MIDI Optional, Glowing Green Bars Standard

I know what you were thinking during the silent news week as I was on vacation: “if only . . .”

If only someone would release a synth based entirely on vacuum and gas-filled tubes. No pretty sine waves, mind you: only saw, square, and square with suboctave. And a filter sweep controlled by a photoresistor. And a joystick that tunes, triggers, and modulates. And glowing green bars that show voltage levels.

And the name should involve vomiting, somehow.

If that hasn’t made you afraid (yet strangely intrigued), all this madness comes from Metasonix, who gave us the TX-2 Butt Probe effect, built with what they called “s*****y tubes.”

Ladies and germs, I give you the Wretch Machine from Metasonix. Currently in prototype form, but expected next year for US$2500. A MIDI-CV interface will be an optional add-on for $300. Now you can use your precious, new-fangled MIDI. Full specs after the break; more on this story as it hurls in. (Thanks, Michael!)

Here’s how Metasonix describe their new creation:

The Professional Solution.
The Ultimate Tube Synthesizer.

Pitch sources: two independent VCOs.
Made entirely of vacuum and gas-filled tubes.

Range >2 octaves using CV, octave switching allows range from
33 Hz (low C) to more than 2 kHz.
Three waveforms: thyratron sawtooth, square, and square with
VCO 2 may free-run or be soft-synced to VCO 1.
Numerous patch points allow enormous flexibility.

Waveshaper: unique circuit, with soft clipper and pulse adder
(shapes waveforms from VCOs by adding small pulses to top of
waveform at discontinuity).
Made entirely of vacuum tubes.
Settings: disable, soft-clip only, and soft-clip with pulses added to
signal. Latter circuit allows simulation of noise source.

Filter: unique multimode circuit, allows its use as a lowpass,
treble/midrange bandpass or bass bandpass filter.
Continuously variable control allows mixing of filter forms in any
Made entirely of vacuum tubes.
Range of treble resonance switchable, 400-1700 Hz.
Bass resonance tunes from ~100-350 Hz.
VCA: unique circuit using a pentode tube.
Made entirely of a vacuum tube.
May be modulated with the AR generator only, or with the control
voltage generated on modulation bus 2.

Modulation: two envelope generators, A(S)R and AD.
Both triggered with input gate signal. Both may be combined on
either modulation bus to create ADSR.
Two independent LFOs, triangle waveform, range <0.3 Hz to more
than 5 Hz.
Two modulation buses allow combining the A(S)R, AD, and two
LFOs as needed to effect any CV input in the audio circuit (VCO
pitch, VCO squarer waveshape, waveshaper pulser, filter tuning).

Main CV input controls pitch of both VCOs (Hz/V response).
Gate input triggers envelope generators, accepts 0-5v or 0-10v
gate voltage.
6AL7 “eye” tube displays status of LFOs and A(S)R control voltages
on three separate glowing green bar graphs.

Miniature joystick performs multiple jobs: vertical motion affects
pitch of both VCOs, horizontal motion affects tuning of filter.
Press joystick in to trigger envelopes.

Size: 6U high standard EIA rack mount, 3″ depth below rack panel.
11 vacuum/gas tubes. Weight about 20 pounds with AC adapter.
Draws 12 volts AC ONLY at 3 amps.

Expected availability mid-2006, expected retail price $2500.
Optional internal MIDI-CV interface, add $300.