FutureRetro XS Review / Demo
Quick reactions and exploration of the FutureRetro XS semi-modular analog synthesizer.
The XS is a true semi-modular analog synthesizer with a universe of sonic possibilities just waiting to be discovered. Our versatile design allows it to be used as either a rackmount or desktop instrument, and its compact size makes it ideal for musicians on the go.
In its simplest form, the XS is an extremely powerful monophonic synthesizer including 46 controls with internal signal routings pre-wired to allow the unit to act similarly to traditional synthesizers. The unit also provides 7 inputs and 11 outputs that can be connected in various ways to override the pre-wired signal routings, interface the unit with other instruments in a modular fashion, and even process external audio.
The XS can be controlled by both MIDI and CV/Gate control signals simultaneously in a variety of ways. It can also act as a MIDI to CV/Gate converter with outputs, including CV/Gate/Mod Wheel/Velocity signals for controlling other analog instruments.
With a single unit you can easily create basslines, leads, drones, percussion, and sound effects. Connect multiple units together to form larger systems and the possibilities are endless.
The XS provides 2 ultra stable, wide range voltage-controlled oscillators, each capable of covering a range of 0.5 Hz to 100 kHz. Oscillator A generates saw and square waveforms. Oscillator B generates sine, triangle, saw, pulse width/square waveforms, and its own sub oscillator waveform, which can be 1/2, 1/4, or 1/8 the frequency of the main waveform. The pulse width shape of Oscillator B can be set manually or modulated with an internal or external control voltage, and Oscillator B can also sync its frequency to Oscillator A. Each oscillator can be frequency-modulated independently by both internal and external signals to create more complex waveforms. The XS also provides a white noise source and ring modulator that can be used on the internal oscillators or an external source. Dedicated outputs are provided for the waveform select controls A, B, and C.
A dedicated LFO generates triangle, saw, square, and random waveforms to modulate internal parameters, or external circuits as well with its dedicated output. The LFO can act in a free-running mode, or sync its rate to divisions of an external MIDI clock. When synced to an external MIDI clock, the LFO can be used to generate analog clock signals at various synced rates for stepping analog sequencers or arpeggiators in time with modern sequencers.
The mixer section sets the levels of the oscillator waveforms, sub oscillator waveforms, white noise source, ring modulator, or any external audio signal to be sent to the input of the filter.
The 2-pole multimode filter provides 4 filter types, including lowpass, bandpass, highpass, and notch settings, each capable of covering a range from 5 Hz to 18 kHz. With high resonance settings, the filter will self-oscillate, allowing it to act as an additional audio source. The cutoff frequency can be modulated by both internal and external signals, and the filter’s input and output can be overdriven independently, giving it unique tone characteristics. A dedicated output for the filter is also provided.
The XS includes our unique Velocity-sensitive ADSR type envelope with additional attack and decay time settings for accented envelopes. It’s like having two envelopes in one, and it’s capable of some truly funky sounds. This is the main modulation envelope internally routed to the modify the oscillators and filter. The envelope can be triggered by internal or external logic signals. Both normal and inverted polarity envelopes are available at the output.
And finally, a voltage-controlled amplifier is provided to process the amplitude of signals. The amplifier normally affects the filter’s output but it can also be used to process external audio signals. The amplifier has its own dedicated envelope with four selectable shapes, Velocity-sensitive amplitude, and independent accent times. The amplifier also has a volume control for attenuating signals sent to the main output.