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Sarajewo – Xaoc Devices

Sarajewo – Xaoc Devices

by Ellison Wolf

Any time Xaoc Devices comes out with a new module, excitement abounds. Their modules have a timeless look to them, and they always seem to have the perfect blend of functionality and aesthetic; mixing small knobs, sliders, big knobs, screens, and jacks in a seamless, fun, and pleasing manner. Some of their offerings, such as Zadar, Batumi, and Belgrad are straight up modern day classics, so when I was sent their long awaited delay module, Sarajewo, I was eager to check it out.

Sarajewo is a three-BBD-chip-based analog sync-able delay module using 4096-stage chips that are connected in series and running off the same clock. Delay [and reverb] are two things I can always find more room for—like another serving of dessert—so when this arrived in the mail, I popped it into my rig right away to see what was what.

Going from bottom to top [why not?!] you’ll find the main output [as MIXED OUTPUT], and LED input indicator [to let you know if the input is being overloaded], as well as a BBD OFF-RANGE illuminated indicator, for when the limits of the BBD ranges are exceeded and therefore clamped down. Continuing on, there are three delay taps [T1, T2, T3], an INPUT jack with attenuation [so as not to overload the BBDs] and a MIX CV input with attenuation to give control of the DRY/WET mix. At the top you’ll find an illuminated pushbutton for tap tempo with a visual indication of said tempo. Depending on the color that the pushbutton is in, it also indicates which of the three modes you’re in: Green is Free mode, orange is Tapped Tempo mode, and red is External Sync mode.

Flanking each side of the TIME knob are the LED lit FBCK [Feedback] and TONE sliders, the latter which controls the internal tilt filter and its color indicates the dominant frequencies in the feedback signal. I’ve always detested the cliché “Like killing two birds with one stone”, as I don’t want to kill any birds with any stones, but tilt EQing does indeed perform two functions at once, thereby saving space and time, I’ve always liked tilt filters for that reason as they’re a quick and simple way to do some sound sculpting.

The input signal automatically gets filtered with the bandwidth following the clock frequency. Along with an input anti-aliasing filter and an output anti-imaging filter on each of the three taps keeps the signal nice and clear, and Xaoc Devices has taken great care in giving Sarajewo a vintage BBD sound and feel, while also supplying high quality sound. The FBCK slider controls how much of the outputted delay signal is re-routed to the input and mixed with the input signal, and naturally, self-oscillation is possible, but pushed even further, a never-ending cacophony of noisy [and multi-filtered] delay takes place. Self-oscillation for a delay is akin to a filter sweep, but have no guilt; it’s cliché because it’s fun and cool. Sarajevo can be pushed hard and driven to get dirty, but I didn’t detect the uber murky, severe high frequency loss in the tails usually associated with vintage delay units [like DM2s, Memory Man, etc], though I’m a fan of those too.

Last but not least—and commanding most of the attention—is the giant TIME knob, which, depending on which mode you’re in, either controls the three delay stages [T1, T2, T3] from 25ms to over 1.5s or chooses multiples or divisions of the tempo. TIME can either run free, be synced using the SYNC in, or CV controlled by patching into the jack directly beneath the knob itself.

With regard to the modes, Free mode lets Sarajewo control its own destiny with the large knob functioning to control the tempo of the delays while patching into the CV in lets you modulate the delay in a 1V/oct scale so that every change by 1V will halve or double the delay time. Synced with a quantized and pretty linear two-octave sequence and it made for some interesting effects. Again, the BBDs have their limits, and anything too extreme will be cut off with the time factor being automatically reduced, so that your echoes will still be in sync. You can change the tempo any time by tapping the button again and a long press of the tap tempo button brings you back to free mode.

When in Tapped [orange] or External Sync [red] mode—while both the TIME knob and its CV are still active—the Time knob function is altered to allow for multiples or divisions of the tapped or synced time base [1:6, 1:4, 1:3 1:2, 2:3, 1:1, 3:2, 2, 3, 4, 6]. Changing the knob or CVing this will move between clock parameters.

Since the BBD chips share a common clock, patching from T1 and T2 outputs will give you signals delayed by 1/3 and 2/3 of the T3 time, respectively, and having these taps available can make for some very interesting possibilities, such as adding effects like phase or reverb to certain delay hits, filtering them, etc. You can do some self patching by feeding one of the tapped outs into the EXT FEEDBACK LOOP—which is looped to the initial input of the delay and normalized to the third tap output [but can be overwritten by patching into it]—to add a little extra sauce to your delays.

I wanted to trigger rhythmic events with the T1/T2 outputs, but as those outputs are audio, and not gate, pulse, or trigger outs, the best I was able to do was to run each of those outs into a bandpass filter to try and sculpt them to get some drum-like sounds. Granted, there are other, better ways to do this [window comparator, clock divider output, etc.], but one of the reasons I like to try and do things via a roundabout way is that rather than winding up just triggering a sample or drum hit, I get something more unique. And unique it was, though by no means was I able to get an 808 sounding kick via this method. It was much easier to get something more bongo-like, but it was rhythmic and quite cool.

Sarajewo is most excellent. It sounds great, and can range from warm, smooth, and flowy, to dirty and parched. If you’re in the market for an analog delay, you won’t want for the sound or functionality; it’s simply beautiful, and the elegant layout strikes the perfect balance of features and ways to control those features. Sarajewo is another bullseye for Xaoc Devices.

12 HP +12V 180mA -12V 120mA

Price 420€

xaocdevices.com