows invert whatever source signals are received.

Depending on the pad you use, you can send your source signal to any combination of outputs with a single touch: The top and bottom row have discrete pads going to each output; the second and seventh rows send your source signal to outputs 1-2 or 2-3; the third and sixth rows control outputs 1 and 3; and the fourth and fifth rows are routed to all three outputs. Lighted numerals below each output jack show you which ones are receiving the source signal (indicated by a green number) and if it’s inverted (a red numeral). When more than one signal is sent to the same output, the signals are combined/subtracted, depending on the combination of pads you’re touching. It’s an elegant and intuitive way to create complex and immediate changes in a patch, while providing a richly performative interface.

For example, one technique is to hold the ends of several plugs (each coming from a different source) in your hand and drag them across the module’s various contact points. With practice, you can precisely control where each plug in the bunch touches. Or you can throw caution to wind and let them dangle a bit and make contact in an indeterminate way. I used the latter technique to quasi-randomly scan through the matrix of a Make Noise René module while simultaneously controlling parameters of a resonant filter—serious analog glitch timbres.

Another trick is to hold the ends of your source plugs between the fingers of one hand and touch the Teleplexer’s contact points with the fingers on your other hand. The voltage is attenuated by your body, resulting in more subtle changes to your patch depending on how much skin is in contact with the conductive plate.

Considering the Teleplexer is only 8HP wide and reasonably priced, you may end up with more than one in your system.