Six more weeks until Superbooth…
We are working hard on the first Fenix IV prototype and alternate between “this is madness” and “this is awesome”. Probably both are true.
All the parts has been tried and tested in Experiment Boards 1, 2 and 3. Everything works and we are happy with our sounds and effects. Now these parts have to make a mythical beast. The CPU plug-in boards and filter voice boards are in the mail. Chips are being ordered. Power, midi and plug board are in-house and partially assembled. The tiny headphone board is ready. Our interconnect board – connecting the modules to the jacks and replaces the wiring harness – will be ordered together with big board. Flying in from all over the world, all the pieces are coming together.
While designing our biggest board we kept melting the design-software and have been making custom tools to split and merge the sheer amount of beeping circuitry that has to become one. And we’ve succeeded! Today we push the order button on the biggest board that should be in our Fenix IV. Then we wait for the physical manifestation to arrive and do the enormous amount of soldering that is going to have to be done. Which we plan to do once and once only – if all goes well and works as we think it will – the next time soldering all the 3500 parts on the main board will be done in the factory. We will continue to do final assembly, testing, calibrating and making it shine. Every Fenix II took 5 days to assemble and test (even with almost all of the soldering being done in the factory) we are now aiming at being able to assemble 5 Fenikses a day and produce 25 at a time. But first we need to make the one….
Our Fenix jacks are mini-jacks and not banana. We choose mini because this is the Eurorack standard and we think there are many-many interesting modules in the Eurorack space that the Fenix IV should play with. Because mini provides shielding of the jacks and cables, because of the normalling behaviour of the jacks (a dedicated signal path for us to determine that can be overridden by what you plug in and providing grounding when unused) and although they are slightly more expensive they are easier to manufacture than banana jacks. However, we intend to provide the banana fans with a way to connect to our Fenix – we’ve created a break-out area on our circuit board behind the multiples that can be replaced to separate a set of four jacks and connect them to the back where there would be four or eight banana jacks with an extra ground. The Fenix II has the same swaparound for mini-jacks.
Now the Fenix IV has grown from the conceptual, the circuitry and the desired sound into THINGNESS. We have been very busy with the UI/UX: What is a sensible grouping of things? How do you get out of the users’ way? Always within the restraints of the hardware design on the inside.
Choosing the look & feel of this instrument we dove into the history of Synton and combined this with our own colourful nature. We were inspired by the spectrum of colours on a soap bubble, retro-futuristic images and vintage synthesizers. The Fenix logo continues, if slightly adapted.
So what material goes around all our circuits, knobs and jacks? Thinking of durability and options for this shape we’ve arrived at a steel casing with added bamboo sides. The frontplate will be made out of the same printed aluminium we make our modules with – we are very happy with the colour and quality of this.
It has been the intention to keep this Fenix as small as possible. Which means flatter. The size of the front – with 110 knobs and 300 jacks – is similar to the Fenikses of the past and meant to fit in the 19inch studio rack format. The depth of this Fenix will be about a third of the Fenix II, by turning the inside boards parallel to the frontplate and designing this differently – and using smd-parts everywhere – we’ve tried to make it more portable. Easy to use laying on it’s back on a table, slightly tilted to face you while laying down. You can also use it mounted in a studio rack or whirling around your studio mounted on a monitor arm (VESA holes provided). Hopefully providing more flexibility for your preferred way of working.
Our Fenix IV system contains the equivalent of about 40 modules and we feel this is enough of a modular system to be getting on with. Providing you with all the building blocks to hopefully never feel restricted by the set in front of you:
Oscillators and sound sources
- Fenix Oscillator
- Digital Oscillator
- Chord Oscillator
- ADSR 1
- Noise & Probabilistic
- Triple LFO
- Regular LFO
- Ladder Filter
- Multiband Filter
- SVF Filter
- Lowpass gate
- Dual delay
- Ring modulator
- Mixer 1-3
- CV mixer 1-4
- Gate mix
- Offsets & comparator
- USB interface
- Time source
Visual record of our Fenix IV process https://imgur.com/a/w7qExDp