MATRIXSYNTH: The Sidekick by Mutable Instruments

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

The Sidekick by Mutable Instruments

via Mutable Instruments where you'll find additional details including ordering information. Captured for the archives:

"The Sidekick is a simple circuit, of dimensions similar to those of the Shruthi-1 digital board, which allows you to drive one of the Shruthi-1 filters without all the hassles of MIDI, menus, and modulation matrices. Pick your favorite filter board, snap the Sidekick on top of it, plug in an external audio source (or not) and get ready for some filtering action!

The Sidekick comprises 2 square/triangle LFOs and 2 AR envelopes, which are assigned to the VCF frequency and the VCA gain. The LFOs can oscillate at audio rates, allowing them to be used as droning oscillators, a FM source or ring-modulators. The envelopes are triggered by a dedicated button.

The Sidekick has been proven to be particularly useful for the following applications:

Grungy pulsating drones
General Purpose Spaceships / Invocations
Bells from Hell
Software Failure! Press Left Mouse Button to Continue
String machine / home organ Gentrification
Self-osc Stomps
4-LED Diwali decoration

In addition, it doesn’t use any single NE555, which should leave you plenty of those critters to build yourself a dodgeball game.

From top to bottom, left to right, the knobs are:

Filter cutoff.
AR envelope 1 filter modulation amount.
LFO1 filter modulation amount.
Filter resonance.
AR envelope 2 VCA modulation amount. When turned counter-clockwise, the gain is at a flat 50%. When turned clockwise, the gain matches the AR envelope 2 value.
LFO2 VCA modulation amount.
LFO1 rate.
AR envelope 1 attack speed.
AR envelope 1 release speed.
LFO2 rate.
AR envelope 2 attack speed.
AR envelope 2 release speed.

The two WF switches are used to switch the waveform (square or triangle) of the LFO 1 and 2 respectively.

The 4 tact switches have the following function, from left to right:

Temporarily routes LFO1 to the audio input of the filter (allows LFO1 to be heard as an oscillator).
Temporarily routes LFO2 to the audio input of the filter (allows LFO2 to be heard as an oscillator).
Triggers AR envelope 1.
Triggers AR envelope 2.

Hacking is fun, here are some cool hackey things you can do with the Sidekick:

Solder a pin header and add a jumper at the pads labelled “Drone lock” to constantly route the LFOs to the audio input of the filter.
Connect a jack and a sustain pedal to the pads marked Kicks and Kinks to trigger the AR envelopes with your cat feet.
Use F/F breadboard jumper wires to rewire the mapping of the CV signals to cutoff/frequency/VCA/CV1/CV2 in the Smurf modular mini patch zone. Because we all know you want to hardwire the resonance to +5V."

The Sidekick was first mentioned in this Interview with Mutable Instrument's Olivier Gillet.

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