Crows Electromusic OVUM is a new USB-C powered 5-oscillator drone synth made to instantly start exploring analog sound and synthesis.
Drone synthesizers are fascinating instruments. Very simple synths often with a very limited set of features and sonic range. However, if you chain them together with pedals and other devices, the inconspicuous drone synths become real monsters.
And to be honest, you can never have enough drone synths as an experimental synth. A new one comes from Canada (Vancouver) by Crows Electromusic. Please welcome OVUM.
Crows Electromusic OVUM
OVUM is a new portable drone synth with an analog signal path and 5 triangle-core-based oscillators. Each voice has a separate control for volume, pitch, and tone, and can be switched between a bright square wave and a crisp triangle wave.
According to the developer, it is designed for exploring pure tones, drones, and microtonal sound textures.
Crows Electromusic also says: it is hand-built from 100% analog circuitry, with no digital components, screens, quantization, or key combinations to memorize – everything is immediate and at your fingertips. OVUM is enclosed in a beautiful and sturdy wood and aluminum case that feels as good in your hands as it looks on your tabletop.
OVUM comes with a USB-C port for mobile power or via a classic USB power supply. It also features a single 3.5mm audio output jack for headphones or line-out to connect to an amplifier, audio interface, or effects. The package includes just the synth and a USB to USB-C power cable, no power supply. Primarily to reduce waste.
OVUM is a cute drone synth. Certainly limited by the features, but often it’s exactly what boosts creativity. Less is often more. I think it’s neat that the oscillator volumes are controlled with dedicated sliders so you have very precise control but also an element for performances.
Crows Electromusic OVUM is available now for $129 USD.
More information here: developer page
It looks nice, but yes, these drone synths are very limited and they all do the same. The only real drone synth which is special to me is the Lyra 8, since you could not just build it yourself. I think even the Lyra 8 uses the CD40106 CMOS CHIP for the oscillators. It basically gives you 6 Square Wave Oscillators and it also outputs a triangle wave which you would have to boost the level of. Insert a switch on each oscillator for switching between waveform, use opamps at the output with level control, insert a pot for fequency and i guess this one uses some kind of simple filter for each oscillator.
I think the real fun with these simple drone synths is building them yourself. Anyone with no prior knowledge of electronics can do it. There are great tutorials by Peter Edwards from Bastl that show to use the above mentioned IC and others. He also shows how to make a simple sequencer and sampler.
The Polyend Dreadbox Medusa has an interesting drone mode, but can also be used for normal or experimental rhythmic sequences. I honestly don’t know, why it got so many dislikes in the past.