SONIC LAB: XAOC Devices Odessa

US Variable spectrum harmonic cluster oscillator      10/04/20
    MP4 16:34 mins    

XAOC Devices Odessa is a variable spectrum harmonic cluster oscillator…. Well what the hell does that actually mean? In its most basic terms it means that Odessa is a harmonic oscillator, it uses a number of sine waves (partials) to create a more complex waveform. It can function in one voice mode, 3 or 5. Each voice has access to 512 partials to create the waveform. So when we are using all five voices we have a total of 2560 partials!!

The front panel of Odessa adheres to a classic synthesizer layout with pitch and voicing on the left hand side, main timbral features located centrally and effects on the right. Using all of these controls we are able to create all manner of different waveforms. By viewing the effect of these controls on the scope we can see exactly what effect each parameter is having on the waveform and the resulting partials. 


When this unit was sent over XAOC also sent their polyphony commander module Hel. This allows you to control each voice of odessa with a different pitch cv. Allowing for up to 5 note chords. 

The pitch and voicing controls of Odessa allow you to really adjust how harmonic or inharmonic the partials are. This means that without careful control of the Tension and Spread controls we can create very inharmonic and detuned waveforms or note clusters. 

I have thoroughly enjoyed using Odessa, it feels much more exploratory than something like a wavetable oscillator which can sometimes feel like you’re flipping through presets. It has a sound to it that is unlike anything I have heard before. Sure you can get some more regular waveforms out of it, but the spaces in between those more regular shapes is where you find some magic. I think Odessa does a great job of organising the management of thousands of sine waves into a palatable and easy to use interface. 

Odessa is priced at around £400-£439. So it is a fairly expensive module. But it really doesn’t have much competition that can create waveforms in the same way… If you’re looking for something that is slightly unusual then Odessa could definitely be for you.

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