The idea behind NanoMods is a deceptively simple one: take a series of rich, powerful analogue waveforms and pack them into a small, clever sound engine that takes all the effort out of dialling up your own classic patches. The result is a miniature synth module that’s dead easy to use, but which has got it where it counts: in the sound. Each NanoMod aims to fill a specific sonic niche – pads, basses, strings and so on – building into a collection of fresh and focused sounds for your music. As we release more of them, and the collection grows, you can pick and choose the NanoMods you want. They all share similar simple but powerful interfaces, allowing you to dial up your own tones swiftly and efficiently using clever controls that actively help you get the results you want. Each of the synth-style NanoMods starts with two blendable source waveforms sampled from hardware analogue synths, chosen for a specific sonic task (like pad sounds, or string machines).
The aim is to choose two waves that complement each other and sit at either end of the spectrum of sounds the NanoMod is tackling, so that blending between them yields a whole host of intermediate starting-point sounds with the simple twist of a dial. Drum-style NanoMods start with eight non-blendable source waveforms, chosen to represent a wide spread of the type of sound they offer (kicks, snares, cymbals etc). These are entirely original sounds synthesised here in our lab, and feature extra-long decay tails to allow you to tailor the sounds’ decay to your personal preference. This sound-palette is then modified by a carefully-crafted interface which replicates 90% of the functionality of a typical polysynth using only a fraction of the controls… because NanoMod controls are intelligent!
For example, turning the Sweep knob adds resonance to the filter (simple) but also checks the position of the Envelope knob and, based on where you’ve set that, adjusts a hidden Filter cutoff envelope to a curve that’s most likely to compliment your Envelope setting (that’s the intelligent bit).
This means that, with short envelopes, the Sweep control gives you a nice squelch; on longer, sustained envelopes, it goes for a classic resonant filter-sweep; on square-style organ envelopes, it adds a little harmonic key-click effect… and again, it does it all with one single twist.
…::: NanoMod 1 – Rich Pads :::…
Rich Pads takes naturally rich analogue waveforms and stacks them up for a seriously beefy, warm sound. Like all NanoMod synth units, it’s based on two blendable custom waves.
Wave 1 is a smooth, lush triangle-based pad sound, thickened by gently detuning multiple oscillators. Being triangle-based, it’s harmonically easy on the ear, ideal for woodwind-type pads and for filling the background of a mix without pushing itself forward.
Wave 2 is a massive sawtooth sound, generated from two oscillators being mixed and then pushed through the SuperSawtor for a “supersaw” style edge. It’s ideal for string-type pads or Roland-inspired blankets of sound, and has plenty of harmonics for the filters to bite into.
Blending between these two source sounds gets you everything from the kind of subtle pad that you only miss when you mute it out of the mix, through rich, chorussy strings, to full-on overheated synthscapes!
…::: NanoMod 1 – Rich Pads / Demo:::…
…::: NanoMod 2 – Cool Reeds :::…
Cool Reeds blends a fan-operated acoustic reed organ tone with a tensely harmonic synthesised pulse-wave, giving you a whole spectrum of pipes, reeds and eerie textures.
Wave 1 is a classic warm fan-based reed organ tone, taken from ShelTone. It has a bit of organic instability, a bit of crackly antiquity, and a typical reed-organ soft attack dynamic that we’ve left in place. Blends that favour this will have an acoustic, “realistic” air to them.
Wave 2 is generated from multiple detuned and layered pulse waves, and was synthesised to give a larger-than-life synth reed timbre. It has a strong harmonic presence and is much thicker than Wave 1, so this is the end of the dial to turn to when you want a bigger, more aggressive sound.
…::: NanoMod 2 – Cool Reeds / Demo:::…
…::: NanoMod 3 – Kick :::…
Kick is a go-to box of kick drums, designed to offer up everything from massive subby thumps to snappy funk-friendly thwacks in one neat little package. Simply clicking the Glitch button yields kick after kick, each unique!
Use it to find your perfect kick drum sound, or combine it with other NanoMod Drum units to build a whole NanoKit. Like all NanoMod drum units, it’s built around eight custom waveforms.
Wave 1 is a processed variation of the classic Yamaha MR10 kick: tight, thick and powerful, with an addition synthesised decay tail for greater versatility. An excellent all-round starting point.
Waves 2 to 5 are taken from a Vermona Syncussion analogue drum synthesiser. Two of them closely emulate typical unprocessed 808 and 909 kick sounds; the other two are more extreme variants with stronger settings of the Drive and Attack controls.
Go here for both “classic” and unusual analogue kicks.
Waves 6 to 8 come from a circuit-bent digital Roland R5, with careful use of the glitch matrix, analogue distortion and drive circuits to roughen the digital sound. These are perfect for more aggressive, modern and unusual sounds.
About the demos: Demo 1 is a simple drum loop with Kick providing the kick drum sound. It runs through each of the base waves in turn, so you can hear what they sound like unprocessed. These are your raw materials!
Demo 2 is the same drum loop played for a bit longer, except that this time we hit the Glitch button once every bar to generate new, unique, random kick sounds.
We didn’t edit this to cut out the duds, so what you hear is a good indication of the range of sounds Kick can make, and of the “hit rate” of the Glitch control in generating useful “keeper” drum sounds.
…::: NanoMod 3 – Kick / Demo-1:::…
…::: NanoMod 3 – Kick / Demo-2:::…
…::: NanoMod 4 – Hot Brass :::…
Whether you want liquid lead sounds, mournful trumpet solos, or sizzling brass sections, Hot Brass is ready for you. It also excels at saxy pads and ‘boney basses.
Wave 1 is a rough, raucous synth brass sound closely based on the Yamaha patch manual “Brass” sound for the CS10, though we created it on a CS30 and added a second oscillator, a touch of modulation, and some pitch slop.
Think of it as Brass Behaving Badly, and go to it for unconventional brass sounds, raw-edged stabs and leads, and full-on synth patches.
Wave 2 comes from the Korg Lambda’s Brass section, with gentle detuning and the Lambda’s wonderful “Chorus Phase” ensemble effect engaged.
It has a mellow, smooth tone, rich depth and movement, and natural stereo spread.
This is perfect for warm pads, darker toned synth patches and full ensemble brass sections.
Blending gets you everything in between: turn the dial left for grittier, right for smoother, or just hit Glitch and let the NanoMod do the work!
…::: NanoMod 4 – Hot Brass / Demo:::…
…::: NanoMod 5 – Analog Bass :::…
Our fifth NanoMod brings the power of the NanoMod interface to the cornerstone of your mix: the bass. Analog Bass transitions smoothly between thick, subby basses that underpin your kick, through to aggressive, raw-edged bass tones, taking in a whole load of squelchy, punchy territory along the way.
Wave 1 is a cutting, aggressive tone based on a square wave from our SH7. It’s been hard-synced to a variable pulse wave to introduce both some timbral variation and a dose of raw, edgy attitude.
The result is great for high-pass filtering, giving the “character” filters a lot to chew on and maintaining a strong mid-range presence in the mix.
Wave 2 is a combo effort from the modular system of a mildly distorted Triangle wave and a sine sub-oscillator pitched one octave below.
This is a much rounder tone with a lot of low-end energy courtesy of the sine, making it perfect for subby basses, mellower sounds, fretless or upright-style patches or simply for underpinning your mix.
Around 2pm to 3pm on the Blend dial is a nice sweet spot that gets you the midrange bark of Wave 1 but with all the extra grunt of that sub-sine from Wave 2, while the Punch control really comes into its own here, warming and squashing the tone. Pump those cones!
In the demo you’ll hear some typical patches that we rolled in no time using the Glitch button as a starting point.
There are even a couple of polysynth-style stabs and pads in there, just to show that you don’t have to stick to basses if you don’t want to
…::: NanoMod 5 – Analog Bass / Demo:::…
…::: NanoMod 6 – Snare :::…
Snare matches up nicely with Kick to give you the second element of a NanoMod drum kit. Load both into a single Kontakt instance and you’ve got kicks on C, snares on E, ready to lay down some beats! Snare incorporates 8 basic snare waves capable of thousands of variations.
Waves 1 to 4 are analogue snare drums and range from sharp and punchy to mellower, noise-based types that can be crafted into a whole range of analogue snare sounds. Go here for your electronica classics.
Waves 4 to 8 are digital snares. Two come from the circuit-bent R5, and two are 12-bit sounds from early sampling drum machines. These give you a wide palette of grittier, more aggressive sounds as you twist the Wave dial to the right.
About the demos: Demo 1 takes you through all eight of the basic Snare sounds that you can dial up with the Wave Select knob. These are your raw materials!
Demo 2 is a drum loop where we hit the “Glitch” button once every two bars to get a random, new snare sound. As with the Kick demo, we left in both “keepers” and oddities, so you can get a pretty good idea of how often the Glitch button yields something useful.
In normal use we’d strongly suggest tweaking any sound you like to get it spot on, but here we’re just dishing them up as they fell out of the glitched NanoMod’s circuitry…!
…::: NanoMod 6 – Snare / Demo-1 :::…
…::: NanoMod 6 – Snare / Demo-2 :::…
…::: NanoMod 8 – FM :::…
NanoMod FM takes you back into the bright, shiny heartland of the 80s with two waves from Yamaha’s ubiquitous DX series.
With their glassy, glossy digital sheen and metallic overtones, these are great for bells, bars and tines on the one hand, and richly-overtoned digital synth tones on the other. Tame them with the analogue Grit Filter, or let them shine through!
Wave 1 is a very complex FM wave using the superstacked Algorithm 18 with a hefty dose of feedback.
We detuned two different versions of this patch in the DX7II to create a moving, modulating wave with a ton of upper-harmonic overtones. Great for all manner of synthing!
Wave 2 is a classic DX electric piano patch with the sustain turned up indefinitely and, again, some liberal use of detuning to make it richer and weightier.
Selecting any of the Envelope settings with a fast attack will let the familiar DX “tines” bite through; the wave then smooths off rapidly to a set of thickly resonant sine waves, so backing off on that attack gets you some nice easy pads.