Zorx Electronics
Bluebox Eurorack - 1010 Music

Bluebox Eurorack - 1010 Music

by Ian Rapp

There was a fight over this review in the Waveform HQ. Numerous email threads exchanged between various reviewers with something along the lines of, “If 1010 ever makes a Eurorack bluebox, I get to review it!” in the email body. Well, I must have done something right because this was exactly what was sent my way. I have the tabletop bluebox and love it. So (so so so) many times I was on the cusp of getting out the velcro to figure out a way to attach the table top into my modular rig, so I am very grateful to 1010 for sending this on, sparing me from having to do this.
Even if they had somehow just ported the ins and outs to the front of the Euro version and done nothing else, I would have been excited, but Euro bluebox has some new features as well. It has twelve mono or six stereo paired inputs and uses regular TS 3.5mm inputs, a nice touch as to get the stereo feature on the tabletop you need to use a TRS breakout cable for each channel, which is fine on the desktop, but would have been a pain in a modular setting. Also new are another pair of outputs for an effects loop or other routing options. My favorite new feature are the six CV inputs, which can be used to modulate different things like track level and panning. I love being able to automate panning in percussion, ambient, and background stuff in my patches, and it was one thing that I would love to have had in the tabletop version. Bluebox Eurorack has USB-C or TRS MIDI connectivity, which will allow you to connect a MIDI controller or DAW for automation use as well as the CV inputs.
The way the touchscreen interface is laid out, with the ins and outs to the left and bottom-ish of the screen, mean that it’s pretty easy to keep the visual free of cable clutter and it’s easy to get to. I keep my mixer in the bottom right of my case and am pretty religious about making sure that I route everything away from the screen, though I think if I had it mounted in a smaller case I might be tempted to put it in the upper right corner so that nothing would be above it, but it’s really nice not having to reach too far to get to the screen.
I love having the onboard reverb, delay and EQ, which all sound great. Another thing, which might be normal in a studio mixer or DAW, but not so in modular, is the ability to label/name tracks and it’s a feature that’s way handier than you’d think to keep things straight. It’s almost funny to think about any consistent mixing situation (club, studio, even small drum setup with multiple mics) where things are always labeled, and realize how long we’ve gone without a modular version of this. With patches getting more and more detailed and dense, something as simple as track labels is really helpful. Sure, there’s tape, but c’mon…
Mapping the CV inputs to any parameter will be familiar to anyone who has MIDI-mapped before, and practically anything that can be accessed via the touchscreen in bluebox can be mapped. While you can only route one CV to one destination, having six CV Inputs covered most of my bases. Panning, volume, effect amounts, gain, tone…is there any other mixer in Eurorack that can do this? Sure, this is par for the course for any DAW, but not so for in-the-rig mixers.
I was really surprised how much I enjoyed and utilized the X/Y grid mode for the effects as a live performance tool. In this mode you can tweak the delay’s frequency and bandwidth or the size and level of the reverb and it’s kind of like having a Kaossilator on board. Once I got set up with my mix, I would use bluebox for this purpose, and in this way I was able to integrate it as a performance tool in my rack and not just a “set and forget” type of mixer. There is a small catch: unless you want to alter the effects outputs for your main output then you can really only use the effects on one track.
Recording into bluebox Euro is also familiar to those who are accustomed to the tabletop version and it’s so nice to have this in an onboard mixer.
Recording is easy, but file management can be skewy. You can record multiple takes, but recalling them for playback via bluebox means you have to change and select the various files for each track, not an easy task if you have a handful of takes for each track, and this doesn’t correlate to the timeline so well since you can move your recording start point for multiple takes further down on the same timeline. Bluebox saves each take under the track as a new file and you can’t export the timeline as you see it on the screen, so it can be confusing if you want to export files and recreate what you’ve recorded on the timeline, provided it isn’t just one take.
There are some quirks in this realm and a few things I think would be helpful: First, after recording something, in order to hear it back you need to unarm all the tracks first. For integrating into DAW recording scenarios in a more seamless fashion it would be nice to have usb multichannel outs and USB-C audio streaming. I would also love to see quad panning, compression for each channel, and some more delay effects types.
I think for live performance I’d probably still go for something with more knobs and no need to touch/switch screens to change parameters (though using a midi controller with the bluebox might work well for you in that respect), but the emphasis there is on the word “performance,” if you want to rock your mixer as an instrument. This isn’t really made for that, and really, I’m very pleased with the bluebox Eurorack, it’s everything (though, I still want more…always!) I could have wanted. 1010 didn’t just add a faceplate and direct the ins and outs to the front and call it a day, they added some very usable features while still retaining the core elements of the desktop version that make both blueboxes such a win.

Price: $699