Review: Noise Lab packs a modern analog waveshaper/folder in its new Wrinkler module that offers a lot of bending options made for all waves.
Classic analog oscillators are popular for their fat, round, warm sounds. You can get them in cheap or expensive, with both you can make music equally well. But the more classic the design of an analog oscillator is, the more limited its shaping scope is. This applies to both. Octave, tuning, and PWM belong to the standard functionality.
Thanks to the modularity, you can simply tease more out of every classic oscillator using other modules. A waveshaper, for example, can help here. In interaction with an oscillator, it generates significantly harmonic richer waveforms. This makes a simple oscillator much more sonically complex. Away from the standard saw or sine, to deeper shapes.
Wrinkler, for example, is a new analog waveshaper from the young Swedish company Noise Lab who gave me the opportunity to make a review of it.
Regular readers of the Synth Anatomy website know that I recently looked at Noise Lab’s first analog oscillator Prime Mover. In addition to the big sound and the rich feature-set, I really enjoyed the beautiful, colorful front panel of it. This also stands out with a black/silver design with beautiful red-rimmed knobs. The latter makes it easier to adjust the module and to memorize positions better.
Visually very nice and simply structured. Most of the inputs are on the left, the knobs in the middle, and on the right. With a few minor exceptions.
To the facts: Wrinkler is an analog waveshaper that consists of a primary wavefolder circuit and a secondary “creaser”, both manually or with CV controllable. Basically, it clips and folds an incoming waveform for new sounds. Noise Lab, however, has taken the idea of the Waveshaper further and expanded it with modern extensions.
It starts with the clever circuit design. Unlike traditional waveshapers, Wrinkler also works with waveforms that have more harmonic content including square waves. So it doesn’t limit its operation to sine or triangle waves. On the top left, you have an audio input with a switch that sets whether you want to use a sine/tri or other waveforms. Next to this, is a dry level knob that blends the original input with the folder signal. Nice for adding a second analog juice layer to the output.
The shaping adventure starts with the fold parameter that sets the amount of folding applied to the incoming waveforms. This is where the waveshaper’s work begins. Both dry level and fold at 0 give you no signal. Once the fold parameter is opened, the folded signal is audible. It starts gently and becomes more intense with every step. With the Fold parameter alone, you can already achieve many harmonic richer waveforms. Listen to the demo to get an in-depth overview.
Crease & Offset
Crease is the second shaper that folds the folded signal a second time. More complex and harmonically richer. It adds a second layer of folding to your signal for sharper and richer waveforms. If that’s not enough of folding and shaping, the module also has an offset aka symmetry control. It offsets the folded part of the waveform and gives you a third shaping option. It gives you various asymmetric overdrives and wave folding sounds.
All three shaping potentiometers can be modulated with CV and each has a separate attenuator. With this, you can precisely adjust the modulation amounts. The knobs have a good grip and make this possible.
Waves & Pulses
The sockets Waves and Pulses output the signals but in two different ways. “Waves” outputs the folded and creased output waveform mixed with the original signal. So the signal you want from the waveshaper. The “pulses” gives you a more harsh, dirty version of the folded signal. The developer describes it as “a pulse train version of the folded output”. Great for harsh, metallic sounds. The differences are definitely noticeable.
Between both outputs, you have a leveler for the amount of folded + creased output. It’s basically the wet counterpart of the dry level on the top of the module.
To describe a waveshaper sonically is difficult because it does not generate any sound itself. It’s a sound manipulator and it does that very nicely. You get slight deformations up to extreme ones without any problems. The modulation inputs (fold, crease, offset) are particularly useful when building sounds that are constantly changing and moving elements including folding and shaping effects.
I created an in-depth demo with Wrinkler that shows in different patches (melodies/drones) what is possible. Hope you will enjoy it and don’t forget to leave a comment, like… this is the only way the channel can grow. Big thanks for your support!
Noise Lab Wrinkler Final Review
Wrinkler from the young Swedish company Noise Lab is an exciting debut. It is a classic waveshaper/folder but at the same time with its extra features, it is also a new interpretation of one. The ability to use all waveforms with no exception is a big highlight and makes it much more interesting. Three parameters, it sounds like little at first, but the test showed that you can have long shaping fun. Especially the offset/symmetry control gives you instant new timbres.
In addition, an interface that is very eye-catchy and seduces you to tweak it makes the whole Wrinkler experience even more harmonious. Noise Lab did a great job. Nice front panel, intuitive to use, and lots of functionality. What more do you want? Yes, okay, a bit more narrow would certainly be more optimal for smaller setups.
- faceplate design & knobs
- works with any waveforms (square waveforms…)
- dry level control
- rich shaping options with three parameters (fold, crease, offset)
- module width of 12HP is relatively large for compact setups
Noise Lab Wrinkler is available now for $309 USD/288€.
More information here: Noise Lab
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