Agonist — a weird stereo fuzz/drive from scratch

That has presets and preset morphing, because why not?

Although I definitely like the weird (real weird)(no, but seriously, weird) fuzzes this patch can produce, at least part of its function is as a proof of concept for building your own distortion in ZOIA. I’ve been toying around with (simpler, far simpler) variations on this in some generative patces, but the basic premise is pretty simple: overload some VCAs until they clip, then use filters to shape the sound. But it can produce some gnarly, digital sounds (I leaned into this) — a digital drive from a digital box.

Agonist does this by using a high-pass filter to shape the low-end, a bell filter for the mid-band, and a low-pass filter for the high-end. By introducing control over the Q/resonance, these filters can function destructively (removing frequenies with a low Q) or constructively (accentuating frequencies with high Q). So, for instance, the high-pass filter is both a way to thin out the low end and reduce “muddiness,” but with a high Q you can also produce deep, bassy distortion as those frequencies drive the VCAs harder.

I placed the VCAs between the filters (hpf –> VCAs –> bell filter –> VCAs –> lpf). But if you want to explore this concept, you can toy around with that structure; I tried some different configurations and where the filtering occurs definitely affects the outcome of the patch.

I also added a preset function: there is a “live” mode, but the patch can also store one preset, and you can switch back and forth between them. You can also modulate between the two settings (there is a page labeled “Mod select” that has an in switch, where you can select between expression pedal/CV, an LFO I placed on the page, or an envelope follower; you can also connect your own modulation to the in switch, although CPU is limited — modulating between the two settings means modulating a lot of multi-filters, and multi-filters consume a lot of CPU when they are modulated). So, this feature is expensive; if you want to explore your own home-brewed distortion, you can leave it out and save a ton of CPU. But I’m weird and like trying out weird things.



Left — selects the “live” settings (also reproduced by a UI button on the control page)

Middle — selects the saved preset (also reproduced by a UI button on the control page)

A note about saving a new preset: There is a white button next to the above UI button called “Write.” If you find a sound you like in the “live” mode, you can write it to the present by pressing the “Write” button.

Right — turns the modulation off and on (also reproduced by a UI button on the control page)

Front page:

Most of these are filter controls, and I’m not going to go through every aspect of them; the paragraph in the general description does this pretty well. I will point out that the gain and volume controls can both go to pretty extreme levels (I figured a drive should be able to get loud), so I’d recommend exploring them with caution. Also, if you start pushing the filter Qs above ~.5, you can produce some weird results, but this will introduce quite some gain at very specific frequencies.

Beside each control is a pixel. In live mode, these pixels should correspond to the present control settings. When you select the preset, the parameters no longer reflect the preset setting, but the pixel intensity changes to reflect that, so hopefully it gives you some idea of what the preset is like. When modulating between the two, you’ll see the pixels change intensities in response to that modulation.

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