Erica Synths Black Hole DSP 2 Review, Eurorack Multi-FX Processor

Erica Synths had a big success with the Black Hole DSP Eurorack multi-fx processor, released back in 2016. Key points: many effects in a relatively compact module for little money. If you succeed with a product, you should continue there or?

Yes, so the conclusion is Erica Synths released in October 2018 the Black Hole DSP 2, the official successor with a brand-new core with more algorithms and more control options.

Erica Synths Black Hole DSP 2

Key Features At A Glance

  • 24 algorithms (effects, loopers & drone bank)
  • stereo I/O
  • 3 manually & CV controllable parameters
  • CV controlled effect selection
  • manually and CV controllable DSP CPU clock rate
  • effect presets
  • full analog dry/wet control
  • clipping LED

Erica Synths Black Hole DSP 1 vs. 2

Interface: More HP For More Control

The interface has changed in width. This now has 16HP because it offers now more control parameters than the previous 14HP DSP 1 version. Black Hole DSP 2 has three new parameters (PARAM3, CRUSH CV LVL, IN LEVEL) as well as a CRUSH control, initially known as Rate knob. With this one, you can still change the sample rate of the complete engine. Why the parameter was renamed, one does not know. Maybe because it sounds better by name or because it crushes when you turn it very high.

Other less significant change to the first version happened on the I/O side. Version 2 includes a new CV input for the third parameter. The Moog-like knobs are still the same and feel very nice.

Core: Stereo & 24 Algorithms

Already the first Black Hole DSP Eurorack module had a stereo engine with a large variety of effect algorithms. How do you make a bestseller fit for the future? You can put in more algorithms to the existing ones or you can redesign the whole module as Erica Synths has decided.

The Black Hole DSP 2 is not just a further development of the DSP 1 but a whole new multi-effect module. It’s still based on the FV-1 chip by Spin Semiconductor and offer 24 new designed algorithms ranging from classic & experimental effects, mini loopers and a drone bank. Again on-board is the preset functionality with which you can save one preset per effect.

On top, these presets can be changed via CV which does not always run so clean. It would have been nice if you had more space for presets. Only one presets is quite limited especially if you want to recall settings during live performances.

Algorithm Overview

An overview with all 24 new algorithms including the different parameters.

Erica Synths Black Hole DSP 2 Algorithms

Delays – Many To Choose From But Not Syncable

Erica Synths Black Hole DSP 2 features in total 9 different delay types from a dual delay, lowpass delay to more experimental ones like the hellraiser or granular delay. All types sound nice and have their strengths and weaknesses. Striking is that they do not go very far like in the range of reverbs but you can achieve it by putting the crush parameter into the signal. With this, you reduce the sample rate of the global effect and get some vintage style tape echo effects that go in the reverb territory. Important to know here: the sound quality changes and you leave the clean sound and enter in a dirty domain.

Every Eurorack user will surely find his matching delay. All sound very good, make fun and are versatile. Unfortunately, no delay algorithm is syncable with an incoming clock. Why Erica Synths and especially where you have so many delays in the Black Hole DSP 2, it should have this on board. A feature that is especially missed in live use. Tip Top Audio shows with the Z-DSP that is also based on the same chip that is possible.

A Reverb Number That Can Be Seen

There are 7 different reverbs in the Erica Synths Black Hole DSP 2, all of which sound very good. Only two are very classic (room emulations), the other ones are for atmospheric (shimmer) and experimental sounds. Although the DSP 2 has three different high-quality shimmer reverbs, I miss one that goes very deep, similar to the ValhallaDSP Shimmer reverb plugin. This transforms every signal into a sound from outer space. The one click atmospheric wonder.

I also miss the “Delay Into Reverb” algorithm, which is loved by many. Nonetheless, you will find many great sounding reverb types in the DSP 2, which can achieve similar results.

Effects, Effects, Effects

After a large number of delays and reverbs, there is still space for more effects. The Black Hole DSP 2 features beside delays & reverbs also a chorus, phaser, phaser, overdrive/bit-crusher (Ripper) and a dual pitch-shifter. Above all, the modulation effects stand out because of their direct nature. They alienate the sound very early and change them brutally. So be careful when using and best control it with the analog Dry/Wet knob.

My favorite here is the Space Phaser (video review sound demo) because it can change signals in a very interesting way. At high parameter values, voices no longer sound human but like robots.

Algorithms That Are Not Effects: 2 Loopers & 1 Drone Generator

The Black Hole DSP 2 features also two loopers, one with a lowpass one other with a highpass filter installed. Although the loops are not very large (500 ms), they make fun to use. Especially because you can control the loop on/off and the length of them via CV, it’s possible to create some crazy moments.

Last but not least, there is a 3-voice drone oscillator algorithm with 3 frequency parameters. Interesting: these are not calibrated at 1v/oct, so the generator is very limited and only made for drones.

Video Review

Conclusion

In total, the Erica Synths Black Hole DSP 2 convince me. It’s a high-quality multi-fx module with a large number (24) of effects. From classic to experimental effects, loopers or a drone oscillator, it offers a lot for the money. Also, a highlight is the playability of the individual effects with the help of the 3 parameters and the possibility to control them with CV.

Thus, the DSP2 is not only perfect for studio musicians but also for live performance with the Eurorack system. Too bad and what you really miss is the possibility to sync the delays. Especially considering that the delay is the biggest part of the module. Nonetheless, the Erica Synths Black Hole DSP is a great multi-fx module that brings many new timbres to your system. For a price of 320 €, you get much offered in a relatively small module.

Pro

  • great built-quality
  • great sound quality
  • 24 versatile algorithms
  • customizable sample-rate from 48kHz to …
  • effect presets
  • CV controllable effect parameters

Neutral 

  • deeper/experimental effect algorithms compared to Black Hole DSP 1, less bread & butter efffects

Contra

  • no sync-able delays
  • preset changes with CV not perfect
  • only one preset per effect

Erica Synths Black Hole DSP 2 is available now for 319€ worldwide.

More information here: Erica Synths 

Available here at our partners

Thomann Reverb.com 

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