Expand the sound of your modular rack with incredibly lush, ethereal reverbs. Enhance signals with gorgeous chorus, flanging, and modulated delays. Create uniquely expressive synth voices with Karplus-Strong string synthesis. Turn simple mono audio signals into vast stereo soundscapes. StarLab is a single module that will completely transform your modular rack.
From perfectly voiced room ambience to vast, immersive, nearly infinite decays, StarLab offers the pinnacle of premium reverb sounds with unparalleled depth and spaciousness. Add musical intervals to the reverb signal with Shimmer, and enhance the harmonic spectrum with Glimmer, while enjoying real-time control over the size/pitch of the reverb process.
StarLab has vastly expanded what reverb pre-delay can do by allowing you to bus the pre-delay signal to the output while making the pre-delay time a modulation target. This results in the ability to create rich choruses, sweeping flanger effects, and beautiful modulated delays, while also processing signal through the reverb.
In addition to input signal processing, StarLab is a powerful Karplus-Strong string synthesis voice module that allows freely alternating bowing and plucking as well as dynamic string damping. This results in an astoundingly expressive and lifelike instrument with a unique voice all its own, which can be enhanced and expanded by the full range of StarLab’s reverb capabilities.
Development for StarLab began with one goal in mind: to provide the highest quality reverb possible for modular systems, perfectly tuned for immersive electronic soundscapes with a high degree of flexibility and creative control.
The seemingly simple idea of allowing the pre-delay signal to be fed directly to the module’s output led to the development of rich sounding delay, chorus, and flanger effects, all of which can be used together with or independent of the reverb.
While experimenting with short delay times using feedback and filtering, we began finding very musical and expressive Karplus-Strong string synthesis sounds, and realized that StarLab could move beyond signal processing and become a truly unique voice module as well.
All this ultimately resulted in the creation of a module that is equal parts reverb, delay/modulation, and playable instrument.
One of the attractions of modular synthesis is its tendency to inspire musical creation during experimentation. These audio samples were recorded by sound designer Pete Celi at different points throughout StarLab’s development as he was inspired by various features he was working on at the time.
Rings → StarLab. This clip showcases StarLab’s Delay section under onboard LFO control to generate mod/reverb and delay/reverb effects. Delay/Tune and Feedback knobs are manipulated with LFO Speed and Depth tweaks. StarLab’s reverb texture is set to the Sparse setting.
Mutable Instruments Rings and Noise Engineering BIA modules provide the input to StarLab. StarLab’s wet signal is brought in, featuring the Dense reverb type. External CVs modulate Shimmer level (set to +5th interval), Glimmer level, and filter cutoff, and also create varying chorus and vibrato effects as the LFO speed varies.
With StarLab’s reverb size/pitch in Quantize mode, the internal LFO’s random waveform pitches the contents of the reverb between root and fifth intervals. The Delay is set for dotted-eighth with external Tap CV and StarLab’s Clock Divider.
Noise Engineering BIA (drums), MI Rings (“melody”), Doepfer uVCO (bass) and 2HP Hat (hi-hat) are all fed into StarLab’s inputs. StarLab’s delay clock multiplier sets the delay time at 2.5x the sequencer rate while the Diffuse reverb with short decay adds more dimension. Some onboard delay modulation is added for more motion.
Rings → StarLab. Delay time is synced to sequence, with the clock divider giving dotted-eight repeats. Highs and lows rolled off with the Input Gain at maximum for a “dirty magnetic” style delay into the Dense reverb.
An external clock into the Tap/Trig CV of StarLab sets the delay time. StarLab’s onboard clock multiplier/divider extends the clock to a four-second delay that is synchronized with the sequencer clock. A touch of random modulation, some Shimmer and a bit of Glimmer add harmonic richness to the Diffuse reverb.
External CVs control the Infinite function, Shimmer level, LFO depth, and delay feedback to create a variety of textures that weave in and out. The feedback and LFO depth create moving oscillations that get held by the Infinite function, only to be cleared and started anew with the Clear CV. The first few seconds of the clip are the dry input.
A simple monophonic input from Rings becomes an unsettling soundscape as the Shimmer interval is continually varied via the Interval CV. Along the way, some surprising harmonies are created fleetingly as the intervals continue their journey.
The first few seconds are the dry sound. Then the Dry knob is set to minimum and we hear only the reverberated output with StarLab’s LFO modulating its 4-pole resonant low pass after the reverb. -4th Input Shimmer fattens and adds harmonic interest to the signal.
With a long decay, the reverb can create a polyphonic-like experience as the notes reverberate in harmony. This patch uses the internal LFO to modulate the reverb tail to quantized steps, creating huge harmonies from a simple mono input.
MI Rings sends a peaceful input to StarLab, where multiple CVs ensure an animated soundscape. Shimmer level, reverb decay, delay feedback, and mod speed are under external CV control. The Sparse reverb creates bouncing stereo reflections.
An early test of the Karplus tuning using Noise Engineering BIA drum sounds to excite the string. An Arturia KeyStep in Arpeggiator mode drives the string tuning while triggering the drum inputs that excite the string. The keyboard aftertouch is patched into StarLab’s LFO Depth CV to bring in touch-sensitive vibrato from StarLab’s internal LFO targeting the delay time (string length). StarLab’s Dense reverb adds immediate depth to the synthesized string tone.
An external impulsive audio input excites the Karplus string with occasional ratcheting action while the high damp filter creates different string textures. The string feeds into a shorter decay Diffuse reverb for a finishing touch.
Highlighting the “bow” feature in StarLab’s Karplus mode. Here the Tap/Trig button is manually held at points in the sequence to add a dynamic element to the string texture while the string is plucked by the Tap/Trig CV. The Sparse reverb complements the string.
This clip demonstrates StarLab in Karplus mode using the envelope LFO shape to modulate its 4-pole low pass filter, opening the filter on the excitation of the string (triggered by external Tap/Trig CV sequence clock) and then quickly closing. The Dense reverb decay is turned up to build the sound passing through the filter. At the end the filter is opened to allow sustained reverberation. The drums are mixed separately and do not pass through StarLab. All other audio is StarLab only.
Here’s how some simple drums sound through the Karplus mode used as resonators with short decay and no high damping. Pitch CV is providing tuning. No external triggering here, just the Karplus string being excited by the drum sounds.
This Karplus-Strong patch shows the string dynamics attainable by modulating the filter with the envelope waveform, while a fast external LFO is patched to the High Damp CV to provide a rapid motion at the top of the spectrum. The Dense reverb has regenerating octave Shimmer to enhance the experience. All sounds are from StarLab only.
Guitar → Magneto → StarLab. Magneto sets things up in Shift mode with a long delay to create a multitude of motion from the simple guitar input. StarLab takes over from there, adding Glimmer, -5th Shimmer and a large Dense verb to create a serene pad from a single-guitar input.
Strymon sound designer and DSP engineer Pete Celi takes us on an in-depth tour of StarLab.