Zorx Electronics
QV-L - Five12

QV-L - Five12

by Ellison Wolf

When we reviewed Five12’s Vector sequencer a while ago, one of the things on my wish list was to have integrated LFOs. I’d hoped that maybe in the future there might be some update to include that, perhaps being able to use some of the Vector or Jack Expander’s outputs by reassigning the routing configuration or something like that. I have no idea if this is even technically possible, and isn’t necessarily optimal, especially if you’re using those outputs on Vector or Jack Expander already. Well, push my paltry idea aside because Five12 has released QV-L, a four-channel LFO/EG, which integrates with Vector and can also live very well on its own, thank you very much.
As mentioned, QV-L is a quad LFO and envelope generator, and it sort of mirrors Vector’s layout on a smaller and more vertical-looking scale with its two black and white OLED displays at the top of the module. This is where you do all of your selecting of things, or veg out at the waveforms scrolling across the screens as I did. At the time of writing QV-L offers nineteen LFO shapes—everything from Sine to S&H to stair step up/down—and even includes noise/random shapes and some envelope shapes (AR and ASR), too. There are also three combo/morphing shapes—Sine/Triangle, Saw/Triangle, and Saw/Square—with the ability to choose 100% of either of the two shapes and everything in between. Want an ever-so-slightly squarish saw wave LFO? Tweak the SHAPE knob to taste and you can do exactly that. One great thing about QV-L is that when you’re tweaking something, you can see the waveform you’re creating on the right-side screen. This is helpful as well as instructive, and if you wind up creating something that you’d like to save, you can do so and recall it later as QV-L has preset slots for saving your customized shapes.
Alternating between the separate channels is intuitive enough by pressing each channel’s Edit button to navigate forwards and the Trig button to navigate backwards for going through the editing pages. As for pages, there’s a customizable main Output page, where you can quickly edit three user-assignable parameters for each waveform in that pair, and edit pages for each output. The left channel’s pages (channels 1 and 2) are LFO 1, Output 1, LFO 2, Output 2, Mod A1, Mod A2, Reset A/Envelope A, Custom A/Clock A. The right channel is 3,4, and B instead of the 1,2, and A of the left channel.
At the bottom of QV-L are four assignable Outputs, one for each channel, and four assignable CV Inputs for modulating the LFO/EG parameters with external modulation sources. There are also two gate inputs for syncing tempo and gate retriggering.
Three assignable knobs correlate to three lines of text/controls for each variable so that everything lines up simply enough, even when on certain pages there are only two parameters to control, with one knob sitting on the sidelines and taking a breather. Along with the knobs, and two light up push buttons for each side (Edit and Trig), you can scroll, choose, customize, and do whatever else you find yourself needing to do, and is a pretty intuitive way to get around. I will admit that it took me a few minutes to get the navigation wired—I kept tweaking the wrong parameters by accident—but after a short time this disappeared, and there are only six pages (as of this writing) of menu scrolling for each pair of channels, so it’s not like paging through War and Peace or anything. Plus, the Main Edit page for each channel has the most commonly used parameters, from the time, shape, and amount, so it’s fast and easy to get what you want. One very cool aspect with each output is that there are a set of parameters like invert, rectify, and offset/voltage range (0-+5V or -5V-0 for example) that can be assigned to each. If you haven’t gathered it yet, these are extremely customizable LFOs, more so than almost any others in module form that I’ve come across.
The four assignable CV outputs and also four CV inputs can be assigned and used for modulating/cross modulating almost any of QV-L’s parameters internally and externally. Since all four CV inputs and LFO outputs on QV-L are assignable, you can have LFO 4’s output modulating the time on LFO 1, while LFO 1’s output modulating LFO 4’s time. Cross modulating QV-L all over the place within itself—and without the need for patch cables—is pretty great and you can get some wild results. You can also get some very specific results, too, like if you wanted to create a pulse-width sequence or something, and sometimes I half expected QV-L to spontaneously combust from the pressure of all of this cross modulation.
There are a few ways to set the LFO rates, and Wide and Slow options for covering the most common LFO ranges, and the tempo on QV-L can be set internally, by patching a 16th note clock into one of the Gate inputs, or by connecting it to Vector via a ribbon cable, which I did. Syncing with Vector was easy, and it's so, so nice to have it seamlessly team up with Vector. I feel like one of my modular dreams finally came true. I love Vector and QV-L. I’m not sure it gets any better for LFOing, than QV-L for customizing every detail of your modulation. You can customize the LFOs to the bejesus to get whatever shape you’d like, and only by drawing your own waveforms could you customize LFO shapes any further, and with QV-L’s ability to save and load presets perhaps that’s something on the horizon as a firmware update—you never know. You can run the LFO channels via one clock, separate clocks, at random chosen rates, by beat, by bar…QV-L is extremely flexible.
While the waveshaping and modulation opportunities and routing are well established, I’d like to see a quicker, easier, and overall a smoother workflow for the clocking and syncing. It was a bit confusing at first when I was syncing to a clock for a couple of reasons. First, it’s good to have the Rate set between 1 and 16 in 16th mode (if you want to do divisions of the clock), and from there you can use some basic math skills (fractions…yes!) and your ears to figure out the division you desire. You can get some very cool divisions and multiplications this way, like 11/16ths and 3/16ths and such, but I wish there were simpler Rate options for division (/1,/2,/4) and multiplications (x2,x3,x5…) instead of trying to figure out if 7/8ths or 13/16ths is what you’re looking for, especially since it all relates to the clock input. Also, changing modes can create some confusing situations, like say if you go from 13 Hz in Wide mode, it translates to a rate of 77 in 16th mode (and vice versa), meaning it will take 77 beats for one cycle, so you have to scroll back if you want 7/16ths and not 77/16ths.
Five12 is notoriously generous with updates and supporting their products so I’ve no reason to think QV-L will be any different, which is an exciting prospect. QV-L is already ace as it is, supplying me with four instances of LFOs whose shapes, times, and controllable behavior are more (almost) than I could ask for; however, I’m very curious to see what firmware updates lie in the future. More envelope shapes? Perhaps some editing software so you can draw your own envelopes and LFOs and upload them? Randomness/chance ops, like Vector for each channel?
The possibilities are already near endless with QV-L, but it’s that quality that lets you dare to dream even further, and QV-L is a dream itself.

Price: $379