Norand brings a fresh approach to the classic analog bassline market with its new Mono Synthesizer, pumped up with a lot of modulation and sequencer power.
Analog bassline synthesizers are among the most popular electronic instruments. In 2020, the acid sound is back and thanks to the Behringer TD-3 it is affordable for everyone. Both the Behringer and Roland clones have something in common. They emulate the sound of the legendary TB-303 in analog/digital form.
The new French company Norand, formed by ex-developers of Squarp Instruments shows that you can do more than cloning. Mono is a new fully-analog Synthesizer that hosts a two-analog based engine with a sequencer. At first glance, it is reminiscent of a classic bassline synth à la Roland TB-303 or Erica Synths DB-01. However, there is much more analog goodness in it.
The heart of Mono consists of two fully analog oscillators with continuously variable waveforms. From soothing detuned sinewave to heavily modulated sawtooth, Mono’s sound source is versatile and full of character, according to the developer. They offer fine-grained detune controls, hard-sync, and thru-zero analog frequency modulation for screeching wild sounds.
Both oscillators are supported with a 3-pole state-variable analog filter with a continuously variable output (BP/LP/HP). It includes a main envelope amount control, and keyboard follow. In the final stage, it adds a classic ADSR envelope to shape your final sound.
Norand has clearly taken inspiration from classic bassline synths. However, they do not copy anything, they have developed them further especially in terms of modulation. Mono introduces contextual modulation, a powerful mod system that gives you full control over every parameter. In total, you have 13 dedicated AD envelopes and 20 dedicated modulators. By simply touching a knob to select the underlying parameter, unleash Mono’s full creative potential.
Where other bass synthesizers save, Mono is overpowered. Each of the 13 envelopes has an attack decay characteristic. The LFOs offer 4 waveforms, run in audio-rate, operate in sync or free (0.1 – 80 seconds), and are quantized to oscillator 1. The mono will certainly not get any criticism for having too little modulation.
There is also a lot of storage: you save up to 64 patterns per project, 3200 parameter automation per step, 40 mod note per project, and 32 complete projects in total. In a situation without inspiration, no problem. Mono comes with different built-in randomizers that give you fresh inspiration. Quantized note, ranged parameter automation, step, mod note, micro-shift, probability, and ratchet randomizer. Thanks to copy/paste and undo/redo anything, the developers ensure that the workflow is fluid and fast. Not to forget, you can change projects on the fly without clock issues. However, this announcement must first be confirmed in the test because my beloved Pioneer / DSI AS-1 had here problems.
Interface & Connections
The design is classic and limits control to the essentials. A hands-on design, a knob for every function (23 transilluminated potentiometers & 24 illuminated silent mechanical switches), and no display. Furthermore, it includes 23x 808-style switches that contribute a lot to the design.
Finally, Norand equips the Mono synth with numerous connections with which you can integrate it easily into any existing setup.
- 1x 1/4” unbalanced main audio out jack (+15dBu maximum)
- 2x 1/8” eurorack Clock/Reset input
- 2x 1/8” euro. CV outputs
- 2x 1/8” euro. Gate outputs
- 48kHz internal CV D/A converters
- Flash-EEPROM upgradable OS
- MIDI class-compliant USB-B port
All in all, the Norand Mono looks very exciting. It shows beautifully how you can refresh & upgrade a classic bass synth design and make it much more versatile and flexible. For more detailed information, there will be a live stream next Tuesday with developers at SequencerTalk.
Norand Mono will be available in a limited batch of 100 units in January 2021. The pre-orders start soon for 666€/$, later it will available for 890€/$.
More information here: Norand