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


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SOMA Laboratory Pulsar-23

From Soma Labratory, the Pulsar-23 is a unique semi-modular drum machine that strays away from the conventions of how a drum machine sounds and behaves. Soma describes it as organismic, referring to the design ethos that mirrors the principles of some living organisms. It provides complexity out of simplicity, and everything interacts with everything else, creating multiple feedback loops. The function of each of the constituent parts is blurred, and there isn't a rigid linear structure that boxes you in.

Semi-modular by nature, the Pulsar-23 does not require any patch cables to make a sound—but patching things together is the most fun part of any modular device. Instead of traditional 3.5mm, 1/4", or banana connectors, it uses alligator clips and binding posts. These binding posts automatically mix multiple input signals, and by merely touching two at the same time, your body makes a connection between them.

Pulsar-23 features four drum voices, each fitting in a specific role. These are BD (bass drum), bass, SD (snare drum/clap), and HHT (hi-hat/cymbal). All four feature volume control and FX sends, plus a simple attack/release envelope to vary the loudness contour. Each voice has a unique shaping section to vary the harmonic character of the sound. The BD features a drive control to shape the waveform and add a touch of distortion. Bass features a waveshaper and low pass filter to control and emphasize the low frequencies. SD uses a noise generator and band pass filter to create snare and clap sounds. Alter the structure of the HHT with the high pass filter and warp waveshaper. Each voice runs into the DSP FX section, set by the FX send knobs. The DSP features both reverb and delay with multiple modes of operation. Control the clock speed of the entire DSP section to dramatically alter its tone and character.

Soma took a unique approach to sequencing with the Pulsar-23. Instead of a linear step-sequencer, the sequencer is more akin to a tape looper. Instead of recording audio, it records notes. Pressing on the dedicated pads at the bottom of each voice adds a note to the sequencer, with both timing and press length recorded. Save and recall four banks of four sequences, one for each voice. In addition, the Pulsar-23 features a MIDI input. Assign MIDI messages to drum parameters with the learn function, or patch anywhere from the MIDI to CV binding posts. Additionally, override the internal tempo control with MIDI clock to sync to external devices. The Pulsar-23 features eight 3.5mm and six 1/4" connections to interface with external modular devices.

The internal clock provides the master tempo for the Pulsar-23 and features seven clock divisions. Patch these to individual drum sequencer clock inputs, LFO sync, or anywhere else in the system for synchronized control. The wide frequency range of the LFO spans from 0.1Hz–5000Hz, far into the reaches of the audio spectrum. Control the frequency of the LFO with external CV and sync it to other signals for clock-synced modulation. The outputs include a square wave and a variable skew triangle/sawtooth waveform. Shaos adds another level of unpredictability to the Pulsar-23. This pseudo-random voltage generator uses shift registers and a sample and hold circuit to create stepped voltages. These come in three flavors, 1-bit with two states, 2-bit with four states, or 3-bit with eight possible states. The length of the pseudo-random sequencer is selectable between 63, 16, and 217. In the 16-step mode, the data pin accepts signals to seed data into the shift register and create short looping patterns.

Several utility modules add useful features to the Pulsar-23 to round out the functionality. A pair of VCAs automates the level of an audio or CV signal with another signal. Two switches use gate signals to turn on or off a connection. Two inverters, one voltage-controlled, invert incoming signals. Soma encourages circuit bending-style patching of the Pulsar and included diodes and capacitors to patch in the signal path.

Soma poured love and creativity into this drum machine, and it truly shows. The unique design bridges gaps in synthesis to create a hitherto unknown system capable of a vast array of sounds. Get lost and explore unknown territories with the Pulsar-23.

Pulsar-23 Features

  • Semi-modular organismic drum machine
  • Alligator clip and binding post patching interface
  • Four unique drum voices
  • Each voice has unique sound shaping capabilities
  • Tape looper-style sequencer with tap interface
  • Shaos pseudo-random voltage generator with four outputs
  • Wide-ranging LFO with CV control
  • MIDI input with learn, CV conversion, and clock sync
  • DSP FX section with CV over DSP clock
  • Eight 3.5mm and six 1/4" connections for use with external gear
  • Touch sensor CV outputs
  • Two VCAs
  • Inverters and electronic switches
  • Circuit bending possibilities
  • Save and recall four banks of sequences
  • Four attenuators
  • Comes with 30 alligator clips, power supply, and high-quality handmade carrying bag
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  • 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 (Orange) Reviews
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