Artisan Electronic Instruments Nucleus is a three-oscillator hybrid mono desktop/Eurorack Synthesizer that is the basis for a future hybrid polyphonic synth.
If the oversaturation of always the same concepts (more of the same) slowly becomes noticeable, one is happy to write about products that are different. And they often come from small boutique Synthesizer manufacturers that are not going backward in synthesis but forward.
An interesting project comes from the young company Artisan Electronic Instruments. Nucleus is a new hybrid monophonic Synthesizer that uses analog and digital synthesis elements. Interesting is here that the mono synth is just the beginning. It’s the proof of concept for something bigger. The developer plans to expand the Nucleus engine to four voices (expandable to 8) and to form a flagship synth out of it.
Don’t be wrong. The small, compact Nucleus is anything but a classic “more of the same” Synthesizer. A lot of synthesis power is hidden in it, an extraordinary amount for such a small instrument. The Nucleus engine is powered by three oscillators and a sub-oscillator.
Oscillator 1 has classic waveforms (saw, sine, triangle, PWM), a 4-stage wavefolder, and different modulation options. A one-octave down sub-oscillator supports the first oscillator with a dedicated lowpass filter. Oscillator 2 has saw & PWM waveforms with sync, FM, and a multi-mode 3-input XOR ring modulator. Also here, you get multiple mod options.
It gets more unique and digital with the third oscillator. It features a digital wavetable engine plus a noise generator. Plus, you get standard waveforms, a swarm oscillator, and a karplus strong mode for physical modeling like timbres. This looks like an oscillator section that can be a lot of fun.
Then, we have the filter that is based on an 8-pole Cascade OTA multi-mode filter circuit with 6 different modes: (12 or 24dB low, high, bandpass). It offers dual resonance peaks, variable bandpass width, and various modulation routings. Again, anything but simple. At the end, the sound travels in a linear VCA that includes a controlled pre- and post-filter overdrive. Cool, it has a drone mode so you can use the synth also has a sophisticated drone Synthesizer.
Modulation Power Until You Drop?
The real complexity shows the upcoming Artisan Nucleus Synthesizer in the modulation matrix. Watch out, it’s getting wild. The developer promise 60+ modulation sources and 35+ destinations that all available simultaneously. That’s an impressive amount for such a compact mono synth. You get three independent multi-wave LFOs with rates up to 1kHz, delay, and a cycle re-sync functionality. Further, you get four DAHDSR envelopes (delay, attack, hold, decay, sustain, release) with linear, exponential, punch shapes, looping mode & more.
Whoever thought that is all was wrong Now it’s the turn of the modulation modifiers that combine and shape your modulation sources in new ones. A number of functions are available for this including add, average, multiplay, invert, limit, switch… Good to see that the modulation engine has more on offer than a classic mono synth.
The synth also has a full MIDI interface on the front panel as well as user-assignable CV in and outs. This allows the developer to offer two versions: a desktop synth and a Eurorack module. It also comes with a bright OLED graphic display that takes on various tasks. The most important ones are the control of the modifiers and the management of presets. Yes, it supports presets. You get a bank of factory sounds and space for an additional 100 user presets. And the best for the end.
Artisan Electronic Music Nucleus Poly Synth
It will not stay with the mono synth. The Nucleus voice cards will come in a new polysynth in the future. It will have up to 8 voices, 64-step 2-channel sequencer for notes and modulation, more knobs/switches, digital effects… This will not be a desktop instrument but a 5-octave keyboard with a FATAR keybed with aftertouch support. A very tempting project. However, this is for the future.
A very nice project in my opinion. I like that Nucleus offers a nice mix of analog and digital features in a compact synth. I’m looking forward to more sound demos.
According to Artisan Electronic Instruments, the Nucleus presentation is planned for this Summer (2021) and the project will be financed through a Kickstarter campaign. Availability & price TBA.
More information here: Artisan Electronic Instruments