Review: Cre8audio Capt’n Big-O is a great-sounding feature-rich analog oscillator with PWM, both lin/exp FM, wave folding… all for just 150€
Cre8audio, a relatively young company from the US, has released many exciting products for Eurorack in the last few months and years. Most recently, the Nifty Keyz, a keyboard for modular synths, or the desktop synths East Beast and West Pest. Not to forget the best-selling NiftyCase.
In 2021, Cre8audio already released the Capt’n Big-O oscillator in collaboration with Pittsburgh Modular. An analog oscillator that is priced at 150€/$150 USD and competes with entry-level modules from Behringer and others. They kindly sent me a unit for review.
Cre8audio Capt’n Big-O
One thing you should know: on the Capt’n’s oscillating ship’s bridge, the adventures begin classically and mostly ends wild and deep. It starts with classic waveforms with sine, triangle, saw, and square with pulse width control. Functions that we know from every classic analog oscillator of recent years.
Of course, you can tune them with coarse and fine-tune potentiometers. Btw, I like the knobs a lot. They are precise and feel high quality, nicely done. The frequency range of the oscillator is pretty wide and goes from LFO rates up to the audible spectrum. After 20 minutes, the tuning of the oscillator is also stable. I didn’t have any unsightly tuning problems during the whole test period.
A simple yes is the answer to the question of whether the square also has pulse-width modulation (PWM) option. This can be adjusted with the width knob and modulated with CV. It sounds damn good; sorry for the word, but it really sounds fat and juicy. Developers have done their homework correctly here.
Next to the 1V/oct tune input, you can also find a sync input, more precisely, a hard sync. Soft sync is missing. It allows you to sync the oscillator with another sound source. You can achieve the classic sharp sounds you know from analog hard sync. Also, a very classic feature and nothing earth-shattering new. It is simply part of the repertoire of a good analog oscillator. More importantly, it has to be well implemented, which is here definitely the case.
Then, there is also linear and exponential frequency modulation (FM), each with its own amount knob. In budget analog oscillators, it is rarely the case that you get both. Two very welcome features, and they sound pristine and clear.
The Capt’n’s Wave Folding and Drive Part
OK, PWM, sync, and FM are classic functions you have in many modules. Even in those that are designed for beginners. Capt’n Big-O, however, also offers more unusual stuff that makes it much more exciting and wild than a simple “more of the same” analog oscillator.
Pittsburgh Modular, the developers have incorporated a tuned variation of their wave folder circuit found in the Voltage Lab Synthesizer in the Captain Big-O. So we drift into the worlds of harmonically richer sounds with a twist on a knob. Timbres we know from complex oscillators, for example. Plus, you add warmth and grit to your sounds using the built-in drive circuit. And yes, we are still in the same 150€ budget-friendly analog oscillator.
The implementation of these functions is a highlight here. Both functions, the wave folder and the drive circuit, are part of the entire signal flow. The sine wave is normalled to the input of the wave folder circuit. You can route them out using the dedicated outputs and adjust them with their knobs. Both are also fully CV controllable and adjustable with their attenuators. Big like for this. Not like the latest semi-modular mono synth from a well-known company where the waveshaper can’t be modulated.
But the clever Pittsburgh and Cre8audio developers didn’t stop here. You can also break the signal path normalization. This is where it gets exciting. There are handy individual inputs on top of the module for the wave folder and drive. This allows you to feed other signals into the circuits. For example, from other modules or you can patch the wave folder output in the drive for a nice bit of warmth and saturation. So a tiny patch matrix in the module, clever design Pittsburgh Modular.
Sonically, the wave folder sounds lovely, in my opinion. It can really shine in terms of quality and versatile. And, of course, it is fun to play with. It catapults every classic sound, even with a slight turn of the pot into new areas. You can achieve timbres full of harmonics that are not possible with most entry-level analog oscillators. The drive circuit, on the other hand, is a little less dominant but gives every sound a nice warm and full body. It also can be tuned in a VCA with a bit of saturation. Check the tutorial on the website on how you can transform it.
Captain Big O offers a lot of bang for the buck: classic waveforms, PWM, both linear/exponential FM, hard sync, and wave folding plus drive. Cre8audio + Pittsburgh has created here an oscillator that is completely convincing. From the price, the features, and also the eye-catching design. The front panel is special. Tastes are different. Personally, I like it better than always the same boring gray or black front panel designs.
If you are looking for a not-budget exploding analog oscillator that is versatile and hands-on, this is the right module for you. It’s an analog no-brainer. For me, it’s the best affordable analog oscillator. For 150€, you can’t go wrong here.
- feature-rich (PWM, hard sync, FM, wave folding, drive)
- both linear and exponential FM
- CV controllable wave folding and drive
- flexible routing options
- wide oscillator range (LFO to audible spectrum)
- sound quality
- front panel design
- The labels below the socket and not above
Cre8audio Capt’n Big-O is available now for 150€ or $149,99 USD.
More information here: Cre8audio
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