Worth £2,200
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Those that skilled the modular mayhem of 2019’s Superbooth in Berlin will bear in mind the robust sense that there was one thing new, one thing thrilling rising. Among the many plethora of well-crafted Eurorack designs, there have been various thrilling polysynths on show, together with one from newly minted Bristol firm UDO: the Tremendous 6. The prototype presentation whet appetites for what was to return.

Even the truth that the machine was merely a silent case on the time did nothing to dampen the keenness of onlookers. A 12 months later, within the chilly, harsh gentle of 2020 – a 12 months whose Superbooth needed to occur nearly attributable to a viral pandemic – we are able to verify that the thrill about UDO’s stand was completely justified. The Tremendous 6 is right here. Can it save us?

UDO Super 6

Tremendous synth

The Tremendous 6 is a chic and reassuringly heavy 12-note polyphonic synth. Its all-metal chassis and 49 keys really feel strong and comforting, and its bevelled corners remind us of the Arp Odyssey. UDO clearly hasn’t skimped on the standard of the pots and faders, all of which provide a dampened really feel with every nudge and switch. That’s, other than the only infinite-rotation pot to the left of the patch-recall buttons.

As a efficiency synth, the Tremendous 6 feels prefer it’s made for keyboard gamers and synthesists. It has a four-octave keyboard courtesy of Italian firm Fatar, which feels responsive and sturdy in the way in which that each one good synth keyboards do. It’s at all times good to have a fifth octave however we don’t miss it whereas working with the Tremendous 6.

On the far left, there’s a single pitch-and-mod lever, which supplies the Tremendous 6 a glance not completely dissimilar to that of Roland’s Juno-106 and Jupiter-6. Whatever the synth’s likeness to business classics, we’re fairly taken by what we see. There’s one thing uncommon concerning the Tremendous 6 although, one thing lacking. The place’s the central show?

UDO designer George Hearn needed to create a synth that he personally would need to play, and that meant no distractions from LCD and lovely OLED screens. The logical method round this lack of central navigation matrix was to make nearly all of Tremendous 6’s faders, buttons and pots single goal, with only some parameter settings altered by way of further button presses. Single-purpose buttons are one thing of a rarity lately, usually discovered solely on the analogue beasts of yesteryear. Even most modern-day recreations of previous analogue synths simplify their navigation by way of a vibrant display and a few cannily assigned capabilities. However don’t let the Tremendous 6’s lack of show and old-school buttons idiot you. That is under no circumstances the product of a bygone age.

At its coronary heart, UDO’s Tremendous 6 is a musical instrument that invitations play and encourages customers to create as they do. It’s like an analogue traditional reinvented for up to date wants, with a sensible less-is-more ethos that makes it vastly participating.

UDO Super 6

Binaural beast

On condition that the Tremendous 6 is billed as a 12-note polyphonic synth, you is likely to be questioning why it isn’t referred to as the Tremendous 12. The rationale for its identify comes all the way down to UDO’s selection of voice task. In its main setting, the Tremendous 6 behaves like another 12-note polysynth, providing two oscillators per voice for a wealthy enjoying expertise. The draw of the Tremendous 6 is that, the place many polysynths may use a mono oscillator originally of the sign path with back- finish refrain to thicken the sound, the Tremendous 6 employs a binaural mode. Switching to this setting lowers the voice rely to 6 notes however applies a novel texture-thickening impact initially of the sign path. In essence, what you may have listed here are stereo oscillators that may be modulated and detuned whereas permitting for some uncommon and distinctive spatial results.

That is made doable due to the field-programmable gate-array (FPGA) know-how that sits on the core of UDO’s new Direct Digital Synthesis (DDS) oscillators. With two oscillators obtainable, DDS 1 produces traditional subtractive beginning factors that embrace sine, noticed, sq., triangle and noise, whereas accommodating as much as 16 up to date and digital waves. There’s additionally the choice to load additional waves by way of a pc, which implies the Tremendous 6 can sport  a potent sonic palette at its entrance finish. UDO has plans to produce further waves by way of its web site too.

As soon as linked to your laptop or laptop computer by way of USB, the Tremendous 6 seems in your desktop identical to an everyday USB drive. From right here, it’s merely a case of dragging and dropping waves into the Waveforms folder in order that they’re able to be loaded into DDS 1.

DDS 1 has a number of capabilities. It may be operated conventionally however, with the flick of the Tremendous change, it can detune the seven kernels related to the central pitch to create a super-wave. There are two Tremendous modes. If the change is within the on place, all of the kernels will ship the identical amplitude. If the change is within the in-between half place, with the central pitch on the forefront of the timbre, the kernels will probably be decreased. In addition to giving customers the power to recreate traditional Euro feels like these related to super-saws, the half mode arguably presents a extra musical and inventive enjoying choice, because it retains the principle basic on the entrance of the sound. The Tremendous change is flanked by an accompanying Detune fader that dictates the quantity of thickening utilized too.

The Binaural button takes this occasion trick to the subsequent degree by getting the waves dancing across the stereo picture in a method that’s fairly totally different from the acquainted refrain impact. Whichever setting you apply, the Tremendous 6 sounds stylish and massive.

Subsequent to the Tremendous controls, you’ll discover LFO 1. Their shut proximity is not any coincidence, because the pair share a number of related routable choices, together with pitch and wave modulation. The latter, recognized as SWM (super-wave modulator), can create depth within the wave by way of LFO and envelope-derived modulation.

In case you’re working within the stereo candy spot, you’ll hear the total binaural expertise right here, because the detuning meanders and realigns once more. It’s a cool impact – and it comes straight from the supply, earlier than we’ve even thought of making use of results to the again finish of the sign.

UDO Super 6

Speaking ’bout my oscillation

You could anticipate DDS 2 to reflect the performance and tonal sources of DDS 1. However that may be too easy and, as you’re most likely realising, the Tremendous 6 is not any abnormal synth. Whereas DDS 1 employs sampling know-how for its supply waves, DDS 2 employs an algorithmic core, which makes the waveforms subtly totally different. This does imply that you simply’re restricted to the extra traditional set of subtractive waveforms for DDS 2, which isn’t a shock, however it presents further performance to make up for that.

Whereas the five-octave vary will be set from 32 to 2, it’s additionally geared up with a sub-oscillator mode, which emits a sq. wave mounted one octave under the pitch of DDS 1. The mixer management permits you to mix of DDS 1 and a couple of, guaranteeing that the sub-oscillator doesn’t overpower the colors from DDS 1. This association works fantastically in observe. With DDS 1’s detuning in full flight, the sub-oscillator element presents the general texture a stable basis. It may be overbearing when enjoying chords however, utilizing the mixer, it’s straightforward to dial again the sub and discover a appropriate stability.

DDS 2 additionally has an enter for an exterior audio sign, leaving it open to all of the mixing and modulation discovered elsewhere on the Tremendous 6. Extra DDS-specific functions will be exploited utilizing cross modulation. You may have DDS 2 modulate DDS 1 utilizing exponential frequency modulation. Because the fader rises, you’ll be handled to deep and acquainted FM-style sounds that may vary from  bells to thunder claps.

UDO Super 6

Fabulous filter

The blended DDS oscillators feed the 4-pole 24dB low-pass filter, so there’s loads of additional performance right here. Being 4-pole, the filter – which is predicated on an analogue design from Sound Semiconductor – is effectively suited to polyphonic duties. With no resonance utilized, it sounds weighty with a crisp high finish that’s revealed as soon as totally open. There’s a slight lack of low-end depth as soon as the resonance is elevated however, with two overdrive choices proper subsequent door to the cutoff fader, it’s straightforward to replenish a few of these frequencies and produce these traditional squeals even when resonance is maxed out.

The behaviour of the resonance in Binaural mode is especially fascinating. With Binaural disabled, in what we might regard as mono mode, the filter sounds implausible however is pretty predictable. Activate Binaural mode, nonetheless, and the final thickening can be utilized to the resonance, making for an interesting texture. However the filter is able to excess of these mere fundamentals.

Earlier than the low-pass circuit, you possibly can introduce a high-pass filter mounted at about 500Hhz or interlinked with the low-pass circuit. This creates a pseudo band-pass impact decided by the cutoff management.

The filter options many modulatory capabilities, utilized by way of devoted faders linked to envelope and LFO modulation. Much more influential is the DDS 2 modulation fader. Whereas DDS 2 additionally has the capability to function in LFO mode, it’s the audio price indicators that enable for filter-based frequency modulation that creates essentially the most extraordinary sounds. A few of these sound as you’d anticipate however, as is the case elsewhere with this synth, it’s the way in which you’re capable of apply issues on the fly that we discover actually inspiring. Combining the quite a few elemental potentialities of the DDS part after which modulating these additional with the filter results in some huge and monstrous colors. A few of these are nice, some aren’t. However they’re all fabulous.

UDO Super 6

Tremendous fly

With such an enormous quantity of content material, it will be straightforward to miss the extra perfunctory functionalities of the Tremendous 6. However that may be a mistake. Even the 2 onboard envelopes listed here are able to some neat tips.

Each adhere to the ADSR format however envelope 1 additionally boasts a maintain operate. Every envelope section operates between 0-10 seconds (besides maintain) with the maintain factor primarily delaying its journey till the required time has elapsed. Envelope 1 additionally presents a nod to Serge-like designs with a looping operate that enables it to function very like an LFO, solely with you controlling the rise and fall occasions. Tempting as that’s, the Tremendous 6 can be geared up with two devoted LFOs. LFO 1 presents the most important selection of waveforms, from triangle to random, whereas LFO 2 is designed to function particularly alongside the pitch-and-mod lever, and may modulate both pitch or filter cutoff. If two LFOs aren’t sufficient, you may at all times use envelope 1 in Loop mode or redeploy DDS 2 as an LFO.

Many synths’ modulatory attributes are hardwired, requiring the flick of a change or rise of a fader to make use of. However the Tremendous 6 additionally presents a modulation matrix, which is the place we anticipate the dearth of central show to be a problem. Nevertheless, due to the presence of financial institution and patch buttons, you possibly can deal with any modulation comfortably utilizing the corresponding legends above every button. After attending to grips with the Tremendous 6, quickly you gained’t even have to consult with them. There’s a selection of eight sources, which will be routed to a further eight locations, so that you may, for instance, select to ship both velocity or aftertouch to the extremities of cross modulation.

The Tremendous 6 additionally boasts an onboard arpeggiator and sequencer. The previous presents all the same old up, down and random configurations, as much as 4 octaves in vary. The sequencer permits for simple programming of 64-step patterns, which may also be saved in 64 areas utilizing the central patch buttons. Sequencer patterns may also be off-loaded to a pc by way of USB.

As if the Tremendous 6 required any additional sound enhancement or thickeners, two refrain results can be found on the again finish too, together with a superb tape-style delay that allows you to management its degree, time and suggestions. Add to this the portamento management within the efficiency part and the assorted voice modes, which permit unison stacking, solo and polyphonic operation, and you’ve got fairly the efficiency and studio-bound powerhouse within the Tremendous 6.

The ultimate output

The Tremendous 6 is an professional participant’s synthesiser replete with capabilities that allow you to get misplaced in its sounds. It’s suitably totally different from many different synths in the marketplace and comes with a price ticket that, given the quantity this synth is able to and its extraordinary construct high quality, we predict may be very honest.

UDO nonetheless has some enhancements to make to the synth’s software program. It’s not at the moment doable to provoke Binaural mode whilst you’re enjoying, for instance, but the detuning mode engages subtly and musically as you play. However we’re assured such updates are coming.

The Tremendous 6 has a lot to supply old-school synth fans, whereas its advanced DDS oscillators go additional than many synths of its form, making it preferrred for contemporary synth followers too. We’ve solely simply scratched the floor of what this super-synth can do. It’s effectively set as much as turn into a future traditional, then. There’s a way that this synth has picked up the baton from these items that impressed it and is flying into the long run with model. We’re intrigued to see the place UDO goes subsequent however its opening gambit actually is tremendous. Can the Tremendous 6 save us? Possibly.

Do I really want this?

UDO Super 6

The Tremendous 6 is actually an funding. Its price will put many potential customers off however now we have to reiterate its high quality. It is a solidly constructed synthesiser that may look good alongside another. It’s the type of instrument that invitations rabbit-hole enjoying whereby you’ll witter away hours enjoying and orchestrating distinctive sounds. For our cash, you’d be onerous pushed to seek out any {hardware} synths nearly as good as this with out spending far more.

The Tremendous 6 has that up to date edge that ensures it’s production-ready, but is able to classic sounds too. Its styling can be top-notch. Out there in each blue and gray, it’s harking back to all of the synths we’ve cherished earlier than, solely it presents much more in nearly each diploma. There are many cool tips to maintain musicians and producers glad right here.

Key options

  • 12-voice polyphonic analogue-hybrid synthesiser
  • FPGA oscillator voice structure
  • Binaural analogue sign path for stereo and spatial results
  • 128 onboard rewritable patch areas, with additional patch saving by way of USB
  • Constructed-in arpeggiator and step sequencer
  • 49-note (four-octave) Fatar keyboard
  • Multi-purpose LFOs and envelopes, with modulation matrix
  • Exterior audio enter, with threshold-based envelope and LFO triggering

Options

Waldorf Kyra

Waldorf
Kyra £1,600

This digital synth lacks a keyboard however it’s one other of the brand new breed of FPGA devices that adopts the styling of a digital analogue machine. It presents multi-timbral operation, alongside a 128 voice rely.

Sequential Prophet 6

 

Sequential
Prophet 6 £2,400

The up to date contender to the classic crown, the Prophet 6 options two VCOs upfront and a 4-pole filter that attracts inspiration from the unique Prophet. It has the proper stability of punch and heat.

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