by Daniel miller
If you’re sitting in front of your Eurorack rig and wondering, “How will I ever get this cover of ‘10:15 Saturday Night’ by The Cure, with those super sweet drum parts, all in one patch?”, well look no further. As part of their Techno System, Erica Synths brings us a “Cymbals” module, one that’s packed full of features and 10 custom ride and crash cymbal sample sets, all in a tidy 10hp space. Produced and crafted by musician Nero Bellum, of the band Psyclon Nine, these samples have been given a warm analog sound by passing them through a AS3330 based VCA, while still retaining the crisp digital bite and stability one would expect from a sample based kit.
Cymbals gives us one global tune knob that handles the overall pitch for both cymbals simultaneously and a Select knob, for selecting the bank of samples. There is no indentation, only visual demarcations for this knob, so you have to pay close attention to where the knob is if you like a particular sample set. Additionally, all 10 sample packs are tied together in pairs. So, for example, if you wanted to combine crash number 6 with ride number 2, you’re out of luck. Since the cymbals are sonically linked this makes sense, but it would be nice to have the option to mix and match. The same could be said for the global tune knob as well, but adding these options would be sure to increase the module size, and for the amount of sounds and options you get with Cymbals, 10hp is no small feat. Especially when compared to same size or bigger drum modules that are much more limited in terms of sounds and control over those sounds.
In contrast to the Tune and Select knobs, both the ride and crash cymbals have their own Decay knobs as well as inputs for CV control over the Decay, so you can have a long decay and then bring them down into nice sharp bright metallic sounds for some tight crisp hits and vice versa.
The last two knobs are attenuators that let you dial in the perfect amount of CV to the overall tuning and decay of both the samples simultaneously.
This module really starts to shine when you start applying subtle amounts of modulation into the Crash Decay and Ride Decay CV inputs. A slow LFO or random modulation opens up the feel of your drum pattern, giving it a more human feel. Combine this with playing around with the loop toggles while your pattern is running, and you’re left with some really nice happy accidents that give your groove some breathing room. The loop switch is a really fun feature, as when it’s on you’re left with a delay type of effect from the samples being caught in different loop points at different stages of the decay.
Finally, there is an accent input to apply even further rhythmic variations and two additional trimpots are found on the back side of the module allowing you to adjust the overall sensitivity of the accent. Another two trimpots on the back allow you to adjust the shape of the VCA ranging, which spans from sharp and aggressive [logarithmic setting] to smooth and drawn out [linear setting.]
As part of the Erica Synths Techno System, Cymbals makes a lot of sense. It fits in perfectly with the feel and sound of that system, and I can’t think of any other cymbal module you’d want if that’s the system you’ve got going. Outside of the Techno System, it still sounds really good. It blended well with my other drum modules, and for the most part, the 10 sample packs covered pretty much any crash and/or ride sound I could want.
10 HP 95mA +12V 36mA -12V