North Coast Synthesis Ltd., Toronto-based manufacturer of electronic musical instruments, has released its flagship Eurorack synthesizer module, the MSK 007 Leapfrog VCF (voltage controlled filter). As well as completed modules ready to plug into the equipment rack, North Coast sells do-it-yourself kits for experimenters to build and modify at home as "open source hardware," with complete technical details available at no charge from their website.
North Coast module designer Matthew Skala, told us, "The Leapfrog is a new circuit topology in the Eurorack world, with its own unique sound, but I like to think the module itself has a traditional analog synth style. It's classic through-hole construction throughout, very much designed to be assembled by hand rather than machine. The circuit wouldn't be out of place in a synthesizer from last century, if they had had the theoretical tools to analyse it."
Here's more details in North Coast's own words...
Analog synthesizers often work by a subtractive process, starting with a harsh signal from an oscillator and then using voltage-controlled filters and amplifiers to shape the sound into the desired timbre. It's an electronic version of the way an acoustic instrument like a saxophone works: the reed generates a harsh tone which is shaped by the body of the instrument into musical notes. North Coast's Leapfrog VCF has a different response curve from older synthesizer filters, with a sharper cutoff of the high frequencies, allowing the Leapfrog to generate timbres otherwise difficult to achieve in analog electronics.
"There are some digital modules that can cut off as sharply as this one," says Skala, "but 1970s analog synth technology couldn't match it. I had to go into scientific papers from the 2000s for the design equations."
Pricing and Availability:
The new module is available through the North Coast Web storefront at $520 fully assembled, or $320 for the do-it-yourself kit.