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MiniMod Tap Tempo VC-LFO - AJH Synth

MiniMod Tap Tempo VC-LFO - AJH Synth

by Jason Czyeryk

While the tap-tempo function is what I was most interested in checking out on the well-named AJH Synths MiniMod Tap Tempo VC-LFO, this LFO is unlike any LFO I’d ever tried out before—and I’ve tried out many. Usually with LFO modules you get a few shapes to choose from, an input to CV the rate and/or synch, and a few bells and whistles, but the MMTTVC-LFO is like discovering craft beer after years of nothing but agro-corporate light beer. You wouldn’t know it by looking at the module, as there’s nothing particularly flashy about it or the whole AJH MiniMod line of modules for that matter. They are classic, timeless, confidently excellent. But what makes this module different from other LFOs?
First, rather than just a couple of waveforms, MMTTVC-LFO gives us sixteen, divided into two banks that are switch selectable [and CVable]. There are various parameters in which to modulate the waveforms; WF-TWIST [a PWM-like function over the LFO shapes], MULTIPLY [which changes the rate of the LFO from half to four times the speed], FREQ [which sets the rate of the LFO and is indicated by the LED above it with a range from 0.05Hz to 50kHz], and LEVEL, [which sets the amount of the applied LFO]. LEVEL runs through a dual VCA which controls the output of the two outputs on offer here; B OUT [bipolar], and U OUT [unipolar]. One of the things I love about AJH modules is that they usually have CV control over most of the important functions, and it’s the same here. Everything is CV controllable, including the two banks, as you can switch between BANKS 1 and 2 of the selected rotary switch position—provided the BANK toggle is in the up position—and also patch CV in to modulate between all of the available waveform shapes as well. So you can CV BANK to BANK and SHAPE to SHAPE. You can morph the LFO shapes with the WF-TWIST to make new shapes and get swelling modulated ratchets by using some CV to modulate the WF-TWIST and the LEVEL. Speaking of, the built in VCA is great to fade in/out of modulation using external CV—such as another LFO to modulate the modulation!—and also to attenuate the amount of the LFO modulation without needing to patch into another module; perfect for when you just want a small amount of modulation on a given parameter. When CV is patched in, the controls for each parameter become attenuators, doubling their functionality.
You can also patch in some clock to control the frequency and there’s a CLOCK OUT that puts out a signal equal to that of the CLOCK IN and the MULTIPLY control. It’s a great addition, especially since it’s not just a duplicate of the CLOCK IN, as you can easily mult that somewhere else. It’s also pretty cool that you can use the MULTIPLY as a clock divider [though, as mentioned, it only divides by half] and a clock multiplier to use for more modulation or clock/synch duties.
I was going crazy with testing out this module, and it’s no understatement to say that it was a revelation. It’s not just the changing of shapes—plenty of LFOs have random options, but the synchable modulation opportunities for every aspect of any given shape, whether it was a timing thing, a number of repeats crammed in a certain time space thing, or a PWM-ish thing, there are so many instances—like the switching between the two banks—that you just can’t find anywhere else. LFO modulation has never been this fun—or this interesting. You can even self-patch to go bonkers with the shapes [and timing].
Like I said, the main reason I was initially excited to check out this module was due to its tap tempo feature as I kept thinking how cool it was going to be to synch up modulation on the fly with the avant-garde/improv/noise trio that I occasionally play in as a 4th-ish member, consisting of drums, bass, and screamcore vocals. We/they’re constantly changing tempos, feel, etc., and the changes are very random, with just a quick nod of the head by our drummer to signify an upcoming change, so you really have to be on your toes…and our tempoes. I’d already added a 4ms Tapographic Delay as well as tried out various tap tempo tremolo pedals for this outfit to try and keep up—if possible—but the idea of quickly and easily tapping and tempoing modulation had me way excited.
And so, after an ad hoc performance in front of four aural-fatigued friends who’d already heard more than their fair share of our version of noise, one of our attendees paid me the highest—and simultaneously, lowest—compliment by saying that our output of the day was, “Way more musical than normal,” and “very nearly listenable.” I was both perturbed and elated. Perturbed because our collective mindset isn’t to create “listenable music,” but rather push the outer limi…actually, I’m not really sure what we’re trying to accomplish now that I think of it, as we’ve never discussed any sort of goals, musical or otherwise, so perhaps I shouldn’t have been perturbed. I was also, however, elated because, I too sensed that we might have hit upon something, and personally, I felt like I’d turned a corner. Of course I say this somewhat in jest, but my other noisemates seemed to pick up on this as well, and genuinely seemed even more pleased than normal after we played. Perhaps I’ll be a fourth wheel no longer [actually, four wheels are a good thing, right? More stable?], and will someday be a full- fledged member, making us a quartet. Only time will tell.
Either way, I almost wholeheartedly attribute this new, synched up musicality to the MMTTVC-LFO, which I had multed into a Zorx 1U CV Bus that lets me attenuvert and multiply a signal so that I had multiple variances of my synched up LFO modulation in various strengths and polarity going to numerous modules/parameters. I rocked that tap tempo all night long, modulating filter cutoffs, VCAs, various VCO parameters…and kept up with the 4/4s, 5/7s, 3/9s, 17/18ths and whatever else I couldn’t mathematically tabulate that was being thrown at me with nods of the head.
This is a great module that I can’t recommend enough. I would sure love to see an AJH MMTTVC-QLFO. Yes, Q For quad!

12 HP +12v 35mA -12v 25mA
Price: $299