Luigi Felici and the folks over at Nusofting have put the finishing touches on Broken Drum Machine– a VST synth that emulates quite well the sounds and function of a circuit-bent or otherwise broken drum machine.

As they describe it, “To the fact that the broken sound is desirable. Yes! Knobs turn for satisfaction defective!”


The features are simple, but with some innovative controls that give it a very dynamic range. You only get four drum pads, but each is actually a blend of a PCM waveform (a sample of a drum sound) and a synthesized drum sound. Users can create their own drum sample packs, which is a nice feature.

Each pad has some standard controls, like pitch, decay, tone, but then there’s two extras called “chaos” and “chance.” This is where the fun starts. The programmers of BDM have done a pretty faithful job in re-creating the specific types of glitches, distortions, and odd sounds that occur when you circuit-bend or otherwise damage a drum machine. The chaos and chance controls cause those unexpected and interesting modulations, and they do so in a way that really feels like a broken device- you can’t quite control it 100%, and that’s what makes it great.

Some samples:
First, a hihat with some chaos: mp3-1

Next, a glitchy showcase of the “B” preset bank mp3-2

A “master” chaos control governs all pads, and makes the whole thing glitch out like mad when it’s all the way up: Pads will cross-trigger each other, lo-fi distortion buzzes, and you can almost smell dust frying inside.

There’s also some nifty MIDI capabilities, with some MIDI notes controlling decay and others giving better control of sample pitch-shifting.

One of the problems with circuit-bent devices is that it’s difficult to network them with other objects and keep them on time with each other. BDM seems to have kept the feel and aural aesthetic of such devices while adding things like master tempo and MIDI control. The end result is a fun-to-use VST drum machine that creates excellent crunchy lo-fi sounds, with a bit of the unexpected and surprising nature of actual broken drum machines.

Knobs turn for satisfaction defective, indeed.

The product page with a free demo trial can be found here.

  • awesome. love it! now we just need a synth like this!

  • Andreas

    Where's the AU? Jebus kryst, where's the AU??

  • This looks like the logical step after the Glitch ensemble they made for Sync Modular way back when. Making Atom Heart/Lassigue Bendthaus style beats with it was a breeze. Nice to see these guys doing cool stuff, still.

  • Re: AU — they've got some other AUs, and this is brand new, so maybe there's hope.

  • Luigi sez they're working on the Mac .vst and AU versions and will ave those out soon.

  • Not Tourettes enough for my taste. 😉

  • Nice Touch with the missing knobs. I like it!

  • i love "bad cable"… nice au plugin. does what the name promises. i use it to make beasty leads and bass.

  • Luigi is the bomb!

    Glad to see this VSTi here!

    As to circuit bending VSTs, I know of no synths but here's a freeware effect:

    I have another at home, an audio-following effect, but I cannot seem to find the download link at the moment.

  • Ah, lol, here it is:….

    A free one from the KVR Dev Challenge this year – Speak N Pluck VST.

    Both, like almost all VSTs, are PC-only.

  • archetype303

    Jack Dark had a whole series of circuit-bent emulated VST's built in SynthEdit that he gave away under his Darkware guise. And just recently he announced that he was leaving the world of plugin development, and that he was making all the resources freely available to anyone who wanted to get inside his creations, maybe do some creative mucking about. I can't remember exactly where I found the download link, but check KVR and the archives here on CDM. Very dark and gritty stuff, and properly difficult to control! Can be unstable and a resource hog, but maybe that makes them more realistic?

  • Indeed, I told Peter about that only a couple weeks ago and it's still here on CDM.

    I hope I don't get in trouble with myspace for having a video of VST automation one of which is Perky!, Jack Dark's plug-in that involved moving pasties, I kid you not. JD has a myspace page, too, which has compious examples of his music using FSU plug-ins. He is the O.G. of FSU effects.

  • Hi all!

    many thanks for the very positive comments,

    and I'm so glad someone remember the works I made for Sync Modular in 2001 (!) when I started to study DSP. Yes there were "Glitch Box" and "Glitch Pad" ensemble, and while BDM is very different from the Glitch Box, the Glitch Pad design could be usefull for a next Broken Synth by NUSofting.

    About BDM I could say a lot of triks I'm doing when I use it for my music, but please feel free to ask me any question you may have about it.

    BTW possibly we could have the AU version in a few weeks.



  • forgot to say the big **thanks** to Michael Una for the review