Sonic LAB: UDO Audio Super 6 - UK Polysynth

US Analogue Hybrid Binaural synthesizer review      09/11/20

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The UDO Audio Super 6 has been a journey we've shared with designer George Hearn and the team since we first saw an early pre-production model.
We now have one of the production models and have been taking a look. 

The Super 6 has 2 FPGA (digital) DDS oscillators at it's core which can operate in Binaural mode for 6 stereo voices, or monaural for 12. These then go via the SSI Analog filter - which can operate in stereo, then analog VCA.

2x LFOs and 2 Envelopes, 8 slot mod matrix plus Stereo Delay and two preset chorus finish off the voice.

Build quality is very good, there's a 4 octave after touch enabled keybed, solid, high quality faders, knobs and switches and solid metal case.

The oscillators (Sine, Saw, Square, Triangle Noise) have good, solid heft to them with DDS1 offering an additional 16 wave forms for a more digital rich sounding selection, DDS2 has PWM in place of this.

They sound pretty beefy and can shake the room even in a mono voice.

Once you dial in the Binaural mode, DDS-1 can have up to 6 additional oscillator clones dialed in  with a variable detune - kind similar in effect to super saw, but also quite different - do that on a sine wave and you have a wide, enveloping pad, without any effects or filter.

When Binaural is off, voices are allocated L+R pan positions rather than central and has stereo spread to it.

DDS-1 Can be synced to DDS-2, and cross modulated via a dedicated fader as well as modulating the filter frequency, there's a plenty  of audio rate mod in this synth.

Blending between the oscillators is handled by a single pot which also has a split mode where DDS-1 is to the left and DDS-2 to the right of a variable keyboard split.

Filter is an analog 4 pole resonant Ladder filter from Sound Semiconductor (SSI) with Drive and HPF, the basic filter sounds tasty - with pleasing harmonics. There is some loss of low end on the resonance but using the Drive can compensate for this a little, in full drive, you get more burn and smudge.

The HPF can be engaged in a fixed mode or keyboard tracking and can help clean up lower voiced chords as the oscillators can be pretty large sounding.

Two envelopes are hardwired  - 1 to the VCF (which also has inverse and loop modes) and 2 to the VCA.

Env 1 has a delay parameter, Env 2 just regular ADSR. Env 2 can be assigned as mod source  via the MOD Matrix. Looping is nice and fast though not syncable.

There are two LFO's LFO 1 is a fully featured multi-waveform affair which goes into high frequency, nut also when in Binaural mode becomes a stereo modulator for the filter with the LR Phase for wide stereo filter modulation,  but also can be switched into VCO mode where it can take the waveform from DDS-1 and be mixed at a fixed level into the path of DDS-1 or DDS-2 but it means you can have 3 VCOs, the delay setting brings a fade in to play too.

LFO2 is a more basic single wave (triangle) performance modulator - which is generally used for vibrato and filter mod up to audio rates, but not really into them.

Mod Matrix
We also have an 8 slot mod matrix, with fixed sources (DDS 2, LFO 2, ENV 1, Vel, A.T., Ped/CV, Bend +, Bend -) and multiple destinations, these are quick access fixed, but can also be assigned directly (press and hold mod source, then wiggle the fader),depth is handled by a dedicated rotary encoder.  While there are 8 sources, there is no limit to the number of destinations, though not switches, nor sadly the Osc Mix control. But a considerable amount of additional routing is possible with this system and it's pretty elegant.

There's a stereo delay - as in it takes a stereo input, but not ping pong or LR delays, with a  good range of times, short zingy almost Karplus sounds to long loopy type delays, all parameters can be modulation destinations. The two Chorus settings are somewhat reminiscent of the classic Juno style and add some nice extra width.

We have a decent arp with plenty of modes, 4 octave range - only problem I had was that cycling through Arp modes (repeated button presses) also has to go through the sequencer mode which means it switches off. Sync can be sent to the delay and LFO 1 with external clock turning the tempo into clock division.

There is also a swing amount, but this was pretty much useless as it's way too much even at the lowest setting. This will probably be fixed in a firmware update.

The polyphonic sequencer is step record only, using the program and bank buttons, with up to 64 steps. It's OK, but not somewhere I would want to spend much time programming. It does not record parameters which I would have liked. Not my favourite feature to be honest.

Performance Control
The Super 6 has a Roland style pitch/mod stick and a quite comprehensive routing system - all being stored with the preset which is a nice touch.

Firmware and MPE
The Super 6 will have MPE support, but the current state of the firmware does not support it, also missing is USB/MIDI support but the MIDI ports work fine. The rest of the firmware is pretty much solid, only thing missing for me was the Osc mix as a mod destination. These features will be included on the firmware roadmap so I feel confident that they will be there soon.

Speaking of USB  - patches, sequences and additional waveforms ( UDO supplied) are accessed as a mounted drive with drag and drop for backup and loading.

Which brings me to the only real fly in the ointment, that is that there are only 128 memory locations, which is low by any way you measure it, but as this synth does not have any display and deeper menus there are only so many ways to access more banks.

The Sound
The Super 6 does sound great, it has an impressive, commanding sound with an impressive range of sounds possible - as well as polyphonic pads, the mono patches can be monstrous!

It's not a cheap synth, it's a quality instrument with a strong design ethos and quality components, with 12 voices (max) you can get lost in some real walls of sound. I like it but you will need to justify the price - being a smaller manufacturer it's a premium price, but it's also a premium instrument.

Price £2190/ €2440

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