Buchla 296e

Building on the 259e Twisted Waveform Generator Software has now introduced another official Buchla module for their Modular virtual Eurorack. This time it’s the unusual looking Buchla 296e Spectral Processor.

Buchla 296e Spectral Processor

It’s 16 bands of spectral processing tuned to the discriminating curve of the human ear. On one hand it’s a graphic EQ, on the other it’s spectral analysis, the third hand is resynthesis and then there’s the possibility of vocoding and of course all 16 bands are bandpass filters. It has morphing, each band can be individually controlled over CV, or you can link the envelopes of odd and even bands with their VCAs. There’s a freeze function that samples and holds the envelope times and levels. Its capability for intricate transformations allows it to be a real-time performance filter, a programmable compound equalizer, and even a spectrum transferring vocoder.

The vocoding side is designed to be pleasing to the human ear so that it sounds “meaningfully unique and pleasing” which would be a first for me.

Each of the 16 band-pass filters has its own VCA on input and an envelope follower on output. They can be divided into two sets of odd and even 8. Or you can split it into different functions with an 8-band vocoder and the other 8 doing analysis and resynthesis. Although as this is software you can just add another instance – although this sort of complexity is tough on your CPU.

Talking of software Softube has implemented one additional feature which is that you can play the individual bands using MIDI. Note values attach to the different fixed filter frequencies, while MIDI velocity data affects the amplitude value of a given band’s VCA.

The 296e is a complex module and one of the most expensive hardware modules in the world. It’s versatile and legendary and available in Softube Modular for €99.

There’s a video but it doesn’t really tell you anything. Check out these sound examples instead.

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