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There are plenty of opportunities under the Polyend Medusa Grid and Buttons

There are plenty of opportunities under the Polyend Medusa Grid and Buttons

It’s an analog-corrugated polysynth with an expressive grid – however it solely begins to portray what makes Polyend Medusa so distinctive. On this deep dive into this hybrid synthesizer and what it means musically

A yr after its public debut, the Polyend-Dreadbox Collaboration Medusa Hybrid Synthesizer has acquired plenty of upgrades to increase its capabilities. Medusa grabbed my eyes when it was introduced final yr's Superbooth extravaganza in Berlin – and has since turn out to be full of refined options this yr. The system connects Polyend's apparent grid to the Gnarly synthesizer, which has been made in collaboration with Dreadbox. So you get a hybrid-analog digital audio engine that you need to use as monophonic or two multi-tone codecs and a grid that you need to use for performance or sequencing

This description is clear and simple, nevertheless it additionally does not absolutely describe it what is that this. It's actually a mixture of parts. The Synchronous Motor Will get a Terrible Horrible – The Dreadbox filter can actually shout, especially paired with frequency modulation. And the digital oscillators (from Polyend) stacks offer you a metallic edge and wavy madness on a thick Three-oscillator analog beast. Highly effective modulation and multiple envelopes additionally supply plenty of sound design options – you’ll be able to really go deep with this, because principally all the things is moveable to LFOs or envelopes. (This may be lots of racks to get this many oscillators and modulation sources in Eurorack format.) Combining digital control and wave capabilities with analogue grunge delivered by Dreadbox makes it as numerous as a polysynth.

What really binds this to me makes use of the internet to make it extra a device. You possibly can lock parameters and scales in sequence and then use superior scale mapping and expression options to set sounds together with your fingertips. This does not apply to menus, however it’s also in contrast to common keyboards. The Grid and One-Touch Modulation and Envelope Configuration make Medusa a portal to sound design, meeting and efficiency.

The workflow then matches into the state. On the proper, you possibly can scan sounds and (because of the just lately updated replace) make one-touch modulation and envelope configuration. On the left, the grid may be configured for sequencing and playback. Combine oscillators and shaped envelopes and call dialing modulation. It’s also possible to use a sequencer as a sort of sketchpad for ideas because the sequences are saved with presets.

All this can be a lengthy metallic case with MIDI I / O and exterior audio enter. Even the type factor means that this can be a software that you simply focus instantly on. So what you do in sound design should naturally flip to sequencing and reside life.

Here is the primary start line for the workflow of sound design – enjoying and stratifying numerous analog and digital oscillators, calling to wavetables, envelope designing and filtering, including FM including filter), and defining modulation. Improvised / Not Speaking:

Contemplate these elements individually (now with some latest firmware updates):


Medusa has a hybrid Three + 3 structure – three analog oscillators and Three digital oscillators complete six. (There can also be a further audio supply with adjustable colour.) A Dreadbox filter from Erebus (high cross, 2-pole downstream and Four-pole downstream) is added. There are two fastened envelopes (filter and amplitude) and three other moveable envelopes. You'll additionally get 5 (!) Detachable LFOs. It is simply accessible sufficient, but in addition targeted enough to construct neatly the use of controls and removable modulation and sequencing.

The thought is to combine analog + digital + noise in several mixtures you could tell Monophonic strains or chords or triggers alternately, with all the time out there mixer controls for every sound + noise.

Oscillator Controls. The oscillator half works as a double analog and digital so it’s essential understand how they relate. If you want to save area, the oscillator part has a button referred to as DIGITAL.

When the digital mode is off (analog mode), you possibly can management three analog oscillators and pulse width management and frequency modulation control between oscillators 1 and 2. You possibly can choose a ramp, a PWM, a triangle and for each oscillator. You can even have onerous synchronization oscillators – 1 + 2 (synchronization 2) and 2 + 3 (synchronization 3). Notice that you must give Medusa some warm-up time to tune these analog oscillators;

With the digital mode on, you possibly can control three digital oscillators and get hold of waveform control in addition to the four waveforms that modulate between totally different waves. (There is not any FM between oscillators 1 and 2, and no pulse width adjustment for digital oscillators is on the market – which finally does not apply to all obtainable options.)

Different drivers also doubles as area savings. As an alternative of macro and nice tuning, there’s a FINETUNE change. The FM knob has two features, together with switches.

modulation. There is more modulation between the sequencers, the 5 envelopes and the five LFOs than you in all probability want. As a result of there is only one encoder and slider, you select the envelope or LFO you want, and you’ll be able to change this modulation on and off by double-clicking every management.

The newest firmware provides a flight parameter task so you’ll be able to simply maintain the envelope or LFO pressed and then rotate the parameter you need to target. It's rather more fun than shopping the menus.

Sound design is an explosion but in addition a supply of progress. LFO types a morphine between sq., sin, ramp and triangle, but there are no random or samples and choices, which appears obvious from the upcoming addition. I also assume it might be nice to have totally different oscillators with totally different waveforms or separate controllable position controllers. (At the very least for the time being, you possibly can set LFOs to focus on all wave packages or only one wavetable worth when you possibly can edit the location, so you’ll be able to individually modulate three digital oscillators.)

Now you’ll be able to configure both modulation and envelopes with only one tap. A number of envelopes and LFOs combined with a sequence gadget have plenty of selection for assembly and sound design.

FM can be used for filter and analog oscillators between 1 + 2.

Music Ideas: Synthetic

Operation Envelopes and Modulation. Envelopes have free-running timing, however each could be (independently) spliced, creating delicate or rhythmic modulation. And LFOs could be both free or clock synchronized. With these two options, you’ll be able to create each variable timers and rhythmic patterns – whereas pointing them into apply relatively than diving in the menus. (It might even be quicker than working with a patch twine.)

Work with totally different polyphonic modes. Mono playback mode stacks all six oscillators for one sound that’s good for thick sounds. But two polyphonic modes supply distinctive features. P1 is a three-tone polyphonic with two oscillators per voice. P2 is a six-tone polyphonic, and has one amp envelope for each of the six voices.

Change audio precedence. In CONFIG> Voice Priority, you possibly can set P1 and P2 to "First" – "Next" mode, and each set off will rotate by way of every obtainable oscillator. Keep in mind P2, so you’ve separate envelopes. So you possibly can flip the similar length or "strum" or roll the chord or create rhythmic variations … it makes all the vivid variations.

Self-staining filter with tracking. When you place resonance on the filter and twist the TRACK, you get a vibration that is related to the pitch area. (You in all probability need to take away the volume from right here, I nonetheless don't have that trick, however you can too save smaller oscillator mixer values ​​with preset.)

Go crazy with FM. The OSC 1 + 2 combination modulation frequency can create some wild-tone mod-like effects when enjoying in several octave areas and tunes.

Sequencing Machine

I feel one of the confusion about Medusa is because individuals see an 8 × 8 grid of pillows, they assume that the primary perform is sequencing. This isn’t really an concept of ​​the Medusa-pad's matrix – it’s better to think about the performance and modifying interface as a lot as the sequencer, and to see the ambient / drone / non-metric prospects in addition to the regular belongings you anticipate in the 8 × eight format.

The size of the sequences is from 1 to 64 steps. (Sure, a 1-step sequence, principally you get a repeat perform, and a number of steps, a sort of fastened phrase arpeggiaator – extra about the way you play, reside under.) The steps are strong rhythms that don’t have anything – steps – I need a solution to divide the end of the part length from the tempo, or so as to add part parts or even to regulate the step timing separately. Now, if you’d like, you must do it externally by way of MIDI.

You possibly can set the tempo from 10-300 bpm or use an external clock supply. And you get management of the swing, as well as totally different sequence play directions (forward, backward, ping-pong and random).

In the NOTE mode, you enter a subject. When REC is enabled but not PLAY, you’ll be able to enter and edit steps one by one. (Pressing the button creates a quick angle relatively than setting a step, so you should use the giant menu encoder on the right aspect of the pads to play by way of the steps.) When PLAY is enabled, you possibly can reside the report despite the fact that every part continues to be quantized

The pitch and rhythm are a bit primary, but it’s GRID mode where Medusa shines. There you possibly can set the steps with parameter knowledge. Once more, this works in both step and reside modes – in reside modes, you’ll be able to substitute parameter knowledge whenever you transfer the joystick. Subsequently, some sequences name "p-locks" / parameter locks, but here the workflow is totally different. To cease the transport and manually regulate the parameters, maintain the platform to switch the parameters for that step. Which means a single step might embrace a plurality of layered knowledge.

Initially, it might appear counter-intuitive to separate notes and parameter knowledge on two totally different displays, nevertheless it opens up new opportunities. With a step sequence you’ll be able to really develop actual sequences of mind modifications. Or – right here's fascinating – you can begin totally different presets throughout sequence playback. It lets you make presets – play with timbells – with normal notes.

You do not only have a strong part sequencing web page designed to regulate parameters. You’ll be able to assume of presets you can play in stay format. I don't know another sequencing that works like this.

Musical Thoughts: Sequencer

Trigger Playback Modes, Sound Priority, Sequence Length Stay: Throughout sequence playback, it is attainable to modify between repeat modes (between Unison and polyphony) and Voice Priority setting (first or final, in both polyphonic state) and sequence size , all stay without effects sequenced repetition. So you possibly can have fun messing with these settings.

Use GRID for Variation. The sequencer triggers solely the preset modifications when GRID mode is enabled. So you can begin the sequence, then change the sequence parameters on and off by turning the GRID mode on and off. (You’ll be able to mix this with live-triggered parameters – more in the following.)

Glide! Combining slip in multi-tone modes (and adjusting the amplitude envelope, especially Launch if wanted) creates fantastic, overlapping gutter results.

Arpeggiate / into. Now you’ll be able to press the HOLD + button to maneuver the sequence reside. With brief sequences, this could be a bit like performing an arpeggia or expression sequence.

Performance Pillows

For those who solely use pillows as a sequence, you have got really missed half the power of the instrument. Cushions also work throughout stay playback, with as much as three further axes (z-axis strain and x and y positions). Cushions are also low profile, so you possibly can easily disguise your fingers via the pillows.

Three-axis management could be a bit confusing. Only the last pillow increases the modulation, and takes just a little muscle memory when utilizing modulation solely with the last finger press in the event you play in a polyphonic context. But the pillows are very sensitive; I hope that in the future there shall be a chance for multicast expression internally

As an external driver, Medusa helps MPE mode, so you should use this – like Roger Linn Linnstrument – as an MPE driver and suitable units.

The network is usually expressive and inspiring. Particularly, you might attempt one of the 40 included scales that include a spread of unique choices in addition to bizarre church areas. I especially like the Japanese and Engimatic options. You may as well change the scale but the format (the relationship between notes and pads).

Music Thoughts: Pillows

Drone Mode. Use the HOLD key to start out multiple as much as six at a time and drive away (press HOLD, then turn particular person notes on and off). And that is also fascinating with regard to the numerous polyphonic modes and the slide. It’s also possible to use, for instance, the Z-axis to increase further modulation when drone. (One complicated factor about X / Y / Z and HOLD – since only the final set off makes use of X / Y / Z modulation, it may well get a bit of odd to maneuver away from the step as you want. I work out if there's a greater answer out there. )

Use GRID to launch: When GRID is in place of notes, you need to use individual pads to trigger totally different sounds and even map the sound combination (for sure percussion and different melodies). embodiment). This also opens up different features reminiscent of:

DIY scale. The brand new function of the Medusa firmware adds to the capacity to report quantity and thus customized scales. Activate GRID and activate REC, then FINETUNE, you need to use the oscillator for tuning on a custom scale, together with microcontrollers. I'd wish to see custom scale scales or Scala help, however in the meantime it has a phenomenal analog really feel

Bend: You’ll be able to bend the notes by aligning Pitch's x-axis. To make this area manageable and sliding between notes, I recommend just one or 2 (as an alternative of 100, which slides throughout the whole pitch range whenever you finger). It’s also possible to contemplate adding the similar to the y-axis as it’s a grid of

. Not only can you trigger the modulation to reside with the sequence in GRID mode, it’s also possible to use these triggers to modulate your chosen X, Y, and Z gadgets as sequence displays. It’s also possible to attempt modifying the expression in NOTES mode over the replay sequence.

Use external management. It’s also possible to map out exterior MIDI submit calls, pitches and mods to open up new exterior or even DIY drivers. (You possibly can affiliate a LEAP movement or one thing if you want to create a artistic one. You can too mix a keyboard and a grid for some wildlife)


Medusa takes a short while to start to really feel snug with an audio engine and adapting to a brand new approach of considering, comparable to a performance controller and separate notes and parameter sequences. If you do it, nevertheless, I feel you’ll begin to get into this device, with wealthy and typically wild sound, all the time at your fingertips.

The result is one thing unique and artistic. Combining this clever, deep digital + analog audio engine with a superb Dreadbox filter, and all this modulation and sequencing and efficiency make it potential to really feel like a selected instrument – what you need to study to play.

I'm actually in love with it a selected instrument on this method. And I really wish to follow it both as a sound designer and as an instrumentalist.

At 999EUR, it also holds different fantastic polysynth decisions between Dave Smith, Novation, KORG and lastly, Electron. Most significantly, in contrast to any of these tools, with its unique and expressive driver and its wealthy control and sound.

The presence of such an instrument from a boutique producer that has mapped a brand new space and a desktop-like factor, somewhat than only a set of modules, appears to be a promising signal of synthetic innovation.

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