Future Retro Revolution R2

Future Retro Revolution

Future Retro‘s Jered Flickinger has quietly updated his Revolution analog synth, giving it a cool new look, longer battery life and a new OS:

The new R2 unit, designated by the gun metal grey chassis, has an updated PC board design using a new RAM chip which extends the internal back up battery life from approximately 1.5 years on previous white faced units to now more than 10 years life span. In addition the R2 units include OS version 2.0 making it more compatible for use with our XS semi-modular synthesizer.

It’s $750. Flickinger plans to have an OS update available for original Revolution synthesizers owners.

A true analog monophonic synthesizer with an easy to use step-based digital sequencer, analog and DSP effects processing, and various interfacing for controlling MIDI, CV/Gate, and Din Sync devices.

Continuing in our tradition of building quality products, this unit is housed in a rugged aluminum chassis, with aluminum side panels, high contrast white on gun metal grey finish for superior viewing of controls in dark environments, and topped off with bright blue LEDs all around.

Let’s start with the sequencer…

As you can see, the sequencers interface is now circular which has several benefits over the traditional linear style step sequencers. Visually it is easier to divide a measure of music into equal parts. It also provides a more intuitive way of displaying patterns playing as cyclic loops, either forwards or reverse, and will help you better understand the underlying geometric symmetries used throughout our Remixing process. This design also allows the user to carry out all sequencing functions with a single hand.

There are 256 recordable patterns available. Each recording note duration, pitch, accent , glide, loop point, time signature, and swing amount. Pattern editing features include copy/paste, pattern shifting, pattern transposing, multiple pattern cueing for chaining patterns together live, and LED chase. In addition, all pattern editing and recording can be done while the sequencer is running, and it will automatically save all your edits so you don’t have to stop creating!

The Revolution also provides the ability to play patterns forwards or backwards, and remotely select patterns to play using MIDI program change messages.

There are 16 songs to arrange the patterns in, each recording its tempo, the bank/pattern for each step, the transposition of each step, and the song’s loop point. Each of the 16 songs contains up to 3580 measures, and multiple songs may be chained together so they play sequentially.

In addition, the Revolution provides our unique Remix feature which provides 256 variations for every pattern and song, for more than 65,000 possible patterns right out of the box. Whether your improvising during a live set, creating variations for other parts of a song, or simply have a case of writers block, our Remix feature is sure to inspire you and speed up your creative process.

The analog section…

The Revolution uses true analog synthesis throughout its entire sound engine. Only the DSP effects are digital, and if these are bypassed the signal remains true analog through every stage right to the output. We’ve gone to great lengths to ensure that the Revolution is fully capable of the most accurate replication of the original TB303’s sound, and in many ways surpasses its signature liquid tones and capabilities.

The Revolution has a new oscillator design which provides superior note tracking and temperature stability, as well as providing the exact same waveforms found in the original TB303. The revolution also provides the correct 3 pole filter design, gated amplifer, accent and glide circuits which are all crucial to the TB303’s sound. In addition to the original controls of the TB303, the Revolution also has a CV Modulation amount control which allows the filter’s cutoff frequency to track either the internal control voltages generated by the Revolution’s sequencer, or external control voltages may also be applied to modulate the filter. You may also notice that there is now an Accent Decay time control for varying the duration of filter and amplifier modulations by the accent circuit. This control provides everything from tight zap-like accents to much longer sweeps of the filter resulting in a very funky sound. All in all it’s one tricked out acid machine for creating everything from warm deep basses, silky smooth liquid chirps and bleeps, to the more aggressive ripping overdriven lead sounds.

The effects…

The Revolution uses both analog and digital effects to process its sound. The overdrive stage is true analog and can be activated by a switch on the rear panel. The overdrive stage is a dynamic process related directly to the filter’s resonance amount, so that as the resonance is increased, so is the overall gain of the overdrive section. This preserves the shape of the oscillator’s waveform at lower resonance levels instead of just clipping them into a square waveform as a typical distortion stage would. This also provides a much smoother transition from the original bubbly liquid sound, into those ripping lead sounds more common in todays electronic music.

The DSP section provides true 24 bit stereo effects processing, arranged as 16 preset effect which include: chorus/room1 and 2, delay 1 and 2, chorus, flange, plates 1, 2 and 3, rooms 1, 2, and 3, halls 1 and 2, rotary speaker, and a low pass muffler. In addition, wet/dry controls are provided for both left and right output channels. These controls can be used to help place the sound within the stereo field, or create two different mixes of wet/dry amount.


Although the Revolution’s analog signal is mono, the DSP effects do provide movement through the stereo sound field, and appropriately we have provided a stereo master output, as well as a stereo headphone output using standard 1/4″ jacks.

Also provided are separate 1/4″ jacks for both CV out (1v/oct standard), and Gate out (positive type, 0 to +12v) for playing other analog equipment using the Revolution’s sequencer. Or if you prefer, the Revolution can act as a MIDI to CV converter when it is not playing its internal patterns.

1/4″ jacks are also provided for CV in to modulate the filter’s cutoff frequency with external control voltages, and Audio in for processing external sounds through the Revolutions filter, amplifier, overdrive and DSP effects sections. The Audio in jack can sum the external signal with the internal oscillators, or completely override the oscillator signal so that just the external sound is processed.

Here’s where things get even more interesting… by connecting these outputs and inputs in various ways other sounds are possible without any additional equipment. For instance you can route the signal from the headphone output back to modulate the filter’s cutoff for some unusual self modulation effects. Or route the output back into the Audio input, which can produce everything from self resonant sounds, to bizarre feedback loops, and remember the effects section are included in this processing chain.

MIDI In/Thru/Out are all provided for syncing playback with external sequencers, playing MIDI sound modules, or having external sequencers or MIDI keyboard controllers play the Revolution’s analog section.

Din Sync out is included for syncing up the playback of the early Roland TR and TB type devices to todays MIDI sequencers.

Update: Interesting – the R2 news has been picked up by Engadget, Born Rich, Gizmodo. Probably the R2 name?

4 thoughts on “Future Retro Revolution R2

  1. glass – you have to get your hands on one to try out, too. Very nice.

    I'd be really interested in one, but I've already got a FR777…..

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