While I await Big City Music’s reply to an email regarding a more substantial purchase (since their web store can’t handle international sales) , I had an urge to go out and buy something. Usually I resist those urges by convincing myself the shop doesn’t have what I was looking for (or I remind myself of the last thing I bought on an urge, the disappointing in every way EH Holy Stain). But today chose to resist resisting, so I went out and got this:

It’s a BenFox Dual Tone Generator. The toggle is all silver instead of red on mine, but that’s essentially what it looks like. Click on the picture to go to the BenFox site. He’s a French effects pedal maker, who has a few little sound boxes on the side. It’s really just two oscillators with pitch control, voltage starve and a mixer. The circuit itself doesn’t look particularly complex, pretty much just a big old IC. I paid too much for it, I’m sure, but I’m comfortable with paying for good stupid fun once in a while. And this is good stupid fun and way cheaper than a Tenori-on.

The voltage starve sort of acts as fine tune for the oscillators, and at really low settings will break up, but isn’t a particularly significant effect. Much of this thing’s tone is governed by phasing from the oscillators. Here’s what it sounds like:

Benfox Dual Tone Generator

Not a particularly elaborate example, but you should get the idea. You can hear it dry at the start and then run through a pitchshifter pedal and digital delay, just for some context since I’m not likely to run it dry. It actually sounds really cool through my Smokey amp. Maybe one of these days I’ll take it out and busk the subway system with what must come close to being the smallest electronic performance rig in the world (I can use little bits of metal on the Smokey’s speaker for filters and effects, surprisingly cool results doing that).

Comments: (2)

  1. I find the existance of this box quite intriguing.

    I mean, who’s it aimed at? Obviously ‘noise’ guys like yourself will appreciate it but is that the intended market? I can’t see it being aimed at, say, modular synth owners or the like. Is the ‘noise’ market big enough to support building boxes like this? Maybe ‘market’ doesn’t come into it..?

    Obviously conventional equipment (Holy Stain…) has a market far beyond noise use, even all those extreme distortion boxes are potentially uefull to whole legions of artists who want to add some dirt to their mix (not just guitarists either). But this box..?

    Though I’m glad it exists for sure. :)

  2. That’s a good Question, Gary. One I can’t answer. I bought it, yet even I think it borders on the ridiculous side.

    I think there must be a sound toy market that these kinds of things cater to, consisting of people who just happen to see something that makes some noise and get it. Like buying a Casio VL-1 or one of those plastic slide whistles. Possibly it’s intended to be a sort of electronic shruti box, for people who might want a drone to play alongside other instruments?

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