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Pittsburgh ModularVoltage Lab Blackbox Standalone Modular Synthesizer

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Pittsburgh Modular Voltage Lab Blackbox

The Voltage Lab Blackbox from Pittsburgh Modular is the standalone edition of the Voltage Research Lab's main synthesis section. The Voltage Lab Blackbox holds all the same sound generation functionality as the Voltage Research Lab, but in a smaller case, and sans the Lifeforms Touch Controller.

The Blackbox system is composed of a number of sections. The first of these is its oscillator section, comprised of two oscillators—the Primary Oscillator and the Secondary Oscillator. The Primary and Secondary Oscillators act as modulators for each other. This allows for the voice section to behave as a complex oscillator, giving it a tonal quality not dissimilar to the likes of the Music Easel.

The Primary Oscillator is capable of four output waveforms: Sine, Triangle, Saw, and Square—These waveforms are processed by a menacing wave-shaper perfect for timbral transformations. The Secondary Oscillator is more utilitarian, being capable of producing sine waves as well as an "Alpha" waveform whose shape is controllable via a dedicated pot. The Primary Oscillator features CV-controllable input for its asymmetry, axis, timbre, and modulation destinations. The Secondary Oscillator's CV bussing section includes inputs for pitch, shape, and FM CV. This gives the musician an amount of timbral articulation that is very rare in most oscillators.

The Blackbox also includes a sample and hold and noise source. Additionally, there is a random function with outputs for CV and Gate, giving you smooth and stepped functions.

The Blackbox's Function Generator section is comprised of Function Generators A and B. Both provide identical functionality. The Function Generator features two sliders that give visual feedback as to the position of the attack and decay settings of the envelope. The Response parameter controls the scope of the function, ranging from exponential to logarithmic shapes The Function generators are also syncable via a unison mode, and have separate mode functions that allow you to toggle between cycle, trigger, sustain, and MIDI responsive behavior. The Function Generators may be controlled via the Rise, Fall, or Both inputs. The Function Generators also allow for slewing and pseudo-VCA and VCF behavior via its signal input. The Function Generators CV outputs are comprised of End of Rise gates, and output for normal modulation. The two function modules also share Or and Contrast logic outputs, allowing the Function Generators to take on comparator-like qualities.

The Dynamics Controller Section is again comprised of identical modules that feature an analog redesign of a vactrol-based LPG. However, being based on a circuit rather than physical vactrol allows for the operator to tweak the "vactrol" response. This unlocks the low rounded sounds present in some LPGs as well as pluckier, brighter sounds. The Dynamics Controller also utilizes a resonant filter within its signal path, which gives the module a gooier, heavier tonal character. The Dynamics controllers feature CV inputs for their Response and Dynamics functions, as well as 2 audio inputs. The Dynamics section also contains a Dynamics A + B output which sums the outputs of both controllers. This is very useful for processing sounds and comes in particularly handy in the next section of the Blackbox: the Analog Delay!

The Analog Delay is a BBD based delay that has CV controllable delay time, as well as potentiometer control of feedback and dry and wet mix. This makes the Voltage Lab Blackbox a wonderful addition to any Synthesis ecosystem, especially for those who are looking to add shifting organic qualities to their sound!

Voltage Lab Blackbox Features

  • Stand-Alone desktop synth
  • Complex oscillator
  • Dual Function Generators
  • Hybrid LPG filter dynamics section
  • Analog BBD Delay
SignalRelated ArticlesBest Synths of 2019Favorite Standalone and Semi-Modular Synths of the YearExploring Organic Analog Synthesis With Richard Nicol Voltage Research Laboratory
  • Dimensions 35mm
  • Power Draw 525mA @ +12V, 400mA @ -12V
Pittsburgh Modular Voltage Lab Blackbox Standalone Modular Synthesizer Reviews
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