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Monday, April 13, 2009
360 Systems 20/20 Frequency Shifter (BODE)
"This is a very rare item, probably the first I've seen one on ebay. It is a Frequency Shifter, model 20/20 by 360 Systems.
360 Systems was (and still is) an innovative company that developed this pitch changer (as used by Synergy/Larry Fast, John McLaughlin), one of the first guitar synths (John McLaughlin) the first sample-playback keyboard and many audio post devices since. They also developed the first LINN Drum for Roger Linn. Bob Easton was/is their clever designer."
360 based their design on Harold Bode's rare "Klangumwandler" that was made and sold for Moog in the late 1960s and early '70s.
The Moog/Bode 6552 Klangumwandler ('sound-changer', in German) was an interesting concept, to modify pitch (frequency) without changing the overtone structure. Bode's invention was first created for Ussachevsky's electronic music studio at Columbia University (Bob was quite familiar with the composer and studio, as well as his various students like Wendy Carlos. Wendy and Tomita used this module on their classic albums. Club of the Knobs synthesizers now make a very accurate replica of the original Bode/Moog module and you can see it (and the similarity to this 360 design) on their website. The 360 has the same "series of 5" settings (5,50,500) as the Bode - and mixed vs. independent outputs, although the squelch is internal on the 360 via trimpot. There is CV (Voltage Control) of the frequency - great with a sequencer, CV pedal (McLaughlin) or random. These are similar to a ring modulator, but have a VERY unusual effect at the lowest settings. This is the effect I love (and why anyone should own this) - a deep phasing in stereo, without "messing up" the sonic quality of the original signal - all bass a treble frequencies remain solid, and the harmonics shift around in stereo beautifully. It's weird but not ugly - very HiFi and cool-sounding.
some text from the web):
'... the EWE, which stands for Electro Wagnerian Emancipator. There's only one of them; it was designed for me by Bob Easton at 360 Systems… That is now gathering dust in the warehouse. I tried to use it on "Big Swifty" from Waka/Jawaka - Hot Rats, but it didn't end up on the final track." (BTW synth geeks - this is mystery item was basically just an EML Polybox, same idea!)
'We also have some neat little 360 Systems model 2800 programmable equalizers, which are four-band parametric with memory storage for saving any particular settings that you may like. Those were designed by Bob Easton and are no longer available, but we have a few of them.'"
via Brian Kehew of Moog Cookbook
Update via eben in the comments: "check out the comment in that ebay auction in the questions section - none other than Tom Rhea, author of the minimoog owners manual"
via the auction:
Q: Hey neighbor, interesting that you have a frequency shifter for sale, but your description that a klangumwandler shifts without changing the overtone structure is incorrect. Pitch shifting a la the Eventide Harmonizer does this; Harald Bode built frequency shifter(s) that provide a LINEAR shift in frequency (Hz) for all partials in the input signal. This will, of course drastically change the "overtone structure," not preserve it. Sorry to be a drudge about this, but I knew Harald well, teach this stuff at a well known music College," This message purely in the interest of sharing information. Hope you get a good penny. PS, I have several Bode 1630 FS (lucky me, but just knowing Harald was the real treat!) Tom Rhea (author Minimoog Owner's Manual, etc.) Good luck in the sale! Apr-14-09
A: Hey Tom - you are likely QUITE right. I only said it was based upon the Bode - which seems quite true given the controls and front panel, steps of "5's" etc. Obviously, the audio track given shows what this very unit does exactly, so no deception is implied.