One of the eurorack format’s many absorbing rabbit holes is the wide world of analog oscillators. There exists a wide and diverse range of options out there, all with their own distinctive personalities and quirks. While Belgium manufacturer Shakmat Modular is perhaps best known for its more experimental concepts—euclidian LFOs, algorithmic rhythm generators—the company’s latest, called Shakmat Banshee Reach, represents its stretch into this realm of dedicated analog VCOs.
Squeezed into just 8 HP, Shakmat Banshee Reach is impressively powerful and versatile for its size. It uses a triangle core analog VCO and has thru zero frequency/phase modulation capabilities, frequency locking and octave transposition, as well as hard or soft sync, pulse width modulation, an LFO mode and a pretty wild digitally manipulated noise modulation mode.
Looking at the front panel, you’ll see you get the standard analog waveforms as individual outputs: triangle, saw and sine, as well as a choice square or pulse waves, selected via a jumper on the back of the module. Most interesting, however, is the “vari” output, which produces a continuously variable waveform that scans between the aforementioned shapes, and crossfades this with a sub-octave generator. This scanning is controlled manually via the shape knob, and can be CV controlled using the shape CV input and attenuator. What’s also neat is that the shape CV input is normalized to the triangle core of the VCO; with no patch cable plugged in, its attenuator effectively acts as a waveshaper, adding harmonics to the sine and triangle waveforms. Finally, this variable waveform is crossfaded with a square sub-octave generator, for which you can choose from -1 or -2 octaves, or -2 octaves with a quarter pulsewidth.
Banshee Reach also makes use of impressively tight digital controls for manipulating its analog core. Most salient is the ability to frequency lock: the octaver button turns on octave mode, storing the current set frequency and transforming the coarse knob into an octave switcher. This is a great touch for performance, letting you quickly move between octaves, and removing the stress of accidentally nudging your oscillator out of tune.The module has a V/Oct input, of course, as well as inputs for thru-zero linear frequency modulation and thru-zero phase modulation, the latter of which has a modulation attenuator. As mentioned, hard- and soft-sync are available via the sync input, as well as PWM. The LFO mode transposes all of the outputs into sub-audio range, including the vari output for a flexible, variable-shape modulation source. (Octave switching also works in LFO mode, should the need arise.)
Finally, Banshee Reach’s “disorder” mode turns it into a unique, chaotic noise source. Fast random digital signals modulate the module’s analog core, with each output sounding distinct; the vari output is once again the most exciting here, with the shape knob and inputs controlling the timbre of the noise. This disorder option is even available in LFO mode, adding controllable randomness to the modulation it provides.
Taken all together, Banshee’s Reach is a fantastic-sounding oscillator with more than a few tricks up its sleeve. It’s a great option for those looking for a clever, versatile VCO that can double as an LFO or unique noise generator—all without taking up a bunch of HP in your rack.
*Alongside its new VCO Shakmat Banshee Reach, Shakmat Modular has also released a waveshaper module dubbed Shakmat Jeweler Cast.