The Chicago Analogue Is A New Rackmount Riff & Bass Synthesizer

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Designer Ren Kitchener has launched a Kickstarter project to fund production of a new analog synth, Chicago.

The Chicago Boutique RIFF & BASS Analogue Synthesizer is designed to provide a ‘basic, but useful’ synth voice, with four variable phase and pulse width oscillators + 1 sub/square/saw oscillator and a Sallen & Key 24dB/Octave Low pass filter.

What’s ‘basic, but useful’ sound like?

Here are the official audio demos:

Kitchener has deliberately kept the features limited, in order to keep both the complexity and price of the synth ($325) down. Here’s what he has to say about the design:

The idea behind Chicago is to restrict the features and focus on ‘house’ type bass sounds.

The Chicago does not have MIDI parameter adjustability, Velocity/After-touch key control, glide, pitch-bend, modulation (LFOs), delay, reverb, keyboard tracking, white/pink noise, CV inputs or outputs and it’s mono and monophonic (single notes only, as per many classic analogue synthesizers).

This is not a programmable ‘machine’ – it is just a static-pitch sound source for bass and riff type hooks. It’s not meant to compete with the feature-rich Moog, Korg or Roland Synthesizer, or to emulate them.

But it does have a usable, concise sound portfolio with a fair degree of adjustability that can be very subtle at times – none the less, I do hope that you agree it’s a good sounding synth with it’s own character – as you can hear.

Features:

  • Analogue signal path from the oscillator to the output
  • 1 x Saw or Square wave (selectable)
  • 1 x Synced Square Sub (-1 Octave) – it also divides the Saw frequency by 2
  • 4 x independent Pulse waves with automatic or manual adjustment of the phase, and manual adjustment of the pulse width
  • Tune (0 to +60 cents), 3rd, 5th or 7th
  • MIDI In, MIDI Thru, channel selection 1 to 16
  • Classic Gate mode or Gate and ‘Trigger on every note’ mode
  • 6 channel mixer
  • Amplifier ADSR
  • Sallen & Key 24dB/Octave Low pass filter with Attack, Peak, Decay, Sustain and
  • Resonance control
  • Set to sine (low frequency filter) switch
  • Filter decay mode switch

Pricing and Availability

The Chicago Analogue Synthesizer is being produced via a Kickstarter project. It is available to backers for about US $325.

23 thoughts on “The Chicago Analogue Is A New Rackmount Riff & Bass Synthesizer

      1. also wondering y no cv in. as explained in the article it is like it does not have cv because that is not a feature in classic synths…but is is a feature in classic synths even more then midi. this would fit into my setup if it had cv…only needs pitch and gate.

      2. Most likely the MIDI data has to be converted to CV anyway, so why not add the option? From a design standpoint that would be easy and cheap to add, and it would make the machine appeal to a lot more people. CV in is a pretty basic yet useful feature after all.

      3. Because the explanation offered is bullshit. Frankly I think you’re better off with a Volca Bass than a mixer and a bunch of oscillators and with no modulation options.

        1. It’s not ‘bullshit’ when a guy designs a synth for a very specific purpose, he states his purpose very clearly, he does it very competitively, and it just doesn’t happen to be what you want.

      1. I think I’m going to make a synth and call it Sussex but it’s going to be hand built here in Chicago so :-P.

        1. :-D. Mrdorianjames, Chicago is the birth place of House music and great synth bass lines! Sussex (by the Sea), lovely as it is, has a few old castles, Roman villas, Morris dancers, quaint little villages dotted here and there and warm beer. A choice had to be made.

          1. Maybe you should set up shop in Chicago. I know two synth shops here which would probably love to “reprazent”. It’s also home to manufacturers such as Shure, Universal Audio, U.S. Music Corporation. Plus, it has headquarters to many of the large corporations from google to STMicroelectronics. You could even bring your Morris dancers. However, we got the beer covered. We have enough hipster craft beer!

  1. It sounds pretty good.

    Shame about the no MIDI or CV though. I just don’t go for isolated, standalone boxes anymore.

    1. its has midi, just no control of parameters externally (via CCs).. bit of a shame but still OK.
      Anyway, I prefer to tweak my knobs with my hands rather than letting my sequencer have all the fun

  2. Cool thing. Sounds genuinely Analog in the good way. And nice price. It`s the sonic result that counts and that sounds cool!

  3. Sounds pretty good. I appreciate that the guy making it was very upfront on the kickstarter page regarding development and the features. Also including lots of sound clips of the actual product. It’s already half way to funding so it should make it.
    For critique I wonder why he used four toggle switches for binary selection of midi channel. That’s crazy. Two 3.5mm jacks (cv/gate) is much cheaper than four toggle switches. Lots of musicians (who it’s made for, not engineers) will be on wikipedia trying to figure out how to set the channel

    1. Yeah… A single 4 way DIP switch would cost less than 4 toggle switches. Only need a simple diagram on the user guide to translate decimal > binary.

      Please add optional patch / connection points on the circuit board for external CV’s:- velocity, modulation, pitch bend, aftertouch > amp, filter etc.

      — Or offer it as a DIY build.

      1. Hi codemode and Mick – the channel toggles (which will be covered in the instruction manual) are only £0.40 each, and to access them as a DIP at the front would be a bit too deep, and I’d have endless complaints. The older boutique analogue synthesizers did often use DIP switches for midi selection. This is used because it’s simple for coding, and the micro understands it as a number. I guess binary counting is an ‘art’ that has long been forgotten. This synth is actually hackable for those who want to tinker with the 5 x AVR’s – but I’ve not advertised that – the chips have to be mounted on sockets – but that’s for the coders if they ask me. Also, all the Envelopes, tune and pulse phases are CV operated (0-5V) – but this synth has a specific function at a specific price – my aim was to make a simple, yet nice sounding bass synth, which I hope I’ve achieved.

Leave a Reply