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Electronic Musician Review of DACS FREQue II
"The Freque II is the flagship of the DACS (Digital Audio and Computer Systems) line of ring modulators. It includes wonderful enhancements made to the original Freque (reviewed in the November 1999 issue) that raise the profile of the processor while retaining the original's sonic signature...
I processed a number of instruments with the Freque II, including analog synths, electric guitar, bass, and drum loops. While editing arrangements for a hip-hop project, I dropped the Freque II into the mix for quick, dissonant metallic effects.
I also spun orchestral records slowly backward by hand, sending the signal first through Freque II and then through a spring reverb. That created a weird, crackly, deep-space vibe that I couldn't achieve any other way. I highly recommend using a MIDI-to-CV converter to control both oscillators from your sequencer to get more predictable results.
Freque II is truly a sound designer's dream. It'll chew up program material like nothing else out there. In a world filled with plug-ins that do everything, the Freque II is a processor that few, if any, plug-ins can emulate. In my opinion, it's worth every penny."
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Sound on Sound Review of DACS FREQue II
"Other ring modulators I've encountered offer obvious distinction between their two signal inputs. However, the rear panel of the FREQue II has input connections for each channel labelled Mus and Mod. There are two built-in sine-wave oscillators whose outputs are available at the rear panel, though they can be routed internally to each modulator input if required. Each oscillator's frequency can be controlled externally from dedicated external Hz/Volt CV inputs, making the FREQue II an ideal partner for a modular synth, especially one from the Korg MS Series. You can, of course, connect audio signals to both music and modular inputs - indeed, some of the most sonically pleasing results are achieved when the modulation source is harmonically related to the musical input. The music inputs and each of the main audio outputs are balanced, although unbalanced operation is selected automatically if you insert a standard mono jack.
I was eager to get some sounds from this beast, so I started by connecting the stereo outputs of a drum machine to each channel's music input. I didn't connect anything to the modulator input, so I pushed each of the front-panel Osc buttons, enabling me to use the oscillators as modulation sources. Next, I adjusted the level of Music and Modulator for each channel by means of the four small and rather closely packed knobs. LEDs on the left-hand side of the front panel provided adequate visual feedback of signal levels, although logic might have seen them positioned rather nearer to their associated controls than they are.
Only then, with audio pouring through the FREQue II, did I start to appreciate the high quality of this processor. I have several other ring modulators, both within my modular synthesizer and stand alone units, and none of them come close to the clarity and smoothness that DACS' Audio have managed to achieve. The top end, in particular, sparkles - but not in the annoying way that typifies cheaper ring mods. Here, breakthrough of the original signal has been reduced to a minimum (by using phase cancellation) so that what you hear is ring modulated output with very few unwanted artefacts."
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Mark Webber Review DACS FREQue II
is an electronic artist working across genres, in sound, moving image and
performance, but specializing in projects related to electro-acoustic and
Having studied electro-acoustic music at the University of Hertfordshire he has spent the past 20 years composing in a variety of creative environments from opera and experimental theatre through to animation and even contemporary puppetry. In doing so he uses a huge variety of electronic music studio hardware and techniques, encompassing the legacy of both the analogue and digital domains.
"I am very interested in expression and an emotional engagement within electronic music, of raw sound that can move one just as any song or poem might. I'm always looking for equipment and techniques that are going to get me closer to these human considerations when making work, the DACS FREQue II is one such unit. The quality of the FREQue II ring modulation is second to none, when processing it retains all the complexities and nuances of the source materials presented to it, this is key to retaining the meaning and musicality in sound composition."
"I always struggle to describe my work but have settled on the label of symphonic musique concrète, which I think was coined by Pierre Henry, or at least is contained within some text concerning his work. I aim to make electronic music that retains the dynamic range, delicacy and power of an orchestra, and coupled with this a similar timbral complexity and therefore subsequent emotional intensity. The DACS FREQue II is a key instrument in my studio to realising these aims. In a world driven by plug-ins and the computer modelling of sound the FREQue II, with its totally analogue operation and interconnection, is a breath of fresh air. To me the FREQue II enables the creation of real sound objects rather than digitally modelled imitations, akin to why a sculptor would work in stone rather than creating work virtually with CAD software in a computer. I feel the same way about the sounds created with the FREQue II, they have an unrivalled acoustic depth and sonority that other hardwareor modelled ring modulators I've usedjust aren't capable of producing, delivering complex overtones and new sounds that seem to resound and sparkle."
Mark's eclectic back catalogue includes works such as Sunayani, a Sonic Arts Network commission, a concrète work for tape and video made entirely from the sound and visual recordings of peacocks. This piece also toured the world as part of the American Composers Forum's Sonic Circuits VII program.His 2003 Opera North commission, as part of their Resonance initiative,Four White Walls wasfor 5 voices and tape. In this case the electronic partwasmade from the studio treatment ofmodified piano and coupled with processed field recordings made across the Languedoc region of France. Mark's most recent work isThe Glass Hotel- an opera concrète, an Arts Council Lottery Funded project created with mezzo-soprano Loré Lixenberg. In this work, again for multiple voices and tape, the composition was created entirely from recordings of glass as the only sonic source material.
"Many of my projects are often realised using very unusual sound objects and sources as starting points. This audio may also be very acoustically fragile, that is to say that they have low energy gestures and detailcontained within them that I need to explore. Once again The FREQue II excels at retaining and enhancing this sonic relief, the amazing lack of bleed though means that even tiny sounds are not obliterated by the modulation source so that sounds don't end up getting lost or sounding ragged as so often happens. This is especially true when working with the human voice as I often am, the FREQue II yields a really usable, musical output. This unit has been a vast improvement compared to the ring modulators I was previously chiefly using from within a 1970s modular synthesizer."
"I've been hankering after the DACS FREQue II for a few years now and have just decided to invest in what are probably the best ring modulators currently available. My purchase was prompted by a potential project I have in the pipeline at the moment, a collaboration with a choreographer associated with English National Ballet and Saddlers Wells in celebration of the centenary of Stravinsky's revolutionary scores for the Ballets Russes. I am very excited at the prospect of electronically reworking and reinterpreting the three key works from this era for a new dance piece. Given weight and complexity of these original scores I wanted a piece of equipment that was going to be up to dealing with this material, to honour its musical vigour and subtlety. I'm also looking forward to experimenting with the harmonic movement contained within Stravinsky's works by utilizing the FREQue II's CV input, this gives external control of the on-board oscillators, so harnessing the power of the sound sculpting capabilities of the unit by interfacing with other studio devices. Ultimately great thing about ring modulation is it is sometimes unpredictable and chaotic in its very nature, the FREQue II is a very powerful processor and can yield the most outrageous and interesting sounds from seemingly average sources. It encourages the kind of experimentation and sheer thrill of creating sound that I remember when I bought my first synthesizer nearly 30 years ago."