SOMA LaboratoryPulsar-23 Semi-Modular Drum Machine - Screw Version

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SOMA Laboratory Pulsar-23

From experimental breakbeats to grooves beyond the grid, the Pulsar-23 Semi-Modular Drum Machine from SOMA Laboratory shatters traditional conceptions of what a drum machine can do. It is semi-modular, meaning no patching is required to make sound right out of the box; however, its open-ended architecture makes the Pulsar-23 an ideal companion for rhythmic experimentation and sonic discovery well beyond its default connections. Now available with screws in place of more expensive binding posts, the Pulsar-23 is more accessible than ever before.

The Pulsar-23 features four voices: BD (bass drum), BASS (a subtractive monophonic bass synth), SD (snare/clap), and HHT (hi-hat/cymbal). Each voice has both common and unique controls, including attack/release envelope, volume level, and FX send. BD features a drive control for waveshaping, while the other voices offer filters suited to their sonic profile: low pass filter for BASS, band pass filter for SD, and a high pass filter for the HHT.

A competent suite of effects let you put the final touch on your drum sounds. Saturate your drum sounds through a distortion unit before heading into the Pulsar-23's characterful delay and reverb, with flexible audio routing options. Many FX parameters are under voltage control, including the clock speed of the A-D converters, allowing you to introduce additional pitch-shifting and aliasing artifacts into your drum tracks with CV!

The Pulsar-23 uses alligator clips and patchable posts for its internal patching connections. This lets you connect multiple clips on one post, or even make connections using your hands. The inputs automatically mix multiple incoming signals, and many patch points on the Pulsar-23 can function as either inputs or outputs depending on which signals are patched into them. In this way audio, clock, and modulation signals can be swirled together in what Soma calls the "organismic": the complex and nonhierarchical systems of interrelation characteristic of natural systems.

Instead of a traditional step-sequencer, Pulsar-23 features a looper which records the beginning and end of musical events. Pressing on the trigger pads adds a note to the looper, with both the start time and length of press recorded. With a high recording resolution and optional rhythmic quantiser, you can create J Dilla-esque micro-timing or lock any of the four voices into a grid. Users can save and recall four banks of four sequences, one for each voice. In addition, the Pulsar-23 features robust MIDI implementation—assign MIDI messages to drum parameters with the learn function, or patch anywhere from the four MIDI to CV patch points. The BASS module can be fully controlled via MIDI, separately from the other three voices.

Pulsar-23's internal tempo can be synced to external devices via MIDI or analog clock. The clock section produces seven unique clock divisions, offering rhythmic triggers that can be patched into one another to create more complex gestures. The wide frequency range of the LFO spans from 0.1Hz–5000Hz, far into the reaches of the audible spectrum, and is controllable via CV. The "Shaos" section adds unpredictable modulation to the Pulsar-23, creating pseudo-random sequences of stepped voltages with multiple operational modes. Naturally, the "Shaos" module can also be synced to your master clock source.

A number of utility functions round out Pulsar-23's comprehensive toolset. Four attenuators add depth control to parameters, and two VCAs accept audio or CV signals for dynamic variation. Inverters, switches, impulse generators, and electronic components like diodes and capacitors offer useful tools for sound sculpting. And of course, you can connect any Pulsar patch point to external modular devices with any of its eight 1/8" (3.5mm) or six 1/4" two-way adaptors—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 sources, and robust MIDI implementation, the Pulsar-23 shines and sizzles in both live and studio contexts.

Pulsar-23 Features

  • Highly experimental drum machine
  • Alligator clip + screw patching interface
  • Four drum voices: BD, BASS, SD, and HHT
  • 4-track tape-style event sequencer/looper
  • "Shaos" pseudo-random voltage generator
  • Onboard digital delay and reverb effects
  • Open-circuit utilities for circuit-bending approaches to patching
  • Full MIDI implementation: MIDI learn, pitch control on BASS voice, 4x MIDI-CV converters
  • Support for internal/external clocking, with seven division options
  • Output distortion
  • Main output volume control
  • Passive 3.5mm and 1/4" routing ports for passing signals in/out of Pulsar-23 in standard connector formats
  • Includes 30 alligator cables, 12V PSU
  • Input/output voltage range: 0-10V
  • 7x 1/4" TS jacks: 6x bi-directional/assignable, 1x main output
  • 8x 3.5mm bidirectional/assignable patch points
  • 3.5mm headphone output
  • MIDI input: 5-pin DIN
  • 12V power supply included
  • 380 x 280 x 80mm/15 x 11 x 3"
Product Demo Videos
Vlad Kreimer Plays The SOMA Laboratory Pulsar-23 Drum Machine
SOMA Laboratory's Vlad Kreimer came by to show off the Pulsar-23: a drum machine and modular synthesizer for creating intense, interactive rhythms and soundscapes. Check out Vlad's in-depth explanation of the Pulsar-23 here:

At first glance Pulsar-23 might appear to be a typical groovebox, with dedicated bass drum, bass, snare drum, and hi-hat channels and an integrated sequencer. However, it breaks past the duties of a traditional drum machine by using exposed metal bars as modular patch points—making it in many ways more like a modular synthesizer or circuit-bent sound laboratory.

With multiple internal modulation sources, gritty lo-fi effects, simultaneous CV and MIDI support, and an extremely open-ended sound architecture, the Pulsar-23 is part groovebox, part generative sound sculpture, and part industrial doom soundscape device all rolled into one.
Vlad Kreimer Explains The SOMA Laboratory Pulsar-23 Drum Machine
In this video, inventor Vlad Kreimer of SOMA Laboratory explains his Pulsar-23, a one-of-a-kind instrument that is equal parts drum machine, modular synth, and circuit-bent playground. Check out his performance video with Pulsar-23 here:

Pulsar-23 features four channels of sound generation, each geared toward making distinct types of sounds. Capable of bass drum, bass, snare drum, and hi-hat sounds, the Pulsar-23 can create entire tracks' worth of sound—and when combined with the internal modulation sources, its gritty lo-fi effects, and extensive patchability, the Pulsar-23 becomes an entire world's worth of sonic potential, from standard beats to murky, evolving industrial textures.

It can also fit into any workflow—it makes a brilliant standalone instrument with its internal pattern recording, but can also be addressed via MIDI, CV, or even all of these methods simultaneously.
Best Gear of the Year : 2022 Artists Picks Part 1
It's nearing the end of another monumental year in synthesizers and pro-audio, and we look back with our friends on some of our favorite pieces of kit we tried out in 2022!
PULSAR-23 (SOMA laboratory)
All the soundtrack was created by PULSAR-23 and simple DAW editing.
No other equipment or FX was used, exception slight limiter on common mastering.
WEIRD GEAR: Pulsar-23 Yellow Edition
Honored to be partnering with Soma and Perfect Circuit on the Andrew Huang Edition of Pulsar-23!
SOMA Laboratory Pulsar-23 Semi-Modular Drum Machine - Screw Version Reviews