Make Noise 2018: STO

[Listen to STO get annihilated by modulation] or [hear STO chill with delay and verb]

STO is the sonic heart of our little system. It’s not the most imposing looking oscillator out there. For eight hp, why would we bother when there are other small offerings out there, in the same price range, with twice as many wave forms on tap? Don’t let the STO’s simple looks fool you. Sound on tap? Nah. STO blows up the dam, then asks if you’re ready for more!

Lets start with the basics:

  • The sine output throws out a simple sine wave. I know, blew you mind there didn’t I. It seems an odd choice, since it sounds just like the Shape output with the shape control fully CCW. But, not only does the sine kick-out some sweet bass, it also makes a great modulations source. It’s always there for a quick plug-out to FM (linear or exponential) cross modulate, self modulate, ring modulate and more. It’s also fine for some smooth, subtle tones.
  • Sub is a nice sub-octave square(ish) signal, that can really fatten up your sound and proves quite beastly on its own. Under heavy FM the sound tends toward noise, and indeed, you can use it to make some really grungy, industrial sounds. The S-Gate gates the Sub signal when a cable is attached. It’s not a VCA and not always a very elegant solution, but it still opens up some interesting possibilities, especially when you get experimental with it.
  • Shape is really the featured output of the STO. Depending on the position of the Shape knob or CV it ranges from clean sine to something else altogether. The beauty of the Shape parameter is the sound it creates, the sound is similar to opening and closing an LPF. As the knob is turned from CW to CCW the signal changes from harmonically rich to sine, which sounds almost muted by comparison. There’s a great range of sounds, which varies a bit octave to octave. It can go from clean and glassy, to full bodied, to hairy and even a bit nasal at the end of the range. Sweeping it sounds almost electric. And the Shape control can do some great stuff while the oscillator is under modulation as well. (Oh, and dont forget to try using the Shape to modulate other oscillators or itself, and then tweak or CV the shape parameter.)

While basic operation gives us a fine pallet of sounds to work with, STO comes into its own under modulation. We can create fake delays modulating the shape CV. Under frequency modulation it ranges from strings, to metal, to apocalyptic noise-scapes and straight up nonsense. It can sound shockingly good with self-patching. Jamming the Sub out into the linear FM can really fatten up the signal in the lower register, and leaves us open to get freaky with the shape knob and really tear things up. Sync brings glitchy, tearing and digital sounds and more.

STO’s apparent simplicity belies a very capable little module. It is very modulation friendly, both as a source and recipient of control voltages. The sound of the shape parameter being modulated, while reminiscent of certain other sounds is really its own thing and for me its wonderful under modulation and incredibly satisfying to wiggle.


*There is one caveat with the STO: A lot (but by no means all) of our modulation sources tend toward the -5V to +5V range, or 0V to +5V. STO’s Shape input however expects a 0V to +8V CV. That means that 0V to +5V CVs are going to need offset or, preferably, amplification to fully modulate the parameter. And -5V to +5V CVs will need to be attenuated and offset to provide a proper sweep of the Shape. The nice thing about working within a complete Make Noise system, is that their modulation sources work in the 0V to +8V range, so its no big deal.


Honorable Mentions:
Make Noise STO

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