Sonic LAB: Gotharmans deMOON Quad Filterbank Synth

A new DSP based dirty little thing      12/08/09

No flash plug

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9:12 mins

Blue Moon

Gotharman are one of those boutique manufacturers (the only Danish synthesizer maker btw) that up to now, do not mass manufacture products, the deMOON is their bid to change all that. Inside the little blue box  is a four voice virtual analog  quad filterbank synthesizer - four filters each multimode with independant cutoff and resonance control as well as pan. There are two Envelopes and four LFOs, two for the Osc and two for the Filters.

Additionally, there's a Mingran - granular synth module on the output and a five type digital distortion.

For performance, there's a 32 step, 3 channel,  step sequencer - note value, velocity and controller, which can be transposed and triggered via the MIDI input for some useful performance features.

Physically, the deMOON has four knobs, a two row LCD and a backlit button that doubles as the sequencer trigger and a MIDI in indicator. The two left hand knobs control the two (2+3) of the assignable MIDI controls for real-time patch modification and while in edit mode access the first two parameters in any given page (sort of).
Main volume and a cursor/value rotary encoder with push to enter function finish the top panel. Left and Right outputs (left can be headphones), 9V DC in (with metal switch) and MIDI in are on the rear, with a single audio in jack on the front.

First Man on deMOON
When I opened the deMOON, I thought maybe I had been sent a prototype, the construction is very DIY - sort of a guy made a one off to see if it would work style. But no, this is the finished article. Gotharman have made the unit to have slightly wonky casing, sharp edges and big, sticky-out screw heads on purpose. It's supposed to add to the the glitchy, punky vibe apparently.

In Space, No One Can Hear You Scream

Sonically, the deMOON is  an unusual, digital sounding  synthesizer with a bright, almost bit reduced quality to it, which is made all the more so by the Granular and distortion effects. It is possible to create some really unpleasant and pointy sounds with it, but less easy to create warm and soft. This is really a synth with a sort of f*ck you attitude.

The operation of the synth is not really enhanced by the quirky parameter access, pressing the cursor knob while hovering over the edit text opens up an 11 option menu :-

1 Sequencer 2 Note Randomizer
3 Oscillator
4 Filter 1
5 Filter 2
6 Filter 3
5 Filter 4
9 Distortion
B Save Sound

Each of these pages has up to 15 (in the case of the filters) sub pages 1-9, A-F with  two or three parameters on each. Accessing the first two from the Edit1/2 knobs and the third via the cursor. This can be a bit unwieldy and actually is rather inconsistant - sometimes there are still only two parameters on a page, but because they occupy slots 2 + 3 on the LCD, you have still to use Edit2 and the cursor knob to tweak them. This makes editing  a somewhat frustrating experience.

Luckilly, all  (or almost all) parameters are MIDI mapped using controls 4 through 90. So if you have that many MIDI hardware controls to hand, you can do some real-time tweaking as I did by hooking up my Behringer BCR2000 (48 controls) and setting up a patch. An OS tweak to bring up the parameter you are addressing in the LCD would work wonders for operability here.

There's also an issue with the scaling, some parameters are really OFF at 0 setting but too ON at 1, 2 or 3 - there's not enough sensitivity at the outset. This could easily be rectified with an OS tweak.

Full Moon
So it really comes down to the sound as almost anything can be forgiven in search of Something Unique. And this is where I was left cold - I just didn't really dig it. Maybe its me, but the really digital and dirty sounds it is capable of producing just didn't take me on any kind of "lost in music" journey. Flipping through the 128 presets I couldn't find any sounds that got me creative. Now of course, this could just be down to my conservative sonic tastes - not that I thought I was ALL that square, or maybe because the patches don't truly show off what the deMOON can do (entirely possible), but I'm not sure. OK, it can make some really horrid and striking sounds, but I just didnt really like any of them very much.

There is a limited production run of the deMOON right now (100 or so) the price is €400 euros.

For information about ordering and availability contact:

deMOON PDF Manual



5 Comments...  Post a comment    original story
Christoffer    Said...

Actually there is an earlier "mass"-produced danish synth called droid-3 by the company Abildgard. It has an equally harsh digital sound and an even more tedious interface (one knob only).

12-Aug-09 09:57 AM

Ted    Said...

With all the poor design and interfaces out there, to head purposely into homemade stompbox land is either genius or the other thing.

I like concept boutique hardware. But y2k-era polyphony? In a DSP box?

I suppose it saves me the trouble of pouring a cocktail on a Korg MS-2000 and seeing what happens.

Still, it does cover some synth ground I don't have covered...

12-Aug-09 05:34 PM

juicy audio productions    Said...

I love the SOUND of this, simply cause it stands out and isnt too digitally crunchy to be unusable. Pity the front end is erm...poor.

13-Aug-09 12:57 PM

selercs    Said...

sounds somewhat like a waldorf blofeld/micro-q: harsh, digital sound.

not bad if that's the sound you are after.

for me, i need something like prophet 08, even if its made of analog ICs and not discrete circuitry.

13-Aug-09 08:37 PM

Wellington    Said...

I bought one... Its very useable. Managed to make a sysex template for it and can now play it from my novationSL. With some gentle coaxing it can make some wonderfully complex soft pads, but it definitely likes to be more noisy and rough. Programming it using the supplied four knobs can be tricky, but with a bit of patience it can even play some great, crunchy drum patterns from the step sequencer -triggered by the PLAY button and modulated by the Controller 1 & 2 knobs...

15-Sep-09 12:31 PM

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