Sonic LAB: Review Pittsburgh Modular Modules

Oscillator, Generator, Outs and Audiomixer Attenuator      17/10/11

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7:41 mins    

 

We have a collection of modules from Pittsburgh Modular, based in - wait for it - Pittsburgh USA. Their Eurorack format modules have a nice 1950s science research feel to them with simple design.
We’re looking at the Oscillator (multi-waveform, mono oscillator), Generator (dual oscillator, cross modulation generator), Outs (headphone and stereo ¼ line output module) and AudioMixer Attenuator (four channel, mixer/attenuator).
 
Oscillator
First up is Oscillator at 8hp, its a standard fit and has pretty much what you’d hope for with an oscillator - separate SINE, TRIANGLE,SAW + SQUARE wave outputs, Pulse Width modulation for and Frequency Modulation inputs, plus a manual pulse width control.
You also get a 1v/Octave standard Doepfer style input, for controlling pitch. Although my MonoRocket Mission 6B case will feed CV and Gate via internal busses (Doepfer specification), the Oscillator module doesn't read it - so you’ll need to patch it up like normal. The last input is RT - this re-triggers the waveform - particularly hand in LFO mode.
So, the waves sound pretty good, plenty of harmonics and low end content, and the pitch range is astonishing - from  0.14 Hz (7 seconds per cycle) to something that only rare mammals or insects can hear. The low end of the scale means this can easily cover LFO duties which is where the RT input comes in, patching say the gate input, means that you can retrigger the LFO wave on key down - a handy feature. My only gripe was that the FM input seems to be limited to around +/- semitone, so no really wild oscillations are possible.
 
Generator
Physically slightly larger at 10hp, this one is somewhat harder to describe. Essentially there are two triangle wave generators (Gen1, Gen2) with variable shape - Triangle through square, via the Shape knob.
Each has a separate exponential CV input and audio output.
Gen1 also features a VCA with CV input and separate output. At its most basic, you can use it as a simple oscillator and VCA by using only Gen1. But really, the madness begins when you bring in Gen2 which is internally wired to be cross modulated by Gen1. All sorts of monster ring mod type effects can be had, with odd, percussive harmonic sounds as well. Its a little hard to control, but it will give you plenty of atonal, nintendo, zipper/fart noises as it states in the blurb.
There’s an external CV modulation input which give you massively wide modulation, routeable to Gen1 or Gen2. The only lacking feature for me - it was'nt  possible to modulate the wave shape itself. However, not to worry as this is possible, or will be shortly with the GenXpander module, giving more routing and patching possibilities when connected to the Generator.

Outs
This is a simple output module, with LR inputs on 1/8 jack and two sets of outputs each with its own volume control. Output ST is stereo 1/4 headphone out, and there’s  two mono 1/4  (L,R) jacks for stereo line level outs - again with its own volume. Nice touch is that, a single signal patched into  the Left  input only will be summed to mono - put a Right signal in and you get hard left and right. Simple and useful.

Audio Mixer Attenuator
Another utility module with four separate channels of attenuation - patch a signal in - audio or control voltage and turn it down with the knob. For the output, you can then either take the signal straight out again via the output jack for that channel (in which case it will be removed from the overall mix output), or sum it into the Mix output  for up to four inputs. The Mix output is at the bottom of the module. So it is possible to have two attenuators, and two channels mixed, or one attenuator and a three channel mixer etc.

Very useful in the field as it were, although it is not for adding gain, only subtracting it.


Overall
A good collection of modules. Generator, is not perhaps one I personally would use regularly, although deeper digging does reveal more depth, but the Oscillator I really liked. The design of all means there is a great deal of flexibility and functionality, which is of course something you would want in any modular setup.
The units are also reasonably priced, somewhere between Doepfer and some of the more expensive, boutique modular makers.

Oscillator   €199/ £172
Generator €220/ £190
Outs         €89/ £75
Audiomixer Attenuator  €75/£64



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