Ploytec, the German makers of ultra small footprint synthesizers, has released a new firmware for the Ploytec PL2 synth. The new PL02.56 firmware, comes with a "Vocal Tract" model filter offering formant sounds and speech. The company says that it's a tribute to the General Instruments SP0256-AL2 chip from the early 80s, combined with the ability to play it as an instrument. Here's the rest of what they have to say:
There are different performance modes available, allowing both: Playing the "allophones" (speech elements) on the keyboard while controlling the notes via the modulation wheel, or the other way around, selecting the allophones via the modulation wheel and playing notes on the keyboard. The PL02.56 firmware lets you choose between alphabetical and original order, plus supports using e.g. an Ableton Launchpad mini to access all 64 allophones.
About the PL2 Synthesizer
Despite its small housing the PL2 is a complete duophonic mono synthesizer.
The PL2 generates an enormous variety of sounds with the help of two analog square wave (pulse) oscillators which can be interconnected in variable and innovative ways - these are fun to experiment with. Up to 32 of your own self-programmed sounds can be stored in the user memory area. In addition, further 32 factory sounds are located within a fixed memory area which provides ideal starting material to experiment with.
Generally the PL2 follows the principle of subtractive synthesis in which the waveform (generated by the oscillators) first runs through a wide range adjustable digital filter stage (low- high- and band-pass) to edit the frequency spectrum and/or amplify the resonance area if desired. After the digital filter an additional analog low-pass filter follows which particularly ensures the necessary warmth especially for destructive- and digital-like sounds.
Wait, there's more: a dedicated analog saturation stage at the output provides dynamic compression and therefore a respectable bass punch is created.
Of course the PL2 includes several additional options in terms of sound and playing manipulation like LFO modulation, PWM, ADSR envelope and various play modes. Another interesting detail: LFO- and envelope-speed synchronise automatically to an external applied MIDI clock - whereby the PL2 perfectly adjust to your song tempo.
About Ploytec GmbH:
Markus Medau, a developer and keyboardist with the Berlin band Edit_H, born in 1972, joined forces in 1999 with Werner Wirsum, an information scientist born in 1968, to develop USB ASIO drivers. It all began with Cubase, a computer, and the lack of an audio input. Reputable manufacturers soon secured licenses (Apogee, SoundDevices, TerraTec, and Yamaha, later followed by Access, Alesis, Lexicon, Numark, SPL, Tascam and others). Kicking off their hardware business in early 2004 with the founding of Ploytec GmbH, the entrepreneurs are now busy developing USB3 audio hardware and software.
Pricing and Availability:
PL2 costs 77 Euros
So much power in a small package - but how does it perform?