Zlosynth Instruments - Achordion

Cwejman, Doepfer, Erica, MakeNoise, Mutable instruments, TipTop Audio, Analogue Solutions, and much more! The world’s most popular format.
Be sure to look into MANUFACTURER SUB-FORA as well..
User avatar
zlosynth
Learning to Wiggle
Posts: 10
Joined: Tue Jun 07, 2022 12:02 pm
Location: Brno, Czechia
Contact:

Zlosynth Instruments - Achordion

Post by zlosynth »

Hello hello!

I am excited to share that my lockdown baby is now finished and available as a DIY kit.

You can find an overview of its features here:



It is a chord-crafting quantizing wavetable oscillator. In essence, it is just a bunch of (18) oscillators that never* go out of tune or out of scale!
  • Wavetable synthesis, 37 wavetables, smooth transitions
  • Up to 18 simultaneous voices
  • Two lines with independent 1V/oct inputs and audio outputs
  • Sub-octaves, duplicated tones, and chords
  • 4 styles of playing - single tone, chords, arpeggios, intervals
  • Quantization to selected scale
  • Any scale can be played with the white piano keys
  • Aluminium panel with high-quality anodized finish
  • CNC engraved lettering
  • 10 HP, skiff friendly
You can read more about its features on https://zlosynth.com/achordion/. Or just ask, I'd be happy to hear what you think.

Petr
gray_wide.JPG
black_wide.JPG
Website
Instagram
GitHub
ModularGrid Gray Black
Shop
Last edited by zlosynth on Tue Nov 01, 2022 12:08 pm, edited 2 times in total.
stripou
Common Wiggler
Posts: 232
Joined: Tue Jan 12, 2021 9:36 am

Re: Zlosynth Insturments - Achordion

Post by stripou »

Looks dope!
With a midi over TRS input it would have been an instant hit for me.
SirAdrianFish
Learning to Wiggle
Posts: 21
Joined: Wed May 18, 2022 3:01 pm
Location: Hamburg (Germany)

Re: Zlosynth Insturments - Achordion

Post by SirAdrianFish »

This looks very interessting - I might give it a try...
Robot00
Common Wiggler
Posts: 106
Joined: Tue Jul 28, 2020 5:19 am

Re: Zlosynth Insturments - Achordion

Post by Robot00 »

Really nice! I might be interested in a prebuilt one.. haven’t done any soldering in a while :)
User avatar
ProggyBoog
Veteran Wiggler
Posts: 597
Joined: Sat Apr 10, 2021 3:42 pm
Location: Portland, OR

Re: Zlosynth Insturments - Achordion

Post by ProggyBoog »

Same. I have not crossed, nor have any plans to cross, the DIY line. I'd definitely consider this if a prebuilt option was available, but as a DIY-only project, I have to pass, no matter how down my alley this module happens to be.
yellowecho
Wiggling with Experience
Posts: 369
Joined: Fri May 09, 2014 1:20 pm

Re: Zlosynth Insturments - Achordion

Post by yellowecho »

This is so cool Petr!
Dadodetres
Veteran Wiggler
Posts: 509
Joined: Sat Feb 20, 2021 1:23 pm

Re: Zlosynth Insturments - Achordion

Post by Dadodetres »

Nice !!
I wonder, in the video when you move the "detune" knob by hand it sounded like the different modes "jump" from one another without continuity, but when you added CV as an LFO I cannot her the "jump". I wondering if there is something missing there? like the LFO speed been ultra slow? Also, is there a chance of having smooth crossfade between detune modes? (when moving the knob by hand, and with CV in case it needs it).

Also, what does the "Tone" knob do? is it a filter (which specs?) a Shelf tone control? (at which frequency?) or some kind of "Tilt"? o other thing?

The Module sounds real nice and looks user friendly, it Pre-built options are available in the future I might grab one.
Thanks !
User avatar
Jumbuktu
Super Deluxe Wiggler
Posts: 1704
Joined: Mon Mar 23, 2015 5:03 am
Location: Melbourne, Australia

Re: Zlosynth Insturments - Achordion

Post by Jumbuktu »

ProggyBoog wrote: Tue Jun 07, 2022 4:11 pm Same. I have not crossed, nor have any plans to cross, the DIY line. I'd definitely consider this if a prebuilt option was available, but as a DIY-only project, I have to pass, no matter how down my alley this module happens to be.
It looks like all SMD components are already soldered, which makes it a pretty easy DIY job. I'm sure someone would build one for you.
User avatar
Jumbuktu
Super Deluxe Wiggler
Posts: 1704
Joined: Mon Mar 23, 2015 5:03 am
Location: Melbourne, Australia

Re: Zlosynth Insturments - Achordion

Post by Jumbuktu »

Ordered. This looks highly useful.
User avatar
hirnlego
Wiggling with Experience
Posts: 412
Joined: Tue Jan 26, 2016 7:15 am
Location: Barcelona

Re: Zlosynth Insturments - Achordion

Post by hirnlego »

Very interesting! Also, really happy to see another open source Daisy-based project :yay:
User avatar
zlosynth
Learning to Wiggle
Posts: 10
Joined: Tue Jun 07, 2022 12:02 pm
Location: Brno, Czechia
Contact:

Re: Zlosynth Insturments - Achordion

Post by zlosynth »

Thanks for all the responses! This is really exciting for me. I'll try to answer all below.
With a midi over TRS input it would have been an instant hit for me.
Good idea! I'll add it to the backlog of mk2, if that ever happens. I was not sure how prominent MIDI is in the eurorack world. Plus I was saving space on the panel.
I might be interested in a prebuilt one..
I may add a couple of pre-built ones to the store later. The thing is, I'm a messy and slow solderer myself. But then, using this as an opportunity to solder-relax once in a while would be nice too.
I wonder, in the video when you move the "detune" knob by hand it sounded like the different modes "jump" from one another without continuity, but when you added CV as an LFO I cannot her the "jump". I wondering if there is something missing there? like the LFO speed been ultra slow? Also, is there a chance of having smooth crossfade between detune modes? (when moving the knob by hand, and with CV in case it needs it).
Yes and no. So each detune mode is a spectrum, it starts with all the additional notes in tune, but as you move through the spectrum these additional notes get farther from the precise frequency. For example, in the second mode, the first note would be paired with a sub octave, say 440 Hz with 220 Hz. If you turn the detune up, the upper frequency stays on 440 Hz, but the lower one would get to 210 Hz, 200 Hz, ... The position within a mode is what was demonstrated with the LFO.

About changes between modes, they are all split into equal parts of the detune knob. First quarter is without detune, next quarter with sub-octave, next quarter with all notes duplicated, the last quarter with all notes extended with sub-octave and sub-sub-octave. When you are crossing two sections, the change will be abrupt, but it should not produce any pops - each new oscillator that is enabled with the detune would fade in within a few milliseconds. That way it should allow for musical (?) switching between the modes with a S&H, switching extra voices on and off.

About control with CV/hand, they should be equal. If CV is connected, the pot would just offset its signal.
Also, what does the "Tone" knob do? is it a filter (which specs?) a Shelf tone control? (at which frequency?) or some kind of "Tilt"? o other thing?
Hehe, nothing that smart. It just sets the frequency, quantized to a note within the selected scale.
happy to see another open source Daisy-based project
Oh heck yeah, it's a great platform. At the beginning I was trying to build it all myself, including the MCU part. But just the cost of parts alone was insane when ordering just a handful of chips. Plus Daisy has nice community around it, plenty of project examples, specs adjusted to audio needs... I think it's a good choice for people who may be more confident in programming than in electrical engineering.

Cheers!
miles_macquarrie
Veteran Wiggler
Posts: 706
Joined: Fri Dec 25, 2015 7:43 pm
Location: Atlanta, GA
Contact:

Re: Zlosynth Insturments - Achordion

Post by miles_macquarrie »

I got the last kit available in silver it seems. I'm excited!

I have someone building this for me as I cannot solder my way through of a wet paper bag.
Dadodetres
Veteran Wiggler
Posts: 509
Joined: Sat Feb 20, 2021 1:23 pm

Re: Zlosynth Insturments - Achordion

Post by Dadodetres »

zlosynth wrote: Wed Jun 08, 2022 12:57 pm Yes and no. So each detune mode is a spectrum, it starts with all the additional notes in tune, but as you move through the spectrum these additional notes get farther from the precise frequency. For example, in the second mode, the first note would be paired with a sub octave, say 440 Hz with 220 Hz. If you turn the detune up, the upper frequency stays on 440 Hz, but the lower one would get to 210 Hz, 200 Hz, ... The position within a mode is what was demonstrated with the LFO.

About changes between modes, they are all split into equal parts of the detune knob. First quarter is without detune, next quarter with sub-octave, next quarter with all notes duplicated, the last quarter with all notes extended with sub-octave and sub-sub-octave. When you are crossing two sections, the change will be abrupt, but it should not produce any pops - each new oscillator that is enabled with the detune would fade in within a few milliseconds. That way it should allow for musical (?) switching between the modes with a S&H, switching extra voices on and off.

About control with CV/hand, they should be equal. If CV is connected, the pot would just offset its signal.

Understand!
I wonder if having a mode in which the crossfading between modes would be much more longer, so It would be more usable in drone, ambient music, instead of S&H?

zlosynth wrote: Wed Jun 08, 2022 12:57 pm Hehe, nothing that smart. It just sets the frequency, quantized to a note within the selected scale.
AAA, didn't notice that there was not another "pitch" knob. I imagined that it was another knob for EQ shaping, which can always be done with another module, but might have one special calibrated for this specific module. Also "wave shaping" is "EQ`ing"

Thanks !
User avatar
Jumbuktu
Super Deluxe Wiggler
Posts: 1704
Joined: Mon Mar 23, 2015 5:03 am
Location: Melbourne, Australia

Re: Zlosynth Insturments - Achordion

Post by Jumbuktu »

miles_macquarrie wrote: Wed Jun 08, 2022 5:02 pm I got the last kit available in silver it seems. I'm excited!

I have someone building this for me as I cannot solder my way through of a wet paper bag.
Good to see that he has sold at least 3 of these.
I don't have mine yet, but when I read the user manual, I was surprised to see that some parameter changes are executed by holding the button and touching a patch cable to a jack. Never seen that before, not sure I like it, but it seems to work in the video!
Dadodetres
Veteran Wiggler
Posts: 509
Joined: Sat Feb 20, 2021 1:23 pm

Re: Zlosynth Insturments - Achordion

Post by Dadodetres »

zlosynth wrote: Wed Jun 08, 2022 6:25 pm That way it should allow for musical (?) switching between the modes with a S&H, switching extra voices on and off.

I find that knobs with different modes within the knob are really difficult to use, I always tend leave them in 1 place and not modulate them, since modulation within 1 mode has to have the source really attenuated, and also everything has to be really accurate.
It happens a lot to me with Marbles "steps" knob, which has 1 mode past 12 o`clock and another modes pre 12 o`clock.
I can imagine that having even more than 2 modes would make it even more difficult to use it, leaving it more towards "random results" than actual control. Having way longer cross fading time wont solve this but make it more musical for ambient (vs. rhythm). The most practical way I can think is selecting the Detune Mode with a Shift selection, and then having the whole knob be in that mode. I dont know if there is room for this, or all shift functions are taken.... also if doing this would sacrifice any other musical uses the module already have.
User avatar
zlosynth
Learning to Wiggle
Posts: 10
Joined: Tue Jun 07, 2022 12:02 pm
Location: Brno, Czechia
Contact:

Re: Zlosynth Insturments - Achordion

Post by zlosynth »

I cannot solder my way through of a wet paper bag.
Hehe :D I'm stealing that idiom.
I wonder if having a mode in which the crossfading between modes would be much more longer, so It would be more usable in drone, ambient music, instead of S&H?
That would be difficult to do. Some of the modes use the DSP platform on 100%, so it would not be possible to run the "other" mode at the same time to blend the two.

However, it would be quite straightforward to mod the existing modes to go to add different intervals than unisons and octaves. And they could detune into way more drastic levels. So if you'd want to have it so the first mode is a mellow pad, then the second one flies through brutal cacophony of detuned oscillators and then converge into heavier sound with suboctaves, that should be possible.

I'd be happy to provide small alterations of the firmware (detunes, chords, wavetables). You should be able to flash it even without a programmer. Similar to how Noise Engineering's Versio works.
I was surprised to see that some parameter changes are executed by holding the button and touching a patch cable to a jack.
Oh yeah, I thought of these features (un-quantized second voice, quantized chord CV, and overdrive) only late in the development cycle when I was already too attached to the panel design. So I sneaked in these extra features by abusing jack inputs as buttons.
The most practical way I can think is selecting the Detune Mode with a Shift selection, and then having the whole knob be in that mode
Shift on the detune knob controls the mode of the scale, so in theory it could be replaced, or perhaps the mode would replace the root of the scale if not needed.

It can be difficult to find the right amount of attenuation. I would usually run the LFO with a short interval, check the display to make sure it does not leak into the next mode (the right column of LEDs signalizes selected mode, the left one position within the mode), and once it fits in, I would slow the LFO down. But I would rarely use CV control of detune, since it is "moving" even when you leave it stationary. The difference of frequency of the detuned oscillator compared to the in-tune would change the timbre of the sound with the frequency equal to the difference of the two tones (puff, too many words).
Dadodetres
Veteran Wiggler
Posts: 509
Joined: Sat Feb 20, 2021 1:23 pm

Re: Zlosynth Insturments - Achordion

Post by Dadodetres »

zlosynth wrote: Thu Jun 09, 2022 1:12 pm Shift on the detune knob controls the mode of the scale, so in theory it could be replaced, or perhaps the mode would replace the root of the scale if not needed.
mmm the thing is that replacing the current function with this one might not be a good move, because we are sacrificing the scale mode selection, which is something people will want. Is there other way to set settings ?
zlosynth wrote: Thu Jun 09, 2022 1:12 pm It can be difficult to find the right amount of attenuation. I would usually run the LFO with a short interval, check the display to make sure it does not leak into the next mode (the right column of LEDs signalizes selected mode, the left one position within the mode), and once it fits in, I would slow the LFO down. But I would rarely use CV control of detune, since it is "moving" even when you leave it stationary. The difference of frequency of the detuned oscillator compared to the in-tune would change the timbre of the sound with the frequency equal to the difference of the two tones (puff, too many words).
Yes, that is what Im thinking also.... which makes it difficult to use, sometimes even un useful at all....
SirAdrianFish
Learning to Wiggle
Posts: 21
Joined: Wed May 18, 2022 3:01 pm
Location: Hamburg (Germany)

Re: Zlosynth Insturments - Achordion

Post by SirAdrianFish »

I am in to and eagerly awaiting the Achordion DIY-Kit
User avatar
zlosynth
Learning to Wiggle
Posts: 10
Joined: Tue Jun 07, 2022 12:02 pm
Location: Brno, Czechia
Contact:

Re: Zlosynth Insturments - Achordion

Post by zlosynth »

I am in to and eagerly awaiting the Achordion DIY-Kit
Thanks!
mmm the thing is that replacing the current function with this one might not be a good move, because we are sacrificing the scale mode selection, which is something people will want. Is there other way to set settings ?
Oh yeah, I'm happy with the compromises I made in the current firmware and don't plan to change it. The only way to alter the behavior would be to checkout https://github.com/zlosynth/achordion, change the source code, and flash it. Some changes may be simple (e.g. the mentioned detune/chord settings), others may require substantial changes.
SirAdrianFish
Learning to Wiggle
Posts: 21
Joined: Wed May 18, 2022 3:01 pm
Location: Hamburg (Germany)

Re: Zlosynth Insturments - Achordion

Post by SirAdrianFish »

So here we go...

Easy to build and great fun to work with.
photo_2022-06-18_16-07-45.jpg
photo_2022-06-18_16-09-09.jpg
photo_2022-06-18_16-09-24.jpg
User avatar
Jumbuktu
Super Deluxe Wiggler
Posts: 1704
Joined: Mon Mar 23, 2015 5:03 am
Location: Melbourne, Australia

Re: Zlosynth Insturments - Achordion

Post by Jumbuktu »

So I got my kit a couple of days ago. Roughly 4 weeks after I ordered, which is pretty much my experience with other orders from Czechia. As with my last order, tracking showed it awaiting international departure from Prague a few days after despatch, then there was no change for about 3 weeks and suddenly it appeared in my local post tracker. So don't think yours is stuck in Prague if there is no tracking update.

This was about the easiest build I have done. Both boards are 100% pre-populated with SMD components. All you have to do is solder a few PCB connectors, a power header and the panel hardware. The panel is nice thick aluminium, and there are nicely machined recesses for the pot waskers - never seen that before.

The kit contained a bonus - a pair of plastic wrenches for tightening the jack and pot nuts. These have gone straight into my toolbox, for future projects.

Once fired up, it is easy to get the kind of ambient soundbath that opens the demo video. Add a touch of detune and LFO sweeps on the wavetable and chord CVs, plus a bit of shimmer reverb and you are in heaven.

Using the more harmonically rich waveforms through a VCF or LPG can give some nice chord stabs. The wave tables offer a pretty good range of possibilities.

Whilst I was exploring the use of an external keyboard to control the chord root (Tone) I hit an unexpected snag. The manual explains how you can calibrate the module so the chords are laid out across an octave. I expected that this would give me the standard set of diatonic chords, like C, Dm, Em, F, G, Am, Bdim or some extension of these. Instead, what you get is the same chord structure applied to each degree of the scale. For example, if the selected chord type is a M7, you will get CM7, DM7, EM7, FM7, GM7, AM7, BM7 (assuming you are in Ionian mode with C as the root). In fact, if you want minor chords you will need to change the mode to Aeolian (there is no Harmonic Minor scale).

Is this a design flaw? At first I thought it was. It's not possible to create a diatonic chord sequence under CV control using Achordion because there is no CV control over mode. However, on reflection it would involve a complete redesign of Achordion to make it work around diatonic chord scales and anyway the diatonic chord scale that we know from jazz and pop can sometimes suck the magic out of the otherworldly sounds of modular sysths and make it sound like a cheap Casio keyboard. The Achordion approach seems to be to work in an established mode using changing chord structures to create interest, and the occasional shift to another root. In fact, it would be possible to use a modal jazz aproach to composition ... if only mode could be controlled by CV. I would be willing to give up the Detune CV input for this purpose, as detune tends to be set and forget.

I'd also like to reorganise the order of the modes from brightest to darkest so I can sweep through them to control harmoinc content. At the moment, they are in the order of the selected scale roots. It would be better if they were ordered Lydian, Ionian, Mixolydian, Dorian, Aeolian, Phrygian and last Locrian. That should be a fairly easy alternative firmware change. If possible, adding a harmonic minor scale ('mode') and changing the detune CV to control mode would complete my feature request list.

Rather than ending on a negative , I just want to say that I am enjoying this module a lot, and it's a great addition to a small system. I'll try recording some examples for this thread when I get a chance.
User avatar
zlosynth
Learning to Wiggle
Posts: 10
Joined: Tue Jun 07, 2022 12:02 pm
Location: Brno, Czechia
Contact:

Re: Zlosynth Insturments - Achordion

Post by zlosynth »

Hello Jumbuktu, thanks a lot for the feedback and deep dive into harmony! I appreciate it for sure.

The issue with chords is odd. Achordion was actually designed to snap chords to the selected scale. When I dial in C ionian with 7th chord, with tone being controlled using CV and it is correctly going over CM7, Dm7, Em7, etc. If you get a chance, would you please try it again, and if you see it reproducing, could you share which exact parameter values are dialed in? Feel free to correct me if I misunderstood the issue.

About modal approach, that actually sounds great when you describe it. I was playing with that at the beginning, but when the time came for me to purge some of the sockets, tonic and mode settings were kicked out (thinking nobody would use it anyway, wrong I was). I tend to agree with you about detune CV. Reordering the modes should be indeed a straightforward change. Adding harmonic minor would require little bit of tweaking, but should be doable too.

I will be experimenting with these features. If you'd be interested in beta-testing, I can share the alternative firmware. It should be possible to flash it through web browser. I would be interested to hear from you how you'd use for some fancier harmonies.

At this point, I would not change the vanilla configuration, but I'm thinking about adding options to the store, allowing to select custom set of features. And I would upload all versions of the firmware to GitHub, in case folks would like to replace it later.

It has been fun building it, I'm happy you have fun playing it! :)
User avatar
Jumbuktu
Super Deluxe Wiggler
Posts: 1704
Joined: Mon Mar 23, 2015 5:03 am
Location: Melbourne, Australia

Re: Zlosynth Insturments - Achordion

Post by Jumbuktu »

zlosynth wrote: Wed Jul 13, 2022 11:37 am The issue with chords is odd. Achordion was actually designed to snap chords to the selected scale. When I dial in C ionian with 7th chord, with tone being controlled using CV and it is correctly going over CM7, Dm7, Em7, etc. If you get a chance, would you please try it again, and if you see it reproducing, could you share which exact parameter values are dialed in? Feel free to correct me if I misunderstood the issue.

About modal approach, that actually sounds great when you describe it. I was playing with that at the beginning, but when the time came for me to purge some of the sockets, tonic and mode settings were kicked out (thinking nobody would use it anyway, wrong I was). I tend to agree with you about detune CV. Reordering the modes should be indeed a straightforward change. Adding harmonic minor would require little bit of tweaking, but should be doable too.

I will be experimenting with these features. If you'd be interested in beta-testing, I can share the alternative firmware. It should be possible to flash it through web browser. I would be interested to hear from you how you'd use for some fancier harmonies.

At this point, I would not change the vanilla configuration, but I'm thinking about adding options to the store, allowing to select custom set of features. And I would upload all versions of the firmware to GitHub, in case folks would like to replace it later.
Thanks for that! I was originally controlling it with a Doboz TSNM Mk 2 which is in a separate case. Perhaps I messed up the calibration procedure?

I tried with an external keyboard, and it worked just as you described. That's great, exactly what I was looking for. I am going to try again with the TSNM and see if I can reproduce the original behaviour.

I think you made a sensible choice about the CV inputs, as the modal composition idea might not be used by everyone. I would still like to try it. You would need to have CV control over both the mode and root note, so another CV would need to be sacrificed. I would be happy to beta test any alternative firmwares you come up with. I will PM you separately.

It's a pity there isn't one more CV socket available. Might it be possible to have an alternate CV configuration that could be selected by (say) powering up the module with the button pressed, or something like that?
User avatar
zlosynth
Learning to Wiggle
Posts: 10
Joined: Tue Jun 07, 2022 12:02 pm
Location: Brno, Czechia
Contact:

Re: Zlosynth Instruments - Achordion

Post by zlosynth »

I have added harmonic minor and it sounds sick! Thanks for suggesting that.

About reconfiguration, here's what I'm thinking:
1. User holds the button for 10 seconds,
2. module enters configuration mode,
3. LEDs signalize which attributes (overdrive, modal playing, mode order) are set ON/OFF,
4. turning the wavetable knob moves through all the possible combinations,
5. clicking the button again stores the configuration.

WRT one missing jack in the modal mode, I would use detune for mode and second tone input for the root note.

I'll share the new firmware once it is ready.
User avatar
zlosynth
Learning to Wiggle
Posts: 10
Joined: Tue Jun 07, 2022 12:02 pm
Location: Brno, Czechia
Contact:

Re: Zlosynth Instruments - Achordion

Post by zlosynth »

Version v2.2.0 is out https://github.com/zlosynth/achordion/r ... tag/v2.2.0

Thanks lots for all the feedback. The new release introduces:
  • Harmonic minor mode.
  • Scale modes can be sorted by brightness.
  • CV inputs can be remapped to control scale's tonic and mode.
The release notes linked above contain detailed changelog and a guide describing how to flash the firmware (the only prerequisites are Chrome and a micro USB cable). The next batch of modules will come with this firmware.

Edit: I forgot the mention, the link above also contains a new version of the user manual, with detailed description of newly introduced features at the bottom.
Post Reply

Return to “1U & 3U Eurorack Modules”