Bit commando — a four-voice octave fuzz synth

I was responding to John Daniel’s query a few days ago and started patching and… then I had this patch. I don’t know how well it captures the Bit Commander–this is more “fuzzy” than square wave-y–but I think it sounds pretty cool.

There are four voices: a fuzz voice, an octave up voice (using an old ring mod technique of multiplying a signal against itself–sounds very octave fuzz-y), an octave down (using a granular module) and a “sub,” two octaves down (using another granular module). These voices are then gated and sent into a low-pass filter; unlike the Bit Commander, this filter is more than a tone control: it can be modulated by envelope, up or down, and it has resonance. Finally, the voices pass through an output section, where they can be subjected to bit crushing and aliasing, becoming more and more degraded.

There’s no pitch-tracking at work here; still… chords don’t sound great. Give it a try, see what you think.

The signal path is mono; audio enters in the left and exits through the left output.

A special thanks to my patrons on Patreon for their support: Rob Flax, Stepan Grammatik, brockstar, Mats Unnerholm, D Sing, Will Scott, drew batchelor, Miguel, Steve Bragg, Joab Eastley, Tomi Kokki, Mitch Lantz, Ben Norland, Daniel Morris, Roman Jakobej, Mark Crosbie, Steve Codling, and Timothy Cleary!

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Left — cycles through different settings for the output stage: white = unaffected, yellow = light bit crushing and aliasing, magenta = more severe bit crushing and aliasing, red = real messed up; there is a light that indicates the state at the bottom of the front page; this is also a UI button that can be pressed to change the state

Middle — turns the filter envelope on and off; when engaged, a yellow pixel on the right side of the front page lights up

Right — turns on the “weirdness” feature: an envelope and LFO controlled pitch modulation of the octave down and sub octave voice; when engaged, a green pixel on the right bottom side of the front page lights up

Front page:

Base, up, down, sub — volume controls for each voice; next to each control is a pushbutton that will mute it when the button is off

— When all the voices are engaged at full volume… it can be quite loud

Gain — controls the gain of the fuzz, affecting all voices; at lower gain, the sound is slightly more “square wave”; at higher gain, it takes on a more abrasive, fuzzy sound

Threshold — controls the threshold of the gate; higher thresholds will result in a more gated quality to the output–if you go too far, no sound will pass

Filter freq and resonance — controls the filter’s frequency and resonance; the resonance, when pushed, will introduce more gain into the system

Envelope depth — depth of the filter envelope; bipolar, negative values will produce a downward envelope, positive values an upward envelope; when the envelope is active, a yellow pixel will light up on the front page

Envelope slew — controls the slew applied to the envelope; the more slew the more the envelope will swell; the less slew, the sharper its response

Weirdness rate and depth — controls the envelope and LFO controlled pitch modulation of the two lower octave voices; at high rates and depths, it can produce some odd sound effects; at lower depths, it can produce a sort of “movement” for the other two voices to play over; when engaged, a green pixel will light up on the front page

Sound demo; control walk-through (trying something new, let me know what you think; it means less sound clips and not great audio quality, but maybe a better sense of how my patches work):

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  • Category: Effect Synthesizer
  • Revision: 1.0
  • License: CC BY-SA
  • Views: 744
  • Modified: 7 months ago
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4 comments on “Bit commando — a four-voice octave fuzz synth
  • john_daniel on said:

    That’s great man!! Thank you!!

  • john_daniel on said:

    Ok, sure I’m a beginner.
    I loaded the patch and all the pitched voices sound delayed and with a sort of “tremolo” on.
    What can it be?
    Thank you!

  • Christopher H. M. Jacques on said:

    It could be a number of things:

    The granular modules that constitute the lower octaves require a small delay (as would a pitch shifter used in the same capacity); this can be mitigated, somewhat, if you use a smaller grain size, but you have to balance this against the pitch of the module, as smaller grain sizes will self-oscillate. Pitch shifting with a granular module, or the pitch shifter, for that matter, introduces some amount of modulation, which may account for the tremolo effect.

    Audio processing in ZOIA introduces delays (this is why the buffer module exists); that may account for some additional delay, as each voice aside from the base fuzz voice has additional audio processing. I spent a little time trying to balance this, but then I gave up, because with the granular modules’ inherent delay, it was a losing proposition.

    The “tremolo” might also be because I’m not sure what state I loaded the patch in; it’s entirely possible I left the “weirdness” control on. Try toggling the right stompswitch in auxiliary mode (press middle and right stompswitch until the shift button turns aqua; repeat the process to exit).

    You could probably make a more satisfying version using pitch-tracked oscillators, with the improvements to pitch-tracking.

  • Rob Flax on said:

    Revisited this patch last night… Amazingly versatile, once you remember how the controls work! (To answer the above question: it was the “weirdness” toggled on by default.)

    I modded the patch to remove the weirdness control altogether (for my needs I don’t want the low notes to wobble), and replaced that with EXP control over the filter, and a “resonance override” switch that drops the resonance to minimum. That way I can leave the resonance number set high, use the EXP control to get wild sweeping sounds, and then override it for smoother sweeps. (I also used a CV out switch connected to the middle stomp, so when it’s engaged and envelope shaping happens the amount of CV sent by the EXP is less… positive ENV depth means I can’t open the filter all the way with EXP or there’s no envelope shaping!). If there’s any interest I can upload my modded patch…

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