price : $400.00
the benjolin is a multifunction synthesizer designed by rob hordijk. the module consists of four separate function blocks: two vcos, a state variable filter and an additional circuit, invented by hordijk
himself, called a rungler. this particular arrangement emerged from hordijk’s efforts to design a synthesizer that was, as he puts it, "bent by design". as such, the module functions according to principles of
chaos theory, where short to long sputtering patterns spontaneously transform themselves, at times, gradually, at others, quite suddenly, morphing into new pattern doublings and bifurcations.
the chaotic character of the benjolin is anchored in hordijk’s rungler circuit. in essence, the rungler is an 8-step shift register that takes its data input from one oscillator (osc a) and its clock input from
the other (osc b). the output of the shift register is then fed into a primitive, digital-to-analogue converter, creating a stepped voltage pattern of variable length and depth, what hordijk terms a “stepped
havoc wave”. this rungler wave is then wired back into the oscillators, via the attenuator knobs (run a and run b), creating the complex interference system that lends the benjolin its unique, aleatoric
the inclusion of a voltage-controlled filter expands these possibilities further into the audio realm. its design includes hordijk’s signature, z-plane modulation circuitry, which produces an all-harmonic
distortion, lending the filter a kind of warm, organic character, reminiscent of that classic tube amp sound. this distortion is most palpable when the resonance of the filter is turned to the maximum, with
both oscillators running in the audio range.
the filter’s input is a mix of a pwm wave (derived from the triangle waves of each oscillator) and the rungler signal itself. and as with each of the oscillators, a rungler attenuator (run f) allows modulation
of the filter as well.
to round things out, cv inputs for both the oscillators and filter are normalized, each via their respective attenuators. this allows for cross modulation between the oscillators and a “sweeping” effect for the
filter, hitched to triangle b.
oscillator manual controls: two knobs at the top center of the panel (osc a and osc b) are the manual controls for each oscillator. they determine the central rate/frequency/pitch of each respectively. both
oscillators cover around 18 octaves, spanning from lfo into vco range.
filter cutoff manual control: third knob down at center (freq), dictates central cutoff frequency of filter. as is the case with svfs in general, maximum cutoff for high pass and low pass are located at either
end of the knob’s rotation. both have 12db curves, while the band pass is 6db. like the oscillators, the cutoff frequency range is around 18 octaves.
filter resonance control: fourth knob down, to the right (res). this knob controls the amount of resonance or damping of the filter. it is designed to have a slight anti-logarithmic curve. in addition, you
will notice a significant increase in the loudness when resonance approaches the max setting. this is due to the interplay between the filters resonance and all-harmonic distortion.
external modulation controls: three knobs to the left of the panel (mod a, mod b and mod f) are basic attenuators for their corresponding cv input. without cv inputs, they control the level of internal
modulation via their normalized inputs. again these are: triangle a to mod b, triangle b to mod a and triangle b to mod f.
rungler modulation controls: three knobs to the right of the panel (run a, run b and run f) are standard attenuators that interface the rungler with the three other function blocs in the circuit.
rungler loop controls: both the offset knob (loop) and the toggle switch, to its right, serve to augment the looping function of the rungler. when the rungler enters loop mode, the data contents of the shift
register are recirculated, thus it no longer accepts new data from oscillator a. this effectively, removes the benjolin from the chaotic domain, cutting pieces out of the rungler pattern, and using them to feed
repetitive drones, beat-like patterns and so on.
modulation cvs: three top most cv inputs, corresponding to mod a, mod b and mod f attenuators. each of these approximates a 1v/o curve, however the range for accurate tracking is limited to around two to three
octaves. fine for a sequencer, or simple quantizer, but not ideal for tracking a keyboard.
rungler loop cv: input allows for triggering rungler loop mode externally via cv. nominal threshold, at +.7v
pulse a and b: average -/+ 8v or 16v p/p.
triangle a and b: average -/+ 4.5v or 9v p/p.
xor: logic output from rungler. averages -/+ 5.5v or 11v p/p.
rungler: averages -/+ 5.5v or 11v p/p.
pwm: averages -/+ 8v or 16v p/p.
filter outs: filter outputs are around line level (approx. -/+ 1.5v or 3v p/p)
module width: 18hp
module depth: 22mm
current draw: ~45 ma@+12v
download the manual here.