SOMA LaboratoryPulsar-23 Semi-Modular Drum Machine (Black)

$2,250.00 $2,030.00
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SOMA Laboratory Pulsar-23

The Pulsar-23 from Soma Laboratory is a new kind of drum machine that breaks out of the conventional expectations of a drum machine. It is semi-modular, meaning that it doesn't need any connections to make sound. However, the wealth of connectivity adds a ton of exciting possibilities. The Pulsar-23 does away with traditional patch cables in favor of alligator clips and binding posts. This has two benefits straight away—connecting multiple clips on a single post is easy, and you can connections between the binding posts using your hands. Don't worry about connecting things wrong and breaking something; all the inputs automatically mix multiple incoming signals. There is no designation between signals; audio and modulation are equally valid connections to any point in the system.

The Pulsar-23 features four drum voices that each have a specific function. These are BD (bass drum), Bass, SD (snare/clap), and HHT (hit-hat/cymbal). Each voice has the same attack/release envelope to shape the overall loudness of the drum. BD features a drive control to add some grit to the sound. Each of the other voices features a filter that complements their sonic spectrum. Bass has a low pass filter, SD has a band pass filter, and HHT has a high pass filter. These filters are resonant and feature CV control over cutoff frequency. In addition, waveshapers control the harmonic structure of the voices. The drum sounds pass into a DSP FX section for processing. Combining reverb and delay with three selectable modes, the DSP section is a great way to add another dimension to the Pulsar-23. The clock running the DSP effect features a CV input and a Mad! Patch point that can result in some truly bizarre behavior. The main audio mix runs into a parallel distortion with a simple drive and dry/wet mix interface.

Set the master tempo using the clock section. The clock divider features seven clock divided outputs that are freely routable to add variation to any clock connection in the system. The sequencer is more akin to a live tape looper, recording taps on the drum voice's dedicated touch plate buttons and looping them to create sequences. Each of the four voices has a dedicated looper with clock inputs. Tapping on the add sensor will add notes to the sequence, which records the timing and the length of the press on the sensor. Set the overall velocity of the notes using the Rec cont. Save and recall four banks of four sequences, extremely useful in a live setting. The ethos that went into the Pulsar-23 stresses the possibilities of using it as a live instrument. In addition to the internal sequencer, the Pulsar-23 has MIDI integration. Quickly assign drum channels, knobs, or other functions to MIDI using the MIDI learn function. Or just sync everything to a MIDI clock using the MIDI switch on the clock divider.

Modulation in the Pulsar-23 is just as powerful as the audio and sequencing sections. Shaos is a pseudo-random CV generator based around shift registers. Clock the Shaos from the master tempo or let it run on from an internal clock. This pseudo-random sequence features a length control of 16, 63, and 217 steps long. Try adding data to the shift register using the data pin in 16-step mode—this will loop the data in the register and make more predictable patterns. Shaos features two direct shift register outputs and two sample and hold outputs. These outputs can be 1-bit (two levels), 2-bit (four levels), or 3-bit (eight levels). The LFO is a wide-ranging LFO with a frequency control ranging from 0.1Hz–5000Hz, well into the audio range. Sync the LFO to the master tempo, or let it run freely. Two dynamic touch sensors output CV signals proportional to the two plates' downward pressing pressure, great for gestural modulation.

The Pulsar-23 not only has exciting sound generating and modulation options but also utilities that really make it a versatile instrument. Four attenuators provide hands-on control over modulation depth. VCAs, inverters, CV-controlled switches, diode, capacitors, and simple gate to decay-envelope impulse transformer expand the functionality in new and exciting ways. And of course, you can connect to external modular devices with the eight 3.5mm or six 1/4" connections—making it easy to work the Pulsar-23 into your personal modular ecosystem.

This organismic drum machine is unlike any other. From the versatile drum voices to the unique sequencer to the wealth of modulation and alligator clip connections, it shines as both a studio and live performance instrument.

Pulsar-23 Features

  • Organismic drum machine
  • Alligator and binding post patching interface
  • Four unique drum voices: BD, bass, SD, and HHT
  • Unique four-channel tape looper-style sequencer
  • Shaos pseudo-random voltage generator with multiple step lengths
  • DSP FX with CV over DSP clock rate
  • Facilitates circuit bending using internal and external connections
  • MIDI integration
  • Master clock generator with clock divisions
  • Distortion on final output
  • Eight 3.5mm and six 1/4" connections for use with external modular devices
  • Two VCAs
  • Inverters, switches, electrical components, and pulse transformers
  • Four attenuators
  • Wide-ranging VCLFO with sync input and variable waveform
  • Comes with 30 alligator clips, power supply, and high-quality handmade carrying bag
  • Input and output range: 0-10V
  • Seven 1/4" jacks including main output
  • Eight 3.5mm jacks
  • 3.5mm headphone output
  • MIDI input: 5-pin DIN MIDI
  • 12V power supply (included)
  • 380 x 280 x 80mm/15 x 11 x 3"
SOMA Laboratory Pulsar-23 Semi-Modular Drum Machine (Black) Reviews