SOMA Labs Pulsar-23

Having used both, interpatched even, the Pulsar tends to be more industrial-sounding, has built-in quantize functions, and is generally more grid-friendly. It also supports MIDI. The Plumbutter is more beep-boop/woodblock, and doesn’t really know what a grid is (but you can use external equipment to enforce one if you want), but it’s stereo, can be used to filter and manipulate external stereo audio.

Pulsar is probably easier to integrate into other (non-Ciat-Lonbarde) equipment, in terms of things like v/oct pitch control and so on.

When I use them together, I rely on the Pulsar for clock & techno sounds, and turn the Plumbutter more towards slipshod rhythms and drones. Both can do both (certainly, sending the Pulsar clock to the Plumbutter, and then triggering the Pulsar’s voices with the Plumbutter’s drunken interpretation of the Pulsar’s clock is fun), but those were the roles I found them moving towards when they were right next to each other.

Personally, I find I get more varied results out of the Plumbutter, while the Pulsar tends to pull me back towards doing the same sorts of things over again, but that’s probably more to do with individual taste than the instrument itself.


How far from normal are we thinking? I have a love hate relationship with drum machines that ultimately falls apart when things start to feel rigid and need too much focused pre-planed input from me. If I was better at drum machine programing I might feel different but after having Plumbutter for 2 weeks now I am so jazzed! It is crazy far from your standard drum machine but after some time with it I can see this will good for me. I have a Pulsar but have yet to dig in. My current reaction is that PB is going be a ton of fun. The Rolz section is so fun.


They’re both great instruments. The Pulsar can get pretty off grid with clock modulation and pattern recording… the feedback patching capabilities are underrated. @trytyke has posted a lot of great sketches that demonstrate this side of it and might help you decide. Regarding the sound itself, the bass drum and bass are synth voices and the snare/high hat are noise through filters. There are some interesting filter ping and textural sounds. Maybe also check out the ‘soft tunes’ video Vlad posted.

Plumbutter has more voices, all of which are sometimes harder to explain. The rollz are very unique and crusty/noisy sounds can be obtained when they pass through the ultrasound filters. The snare/dust output gives you a great noise modulation source too.

Sonically, I think I slightly prefer the Plumbutter, but it’s pretty close. I think you’ll find a surprising number of people who have both since they appeal to those who like non-conventional drum machines.


Thanks a lot for these detailed responses.
A tough decision. Both machines have things I like.

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I 100% agree with this, its open architecture is an amzing feedback playground. It really helped me to better understand how to creatively use feedback and audio rate modulation, and it moved me towards using the same concepts more in my modular setup.
Pulsar <3


(880 MB, 2381 Files) Pulsar-23 drum samples recorded by myself throughout 2020-2021.

Download Google Drive zip file

About 2 years ago I posted a free sample pack of the pulsar. I got in contact with someone who wanted some pulsar samples and thus began many weekends of experimenting, recording, and chopping samples of the pulsar. Was focused on creating kick drums but also tried creating many different drum sounds. Finally went through all the projects and consolidated all the samples I could into some folders. Here’s everything I could find related to all of my pulsar recording projects. Free to use for any purpose. Free to share with anyone. Readme explains a bit more of the recording setup. Finally finishing this up so I can delete all these projects off my laptop. Enjoy.


I clipped them to a piece of cloth that hangs over the edge of the table that I put the pulsar on.

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I just received this email with this amazing manual from SOMA and SynthDawg, who makes very impressive manuals for Elektron and other gear. It’s free to access. How amazing! They write:

" Together with SynthDawg we created an alternative manual for Pulsar-23! The manual describes Pulsar’s functions and features deeper, yet also simpler and in more detail, to help you better grasp this complex machine and find your own way in the patching realm. It’s meant as a supplement to the existing SOMA Quick Start Guide and User Manual and presents a different perspective to learning some of the more unique and advanced features that Pulsar-23 offers.

In the manual we also provide ample space for making notes and jotting down your own ideas and thoughts for future reference."


This is amazing! Thank you for posting.


Wow this looks super in deep, thanks for sharing indeed!

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Thanks a million in 20 characters

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This is brilliant, thanks. Just got a pulsar and need all the help I can get.

Always fun reading through a thread filled with people who love the Pulsar, too! Some great patch ideas.

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So, I won the perfect circuit giveaway and am a proud owner of an orange Pulsar.

To be honest, I didn’t get along with it too well at first. It’s really grown on me since - currently I use a uGrids and run the output through an angle grinder and get some pretty great industrial sounds.

I’m very grateful to find this forum and listening to what other people are doing with theirs! It’s giving me a lot of patch ideas.


These are amazing, thanks for sharing. Don’t have space for a Pulsar 23 currently, but its high on the list for future purchases. Looking forward to seeing how much using some of these samples accelerates that timeline :slight_smile:

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I found the pulsar rewarded heavy modulation and experimentation. The drum samples can give some flavors of the normal percussion out of it but there’s a million more things to explore with the feedback patching using all the modules as a system of cross modulating chaos.

Stuff in the Noise Patch folder is an example of this where all the modules are affecting everything else and turning a few knobs shifts the sound of the system.


Thanks soma. Decided to do my own edition. £20 for the bag and £10 for a few badges. Still need to get the needle and thread out.

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The only complaint I have about this synth is the lack of modulation for attack or decay, anyone know if this would be moddable, i would be happy to drill a few holes just to be able to do that.


so my continued hatred of those little plastic sleeve clips has finally ended…

i ordered a horde of these from AliExpress and used them up so fast i ordered a second horde…
stacking cables is GREAT and cross patching to other noiz weapons that are also banana jacks is awesome!

they don’t take long to assemble if you follow this approach.

there are a few different designs to choose from but these are the ones i ordered:

thanks to @MengQiMusic for sending me down this path! :stuck_out_tongue: