EarthQuaker Devices Shakes It Up with New "The Wave Transformer" Eurorack Module
Akron-based Earthquaker Devices' is already known for making some our favorite, off-the-beaten-path units, but their foray into Euro-centric gear is something we're absolutely here for. Slowly but surely, they're plunging into a new universe with the release of their new "The Wave" Module, that boasts 7 simultaneous wave outputs, 8+ octaves of pitch accuracy, circuits including Hard Sync, Soft Sync, Linear FM, and Exponential FM, and much more.
The world of modular synthesis can be a daunting one to navigate for those not already familiar, so before we jump in: what the heck does any of this mean?
To put it simply, Eurorack is a modular synthesizer format that allows users to build and customize their own systems. With over 15,000 modules (sheesh) available from various manufacturers, what sets Eurorack apart is its compact size, standardized 3.5mm mono jacks and cables for signal patching. The absence of a single manufacturer's aesthetic also creates a diverse and, quite simply, very cool ecosystem of gear for people to nerd with. That's where EQD comes into play.
Following the success of the Afterneath Eurorack Reverb module that was released last year, EarthQuaker is riding the wave into the Euro game with this analog, vintage-voiced, voltage-controlled oscillator. In this review, we'll explore the features, functionalities, and sonic capabilities that make The Wave Transformer a module that's worth having in your rack, if ya got one.
The Reality of The Wave Transformer's Functionality:
This new Euro module does a ton, but what, exactly?
The Wave boasts over 8 octaves of pitch accuracy, providing Euro users with a wild sonic range to explore.
With seven simultaneous wave outputs, including its "Complex" output, this module allows users to get weird. Like, very weird. A "Transform" control allows morphing of signal from a fundamental waveform, all the way to a complex, gnarled mess of audio mutation at the Complex output, if that's your thing.
Sonic Manipulation Capabilities:
The module goes above and beyond with its ability to combine the novel circuit with Hard Sync, Soft Sync, Linear FM, and Exponential FM. The result is an essentially limitless array of variations in sound, creating a harmonically complex waveform.
The Wave Transformer can double as a harmonic gate/VCA, muting the signal source waveform to create a totally new sound. A Shape Insert furthers that ability to experiment, allowing for external oscillations and modular-level audio sources to undergo a huge transformation.
The control panel is extremely user-friendly (in Euro terms) and acts a command center for shaping sound. Features like its "Sub Source, Sub Octave, Complex Source, Tune, Fine Tune, μTune, and Pulse Width" controls allow precise overseeing of The Wave's output, something that's crucial to what we think makes this thing so special.
The module's Input section, the top row of patch jacks, is a gateway to external modulation (as shown in our demo video), featuring various input options such as Hard Sync, Soft Sync, V/Octave, Shape Insert, Lin FM, Expo FM, and more. The outputs include Sine, Triangle, Saw, Complex, Rectangle, Sub Pulse, and Sub Square, each with slightly different characteristics.
While it would be impossible to cover all of its capabilities in one review, our brief encounter with The Wave Transformer was one that left us feeling inspired. At first, creating movie soundtrack-esque noises, we quickly found ourselves surrounded by more melodic, musical sounds that immediately sparked that motivation *KEEP GOING* that every synth lover is chasing. This module is a springboard for creative ideas.
While we were messing with The Wave Transformer, we mostly left the Sub Source set to internal, Sub Octave to -2, and toggled the complex source on and off. With this organization, The Wave's ability to mutate was made the clearest when toggling its TRANSFORM function, which impacted the octave, width, and tonality of the signal with direct control over the Complex output. Whether we wanted to create and refine melodic oscillations, or boogie into the more experimental stuff, the ease of control stood out as a defining feature with just one knob showing us what it's able to achieve.
Our patch organization also involved blending the Sub Square, Sine, Sawtooth, and Complex outputs, each contributing their own sounds to the Moog Matriarch filter. Shown in the attached video, the layering of these patches highlighted The Wave Transformer's influence on signal and adding them one at a time was a great way to really be able to feel what each output does, doesn't do, or allows users to mess around with. Using the top-level patch jacks (which are all inputs), we combined the V/Octave with the arpeggiator of the Moog Matriarch, while the Linear FM received modulation from the Matriarch's onboard LFO at audio rate.
Functionality and Cost-Effectiveness:
So, this thing is cool. But what makes it worth telling you all of this? What we think sets The Wave apart is its remarkable functionality, particularly considering its price point. While it's offered as a pretty cost-effective module, comparatively, it still caters to synth-ers who are eager to plunge into deep synthesis without compromising on features. It's comparable to some other modules like the Make Noise DPO and XPO, obviously with slightly different functionalities, but can still hold its own, and targets a different audience because of its price. It's also housed in a fairly compact 20HP module with a slim 1-inch depth, making it skiff-friendly, and draws a maximum of 90 mA from both the +12V and -12V rails. If we haven't hyped it enough, EarthQuaker offers a lifetime warrantee on it, as well.
All in all, we're genuinely excited about this one. We have some synth-heads on staff (whose hands did you think were in that video?) and to the excitement they got out of playing with The Wave was essentially all we needed see to know it'll probably do the same for you.