UTILITIES is a set of playable, tweakable control extras for your analog devices, with switches, resistors, capacitors, waveshapers, and amplifiers. It’s designed as a companion to the PULSAR-23 drum machine, but looks interesting for other gear, as well.
There’s quite a lot of fun stuff here:
- Passive elements (switches, resistors, capacitors…)
- Amplifiers and waveshapers (linear, nonlinear, controlled and “uncontrolled”)
- Screws or pins (depending on version)
- Eurorack adapters
The amplifier portion adds to the, erm, utility, as they explain:
Linear amplifiers are needed when you need to feed a signal from a device operating in a lower voltage format to the PULSAR inputs. For example, it can be a step sequencer with an output voltage of 5 volts, while the PULSAR needs 10 volts to fully trigger the drum modules. Or it could be the output of a cassette tape recorder, which has an output of 1 volt, while for normal operation the PULSAR needs an input level of an audio signal of 5 volts. Non-linear and controlled amplifiers and waveshapers are designed to control the signal level, while simultaneously changing its spectrum, distorting its shape and adding harmonics. The circuitry of these amplifiers is very simple and based on the early developments of the transistor era, with its inherent beauty and grace.
With screws, the price can be as low as 320 EUR before VAT / shipping / customs, etc.
The two options (both of which work with alligator clips or Eurorack adapters – cost is the difference):
The idea of adding some desktop expansion with weird and cool possibilities seems to be gathering traction. That makes sense sometimes even for a modular rig – especially as it sticks that stuff in reach of your hands, not up in a rack. The Moog Mavis even does this, if via a very different route. SOMA’s Armenian neighbors MSF (who shared the booth at Superbooth) have a giant strange patch bay called the Kommutator which I’m testing now – more on that later! They’re different ideas, but in the broader category of “analog tools to put next to your bigger analog tools.”
Given they do have separate European (“SOMA EU”) and Russian (“SOMA RU”) operations, it’s notable that SOMA Laboratory continues to ship from Russia via Russian state mail (which they say then arrives via the international EMS). They even specifically advertise Russian shipping as a lower-cost option even for international customers, albeit with a longer wait (up to 30 days).
But to my knowledge, this makes SOMA the only remaining major manufacturer to continue to operate from inside the Russian Federation, as various other makers have left the country, in some cases accompanied by strong public statements of political criticism. SOMA evidently will continue to run the Russian and European operations in parallel, which is likely to produce some tension, especially with some of their Ukrainian musician owners.