PULSAR-23 by SOMA

Under Midi control

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Did you buy it then?

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It’s a reply to me, and someone else liked it–now I want to see what you said wtf.

Haha sure. You meant it ironically right?

Yeah, of course I bought it.

I’d’ve probably bought the MacBook, too, in any case.

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Saw someone posted this on Facebook:

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YouTube, too.
Mine’s passed customs, so the real nightmare starts when they contact me for delivery, and I have to figure out who to pay and how.

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It’s freakin here. Should I open it?

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No

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Congrats! Lucky you :smiley:

Full disclosure: I opened it without waiting for permission. Quick and dirty demo..

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Keen to hear your thoughts once you’ve had some time with it. Thanks for sharing.

please box it back up and ship to my address

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One quick impression I didn’t expect: using the alligator clips is quite nice. Vlad hyped it, and I was skeptical, but they’re only slightly more clumsy than conventional patch cables, while offering the easy stackability that my rack lacks (those stacking cables are expensive, and my local store considers them too unreliable to keep in stock for customers.) Inexpensive, common, and extendable, yes, but Vlad doesn’t note how the much narrower gauge makes the spaghetti that develops in front of you easier to see through and reach into and between than Eurorack cables. They’re easier to bump and dislodge, of course, but hardly what I’d call unstable.

Done!

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Oh yeah: the touch sensors are so much better than my Lyra-8’s and Pipes’, which lack sensitivity without skin moisturizer or doing the licky-licky. I don’t even use fingers on my Lyra-8’s sensors anymore because coins work really well: I have the thing propped up vertically, and little coins wedge stably between the sensors. My Pipes are an issue, having done (Vlad-guided) diode surgery on both to make them usable, and even then they’re weather sensitive. I should open up the P-23 to see if it uses a different technology because it really just responds the way you expect, every time. Pre-purchase, my fear of poor sensor response–which is a personal, location-based issue–prepared me to be very disappointed with the P-23 and have to return it, but I’m now optimistic it will weather any storm.

EDIT: I’m told that because the Pulsar is a percussive machine, the envelopes are much faster, not the sensors.

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How do you find the 4 modules for making drums and percussion? Are they quite versatile and capable of a wide range of sounds as stated? It did sound like this from the various demos so far. Probably many extraordinary sounds arise from modulation but I’m also wondering about basic kicks, snares and percussion sounds.

Too early to tell, I think. Yes, aside from modulation, including the WTF and OMG pins, there’s a lot of flexibility in the range of each modules sounds, with the filters and tuning, etc., then there’s the shape and warp for the bass. I guess it’s a personal thing whether it will give you the kind of sounds you’re looking for. Me, I mess with it as a system just to see what kind of combinations come out of it. Right now, I’ve reached a patch I like, so it’s now like a modular where you know you’re never going to be able to reproduce it. That’s the fun of the thing, but I’ve been keeping the same patch going for a day while I use it with other stuff. But I see I’ve got to pull all the alligators out, then go through the manual in a systematic way to get a hold of this thing, what with the loopers and interfacing with MIDI controllers. I’ve got my drum controller that I’m hoping will work out well here.

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you tease!

Now to answer your question more specifically. I hate to rush to judgment, but I must say that I don’t find the modules themselves (sans modulation) versatile and capable of a wide range of sounds. This is obviously a highly subjective judgment; I do think many people will consider otherwise, so I’ll add some of my personal context. I’ve never found electronic drums—whether software or hardware or even music that I like to listen to—that don’t go stale to my ears very quickly. I’ve tried lots of things, and the best I’ve found is Nord’s Drum 3P, so I got two of them so that I could program up a full kit. Even that doesn’t do it for me compared to drumming software like BFD3, which provides 128 velocity layers and loads of very different sounding 128-multisampled drum kits and percussion pieces (I always have a bongos, a full array of congas, and a dumbek). I drum using a Zendrum controller that has 30 naturally responsive triggers, each dedicated to the single purpose sending a MIDI note/velocity with zero crosstalk. The playing experience is highly detailed and highly variable by switching out pieces of kit or entire kits. In other words, it never goes stale and 128 truly playable velocity layers under my fingers (well, about 124 or 125 of 128 because the first few are technically infeasible) means nothing can ever go machine gun even if you tried. So you see I’m extreme this way, dedicated to full spectrum drumming, just on a high-end controller, not a drum kit, which is an impossibility if you have to play in proximity to other human beings who haven’t paid to hear you. You don’t see more drummers on Zendrum because even though it emulates the responsiveness and flexibility of a real drum kit beautifully (with BFD—nothing else comes close), it’s a radically different feel to acoustic drummers’ muscle memory.

The P-23’s modules don’t come close to a flexibility that could make me perceive it as a satisfactory kit, as a collection of percussion sounds that could stay fresh for more than a couple of minutes through playing, and not modulation. And the thing does have an overall personality, so that it’s not about being sonically flexible enough to fit in in a wide range of electronic contexts, let alone acoustic. That’s how it sounded to me before I bought it, so that I expected to only live perform it next to someone wiggling a modular. I expect people here will like it in Elektron configurations, which I’m looking forward to hearing.

The P-23’s whole deal is as a playing system, as an instrument, a voice, which of course it’s also being billed as, and it truly delivers there, what with all the wacked-out modulation and loopers. You can put the thing on your lap and go to town, easily more towns than the Lyra-8. With the three available dynamics for the touch sensors, Vlad’s taken precautions against machine gunning, but I do need the 6-8 dynamic regions that I can consistently reach via my Zendrum (out of the 125 possible) to not feel hemmed in on that count. But Vlad’s three is far better than one-dynamic-level machine gun would be, and the P-23 does respond beautifully to MIDI velocities via an external controller. As his manual explains, MIDI is implemented to make things really easy and fast to use. Unfortunately, as I think everyone who’s ever tried has decided quickly: using a keyboard to play percussion long term—i.e., to play a drummer’s role from a keyboard—sucks. There’s Roland’s electronic kits for that, and I can play in the pocket for hours without a break on my Zendrum due to its minimal kinetic energy. I think, though, using the P-23 as a drum module with my Zendrum controller won’t be satisfying because the Zendrum is attacks-only, as pieces of percussion are; only a keyboard will exploit what happens after the initial attack, which the P-23 can respond to. So maybe I’ll put a little Microfreak or Keystep next to it to bring quickly online, but otherwise I’m seeing the P-23 as a self-contained playing system, certainly with longer performance possibilities than the beloved Lyra-8.

Those who like to sample stuff and then slice and dice and mix it up will have a more varied point of view than me, as that’s just not my thing except as a listener. I’m more of a real-time player used to rehearsing stuff endlessly to get it “right”—which is why the stuff I put online is always so demo-ish: everything’s an idea that I think could potentially sound good with proper woodshedding, but at least sounds fun sloppy. I only rehearse under pressure of a performance. I’m looking forward to hearing other people’s approaches to the P-23. Someday I’ll interface it with my modular, but that’s in a different location due to space limitations.

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My first try with the looper (SD) and external MIDI controller (BASS). That manual BD could have used a another take because fumbling around with the coins to stick in the Lyra-8 kept messing me up. The photo is of the actual patch.

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