Crank is available as a special bundle with its sister instrument, Hurdy Gurdy. See our Hot Deals page to grab this offer.
Unique blend of characterful acoustic and analogue electronic waveforms • Constant erratic instability to add colour and organic warmth to the sound • Multi-Osc adds up to ten detunable oscillators!
Crank takes as its basis and inspiration the raw, erratic, unstable, wonderful sound of the hurdy-gurdy – an Eastern European folk instrument built around a resonant soundbox, five or more violin-style strings, a wooden peg keyboard, and (most importantly of all) a rotating, hand-cranked wooden wheel. This wheel is rosined (like a violin bow) and scrapes across the strings to produce the hurdy-gurdy’s tone. It’s an absolutely magical instrument, steeped in tradition, and uniquely evocative of gypsy campfires in dark forests.
But we’ve brought it out of the forest and into the laboratory, and the result is a hand-welded hybrid instrument that fuses the hurdy-gurdy’s buzzing, catgut tonality with the synthesiser controls and analogue waveforms needed to sculpt it into textural soundscapes, swirling swells, hypnotic pads and all manner of acoustic-flavoured strangeness. This is the hurdy-gurdy reborn as synth.
Crank has a powerful dual-layer architecture, with the main Crank waveforms sampled chromatically from our friend Ana’s hurdy-gurdy. These samples are each over a minute long, and their start points are randomised, so no two notes sound the same. Also, you can choose to add in the characteristic and characterful attack ‘squeal’ or ‘chirp’ caused by the initial contact of the key peg with the string, by clicking the little red Attack LED. With this on, you get a more authentic acoustic sound; with it off, you get a smoother attack and can use the ADSR controls to modify it further. (You can even have a slow ADSR attack and the little attack chirp, for a strange hybrid effect!)
On the left of the panel is one pairing of Crank waveform and analogue Oscillator; on the right, another, almost identical one. (There are two small differences between them: they employ different styles of low-pass filter – one Moog-style, one Prophet-style – and the Noise waveform for Osc A is standard white noise, whereas for Osc B it’s a vinyl crackling instead. We just like to mix things up.) The Crank waveform can be multiplied via the Multi control, giving you instant density and depth with precise control over detuning… although the Crank waveforms themselves are pretty erratic, so they’ll be naturally detuned in any case.
The analogue Oscillator offers some more familiar waves to complement the acoustic nature of the Crank: you get typical Triangle, Sawtooth and Square wave, plus a Sine pitched one octave below the Crank for a nice bit of sub-boost. The twin Noise waves live here too, and can really add some old-fashioned grit to the sound. High- or Low-pass Filter and LFO controls round out the feature set for each bank, and of course the banks can be individually tuned (say, to octaves, or fifths) for even more versatility.
The Glitch button lives front and centre, and musically randomises the whole instrument to produce new patches for you with just a single mouse-click: great for some instant inspiration! Round the back, meanwhile, is an effects panel with Chorus, Phaser, Delay, Rotary speaker and Amp Cab. The first four effects are patched as sends rather than inserts, so you can choose exactly how much of the effect you want added – great for adding a background hint of Leslie swirl to a patch without completely Hammonding it up!
Crank is designed to take your sounds in a new, unusual direction – bringing a hefty dose of instability and air to a synth framework. Whether you use it to create one-of-a-kind acoustic machines from an alternative reality, or just to add some ‘real’ mojo to a classic synth patch, the unique sound of Crank brings its little bit of gypsy magic to the party.
johnup12 (verified owner) –
A bargain for an above average soft synth.
Poesque (verified owner) –
Ratcheted my way through bloody knuckles and all only to find the keys to the kingdom a shot of crank away from redemption.
evan.j.lange (verified owner) –
Do not underestimate the usefulness of this synth. It has a wonderful vintage-y Mellotron-ish sound that works in far more situations than I thought. RR surprises me again!
aqaraza (verified owner) –
I have been intrigued by the sound (and instrument design) behind this one from the start. My love for the glitch/rnd button is well documented, haha, so that was one of the appeals here. I am enticed and enthralled by the RR instruments that have it. Even if some of the sounds (as is definitely the case here) end up being quite quirky, they provide a deep delve into the instrument in a way impossible without hours of tweaking.
As for the sound of Crank itself, it is truly magical. I am drawn to sounds that are indefinable, impossible to place in space or time, difficult to pin down as either synthetic or organic. But I have to say, the thing that finally tipped the scales for me and made me go for it was the wonderful Astrofield track in the demos, and the realization that with instruments like these, one could make a real run at creating Bladerunner-esque soundscapes that came from some other world entirely. With tools like Crank, anything is possible.
bladesguy (verified owner) –
I’m pretty sure if Jules Verne used Kontakt, he would use Crank! This is quite unique in sound and approach. I have just started using it but am already full of warm and fuzzies. It covers a lot more ground than I was expecting and I think it will be very useful in many varied productions. Also, big hats off to The Professor and Mongo for their excellent customer service and highly creative products!
Matt (verified owner) –
Great little synth. But a really organic one. If you are looking for a human-machine synth hybrid, this is the one.
Kenneth Joynes (verified owner) –
Rough sketch at https://soundcloud.com/user-859240368/robotic-synth-hoedown-in-an-abandoned-factory – apart from the drums, everything is Crank (including the industrial tambourine that fades in after about 8 seconds).
Kenneth (verified owner) –
So I bought this along with Hurdy Gurdy, Loopscape, Spark Gap and Uproar and so far I’ve used this more than all the other four combined (I’ll get round to them at some point, honest). The source Crank waveforms are lovely biting clanging drones, and combined with the sound oscillators and the simple but very flexible and powerful synth architecture, there’s a huge variety of sounds that you can produce – booming guitar leads, mellow pulsating pads, organs, weird synth banjos, you name ’em.
Also, I asked the Professor a question about how to sync instrument parameters to my DAW host and he kindly replied to my cluelessness with a very detailed answer within 24 hours, so I can highly recommend RR’s customer service as well as their synths.
James (verified owner) –
Here are several tracks created using only Crank and the occasional RR drum machine:
Malfunction: Slow-moving, beatless ambient https://soundcloud.com/jamesstringer-2/malfunction
Peegeldus: An atmospheric track, with drums from Doctor 55 https://soundcloud.com/jamesstringer-2/peegeldus
Germanium: Another dark, beatless excursion. Here the hurdy-gurdy origins of the oscillators is emphasized. https://soundcloud.com/jamesstringer-2/germanium
Doble: Continuing the dark ambient theme. The beatless section is in F minor, but soon gives way to a more wistful section in Db major before a reprise of the initial idea. Drums from Doctor 110. https://soundcloud.com/jamesstringer-2/doble
Senzill Cinquena: A swirling excursion into Eb minor, with drums from Drumlator Plus. https://soundcloud.com/jamesstringer-2/senzill-cinquena
If you enjoy these, please follow me and like these tracks on Soundcloud.
James (verified owner) –
Great, quirky synth, which I’ve used extensively in downtempo and ambient situations.
Here is Crank providing a varying drone, accompanied by various percussive hits: https://soundcloud.com/jamesstringer-2/laika.
And here is Crank in the mix with the Emulator II OMI Universe of Sounds and a trumpet from the Kontakt Factory Library: https://soundcloud.com/jamesstringer-2/banen
I have lots of other tracks using Crank – I shall post the Soundcloud links as I upload them.
Really useful and highly distinctive instrument.
Edward (verified owner) –
Excellent Electrice Hurdy Gurdy. Just what I needed to go with my other Hurdy Gurdy I bought from you guys to create a THICK Hurdy Gurdy instrument. Thanks for helping me to stay creative.
This is a fantastic oddity! It has its own quirky charm, and oozes character. Although it’s excellent for pads and drones, it can also do leads, keys, organs, strings, basses and fx with aplomb. The Glitch button is ace fun (and often feels like cheating – just press it and hey presto – a new patch). I own most of the Laboratory instruments, and Crank, like all the others, has been created with obvious love and attention to detail. If I need some inspiration, or an unusual or characterful sound, I invariably turn to my Rhythmic Robot folder, and Crank is one of my favourites.
Wonderful analog-style anarchy! This demented concept of a synth is very hard to compare to anything else and that’s a very good thing in this age of soundalike subtractive clones and superglossy digital constructions. It’s great for drones (big surprise), evolving pads, biting organs, twisted leads and any track that needs some warped character. The always welcome “glitch” randomizer button will give you hours of fun and new possibilities.
Anthony (verified owner) –
I was intrigued by this synth and bought it thinking it would be kind of nice in limited situations. I underestimated it greatly.
The combination of oscillators and the decidedly low-tech hurdy-gurdy factor make for a rough Mellotron-like sound– but with more natural grit. I’ve found it especially good for creating pads that add character and even some subtle movement in arrangements whereas your standard pad sounds might need more treatment. The rosin-produced grittiness has the knock-on effect of helping it cut through the mix without being too obtrusive. Overall, a brilliantly useful synth!