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Nov 10, 2016 7:06 AM ET

Archived: The Anatron – add authentic synth effects to any instrument. A stereo audio effects unit: analog signal path – tube overdrive & resonant filter, with precision digital control over MIDI

iCrowdNewswire - Nov 10, 2016
The Anatron – add authentic synth effects to any instrument

About this project

A revolutionary new concept in Music Effects processing – from two of the engineers behind Classic Rock Sounds of the 70’s and 80’s

Developed by veteran audio design engineer Derek Dearden in collaboration with multi-Platinum record producer Paul Northfield, the Anatron adds authentic analog tone and sonic effects to the sound of any instrument or melody line, or to a complete mix.

Derek (in the leather jacket) with some of the design team of the QM500 lighting desk, bound for the Michael Jackson 1984 world tour
Derek (in the leather jacket) with some of the design team of the QM500 lighting desk, bound for the Michael Jackson 1984 world tour


The audio signal path is 100% analog, and features a versatile resonating filter to add dramatic synthesizer-style modulations to any soundtrack, live or recorded.

There is a vacuum tube stage with variable drive, adjustable from the most subtle barely-perceptible warmth all the way to screaming even-harmonic distortion.

All of the parameters are under precise digital control over MIDI.

This means that you get the best of both worlds: genuine analog sound quality, and accurate instantly available preset recall. It can be controlled from any device that can generate MIDI messages:

  •  a MIDI master keyboard,
  • or a MIDI controller,
  • a Digital Audio Workstation,
  • a custom software program,
  • an iPad or iPhone using an interface built in an app such as MIDI Designer.




It is a two channel unit and the channels can work in sync or independently, so it can create interesting stereo effects or operate on two different instruments.

It features full studio quality specifications with balanced line-level inputs and outputs, and also guitar level signals on 1/4 inch jacks. It provides a range of settings from subtle enhancements to wild extremes.

All of the parameters – the overdrive level, the filter cutoff frequency, and the filter resonance can be set by sending MIDI control change messages. They can all be modulated by an envelope, a Low Frequency Oscillator, or an external control voltage from a foot pedal or other source. The envelope can be a follower of the signal or an ADSR triggered by MIDI note on / note off messages.

Control Voltage outputs are provided so that modular analog synths can be driven in sync with the unit’s parameter modulations.

Derek and Paul met when they were both working at Advision Studio in London’s West End in the mid seventies, where clients included Emerson Lake and Palmer, Yes, Slade, Paul McCartney, Kate Bush and many others.

Derek left Advision in 1976 to design and build audio effects equipment for Yes in a workshop in their warehouse. Later his customer list expanded to include Queen, Pink Floyd, AC/DC, ELP, and many other bands, as well as the BBC Radiophonic Workshop and recording studios in London, Paris, New York and Montreal.

In the early 80’s, Derek was the lead design engineer for the Avolites QM500 computerised lighting console which had its debut on the 1984 Michael Jackson tour, and was a mainstay of rock concert lighting throughout the 80s and 90s.

Several fully functional prototypes have been built, and this Kickstarter campaign is to fund the development of the production version in a choice of formats: either a double-width 500-series module,

  or a stand-alone 19″ rackmount unit

The funds are needed to cover the costs involved in:

  • Re-designing to printed circuit boards to fit the specifications of the target format, and to utilise surface-mount components.
  • Designing and fabricating the metalwork and hardware.
  • Getting initial small-run batches of printed circuit boards, and having them assembled and tested.
  • Revising the designs to address and issues arising from the previous steps.
  • Designing and printing packaging materials.
  • Commissioning a production run to deliver on the Kickstarter promises and an initial stock for resale.


Risks and challenges

Since we have working prototypes, we are satisfied that the overall design concept is sound. I (Derek) have over 35 years experience of delivering novel high-tech projects on time and on budget, not only in the fields of sound and lighting as described above, but also in diverse areas including point-of-sale, toll collection systems and laboratory apparatus.
However, even the re-packaging of an existing electronic circuit involves the possibility that obscure malfunctions can arise, due to factors such as signal crosstalk, power distribution issues, parasitic oscillations, etc – and also the possibility of human error in the translation process. We have allowed for one re-iteration of the design in our timing estimates, but there is a possibility that it could take more than that.
There is a remote possibility that component shortages could introduce delays, although we have minimised this by selecting as far as possible standard components available from several different suppliers.

Contact Information:

Derek Dearden

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