The synth is divided into four sections and, whether you're a novice synthesist or an old campaigner, it's practically impossible to get lost, or make worthless sounds. There's only one way to produce no sound at all, and even that has its uses!
I sensed more than a whiff of TB303 about the Rocket design, from its square/sawtooth switch to its pared-down envelopes. The choice of waveform determines the functionality of the Wave and Tune knobs, each marked with intriguing hieroglyphics. If you begin with a square wave, the first half of the Wave knob's rotation sets the pulse width. At its absolute minimum, the width is so narrow it disappears. Without a level control or mixer, this is the recommended way to deactivate the oscillator, something you'd probably do when using the filter's audio input. Resisting the lure of external processing for a moment, let's keep turning that Wave knob. From 12 o'clock onwards, pulse-width modulation is introduced, the depth gradually increasing until, in the last part of its travel, the modulation speed is also hiked up. That's a heck of a lot of sonic variation squeezed into a single control, but it's typical of the Rocket that it feels 'right' very quickly.
Staying with the square wave, the Tune control brings its own innovations. The left part of its travel introduces a copy of the oscillator. At first, this is subtly detuned, but it's not long before all subtlety is dropped. Passing through the middle of the knob's travel and onwards, this newly added oscillator slips into various intervals, such as fifths, octaves
Flip the switch to sawtooth and you are treated to a different set of options. At anywhere before 12 o'clock, the Wave knob activates 'Saw Sync Mode' and, with it, further oscillator multiplication. Turning the knob clockwise has the effect of shortening a hidden envelope that's wired to produce sync sweeps. Over the course of its travel, the sweep is gradually reduced to a mere blip, while the Tune control sets the frequency of the slaved oscillator. The end result is a wonderful, zappy and ripping sync implementation that I, for one, didn't see coming.
The interface isn't perfect, though. For example, to select only a single sawtooth oscillator, the Wave knob has to be at its exact
The Tune knob operates differently for the sawtooth wave, substituting pulse-width modulation with different intervals and even chords. The number of notes included is set by the Wave knob, and some of the resulting chords are quite complex and interesting. I found that it was often a case of playing it by
Finally, there's a special sawtooth unison mode that's brought to life when both the Wave and the Tune knobs are at their rightmost positions. All eight sawtooth oscillators are now distributed evenly amongst the notes played. A single key can
The filter is a 12dB, multi-mode, state-variable design, its band-pass and high-pass modes ideal for classic trance leads or for slimming down the Rocket's pseudo-polyphony. With no discernible zipper noise and a lively resonance, this is a fab-sounding
Flip the Boost switch and the filter changes from
Sportingly, the Rocket's filter and overdrive are accessible to external signals, the only proviso being that you must trigger the envelopes with notes or the Launch key. There's no attenuator for the audio input, but line-level signals are handled well enough. Now's the time to select a square wave with a width of zero, assuming you don't want the oscillator splattered all over your audio processing. Shaping all that
At the Rocket's left-hand side are the knobs and switches of the combined LFO and arpeggiator. The LFO Target switch selects modulation of either the pitch or filter
When the Target switch is set to ARP, the arpeggiator is
Connect the Rocket to a computer via USB and not only does it hurl MIDI in both directions, it draws power too. In a computer-free setup, the same USB cable plugs into a universal adaptor and gets its juice that way. For lovers of traditional five-pin MIDI, the standard In and Out connections are present, but there's no Thru. In order to assign the MIDI channel, you poke a recessed button with a pen while sending MIDI data. The Rocket duly extracts the channel and stores it until you repeat the process. Almost every control has a documented MIDI Continuous Controller, and not only does the synth respond to these when received, they
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Last Updated: March 27, 2018
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