Steve Hunt (Yorick Tech) ‘s handy Low Frequency Expander, a standalone MIDI modulation box for hardware synthesizers has received a major 3.0 update.
Hardware synthesizers are loved by musicians. Many like the hands-on and haptic feel of such instruments because plugins don’t offer them. MIDI controllers try to imitate it, but it doesn’t quite work. In terms of the range of features, hardware synthesizers have to be content with second place. Plugins often offer more complex, deeper engines where hardware reaches its limits. There are exceptions.
For example, the modulation engines in classic analog synthesizers are relatively simple: 2 envelopes, 1 LFOs are standard here, more LFOs, random generators … are rather rare. Steve Hunt of Yoric Tech has been tackling this problem for a longer time with its Low Frequency Expander that goes now into the third round. A box with which you can equip your MIDI-CC enabled Synthesizer with more modulators without changing the hardware.
Low Frequency Expander
The LFE or Low Frequency Expander by Yorick Tech is a standalone, hardware MIDI modulation expander that gives new modulation life to many synthesizers. It features 3 complex LFOs and a 6-stage envelope with an option to act like a 16-step sequencer. At the same time, it also is a 4-slot modulation matrix, allowing to route velocity, key, aftertouch, mod wheel, and more.
The built-in modulators use MIDI CC data and thus every Synthesizer with this feature is compatible with the LFE. With some, it works almost hand in hand as if it is part of the actual instrument. This includes the Sequential Prophet 6 (Rev 4), Prophet 5 & 10, OB-6, Moog Voyager, Korg prologue, and Nord Wave 2. A prologue can benefit a lot from this standalone expander because it only has one LFO.
New in Low Frequency Expander 3.0
Steve Hunt, the developer has just published version 3.0 of its LF expander. The big new feature of the 3.0 version is support for MPE (MIDI polyphonic expression). This makes the modulation much more versatile and expressive. For example, it can now send modulation to each voice independently than globally.
Each of the LFE’s 4 modulators on its front panel now operates 7 modulators “under the hood” (1 global and 1 per voice) for 7 envelopes and 21 LFOs. In poly chain mode, you can work with up to 13 envelopes/sequencers and 37 LFOs over 12 voices. And with the MPE spread function, you can introduce tiny variations to retail the vintage feel.
Then, he added an Aux MIDI channel which makes it possible to address a second MIDI channel in a patch. Lastly, the new version got a new arpeggiator which is mainly developed for the new Prophet 5/10 and the Moog Voyager. It hosts a variety of features like different directions, play modes, up to 4 octaves, key/hold function, and the gate length control.
At first glance, a solid update for the LFE. With the MPE support, the small, super helpful box for hardware synthesizers becomes much more interesting. Especially for synthesizers with limited modulators, it could be a little modulation changer.
The Low Frequency Expander 3.0 by Yorick Tech is available now for £540. The special version with oak ends costs £590 and a CV option is available for an additional £40. You can order them via the Facebook page or by contacting Steve Hunt via mail.
More information here: Yorick Teck (FB)