Zorx Electronics
Batumi II, Poti II - XAOC Devices

Batumi II, Poti II - XAOC Devices

by Jason Czyeryk

For the past few years the two modules that have stayed in my case through numerous rack overhauls were ALM’s Pamela’s New Workout and Xaoc Devices’ Batumi. Pam’s gave up its amateur status and went Pro (finally!) a little while ago, and now Batumi has followed suit, though (like Pam’s) it’s always been “pro” in my book, no new rank needed. I always found the original Batumi to be such a great module for quick and easy bipolar modulation sources where all four channels could operate independently of each other—very useful—or in various familial ways, also very useful. While I truly love Batumi, and it will always have a place in my heart, once Batumi II entered the ring I haven’t given um…the..other, ummm (I forgot its name already…), uh…the “before” one…another thought.
Not merely a new version of an old classic, Batumi II has been completely redesigned from the bottom up, and while it retains its original winning layout and looks almost exactly the same—you’d be hard pressed to tell the two apart—it’s a definite upgrade. Some things are the same: Batumi II still has four channels of LFOs, but now they can now go into audio rates with 1V/Oct tracking, for use as VCOs. Like before, there are still four modes: Free (all oscillators operate on their own accord with a range of 0.01Hz to 100Hz), Phase (all oscillators are a phase-shifted waveform of channel 1 from 0º to 360º), Divide (use your math), and a new Multiply (math again?!) mode. Also like the original, there are three waveforms (Sine, ASGN, and Rectangle) available for each channel. Don’t whine about not having a square wave. You have rectangle waves, ok? As noted, the middle waveform output, ASGN, can be switched between triangle, downward saw, upward saw, trapezoid (who doesn’t love a trapezoid?), and smooth and stepped random. This gluttony of waveform options is by far my favorite update on II, and having the two random options feels wonderfully indulgent. In terms of clocking, you can sync with whatever clock source you want with the new Batumi, or have II be the clock source with its fancy rectangle out. Also, each channel can be synced separately as well, which makes II really usable in various parts of a patch for synced modulation.
Using Batumi II as a VCO, and using any channel as a VCO mode to modulate another channel was good fun, and as I’d never ever ever thought of the original as a sound source in any capacity, it’s interesting to see an old (updated) friend in a new light. I got some great sounds out of II, and I used it as a VCO on a couple of tracks I was working on as the main sound source. DX-7-type FM tones, phase modulation, cross modulating/self-patching for use as a more complex VCO…Batumi really serves up a wide breadth of sounds with its array of waveforms, and it can change drastically when modulated, especially with the self-patching available. You can modulate it in so many ways, though being tasteful and showing restraint was key, and this sounded different from mode to mode. There were a few times I patched it to the hilt and the result was just noise. Not that I don’t love me some good noise. It’s interesting to use Batumi II as a VCO, but I know I’m mostly going to use it as an LFO, and it’d be a pretty hard habit to break as that’s what I’d been using the original for all these years. I can see myself using it for percussive trigger duties, and in Division or Multiplication mode a lot. Adding modulation to any of the channels gives a little chance, a little off-script rhythmic deviation so it never stays in one place too long; this concept can be expanded with the stepped random LFO modulating the sync of a given channel, and using II as a complex oscillator, with two channels as VCOs modulating each other while the two other channels modulate the modulators, that which are also being modulated…I’m sorry, I lost my train of thought, lost in a never-ending tempest of modulation.
The original Batumi had the Poti expander to handle extra duties, and Batumi II has incorporated those original Poti features. “But,” you say, “there is still a Poti!?” You mean Poti II, another update, which adds even more flexibility and control by allowing per-channel attenuation of the frequency/phase/ratio (depending on what mode you’re in), Sine and ASGN voltages (nice!), and has assignable CV modulation of each channel’s waveforms (nice again!) so you can really mangle things. Poti II lets you select which channel you’re doing all of this for (though you can make universal changes as well) via a small channel selector button, and this channel selection lets you select the ASGN waveform per-channel so you don’t have to flip the module over and fidget with tweezer-needing jumpers like some modulating caveman, like it’s 2013 or something. This per-channel stuff is extremely helpful as it allows you to have four different ASGN waveforms for use and different amounts of attenuation for each channel, and all of this per-channel info is saved in Batumi II’s memory on power down.
We’ve come a long way since the original Batumi and Poti were released, as witnessed by this new updated version. I hate to say it, but there’s really no comparison. If all you’re looking for are four channels of LFOs with some extras I’m sure the original versions will work well for you. I mean, I loved the original Batumi, but II (+ Poti II) makes the first seem quaint by comparison. I’m usually slow to adopt change, and I’m definitely not one who has to purchase the latest version of something just because it’s the newest—as witnessed by the fact that I’m typing this on a 3 inch thick “laptop” that weighs probably fifteen pounds. It’s just that Batumi II and Poti II are very worthy updates.

Price: Batumi II $369, Poti II $99