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


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SOMA Laboratory Pulsar-23

Soma Laboratory's Pulsar-23 is a unique semi-modular drum machine, described as organismic—reminiscent of how living organisms operate. The absence of linear structure and the play and interaction between the different parts inform the ethos of the Pulsar-23. While it is a semi-modular drum machine, able to make sounds without any connections, the real fun begins when you start connecting everything together. In lieu of traditional patch cables, Soma opted for alligator clips and binding posts. The inputs automatically mix multiple output signals without fear of damage to the drum machine. Make manual connections between the binding posts using your hands for extra expression.

The Pulsar-23 features four voices, each with its own characteristics and applications. These are: BD (bass drum), Bass, SD (snare/clap), and HHT (hi-hat/cymbal). Each of the voices have both common and unique controls that vary from voice to voice. An attack/release envelope, volume level, and FX send grace each of the voices. BD features a drive control for waveshaping, while the other voices have a filter type that corresponds to their sonic characteristics: low pass filter for bass, band pass filter for SD, and a high pass filter for the HHT. In addition, unique waveshapers control the harmonic character of each of the voices. The FX sends on every channel control the amount of the signal that passes through to the DSP FX section. Containing both reverb and delay with multiple modes, it adds great depth to the drum voices. Modulate both the FX time and the DSP processor's overall clock speed to get some wild results.

The master clock sets the tempo of the Pulsar-23 and features seven clock divisions. You can freely route these anywhere in the system and even combine multiple divisions to one destination. The sequencer is not a traditional grid or step sequencer, but more akin to a tape loop. Pressing the sensors associated with each of the four drum voices adds notes to the sequencer. The sensor records both the timing and the length of the press. The overall velocity of the taps is selectable between three velocity levels while recording. Save four banks of four sequences with one for each sequencer and recall them on the fly. In addition to the internal sequencer, Pulsar-23 features MIDI integration. Easily assign the controls to MIDI messages using the learn buttons, or use the MIDI to CV converters to freely route signals to any parameter. Sync the Pulsar-23 sequencer to any of your external MIDI devices with the tempo sync function, which overrides the internal master clock. The Pulsar-23 also features both 3.5mm and 1/4" jacks to interface with other modular equipment.

Add some pseudo-random modulation using the Shaos, a shift register-based source of unpredictability. The pseudo-random sequences have a selectable length between 63, 16, and 217 steps long. In 16 step mode, the data binding post facilitates injecting new information into the shift register and looping it. In addition to shift registers, the Shaos has a sample and hold with independent clock input. The four outputs of Shaos vary from 1-bit with two possible states, 2-bit with four possible states, or 3-bit with eight possible states. Modulation also comes in the form of an LFO. This voltage-controllable and clock-syncable LFO features a wide frequency range from 0.1Hz–5000Hz. This is well into the audio range, and can function as another VCO. Two pressure-sensitive sensors output CV signals proportional to the pressure of your touch, great for gestural modulation.

In addition to these exciting features, a number of useful utilities are available for use. These round out the Pulsar-23, adding essential functions often found within a more extensive modular synthesizer. Four attenuators add depth control to parameters that lack them due to space constraints. The two VCAs accept audio or CV signals for dynamic variation. CV controllable inverters, gate-controlled electronic switches, triggered impulse generators, and common electronic components such as diodes and capacitors are surprising and useful additions.

The Pulsar-23 is in a class of its own. Its unique architecture and design ethos make it unlike any other drum machine out there. Soma has really outdone themselves, bringing to life the next generation of synthesis.

Pulsar-23 Features

  • Organismic drum machine
  • Four unique drum voices that each fit a specific niche
  • Alligator clip and binding post patching interface
  • MIDI input with sync, MIDI learn, and MIDI to CV conversion
  • Tape looper-style sequencer that records taps to input notes
  • Master clock with divisions
  • Inputs automatically mix multiple signals together
  • Shaos pseudo-random voltage generator with sample and hold and adjustable loop length
  • Wide-ranging VCLFO with sync and CV control
  • Touch sensor CV outputs
  • Eight 3.5mm and six 1/4" connections for use with other modular equipment
  • Two VCAs
  • Four inverters
  • Two electronic switches
  • Four attenuators
  • Final output distortion
  • DSP FX with delay and reverb and CV over DSP clock
  • Save and recall four banks of sequences
  • 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"
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