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Touch-free effects pedal control from KOMA Elektronik

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April 17, 2011

To the bottom right of the pedal are two IR emitters and one receiver, which calculate the...

To the bottom right of the pedal are two IR emitters and one receiver, which calculate the distance between an object placed overhead and the pedal

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On more than one occasion I have been faced with a floor full of daisy-chained analog effects pedals and, to amusement of onlookers, have had to perform intricate tap dancing moves to switch features on and off. Now two German musicians have added another dimension to effects unit control that may well save me some leg work – infrared expression and function control. All of the functions available on the KOMA Elektronik BD101 analog delay and gate can be controlled by control voltage (CV) via patched infrared sensors next to the true bypass footswitch.

The first in a series of KOMA FX pedals, the final prototype of the BD101 was recently shown off at Frankfurt's Musikmesse. Designers Christian Zollner and Wouter Jaspers say that as well as being able to create strange resonant frequencies that can shift between heavy delayed sounds and short pulses, the unit also incorporates a wide range frequency gate. The result "sounds like you're playing your instrument on the porch outside of your house and inside your amp is slowly sinking in the toilet, CV controlled of course."

At the top of the prototype there is a 10-socket patch bay, below which are slider controls for input gain and delay blend, rotary dials for gate speed and amount, feedback and delay time, a 3 pole slide switch to shape the gate and a 2 pole slide switch for high or low gate range. To the bottom left is a true bypass footswitch and to its right are two IR emitters and one receiver, which calculate the distance between an object placed overhead and the pedal.

The KOMA BD101 with 10-socket patch bay, rotary and slider controls and touch-free infrare...

Unit functions can be configured at the patch bay to work with the infrared sensors for touch-free expression and function control. The upshot being that features like the LFO speed, gate amount, delay time, feedback and so on can be engaged or modified by waving a hand or a foot above the unit, without the need for external expression pedals and all while playing your instrument. Users can even override the settings chosen with the rotary dials by patching the appropriate action to kick in when the CV signal produced when the IR circuitry is activated.

"For instance, when you patch the motion controller CV output into the Delay Time CV input on the patchbay, you can create time stretching effects by moving your foot or hand," KOMA's Jaspers told Gizmag. "This makes it not only interesting for guitar players, but also for DJ's and producers. When you patch the motion controller into the Feedback CV input you can control the amount of feedback going from zero to multiple repeats as well as to resonating-like overtones. In total there are 5 patchable CV inputs, that can also be used with a synth or with another KOMA pedal."

The 8.8 x 6 x 2-inch (22.5 x 15 x 5 cm) KOMA Elektronik BD101 prototype taken to Musikmesse has an aluminum top panel with wooden sides and is powered by a 9V DC power adapter. Although the internal electronics are pretty much set in stone at this point, the outward appearance may be subject to some tweaking ahead of production models being made available in September, pricing is yet to be determined.

Also due for release in September is a voltage controlled state variable analog filter and 10-step sequencer pedal called the FT102. Other units in the pipeline include a harmonics enhancer/reducer with fuzzy side effects named the HN104, and a sample and hold controlled waveform summing amplifier that combines the worlds of guitar and modular synth in one SH103 unit.

In the meantime, have a look at the short introduction of the BD101 prototype at Musikmesse:

About the Author
Paul Ridden While Paul is loath to reveal his age, he will admit to cutting his IT teeth on a TRS-80 (although he won't say which version). An obsessive fascination with computer technology blossomed from hobby into career before the desire for sunnier climes saw him wave a fond farewell to his native Blighty in favor of Bordeaux, France. He's now a dedicated newshound pursuing the latest bleeding edge tech for Gizmag.   All articles by Paul Ridden
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