MATRIXSYNTH: Technosaurus Microcon

Sunday, November 04, 2018

Technosaurus Microcon

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"The Microcon is a modern-day little analog monophonic synthesizer module emulating the simple design and sound of classic Roland TB-303 andSH-101 synths. They are made by Technosaurus, a Swiss company best known for their high-end Selector modular synths. It is hand made using the same discrete circuits found in its bigger brothers.

Laid out like a 1970s monosynth, the control panel offers six sections.The VCO is, as always, the first element in the main signal path, andin use proves to be remarkably stable. Furthermore, the discrete circuitry employed should prove to be future proof, unlike synths based on Curtis chips. There are four VCO controls and likethe TB303, the Microcon offers just square and sawtooth waveforms. However, unlike its Roland forebear, it also offers a sub octavesquare wave that you can mix with the standard VCO signal in anyamount from 0 100 percent. There is also a transpose switch ( 2octaves), and LFO driven pitch modulation.

The envelope generator is similar to that of a TB303, although it still offers a couple of surprises. The first is an attack control that ranges from 'snappy' to around 10 seconds. The second is a ReleaseOn/Off switch that changes the action of the Decay time control. WithRelease 'off', the AD envelope snaps back to zero as soon as you remove the Gate pulse. With Release 'on', the envelope acts a little like an AR, completing its cycle no matter how brief the gate may be.

The VCF offers the 12dB/octave filter characteristic found on the Korg MS20 and many Yamaha monosynths, as well as the 24dB/octave setting that defines the sound of most Moogs and ARPs. There are controls for the cutoff frequency, the resonance, and the amounts by which the envelope and LFO affect the cutoff frequency. There is also a switch that applies the CV to the cutoff frequency.

The VCA has just two controls: a Level knob, and a switch that makes the envelope a volume contour, or not. Likewise, the LFO is very simple with a Speed knob, and a switch to select between square and triangle waveforms. Finally, the Control (modulation) section offers three facilities: a master Tune knob that allows you to shift the Microcon by +/ 5 semitones; a Glide knob that controls a standard portamento (which does not have the TB303's special characteristics); and a manual Trigger button."

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