MATRIXSYNTH: Ouroboros Alea Semi-Modular Analog Synthesizer

Wednesday, March 25, 2020

Ouroboros Alea Semi-Modular Analog Synthesizer

Published on Mar 25, 2020 Ouroboros Electronics

Ouroboros Alea + TR-606

"Alea is a two voice semi-modular analog synthesizer with sine wave oscillators, waveshapers, low pass gates, LFOs and a stochastic shift register-based sequencer. These elements work together as a standalone patchable instrument that is capable of everything from generative melodies and morphing drones to psychoacoustic percussion and silky sub basslines to esoteric techno and much more. The sine wave oscillators have CV and FM inputs paired with attenuators for each input as well as a two different voltage controllable waveshapers per oscillator which affect the timbre of the oscillators - one type of waveshaper which adds harmonics to shape the sine into a soft triangle wave, and the other waveshaper folds and shapes the phase of the sine. The oscillators also have sine outputs for modulating each other, as well as a vca which can be opened via cv or gate signals for timbral cross-modulation between the two oscillators. The oscillators can be used as completely separate voices, or together with one voice acting as a primary oscillator and the other as a modulation oscillator. The two voices also have individual outputs. Each voice has a vactrol low pass gate with two inputs per LPG - one regular gate input which will provide sustain for the duration of the gate, and one input which coverts the gate to a trigger for faster percussive sounds with no sustain and only decay. The LPGs can also be patched so that they are held open to create drones, or patched for amplitude modulation via one of the oscillators or modulation sources. The Alea has two LFOs - a LFO with triangle and square wave outputs as well as a VCLFO with a triangle output. The Alea's sequencer is based around a four-stage shift register which is clocked by the VCLFO and collects data from one of the oscillators for probabilistic pattern generation. The shift register can also be clocked from external clock signals from other instruments. The shift register cycles through it's four stages as it collects on/off data on each clock pulse and creates different arrays of outcomes as it cycles. Once the Alea has been patched and knobs have been set - the shift register will continue to cycle through patterns and generate different numeric combinations of it's stages in unity or in abscense like a roll of the dice or a song of the birds.

Each Alea is composed from a high quality lead-free PCB manufactured in China, RoHS components, and an enclosure that is made from fine hardwood (African Sapele was used in the photos shown above - but other units will be made from other species of wood of equal quality). The wood is finished with boiled linseed oil and the enclosure is backed by a powder coated steel bottom piece.
All designing, prototyping, assembly, soldering, and woodworking is done in-house by Ouroboros Electronics in New Orleans, Louisiana. The Ouroboros Alea is now available to order for $600USD + $15 shipping within the US and production lead times around one week or less before shipment.

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