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Hologram Electronics Reveals the Microcosm - the Most Mature and Feature-Rich Granular Synthesis Multi-FX Unit to-date

GlitchHologram ElectronicsModulation
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I’ve covered a number of Granular Synthesis / Glitch pedals on site this and have quite a number in my own pedal collection. My challenges with those types of pedals has always been around the controllability / configurability and usability of those pedals. All are capable of generating some really fantastic granular micro-looping / signal-scrambling and randomising effects but there has largely been a degree of awkwardness in accessing the different algorithms and configuring the relevant attributes and parameters - where a lack of presets has placed a very heavy burden on re-dial-ability and replication of favourite prior settings.


I’ve been intrigued by Hologram’s previous units - the Dream Sequence and Infinite Jets - but their core features / functions and control topologies always seemed a touch opaque to me. With the Microcosm everything seems to fall into place and make pretty much perfect sense from first glance - where the control topology appears to be very highly intuitive. I can gather from first glance pretty much exactly what the pedal is about and how to effect control of most of its major functions.


The unit has 9 rotary knobs, 3 push-buttons and 3 footswitches - with a number of secondary functions. We’re still awaiting the full manual - so it’s not immediately clear what ’Activity’ controls per se - while pretty much everything else looks fairly self-explanatory.


The 9 Knobs are :

  • Activity = presumably the key parameter control for each of the 11 granular effects
  • Shape = Wave-Shape ; secondary control function is Modulation Frequency
  • Filter = Synth Style Resonant LowPass Filter Frequency ; secondary control function is Resonance
  • Mix = Dry/Wet Mix ; secondary control function is Effect Volume / Level
  • Time = Tap-Tempo / Tap-Division : 1/4 | 1/2 | TAP | 2X | 4X | 8X
  • Repeats = Delay Repeats ; secondary control function is Modulation Depth
  • Space = 4 Reverb Types - ranging from Room to Massive Ambient Wash ; secondary control function is Reverb Time / Decay
  • Loop Level = Loop Volume ; secondary control function is Fade Time / Fade-Out
  • Effect Select = Mosaic | Sequencer | Glide | Haze | Tunnel | Strum | Blocks | Interrupt | Arpeggiator | Pattern | Warp

11 Effects in 4 Categories - Micro Loop | Granules | Glitch | Multidelay :

  • Micro Loop : Mosaic = Overlapping loops play back at different speeds
  • Micro Loop : Seq = Looping samples are rearranged into new rhythmic sequences
  • Micro Loop : Glide = Short overlapping loops shift in pitch over time
  • Granules : Haze = Clusers of micro-loops create an immediate wash of sound
  • Granules : Tunnel = Cyclical micro-loops generate hypnotic drones with unique modifiers
  • Granules : Strum = Rhythmic chains of recent note onsets create pointillistic textures
  • Glitch : Blocks = Incoming audio triggers predictable glitches and bursts of notes
  • Glitch : Interrupt = Glitches interrupt try signal with pitch shifted bursts, micro-montages, and other unique modifiers
  • Glitch : Arp = Sequences runs of samples create arpeggios
  • MultiDelay : Pattern = Delay taps are arranged into four different rhythmic patterns
  • MultiDelay : Warp = Delay taps are manipulated using filters and pitch shifting to create spacious effects

Note that you can reverse / alternate direction of each effect / micro-loop


The 3 push-buttons are :

  • Select/Shift = Switch between primary and secondary knob functions
  • Phrase Looper Mode = Select between Pre-FX | Burst | Looper Only | Quantize
  • Phrase Looper Reverse = Change direction of loop playback

And the 3 footswitches are :

  • Left = Tap / Record / Play / Dub
  • Middle = On/Variation (presumably!)
  • Right = Hold/Stop/Erase

All-round this is just a really great Granular Synthesis / Glitch pedal - possibly the best in this category to date. There are so many things here which are so much clearer and more intuitive than on comparative units - obviously there is some further complexity here, but the control topology is just excellent and clearly and consistently labelled and grouped. With Presets onboard this tackles all may major gripes on other similar pedals - albeit I feel that at some stage we will start seeing display screens for these sorts of pedals which should further aid usability.


Size is actually pretty reasonable here as the unit looks larger than it actually is at 7.1 x 4.7 x 2.0 inches (180 x 120 x 51 mm). It also has the full complement of connections with full stereo ins and outs, Midi In/Out/Thru and Expression control. Considering everything on offer here the price is pretty reasonable too = $449. I’m thinking that this is currently the Granular Synthesis unit to beat - everything here has been really well thought out and this unit is distinctly more mature and polished than most of its kind. This is probably the first of the proper Glitch Workstation Units that I hinted at in my previous coverage.


I really like the look and sound of this - not entirely sure where I would fit it into my rig, but I dare say this is my favourite pedal of this type to date - should do really well for Hologram Electronics!

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Stefan Karlsson
Stefan Karlsson
Guitar Pedal X
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