This review is a web-only adjunct to our review of the Vermona Mono Lancet analog synthesizer, which appears in our June 2011 issue. -Ed.
Ask any TR-808 or TR-909 junkie--there's nothing like the sound of an analog kick drum. With the right compression, it will punch through the low-end and dominate a groove in all the right ways. The JoMoX MBase 01 and 11 have had this market cornered for a few years , so it’s interesting to see Vermona entering the fray with its Kick Lancet.
Unlike the MBase (which admittedly has a greater array of parameters), the Kick Lancet has a knob for each of its kick-optimized parameters: decay, pitch, bend (pitch envelope), time (pitch envelope decay/release), FM frequency, FM intensity, attack, noise, wave, and balls.
Many of these settings are self-explanatory, so we’ll focus on the esoteric stuff here. The FM parameters basically control a sine/triangle pitch LFO with a frequency range from 30Hz to 3kHz. Low rates add wobble and higher rates add a cool little “ping” to the overall kick sound.
The attack parameter introduces a nice little 808-style click to the beginning of the kick. Noise is a simple level knob that adds a short noise burst to the kick. The noise burst isn't tied to the overall decay, so it’s not really useful for making snares - and a little goes a long way for kick drums.
The Wave knob morphs the kick oscillator from a sine to a square wave. I recorded these waves to confirm, since the sine sounded a tad bright and the square a tad dull. Neither is pure, but they both sound very good across the entire pitch range of the Kick Lancet.
The manual states that the Balls parameter “makes the whole signal fatter.” My ears say it's using compression with a bit of overdrive, and the waveform seems to bear that out. Either way, it is aptly named and is super-useful for beefing up these kicks.
As for the sound, I had a blast coming up with kicks of all shapes and sizes with this box. Sure you can coax TR-808 and TR-909 kicks out of it, but we already have all those sounds at our fingertips anyway. The Kick Lancet is for making punchy, warm analog kicks that you can’t find anywhere else - and its pitch range is wide enough that it’s chock full of tom sounds, too.
You don’t get much more “boutique” than a $350 box that only makes kick drum sounds, but for techno and blog-pop producers who want their drums to stand out from the pack, the Kick Lancet delivers analog cred in spades.
PROS Massive range of sounds. Big & beefy. Pitch extends into the tom range, too. Can be triggered via switch, gate, audio, or MIDI.
CONS A tad pricey.
CONCEPT Completely analog kick generator.
Approx. Street $359