SOMA Labs Pulsar-23

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Wow this sounds wild.
And looks quite a cool approach to a drum machine

Super excited about this! Seems like it’s sonic capabilities go beyond just creating drum sounds. I also love the choice to go with independent loopers and clock generators with dividers rather than a step sequencer, of which there already exists many different options.

looking forward to this one. :slight_smile:
last thing I heard was that the patch points/cables will be alligator/crocodile clips… curious if anyone has an idea if it would be possible to use this piece of equipment with banana based gear - as there is alligator-banana cables out there… I guess a ground connwction would have to be added, in that case

Don’t see why it wouldn’t be possible unless it uses a very low voltage range for CVs. This one has definitely caught my eye too!

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My friend created modular which used crocodile cables with screws as a patchpoints (like pulsar-23 right now uses) and to be honest experience when patching was not the best. interacting with other modulars required me to create this fragile connections where I clipped crocodile cable to minijack and things where constantly disconnecting or voltage was changing because of connection not because of voltage flowing through cables. Even when making connection between two modules that used crocodile cables it required me to use more force than just inserting jack cable and I had this feeling that I can very easily disconnect things by mistake. But from what I gather such connections are more durable than jack sockets and they are cheaper so there are some advantages.

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I would be surprised if the crocodiles will be used for the final product. This is useful approach for prototyping but not so much for the performance.

from the SOMA site:

When I started the project, my intention was to make it patchable as much as possible and to have control points everywhere it made sense. It meant not being too concerned about the number of those points. But every socket takes up additional space on the enclosure and on the PCB, while also increasing the risk for construction problems and of course significantly adding to the price as we need good ones. When the number of sockets exceeds 100, like in this drum machine, the dimensions and price of the instrument will be increased several times. Using breadboard sockets and connectors that are small and cheap would not be reliable or comfortable… And then the idea to use crocodile clips + M3 screws came to me, and that resolved all of those problems!

The benefits of this solution:

  1. Space-saving design on the surface and the PCB. It occupies just several square millimeters.
  2. As cheap as M3 screws and nuts plus several washers.
  3. 100% reliable as it’s very simple and nothing to break.
  4. You can attach several clips to one pin.
  5. You can connect the clips together.
  6. You can easily connect the clips to individual electronic parts like capacitors, diodes etc. or a part of external circuit, that give you the possibility of circuit bending and experimentation and is very efficient, as including even a single capacitor to some open nodes of PULSAR-23, may change sound drastically.
  7. You can easily connect it to any type of jack connector – just attached it to the jack tip.
  8. Ready wires with crocodile clips are cheap and easy to find.

So despite it not being a standard format of connectors in musical gear, I decided to design it this way as this solution addresses all problems and actually provides a lot of benefits.

However, all main connectors such as MIDI and main audio out will have standard professional connectors and it will have a line of adapters from 3.5mm mini-jacks (Eurorack connectors) to the M3 pins


I stand corrected, thank you. Still, such a surprising decision. All the points he is making are valid and thats why banana cables make so much more sense with modular synths. I guess the insane prize (and avalibility) of good bananas is making developers to be more creative with their patching design. Ciat-Lonbarde has used also crocodiles in the past.


You can get banana to alligator adapters fairly cheaply which work well. I mentioned them in another thread - picture there.


thanks! if i where to interface the pulsar with other banana-based gear, do you think i would have to add a ground jack on the pulsar?

You’d certainly need some way of connecting grounds from the various bits of equipment otherwise they won’t play well together.

I usually do this coming off the power distribution boards for my modular stuff.

Absolutely, it’s very important. Also, the same for cross patching with eurorack.

going off topic here but, could you explain why?

without the ground connected, the signal current will act weird and in worst case can damage the gear on either or both ends of the signal chain. Eurorack always carries the ground wire next to the signal so no worries there but thats not the case for one wire signal chains like with banana cables.

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To my understanding, banana systems needs to be grounded together because, as said, the wire only carries the signal and no ground. This is due, I think, to the fact that the signals in the separate devices do not share a common reference/ground so they do not relate to each other properly. I’m sure someone could put that in more technically correct language!

The signal will certainly act weird without banana devices being grounded together but I’ve never heard of or experienced any damage happening to equipment as a result of this. The only time I think damage could occur is if the signal output by one device was outside the specification for another device. So, synth A outputs +/-10v CV signals and synth B accepts only +/-5v and does not have any protection on its inputs in the event of too large a CV coming into it. This isn’t exclusive to banana systems though and would be a problem with systems such as Eurorack which use cables carrying signal and ground.

There’s no need to ground separate Eurorack cases together or any other devices using signal/ground cabling in the same way as banana systems. The ground in the cables ensures there’s a common reference for the signals and all plays well :slight_smile:

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@t3h @sandy thanks for the clarification!

if I were to add a ground jack to the pulsar, would it be a hard operation (for a beginner) ?

It depends on how the pulsar is built but it should be pretty straightforward - just one wire and a banana jack.
Maybe contact the manufacturer and chat to them about it. I’m sure they would be able to advise the best/easiest place to grab a ground from the circuit.


Just sent an enquiry to Soma Labs to ask if it can be added as standard.

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And here is the response from Vlad:

There will no banana plugs, but you can easily connect the PULSAR to any kind of connectors using the crocodile clips including banana. The PULSAR has the ground pin.

Sounds like with a ground pin as standard on the Pulsar we should all be sorted.