To be honest, I had not heard of Meris until I received this item earlier this month. But I am now glad to have come across this small audio design company form California. This brand is striving to deliver a difference in their products and bring something new to audio creativity. And I have to say; the Ottobit certainly does just that.
Designed and manufactured in the USA, this 500 series module is a little on the quirky side and is ready to take your sound to places you probably never even considered. Essentially it is able to create sounds that are reminiscent of your favourite video games from the Atari era and even wanders into a series of spooky sounds that is ideal at this time of year. So, get your 500 Series rack ready, slot in the Ottobit and let’s have a listen!
1 Bit / 0.1 Hz
With so many companies striving to achieve higher bit rates and bigger sample counts in their audio conversion, the Ottobit turns its nose up at this and takes you all the way back to essentially nothing. The first two controls you’ll find on this module completely crush your bit depth and sample rate allowing you to break down your signal at any desired amount you like. Perhaps not for everyone, especially at the more extreme settings, but these functions gain more appeal when you start working through the other features on the panel.
The Ottobit’s LFO adds all sorts of interesting variations to your sound. This depth control for the LFO is simple enough, with its own dedicated knobs, and speed can be adjusted with the tap tempo button to easy align the modulation with the tempo of a song or other effect. This button also works as an Alt Function button when held down, allowing you to use the depth knob to scroll through a selection of LFO options. This includes a very cool and rather random sample and hold feature that pretty much does what it likes to the artefacts created by lowering the sample rate. On top of this, there is an envelope control found in the Trigger Depth knob, allowing you to bring in a sweeping envelope that engages for each new note played through the Ottobit. This also affects the LFO and the sample rate, creating some very wild sounds that can be carefully sculpted to suit your needs.
In The Ring
My favourite of the features on this device is the ring modulator, which has a very wide scope with the frequency control. You can set it very low to create a warbling tremolo sound, or wind it right up for a very complex ring modulation that sounds smooth and almost too controlled for this device. It has both AM and FM outputs, with a blend control between the two. The AM output has a classic ring modulator sound, whilst the FM output will find you wanting to compose soundtracks for horror films. But, you can blend these and find a balance in between that creates another unique sound, which is somewhere in the realms of a flanger and a chorus and actually works very nicely as a traditional guitar effect. But, it gets even better when you engage the Pitch Track function on the ring modulator, which sets the frequency to match the pitch of your input signal. So, each new note changes the frequency to suit, creating a responsive ring modulator.
In all, this is a fairly complex device in a very simple and unassuming housing. Meris has proven that the 500 Series isn’t just about preamps and compressors, it can be fun too.
For more information, visit studioconnections.com.au.
Hits and Misses
Creates video game sounds from any signal source
Adds eerie effects other devices can’t even conjure up
Great for a range of instruments, not just guitars
Not for everyone, but still super cool