Sonic LAB: Dreadbox Hynposis Retro Time Effects

US Desktop 80's action      22/03/19
   20:42 mins    

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Another unique unit from the team at Dreadbox comes in neon 80s form - it's a three way Time Based Effects Unit  comprising of Flanger/Chorus, Stereo Delay, and Mono Spring (with a real spring).

First up, it's a desktop unit designed with a quintessential 80s vibe which you may or may not be into, personally I like it!

The build is decent enough with a hot pink LED on peak signal in the Spring window, with stereo in and stereo out the unit is true stereo (apart from the Spring)
There are no other connectors, aside from power, so it is not possible to control the unit with anything other than the front panel knobs and memory recall which is a bit of a shame, would have been great to add some modular or MIDI control options. Hypnosis has 49 on board memories, that store everything but the input and output levels, and bypass status.
The FX run in series, (Chorus->Delay->Spring)  with no user routing options available. As well as an overall FX bypass button, there is bypass for each of the individual effects too.
There’s a master input and output level control, input gain can handle line level and also had enough gain to plug a passive bass guitar into, though high gain settings does increase the noise level.

Three FX
Chorus/Flanger offers short modulation delay (3.5ms - 30ms)  settings with variable depth, speed and feedback. From subtle modulation to weird, deep spacey sounds, it also offers three waveforms  (press and hold the chorus button till it flashes, then choose 1, 2 or 3) 1= sine, 2=triangle, 3=S&H -I liked this one, great for rhythmic effects, though sadly no way of clocking this.

There are a few artifacts when more extreme depth and feedback are dialed in.

Delay  short - we think around 750ms max delay time with a mild pingpong, controls are:
Time = overall delay time
Mix = wet/dry mix
Feedback = from a single repeat to uncontrollable feedback

There are three modes:
Digital delay, BBD Style - a more dirty, Hi passed  frequency range and Tape Style - lower fidelity with a more low pass limited delay signal.
It's a shame that this couldn’t have a little more time available but the real ace in the hole is the Freeze function, press and hold to freeze the delay signal, sounds like it's just putting the time buffer on a loop. You can also press the delay bypass button to latch this - I really like this effect, useful for building up textures.

This really is a boingy type of reverb spring indeed, Dreadbox suggest you don’t want to put this too close to interference sources, power supplies, mobile phones etc.
Essentially a fixed time spring with simple controls:
Pre-delay - set a short time delay before the signal hits the Spring,
Depth and Speed - for modulating the pre-delay - has some wonderful wobbly tones, with three  waveforms - Triangle / Square-ish/ Random
Mix - for the amount of Spring in the mix - though even at fully anti-clockwise, there is still some signal. This is apparently by design, though not sure why.

I really like the effect of this, though I would have loved to have a high-pass filter on the Spring to thin it out sometimes it's just too dense.
Yes you can bash it to get the classic spring crash sound.

Hypnosis is a lot of fun to use, the freeze on the delay can help create some lovely textural stuff. It feels more like a processor that can be deeply integrated into sound design and performance, rather than something you would stick on a send and leave as is. It's got a really inspiring, musical quality to it that has it's own identity. I really like it.

However, it's not perfect - would like to have seen some external control possible, cV or  MIDI, but the big one is the price. It's not a low cost unit at $499/€499 it's up there at around the same as the Erebus V3 and that’s a 3 Oscillator analog synth!
Dreadbox tell us it's due to the cost of some of the chips used for the delays and with stereo operation - X2. Added to that is the Spring tank and the custom casework, it's just not possible on a small run unit like this to shave much more off.
That’s a shame of course, but sometimes things are just more expensive.
Bottom line is that it's an inspiring and interesting sounding processor.

Dreadbox Hypnosis - shipping Summer 2019  

More information:

Hypoisis Friday Fun Synth Jam

Dreadbox Social

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