Trax RetroWave R-1 is a lovey-designed analog mono synthesizer from a boutique manufacturer in the UK that sounds fat and is inexpensive.
In times where the latest Behringer Synthesizer news dominates the music tech magazines, great instruments from smaller manufacturers often fly under the radar. In the past few months, we have talked very often about inexpensive analog mono synths, especially from Behringer like the Pro-1, Model D, Neutron etc. The Trax RetroWave R-1 is not a new Synthesizer but a very affordable and noble-sounding mono synth from the UK which can be interesting for everyone who is looking for an affordable mono synth but would rather give your money to a small manufacturer.
Why do I now come across this analog mono synth from 2012? Two reasons: on the one hand I saw a post from the manufacturer on Facebook that they currently have one in stock (thanks FB algorithm), on the other hand, I recently interviewed the band URRRS from Vienna, who use exactly this synth in their live setup. I noticed it there mainly because of its excellent fat sound.
Trax RetroWave R-1 features just one single oscillator but one that is well equipped. Interestingly here, it does not have a classic 2 or 3 oscillator design but tries to use the maximum that is possible with a single generator. Onboard are square, ramp, triangle, and sine outputs. The square wave shape can be manually set to give pulse waveforms and offers PWM control. The oscillator includes switchable keyboard pitch range (normal, +1 octave and -1octave, plus tuning and pitch bend control. It comes also with a wide range of FM possibilities that can be achieved via 2 LFOs, sample & hold, ADSR contour, and external input. On top, it comes with two sub-oscillators and a white noise generator, accessible in the filter section.
The oscillator is then routed further into an analog 24dB/octave 4-pole lowpass filter. According to the developer, you can re-create nicely all those classic synth filter effects, or discover new ones of your own. With the help of the self-oscillation feature, you can achieve this. Additionally, you can use this filter as an extra playable oscillator via the switchable keyboard tracking function. The filter can be modulated by a big selection of modulators: ADSR sweep (typical automatic “wah” effect each time a note is played), LFO 2, sample & hold, MIDI velocity or external input.
On the modulation side, it offers 2 triangle/square wave LFOs with frequency & waveshape controls (like MS-10/MS-20). With the waveshape control, the LFO gives you ramp, sawtooth and pulse outputs in addition to the triangle and square waves. Further, it comes with a single ADSR envelope generator that drives the VCA and LFO. It is equipped with a high/low range switch, ADSR repeat feature driven by LFO1 and an LED monitor. Also onboard is a sample & hold generator that lets you create crazy, random note effects and unpredictable filter modulation.
Trax RetroWave R-1 also includes a linear VCA with a built-in germanium diode overdrive stage for massive distortion effects. This is perfect for filthy solos and grungy basslines. Nice, it offers also a built-in MIDI to CV generator with 5V gate and velocity output and 1V/octave CV response that can also be driven by external analog gear. Plus, fully variable glide (portamento) control, giving mild to extreme swoops of pitch when playing the keyboard, or when receiving external MIDI note information.
Interview With URRS Including The Trax RetroWave R-1
Yes, Trax RetroWave R-1 is still on sale and cost 350 GBP plus free shipping to UK. You can pre-order it now and it’s available in mid-February.
More information here: Traxcontrols