Although multifeatured sound generators, processors, and filters are exciting to explore, it is hard to deny the creative inspiration that a cleverly designed utility module provides. A great example of this is the Olegtron Confusor ($69; olegtron.com), which lets you redirect signals in a patch without unplugging cables. Using the switches, each of the four inputs can be sent to one of the four outputs, resulting in 16 different routing options. (Signal mixing is not an option.)
The 4-channel signal path is passive and can be used with any combination of control voltages, gates, triggers, and audio. Moreover, you can send signals in either direction—from the top row to the bottom row or vice versa. Two-color LEDs next to each of the 3.5mm jacks show the signal polarity (green when positive, red when negative), which is very handy if you’re tracing the path of a signal through the module.
Despite what it says on the Olegtron website, the Confusor can also be used as a mult. If you don’t patch signals in the top row sequentially starting with the left jack, the input mults to contiguous inputs on the left. For example, if you plug a cable into the second jack from the left (without any other inputs), the first input gets an unbuffered mult of the input signal, which you can then route to any output using the switches. Plug into the third jack, and the first two channels get the multed signal.
The lower row is also affected when only one cable is patched into the top row. If your input is plugged into the second jack, the signal is routed to two outputs at the same time. Plug a signal into jack 2 and jack 4, and jacks 1 and 3 get multed signals from the input to their right. Patch into the third or fourth jack, and the signal appears simultaneously at three and four outputs, respectively. In all but the last setup, you can still use the switches to move signals between outputs.
While all that may seem confusing, it is easy to grasp once you begin working with the Confusor. In fact, the flexibility in routing makes this a surprisingly powerful module for the money.
I enjoyed using the module as a way to add indeterminacy into a patch by shuffling the input signals between destinations to get unexpected sounds. For example, my favorite patch was to have four signals patched in, with two outputs going to the stereo mixer while the other two outputs were patched to CV inputs of the source modules. I could use one of the bottom- row switches to swap the output channels and the other switch to flip the destinations of the cables running CVs.
To spice things up further, I included an Epoch Modular Benjolin as one of the source modules to get semi-randomized signals, patched in some Circuit Abbey logic modules to chop them up more, then introduced the Make Noise Teleplexer for additional real-time signal routing. With the Confusor at the heart of it all, it felt like I had many more than 16 patching options.
But even in a more modest setup, you’ll find the Confusor useful for adding rhythmic and timbral variation, no matter what musical direction you take.