A wretch of a synth


Metasonix Wretch Machine

I’m really glad I found this post by Peter Kirn over at Create Digital Music

…I think.

Metasonix (careful, that home page hurts) have manufactured and released a synthesizer based entirely on vacuum and gas-filled tubes.

Peter, who’s just returned from vacation, puts it so much better…

Continued below...

I know what you were thinking during the silent news week as I was on vacation: “if only . . .”

If only someone would release a synth based entirely on vacuum and gas-filled tubes. No pretty sine waves, mind you: only saw, square, and square with suboctave. And a filter sweep controlled by a photoresistor. And a joystick that tunes, triggers, and modulates. And glowing green bars that show voltage levels.

And the name should involve vomiting, somehow.

Yes, the Wretch Machine is here.

Oh boy.

We all love specifications, right? Here they are:

The Professional Solution.
The Ultimate Tube Synthesizer.
Pitch sources: two independent VCOs.
Made entirely of vacuum and gas-filled tubes.
Range >2 octaves using CV, octave switching allows range from 33 Hz (low C) to more than 2 kHz.
Three waveforms: thyratron sawtooth, square, and square with suboctave.
VCO 2 may free-run or be soft-synced to VCO 1.
Numerous patch points allow enormous flexibility.

Waveshaper: unique circuit, with soft clipper and pulse adder (shapes waveforms from VCOs by adding small pulses to top of waveform at discontinuity).
Made entirely of vacuum tubes.
Settings: disable, soft-clip only, and soft-clip with pulses added to signal. Latter circuit allows simulation of noise source.

Filter: unique multimode circuit, allows its use as a lowpass, treble/midrange bandpass or bass bandpass filter. Continuously variable control allows mixing of filter forms in any proportion.
Made entirely of vacuum tubes.
Range of treble resonance switchable, 400-1700 Hz. Bass resonance tunes from ~100-350 Hz.
VCA: unique circuit using a pentode tube.
Made entirely of a vacuum tube.
May be modulated with the AR generator only, or with the control voltage generated on modulation bus 2.

Modulation: two envelope generators, A(S)R and AD. Both triggered with input gate signal. Both may be combined on either modulation bus to create ADSR.
Two independent LFOs, triangle waveform, range <0.3 Hz to more than 5 Hz.
Two modulation buses allow combining the A(S)R, AD, and two LFOs as needed to effect any CV input in the audio circuit (VCO pitch, VCO squarer waveshape, waveshaper pulser, filter tuning).

Main CV input controls pitch of both VCOs (Hz/V response).
Gate input triggers envelope generators, accepts 0-5v or 0-10v gate voltage.
6AL7 “eye” tube displays status of LFOs and A(S)R control voltages on three separate glowing green bar graphs.

Miniature joystick performs multiple jobs: vertical motion affects pitch of both VCOs, horizontal motion affects tuning of filter.
Press joystick in to trigger envelopes.

Size: 6U high standard EIA rack mount, 3″ depth below rack panel.
11 vacuum/gas tubes. Weight about 20 pounds with AC adapter.
Draws 12 volts AC ONLY at 3 amps.

Expected availability mid-2006, expected retail price $2500.
Optional internal MIDI-CV interface, add $300.

You mean we have to wait until mid-2006? Noooo. Guess it’s back to standard synths for now, huh?