Dreadbox: Hand-Crafted Analog Synth Greatness
Sublime synths for discerning music creators
Dreadbox haven’t been around for very long, but they have made significant waves across the music industry. Hailing from Athens, Greece, this delightfully close-knit family of developers and musicians are turning out some of the most exciting gear we’ve seen for a while. From the humble analog synth to nostalgia-inducing multi-effects units, there is something to satisfy every taste in the Dreadbox line-up. Not only that, but it’s all remarkably affordable too. Everyone in the Dawsons’ office has their favourite, but let’s run through what’s on offer and you can make up your own mind.
1. Komorebi Analog Chorus Flanger Effects Pedal
Let’s kick things off with the Dreadbox Komorebi Analog Chorus Flanger Effects Pedal, which is suitable for use with synths, guitars (electric and bass), and is even compatible with Eurorack for those modular lovers.
Komorebi is a rather fanciful yet untranslatable Japanese word, which describes the effect of sunlight streaming through the leaves of the trees (nice). When you give this full-analog BBD (bucket brigade device) chorus-flanger unit a whirl you begin to appreciate the reason for adopting the term. Whatever setup you elect to integrate the Komorebi into from your guitar pedalboard to elaborate modular synth workspaces, you are assured an enriched sonic response.
Looking at the Komorebi from a top-down perspective the control layout features a selection of dials and switches to make life as easy as possible whilst maximising the unit’s versatility.
Amount – Attenuates the balance between the BBD controls including Delay Time and LFO (Low Frequency Oscillator).
Static – Allows you to dial in the initial delay time anywhere from 2ms to 35ms, with longer delay times pushing the BBD circuitry to its fullest.
LFO Wave Switch – Choose between three LFO waveforms
Feedback – Dial in the amount of delay feedback
Rate – Set the LFO Rate
Footswitch – Enable/Disable the unit. True Bypass technology ensures that when the Komorebi is disabled, your tone will remain unblemished by its effect.
Along the top of the unit there’s a trio of patch points for Static, Rate and LFO Out to keep those modular heads happy.
Stand the Komorebi up and you’ll find the 1/4-inch input and output, as well as a two channel DIP switch for adjusting its compatibility for use with Line or Instrument Level gear. Finally, there’s the 15VDC power supply connection and Dreadbox thankfully include the power supply unit, guaranteeing maximum available headroom for flawless performance.
The proof is in the pudding though, so feast your eyes and ears on the video below.
2. Hypnosis Time Effects Processor
A retro-inspired visual aesthetic combined with lush ’80s-synth vibes results in the Dreadbox Hypnosis Time Effects Processor. Whether you’re nostalgia trippin’ or influenced by the cyclical nature of music production, the Hypnosis is a veritable dream machine of ludicrously scaled-down proportions. To think that back in the day some would need a wall of filters to create what this thing can do in a desktop friendly chassis?!
The Hypnosis Time Effects Processor features a trio of independent effects: Analog Spring Reverb, Stereo Analog BBD Chorus-Flanger, and Stereo Digital Delay. Each effect features specific controls with the ability to engage and disengage each one with ease.
Analog Spring Reverb
Look towards the upper left corner of the unit and you’ll see the 3-spring reverb tank for yourself – a nice touch. Controls include Pre-Delay, Depth, Rate, and Amount. As the Hypnosis relies on the resonance generated by the vibration from the springs to produce reverb, care must be taken with regard to where you place the unit (i.e. away from speakers to prevent unwanted feedback). Apart from that, bask in the glory of the expansive, expressive soundscapes that you can create.
Worth noting that although the other effects are stereo, the spring reverb is in fact mono.
Stereo Analog BBD Chorus-Flanger
The analog chorus-flanger allows you to attenuate Time, Depth, Rate, and Feedback to shift seamlessly from subtle shimmering chorus to full-on sweeping flanger. Within Dreadbox’s user manual for the Hypnosis, they provide a rather detailed list of settings to make the most of each effect. Suffice it to say that with so much control at your fingertips, you’ll want to make things a little weird.
Stereo Digital Delay
Pretty self-explanatory but with Time, Mix, Feedback, and even a Freeze function awaiting you, there’s no end to the mischief you can create. Also, the Freeze setting can do simultaneous functions that include setting the Feedback level to max and preventing any new incoming signal from being delayed (nifty).
It is clear to see (and hear) that the Hypnosis Time Effects Processor has been crafted with love. For a cheeky listen check out the video below.
3. Erebus V3 Duophonic Analog Synth
Stepping things up a few gears is the awesome Dreadbox Erebus V3 Duophonic Analogue Synthesizer. The third incarnation of the Erebus carries on the sterling work of its predecessors whilst boasting a few tricks of its own.
As it’s a duophonic synthesizer you can play two notes independently to produce chords or play basslines alongside lead.
Within this monster you’ll find a trio of VCOs (Voltage Controlled Oscillators) giving you one more than in previous Erebus synths. Oscillator 1 and 2 feature identical controls with Osc 2 differing only in that is offers a triangle rather than a pulse wave. Oscillator 3 boasts six waveforms, white noise, and a wider range of tuning. Thanks to the inclusion of auto-tuning you can perform to your heart’s content without drift becoming a factor. There’s a triple ring modulator that offers superb timbres for you to manipulate and explore with glee.
Filter/Envelopes and AMP
There’s a 12dB resonating, multi-mode Low Pass/High Pass filter, which offers exceptionally precise sound shaping. Set the cut-off frequency, amount of resonance, and flip between LP/HP modes with ease. With two full ADSR envelopes to play with, you’ll never tire of tweaking. From the lowest depths to the highest peaks, Erebus allows you to traverse soundscapes with God-like powers.
The 35 patch points available cover VCA with CV control, analog clock generator, and sample and hold. Thanks to MIDI I/O connectivity the Erebus V3 also acts as an excellent MIDI to CV converter. Whether you’re using the Erebus V3 as the focus point of your rig or integrating your DAW/external sequencer/keyboard, you’re never short of sound-shaping options.
4. NYX V2 Paraphonic Analog Synth
Last but by no means least is the Dreadbox NYX V2 Paraphonic Analog Synth. Due for release in June 2019, expectations are high for this piece of kit. Boasting dual oscillators, dual filter, three loopable envelopes, reverb and a generous 30 patch points as well as MIDI connectivity, the NYX V2 is a cut above.
Indulge yourself and check out the teaser video below.