Noise Engineering

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Noise Engineering is a Eurorack and 5U modular synthesizer manufacturer based in Los Angeles, California. 

A Tale of Three Distortions: mangling the Dickens out of your modular

At the beginning of this year, we announced the Distortion of the Month club. So far, we’ve released three months’ worth of distortion: Terci Ruina, Kith Ruina, and the latest one, Viol Ruina. What’s the difference though? Which one is right for you? Do you really need three different distortion modules in your system?

I mean yeah duh

There’s a lot of different ways to distort stuff! Let’s talk about the different options we have so far.

Terci Ruina: distort the ever-livin’ heck outta whatever you patch into it

Terci Ruina is probably the most ridiculously distorty one in the Ruina series, at least so far. There are three separate distortion circuits: a super-clippy thing, a crazy saturator thing, and a fuzz thing. (You can get more details in the manual if that wasn’t in-depth enough for you.) The three distortion circuits are routed by default in series, but there are inputs and outputs for each so you can distort three things at once, change the order of the distortion circuits, what have you. Our friend POB made a great demo of it, and here’s a quick clip of a sine wave into TR:

Kith Ruina: when you want to be pretty too

Kith Ruina, contrary to TR, can be quite tame. Don’t get us wrong, it still distorts, but it has a gentler side. The whole concept behind KR is to follow the signal path of a guitar tonestack, so there’s a pedal-inspired overdrive into a two-band shelving EQ. The distortion circuit is a one-knob saturator that can get pretty ridiculous but adds some nice overtones on low settings. Then, it hits the EQ: the EQ is really, really clean and simple. There’s a high shelf, a low shelf, and a mid switch that changes the crossover point for the two bands. Each band can cut or boost, so you have quite a bit of tone-shaping that can be done with it. Again, each circuit can be used separately, so if you, for instance, just need an EQ, you can just use that section. 

Beyond being a cool effect, NE tester and mixing nerd Markus likes to use his KR as a weird “channel strip”: gentle distortion and then EQ to shape a sound into a mix. 

POB also went in-depth with KR, and here’s that same sine pattern into KR, too. Normally, a sine wave into an EQ wouldn’t do anything, but since it’s after the drive circuit it has a lot of effect on the tone.

Viol Ruina: not your grandma’s 24db lowpass filter (man your grandma is cool though) 

Viol Ruina is based around a 24dB lowpass ladder filter. You may be thinking, “have you Noise Engineering people lost your minds? Aren’t there a million filters just like that on the market?? What sets the Noise Engineering filter apart?” The answer to the first two questions is, of course, yes! More to the point: VR is anything but your standard filter. Patching a signal to the input of the filter gives you a few options: you can adjust the filter frequency and resonance like you can on most filters. But that’s the end of the similarities: the Laser switch gives you a built-in envelope follower, for crazy modulation with the flick of a switch. Mod feeds the input signal into the filter cutoff frequency. Yes, that means built-in input-dependent filter FM! It gets really, really crazy if you want it to (but it also sounds amazing as a normal filter). There’s also CV over the filter cutoff, giving you even more patching possibilities. And that’s all before it hits the Mangle section!

Mangle is an awesome overdrive. It’s really, really cool. Paired with the filter it takes you to really really really REALLY weird sonic territory. We’ve made a lot of weird sounds here at the NE HQ and this one has given us some things we’ve never heard of before. Of course, the filter and the distortion can be patched up separately as well. Moar weird patching!

Remember our cool friend POB? He did an overview of VR, too. And while we’re here, let’s try out that same patch from before: a sine wave into a filter won’t do anything so this time, let’s run a saw into VR instead of a sine wave.

All together now: 

You didn’t ask for it, but you’ve got it anyway, because we know you wanted it (see we DO know you.  Yes you, dear reader.): all three distortion modules in series, mangling a saw wave.




Noise Engineering is proudly located in Los Angeles, CA