New HEARTBEAT for AE Modular
Another day at Superbooth and even after our big announcement of the TBD yesterday there a few more news. Some of you pixel-sleuths have already spotted 3 new modules in the photos we published on social media, so naturally you may have a few questions and here is what we can tell you so far:
HEARTBEAT is a new module that is currently in development which will provide a steady master clock in your system. The display allows you to select a very fine grained BPM setting which you can select either via the knob in steps as fine as 0.1 or via the tap tempo button. It has 6 outputs which can be configured individually for different clock divisions between 1/1 and 1/32 and even dotted notes and triplets. The module has its own internal clock, or it can be configured to use an external clock (e.g. the Bus clock if MIDI is plugged into the MASTER module).
HEARTBEAT EXTENDER will be an extension module which connects to the HEARTBEAT module via a small cable in the back. It offers a quick way to switch between different clock rates via the 6 preset buttons. It also offers 3.5mm connections for MIDI in (as an additional clock source independent from the external clock input). With the MIDI out connection you can use the AE system as the master clock in your studio as it sends standard MIDI clock/start/stop signals to other gear. Lastly the SWING/ACCLR knob allows for choosing a swing amount or accelerando/ritardando time when switching between tempo presets.
Those two modules are shown at Superbooth as prototypes but are still not quite ready for production yet. We’ll let you know once they are available in the shop in a few weeks.
We have come a long way since the last Superbooth in 2019. Not only are there now over 70 modules available in the online store, but a few indie developers have started creating their own module lines which are compatible with the formfactor which is much smaller than Eurorack and allows cheaper production costs. Our team has grown as well to tackle the steadily growing list of orders which are all still handled in the beautiful small Bavarian town of Murnau.
Notable module creations, which can be inspected in person at Superbooth, are the CIRRUS, a clone of Mutable Instruments’ Clouds, WAVETABLES, a wavetable oscillator which is a collaboration project with Paula Maddox from Dove Audio, METER which provides an oscilloscope among other functions and a complete 18 voice drone oscillator.
The main stars at this year’s Superbooth however are the Synth Explorer education system and the AE TBD, a brand new, programmable multi-function module for sound generation and -processing.
The AE TBD (“to be determined”) is based on the ESP32 chip which is very powerful. The module is made to run the open source firmware CTAG-TBD developed by the Creative Technologies AG of Kiel University in Germany.
Currently the firmware includes 50(!) plugins which include a huge variety of sound generators, filters and effects. The module can connect to a PC running Windows, Linux, or MacOSX via a USB cable and the many parameters for each plugin can then be adjusted in real time via a web interface and stored as favourites back to the module for standalone performance. The module has 2 CV and 2 trigger inputs which can be mapped to any parameter via the web interface. In addition the module has two knobs and two trigger buttons which can also be freely assigned to any parameter or function on a given plugin.
The firmware contains plugins which are based on open source code by Mutable Instruments: TBDings, TBDaids and Claude (Their web interface is inspired by their Eurorack counterparts Braids, Plaits and Clouds)
But there are also completely new and unique fully featured synthesizers all within this tiny package:
The firmware also includes a very sophisticated sample player (Rompler). Up to 60 seconds of audio samples can be uploaded to the module via the USB connection.
A full list of all included plugins can be found here.
A small, but very dedicated and friendly community of open source software developers is constantly expanding the available plugins and since it is based on C++ and a very well thought out framework, it is relatively easy for new developers to come up with new plugins.
Initially the TBD platform was only available for Eurorack, developed and currently sold by another small start-up, Instruments of Things. Through a licensing agreement this amazingly versatile module is now also part of the AE Modular family of modules. There are only two main differences between the AE TBD and its Eurorack counterpart: The AE module is in mono and offeres only USB connectivity, not WIFI.
Please see the dedicated page on the AE Modular community forum for news, demo videos and soundbites about the TBD for AEM: https://forum.aemodular.com/post/13652/thread
Words from Robert
As autumn is now clearly on its way into the land, we can all breathe a bit more clearly and enjoy the way nature paints all trees in the most beautiful colours. But instead of spending my free time in the mountains nearby, I’m preparing for the long train ride to Berlin. Finally, after much uncertainty the Superbooth is going to happen, live and in person, albeit with proper social distancing. I’m looking forward to meeting my friends and colleagues and of course I’m very much looking forward to meeting you, my dear customers, members of the AE Modular community. I hope you can make it and visit me at booth W450 on the Ground Floor.
Each year for Superbooth I have prepared a special module to unveil and this year I’m so excited to be showing off a very special module which I’ve worked on in secret for many months. I hope you will like it. But this is all I’m going to reveal for now!
Synth Explorer Educational System
What I can reveal however, is the Synth Explorer educational system which is now available for purchase on our webshop. This project is very dear to my heart and I’m very lucky to have the support from two amazing music educators in the US, Jordan Rose from Synths4Kids in Oregon and Frae-Frae LaSci from Willie-Mae Rock Camp in New York City. They each are trialling the synth explorer in their workshops and offer ideas and advice on how to shape the curriculum which is still in development.
If you are a music teacher and are interested in acquiring the Synth Explorer at the educational discount for your school or university, please get in contact via the contact form on this page which also has a lot more information about the system and variations:
Synth Explorer for Education
Many people have asked about whether the Synth Explorer is also available for everyone and therefore we are now selling the “Ultimate” system which you can find in the web shop here:
Synth Explorer Ultimate
CIRRUS currently out of stock
You may have seen that currently the CIRRUS is out of stock which is unusual for our web shop. The reason is the current global shortage of chips which unfortunately has driven the prices for the particular chip, which is used in the CIRRUS, to unforeseen heights.
We are investigating alternatives to make the CIRRUS available at a manageable cost and will let you know when it becomes available again.
This was discussed at length in the forum:
Third Party Products
Flavorwave has announced another nifty accessory which fits perfectly for the AE Modular: a beautiful and colourful acrylic stand which you can order from directly from the Flavorwave Website: https://flavorwave-synth-accessories.myshopify.com/products/desktop-synth-stand
The new module called MOCO is a take on Doepfer’s A-144 Morphing Controller which allows the mixing and morphing of 4 independent VCAs or other waveforms.
Keurslager Kurt promised new modules
Zeno aka Keurslager Kurt has mentioned that he has 3(!) new modules in development! They are
AEtherwaves Vol. 3 SUBMISSIONS close on 20th of September!
We are doing it again and ask everyone in the AE community to send in a track to this year’s album! Please check out this forum post for all the details:
Music made by the Community
User @pt3r presents a new album on Bandcamp. The first track shows how well the Algodrone works in an atmospheric drone. Please check it out here:
A first track presented by user @chmeee5 and it’s a really nice one, too: https://forum.aemodular.com/thread/1621/stranger-slings-arrows
Some real live footage of Papa Rôti having fun with glitchy sounds: https://forum.aemodular.com/thread/1596/road-aetherwaves-vol-papa-ti
This is a labour of love by @101 .. AE Modular samples played and processed through Audiomulch, an Australian music software that is made for live performances: https://forum.aemodular.com/thread/1563/dubstep-mix-aem-audiomulch
This is the first track featuring the new Cirrus module, provided by @keurslagerkurt and it’s ambient: https://forum.aemodular.com/thread/1618/first-track-cirrus-ambient-okay
Well this however is NOT so ambient, says @dmoney2000 about this track: https://forum.aemodular.com/thread/1594/ok-ambient
A really nice summer groove from @lorizon: https://forum.aemodular.com/post/13353/thread
How to hook a Z-DSP card to the AE Multi FX module:
Other Forum Topics
HELP needed for a special art project! User @Maximilius001 asks for voice recordings from people who talk about their experience of and during the pandemic. Please read all about it here: https://forum.aemodular.com/thread/1614/art-commission-help-needed All recordings should be sent in by the 1st of October.
What are your overrated or underrated modules? This is a very fruitful discussion which may change your mind about some of the modules in your rack that you’ve neglected lately. https://forum.aemodular.com/thread/1634/overrated-underappreciated-modules
We need more Schwingggg! Here are some ideas on how to make things swing a little and apparently there’s even a module in the works that might do it for you: https://forum.aemodular.com/thread/1624/schwing-swingggg
Karplus Strong Synthesis with the GRAINS module! This thread started out with a discussion about how to achieve those plucky, clangy sounds using a delay in lieu of MI Rings and then @namke gave us the GRAINS codes for this! Check out the discussion here: https://forum.aemodular.com/thread/1608/karplus-strong-synthesis
The GRAINS code for this can be downloaded here: https://github.com/wonkystuff/grains_karplusStrong
Are you stressed from having too many modules and you don’t know which to use first? This may be a first world problem, but you are not alone. Join the group therapy session in this thread: https://forum.aemodular.com/thread/1622/module-stress-first-world-problem ;-)
Huge Humble Book Bundle with books for electronic inventors and aspiring geniuses, grab it while you can, it expires on 18th September: https://www.humblebundle.com/books/charles-platt-make-community-books
SUPERBOOTH 2021 in Berlin, September 15th-18th
Please visit us at Booth W450, we would love to meet you!
More information and tickets at the Superbooth Website: https://www.superbooth.com
Robert Langer, founder of tangible waves. Here, I will share some thoughts, background infos and news about AE modular and tangible waves.