by ian rapp
Stasis Leak is the name of an episode of the cult British sci-fi comedy [complete with canned laughter] TV show, Red Dwarf. In the show, Red Dwarf is the name of a spaceship, an odd name due to the fact that as I watched the episode [I’d never heard of the show before, but you’ve got to do your due diligence when it comes to research, right?] it’s pretty apparent at the outset that the ship is pretty damn huge, and not Dwarf-like at all. Early on in the episode, the character known as Rimmer accuses another character, Lister [the last human alive, by the way—Rimmer evolved from a cat, but is in human form?!], of smuggling hallucinogenic mushrooms on board the ship, ingesting them, and going to the proverbial “Trip out City”.
I’m not sure if the ship was the inspiration for the name given by Frequency Central to its 48kHz DSP based Eurorack effects module, which, unlike the spacecraft the Red Dwarf, is not huge at all—residing at only 6HP—or maybe the inspiration is the hope of going to “Trip Out City” in a musical sense by using this module. Either way, this module is indeed inspired. Note that there is also a pedal version of this [minus the CV control], but as it was, I was to spend time with the module only, so this review will consist solely of that overview.
Stasis Leak is a mono in, mono or stereo out effects unit with a tap tempo delay, plate reverb, and chorus. This unit is based around a Coolaudio V1000 chip, utilized by Belton in their ABE-FX sub board. If you’re familiar with the Belton Brick [which you most assuredly are, at least in sound—it’s in an incredible amount of reverb units] then you know that Belton knows how to pack up effects quite tidily for ease of use for builders and manufacturers. Lucky for us, they know how to pack it to sound quite good as well.
The two main knobs, TIME and DENSITY control different functions for each effect. For ease of clarity, I found this chart describing this on the Frequency Central website. Additionally, both knobs also have their own CV in, and when patched, the knob attenuates the incoming CV, which handles 0-5V, a great implementation. There are also two smaller knobs, TONE and WET. TONE is a LPF, handy for keeping the signal from losing its coherence. The WET knob is the amount of effect combined with the dry signal. Fully counter-clockwise is 100% dry, and fully clockwise 100% wet. If you use Stasis Leak in a send/return situation, there is a Dry Lift jumper. To round out the features, there is a SYNC in as well as a TAP TEMPO switch, for manually setting the tempo for the delay, with a blinking LED indicating the tempo in quarter note denominations.
While this is a mono in/stereo out effect, the delay is only mono. I’m a fan of Ping-Pong delays, and that would have been a nice feature, but the delay sounds good, so I wasn’t too bummed. The delay times range from 50-1000ms, and setting the tempo via the TAP TEMPO or CV in for the TIME, changes the function of the TIME knob to where it dictates the tempo’s subdivisions, the options being: 8th note triplet, 8th note, dotted 8th, and quarter note. There is no CV in to modulate the amount of the effect in the mix, so to get close to being able to turn the delay on and off, I used a square wave LFO to control the DENSITY [in effect turning the effect on and off] and that yielded me what I was looking for, though it took a second for the delay to kick in after the LFO went high. There was always some delay present in the signal, meaning that I wasn’t able to turn the delay effect fully off via this way of modulation–not surprising as I was again, controlling density and not mix amount–but I was pleased that it got close overall without having to use other modules to split the signal to create the same result.
It is suggested by Frequency Central that when using the chorus effect in mono, that you should combine both the left and right output of Stasis Leak as they are 90 degrees out of phase with each other. I am in full agreement with this suggestion as without doing so, you will not get the full chorus effect. Using the TONE knob in Chorus mode, added some hiss when fully open, but also had more high end detail, and ultimately a much more noticeable chorus effect and so I preferred not to cut anything and let the Stasis Leak’s freak flag fly. Using an LFO synced to a master clock to CV the TIME and DENSITY proved a very worthwhile tactic for syncing up the Stasis Leak to play nice with a patch. I was almost shocked to realize how much I liked the chorus effect on, as historically I’ve strongly disliked the effect—probably a hangover from my guitar playing days when every chorus pedal sounded cheesy to my ears. I must have turned over a new leaf as the Stasis Leak’s chorus fattened up my leads while adding horizontal [that’s how it felt, at least] movement. Panning hard left and right added some nice stereo imaging ranging from soft and subtle, to the soundtrack of being on the verge of a nervous breakdown. Processing drums through it was a lot of fun as well.
Lastly, the plate reverb effect sounded nice, and completely usable. There was some nice subtle shifting between the right and left channels when in stereo mode, and unlike the other modes, I actually preferred to cut some of the high end out of the mix with the TONE knob to control it a bit. Cranking the DENSITY knob fully clockwise got a decent amount of feedback. I would say this is more of a handy reverb to have than something that will blow you away with its sound sculpting possibilities, and overall, that’s kind of the gist of this module. While it is an effects module, I almost see it as a utility module, and an extremely useful one to have in your kit. A perfect fit for those with smaller systems: easily accessible, excellent sounding, and without the option paralysis causing bells and whistles a lot of effects modules have, Stasis Leak does what it professes to do, does it well, and won’t break up your workflow.
6 HP +12V: 96mA -12V: 14mA