Hello MOD community, friends and Duo X enthusiasts,
We owe you the slightly overdue update on the status of the Duo X. First, we had to figure out some crucial details and make some hard decisions, as we stumbled upon another unexpected roadblock a few days ago.
Personally, I am not only an enthusiast of music but also fitness and health. One of the most common phrases thrown at gyms around the world is “leave your ego at the door”. In the past couple of days, we had to remind ourselves of this helpful advice in the context of the Duo X.
We have been spending many weeks now aiming to solve one tiny particular problem - in the grand scheme of things - related to the hardware CV support, at the cost of keeping you guys waiting. We just really wanted to make it work and tried our best internally and with all the external help that we could find and afford.
We already had an amazing product with lots of cool new features, amazing processing power and tons of new hands-on control, but it was missing one thing - a particular element of the CV hardware support.
This week we have decided as a company that it is no longer justifiable to keep you waiting any longer, just to prove that we can get it done and solve the last 1%, when 99% is done and working. It is somewhat disappointing to us, but it’s the right thing to do.
Most of you have already mentioned to us that the CV support, in general, would be a nice feature to have, but you could very well live without it. The words have sunk in. A little late, but we heard you.
So the good news first.
We have functioning Duo Xs that we only need to assemble and get out to you guys. We can do that within the next 30 days. I know we said this before, but really, this time we can.
Now here is the not so good news. The CV capabilities of the Duo X will not be at the full extent of what we have been hoping for.
Control Voltage, when we move into the digital realm of our audio backend, is a type of control that works at audio sampling rates.
This means that the same way that the system is reading new audio samples at every 1/48000 seconds (for the 48kHz sampling frequency we use), the values for Control Voltage parameters are also being sampled.
This differs a lot from normal controls - the plugin parameters such as gain, distortion, EQ, etc - which are updated inside the system at a much slower speed.
The advantage of this characteristic of CV is that the state of the “system” is updated as fast as the actual audio and this yields a smooth and fluid behavior that is not possible with MIDI or other discrete controls. This is what enables CV to use signals similar to audio as controls to the effects and other plugins.
The support for CV in the Duo X happens both on software and hardware.
On the software side of things, the system is fully working and there are multiple great plugins that can handle CV signals. It works just like a physical modular synth, but as virtual units inside our GUI. This means that you can drag one or many of these plugins to your virtual board and patch them as you wish.
The CV hardware is the part of the device that reads the physical analog signals coming from CV equipment and digitalizes these signals translating them into a stream of “ones” and “zeroes”, in a very similar way that the audio CODEC does with the incoming and outgoing sound.
In our original specification, we wanted the hardware of the CVs to be working at audio rate, just like the audio section. This means that the AD and DA of the CV section would be sampling these analog signals at 48kHz.
As we put all the parts of the hardware and the software together and overcame all the lower level drivers necessary for all chips to work, having the three chips - Audio CODEC, CV Analog-to-Digital converter and CV Digital-to-analog converter - working in sync proved to be a much bigger undertaking than what we initially anticipated.
We even considered a redesign of the circuit to add an auxiliary chip and do the multiple sampling sync on hardware, but that would require even more waiting time.
That said, we will need to step back on our original specification of having the full audio + CV sub-system running at full 48kHz both on software and hardware and, instead, settle for a system where the audio section operates at full 48kHz and the CV section operates at much smaller sample rates, gradually optimizing it as we release new software updates.
Historically, a similar scenario happened with the MOD Duo, that had its initial release in February 2016 and received multiple upgrades in the subsequent months.
All that said, here is what the Duo X can and can not do in regards to CV:
Software-wise, it is all set. The system is fully working. We have amazing CV capable plugins and even plugins that translate audio or MIDI to CV.
On the hardware side, the initial software release will have the CV ports disabled (the 3rd input jack will be completely disabled and the 3rd output jack will work only for the headphone out).
From there we will incrementally add hardware CV support, first at very small sampling frequencies and then increase it as we optimize the system. This procedure will continue until we get to a point that we consider optimum.
The EXP input feature - used to connect analog Expression Pedals - is a special type of CV and will be part of this roadmap early on.
In the following video you can see one example of a CV use case, that is already doable with the Duo X in its initial software status.
If you have any remaining questions about the CV capabilities of the Duo X or any of its other features, please use the chance to talk to our Product Specialist Jesse Verhage and our Chief Product Officer and founder Gianfranco Ceccolini in our forthcoming live chat on Tuesday April 09 at 5pm CET at the following link: http://meet.google.com/wdw-yovt-fdi
Please do not spread this link as it is an exclusive chat for customers who have pre-ordered the Duo X so far.
If the impact of the final CV capabilities makes the Duo X no longer desirable for you, we will of course refund you entirely. Just send us an email to email@example.com and it will be taken care of swiftly.
We hope though, that most of you will still see the Duo X for the powerful instrument it really is.
All we are asking for is 30 more days and we will finally ship the products to you (including the extra transport case, limited edition T-Shirt, and the WOV plugin license).
If you did not yet let us know your preferred T-Shirt size, please send us your size within the next 10 days to firstname.lastname@example.org
Best regards from Berlin,
(CEO MOD Devices)