Zlob Modular — Entropy Expander

by Ellison Wolf

Żłob Modular — Entropy Expander

I reviewed the Żłob Entropy—their 3HP random voltage and noise generator—in issue #1 and have been using it a lot ever since. It’s a great module for sample/track & hold duties and the myriad colors of noise that are available for sound sculpting and for the small space it takes up it offers up a lot. One of the aspects that I really like about Żłob modules are that if you’re into DIY and don’t have the steadiest of hands [like me], they use only through hole components, so if you’re handy you can build them yourself and add to your rack for less money than buying a completed module. The Entropy Expander continues this tradition by coming in kit form [though I received a completed module for this review], and has been in the works for a bit. Now that it’s finally landed, it adds even more functionality and colors and only takes up an additional 3HP.

While the outputted voltage of the Entropy lives up to its name, the order of the new expander is anything but random and follows a pretty logical order. If you look at both modules next to each other, with the main module on the left, as you go from top left to bottom right, the available outputs add more parameters as they go along so that the Entropy output on the Expander is THE output—being the main output for everything—and is affected by all of the controls from both modules that preceded it. The output on the Entropy, for example, is not affected by the Glide, Comparator, Random Gate In, etc. In a sense, you could say the Expander’s output is the sum of all of Entropy’s parts.

Going back to the top of the Expander, control-wise from top to bottom you have Glide, controlled by a trimmer style potentiometer, Sample/Track and Hold Out, a Comparator Input with adjustable Threshold via another trimmer, a Random Gate input, Blue and Violet noise, Switch CV In—for switching between S/T\H and infrared [smooth random]—and Entropy Output.

Glide amount is controlled by a pot, and I think this a pretty necessary S/T\H feature so that now you can have stepped or smooth voltage outputs. At first I was a little bummed that Glide didn’t affect the output of the main module, but I realized that it’s nice to be able to send the same voltage/s to different sound sources and have one stepped and another smoothed if desired. Panned hard left and right, and this can be pretty interesting. It would have been nice to have the option to select various glide types [linear, exponential, random?], but that’s not something found on a lot of synths/modules anyway, so…The S/T\H Out is the output for the Glide, but is not affected by any of the Ins/Outs below it.

The Comparator, Random Gate In [indicated by the LED next to it], and Switch CV are all interconnected, kind of like cousins. The Random Gate compares normalled white noise to a voltage that is set by the Threshold, and the Comparator In is if you want to use something other than the white noise to compare with. The Random Gate is normalled to the Switch In, so it can go randomly from the S/T\H Out [as indicated by the blue LED on the left] to an infrared voltage, as indicated by the red LED. If you patch something into the Switch In, it breaks its normalled path from the Random Gate. The threshold, without having anything inputted on the Comparator In, can operate on its own, and alternates between the sample/track/hold and infrared randomness and can get going at a frenetic glitchy rate if turned up high enough for some pretty weird movement.

The Expander is a really cool add-on for Entropy, and for me, the Glide is what makes it worth getting. The ability to adjust the amount of glide for smoothed steps is invaluable, and that—along with the multiple outputs and being able to CV between S/T\H and infrared via a few different ways—makes the Expander a must have if you’ve already got Entropy.

3HP +12v 15mA 10mA -12v

Price: $75