Pressure Points is here!
Our Pressure Points module arrived on Friday and has been seeing regular use since. It is a touchplate controlled voltage selector with four copper trace "pads" and a host of outputs (more on that in a second).
Before going into my small review below, I first want to say that Pressure Points is NOT a quad channel, pressure sensitive gesture controller, as I had originally led myself to believe. If that's something you're looking for, this isn't it.
Yes, it does have four channels with "Pressure" outputs on each, and yes, these outputs behave in much the same their name implies (the "harder you press on the copper traces" (i.e. how much of your finger is covering the trace (i.e. it's not actually pressure sensitive)) the stronger voltage will be at that channel's Pressure output).
BUT you can only "play" one pad at a time. So, if you have Channel 1's Pressure output controlling filter cutoff and Channel 2's controlling pitch, you cannot modulate both simultaneously*. It was a bit of a drag to find this out after ours arrived and I almost tried swapping it out on the forums for a Synthwerks FSR-4.
However, on some good advice, I slept on it and spent most of Saturday getting to know the module. Turns out, as is the case with most Make Noise modules, you have to put in some work before understanding/loving it.
Instead of thinking of Pressure Points as a pressure controller, which it is but isn't, it's better to imagine of it as a playable sequencer. Each pad selects a channel, which is represented by a vertical row of three knobs. Placed next to each other, the three resultant horizontal rows terminate in the Tuned Voltage outputs on the right-hand side. The top row's knobs scale voltage between 0-8v, with the middle and bottom rows offering 0-5.5v. Playing the touchplates, then, allows up to three destinations to be modulated simultaneously by these values.
In this video, Tuned Voltage outputs 1 and 2 are sent to a quantizer, and from there are controlling a Tip Top Z3000 and Bubblesound uLFO. Tuned Voltage output 3 is changing the pitch of the accent drum (a Maths channel at audio rate, sent into a wave multiplier):
I apologize for the sound quality-- the VCOs (after being mixed together) were sent into a Doepfer 134-2 crossfader, the fidelity of which leaves much to be desired-- but you get the general idea. Being able to scale each Tuned Voltage output AND create the sequences at will provides a huge amount of room for control and flexibility.
The best part: Pressure Points, as a system, is entirely modular. Meaning that up to four Pressure Points modules can be chained together, expanding the number of touchplates/voltages options at the Tuned Voltage outputs. Plus, as mentioned in the module's manual, the upcoming Points Expander module will add "traditional" sequencing abilities to the module, though if the NAMM footage was any indication, the quotes around "traditional" will be cartoonishly large.
I still plan on picking up an FSR-4, as I really like the idea of pressure modulation, but will also be adding a second Pressure Points in the near future. 4 pads is good, 8 is much better.
*In this example, the fiter's cutoff would be modulated whenever Channel 1 is selected, and the VCO's pitch would be modulated whenever Channel 2 is selected, but since Channels 1 and 2 cannot be selected together, the Pressure Outs cannot act simultaneously.