Pittsburgh Modular: Lifeforms SV-1 Blackbox


If you are a musician or producer looking to get into the Eurorack modular synthesizer platform, but find the technology confusing or overly expensive, then the Lifeforms SV-1 Blackbox from Pittsburgh Modular might be your ticket. The SV-1 is a complete semi-modular synthesizer voice in a complete stand-alone desktop format that’s easy-to-use, cost effective, and an excellent gateway into the world of modular synthesizers. Out of the box, the SV-1 can generate a huge pallet of sounds, including huge basses, shimmering leads, lush pads, and warm drones without the need for any patching. All of the basic module components have been pre-wired in a logical order to produce sound like any standard analog synthesizer. However, the Lifeforms SV-1 provides 53 patch points (20 inputs, 32 outputs, 1 dual purpose) that override the internal audio and CV signal paths, which allows for complete freedom to experiment and integrate with additional analog equipment.

The SV-1 Blackbox features a powerful MIDI-to-CV converter, two independent, full-range oscillators, a dual-chained mixer, a four-stage envelope generator, an analog state-variable filter, an LFO, a VCA, two splitters, and an output section with headphone and main-out connectors. The powerful MIDI-to-CV converter enables you to integrate the SV-1 into any MIDI environment, including your favorite DAW software, keyboard controller, or MIDI hardware sequencer. Additionally, the patch options provide access to glide, CC, and velocity control, while the digital clock-sync-able LFO offers quantized triangle and random waveforms for MIDI sync’d performance. What’s more, the MIDI-to-CV converter includes a powerful arpeggiator for generating complex and fresh musical ideas from just a few notes.

The Oscillator section offers two distinct oscillators with sine, triangle, saw, and square wave outputs with full FM modulation and hard sync capabilities. Oscillator 1 contains a unique “Blade” wave, which can be shaped by using the width CV input, creating a sweeping or chorusing effect. Oscillator 2 is normaled to the FM of Oscillator 1, which allows for huge analog FM bass, deep percussive hits, searing leads, and thick, warm analog pads. Both oscillators are full-frequency range and dip into the below-audio rates, which allows them to function as voltage-controlled LFOs.

The on-board mixer includes four inputs, but can be split into two independent two-channel mixers, allowing for more flexibility for your patches. The dedicated utility LFO provides triangle and square wave outputs, which is ideal for VCA or filter-frequency sweeps. There are two sub-octave oscillators, derived from Oscillator 1’s core frequency. 

The state-variable filter provides stunning harmonic character with voltage control over the entire frequency range. There are separate high-pass, low-pass, and band-pass outputs provided as breakout options, each with its own powerful sonic timbres. Turn up the resonance for an added growl, giving your tones an aggressive edge.

A four-stage envelope generator is pre-patched to the VCA for clean, controllable volume with the ability to shape the synthesizer’s audio. Two unbuffered CV or audio splitter sections allow you to duplicate your signal in creative ways, routing a single audio or CV source to multiple destinations. The module's enclosure is made from powder-coated steel and features a DC power inlet for use with the included power adapter. The SV-1 Blackbox ships with six Nazca audio patch cables and a 1/8" stereo jack to MIDI connector cable.