This page describes the legacy mk1/mk2 disting. For the current product, please see here.
If in doubt, ask.

User Manual

If you have 38 minutes to spare, the video below details all 16 of the disting's functions in turn. Otherwise, each feature has its own little video, further down the page.

Installation

House the Disting in a Eurorack case of your choosing. The power connector is Doepfer standard. If using the power cable supplied with the Disting, the red edge of the cable is nearest the bottom of the PCB, and carries -12V. ("-12V" is marked on the PCB itself next to this end of the connector.) Be sure to connect the other end of the power cable correctly, again so -12V corresponds to the red stripe on the cable.

Inputs, Outputs and Controls

disting, front From top to bottom, the disting has
  • 8 LEDs, which indicate the currently selected algorithm (and sometimes additional per-algorithm information, as described below).
  • Two knobs.
    • The top knob selects the current algorithm, and is named 'S'.
    • The bottom knob controls some aspect of the algorithm, and is referred to as the 'Z' control.
  • Three input sockets.
    • The top input is the 'Z' CV input, which controls the same thing as the 'Z' knob. The two are added together.
    • The other two inputs are 'X' and 'Y', and their function depends on the current algorithm.
  • Two output sockets, named 'A' and 'B'.
The sockets are illuminated to reflect the voltage at the socket (or in the case of 'Z', the combined voltage of the input and the knob). Red indicates a positive voltage; blue indicates a negative voltage.
Below we will refer to the LEDs by name as follows: the left column, from top to bottom, are LEDs 1, 2, 3 & 4; the right column are LEDs a, b, c & d.
There is a 9th LED on the PCB itself, which serves a debug function during development. In normal use it should appear permanently on.

Startup

When the module powers up it runs through some patterns on its LEDs, to a) give confidence that it's working correctly and b) display the firmware version.

The sequence is as follows:

  • a, b, c, d
  • 1, 2, 3, 4
  • all 8 at once
  • 1 + major version number as binary on a/b/c/d (a is LSB)
  • all off
  • 1 + minor version number as binary on a/b/c/d (a is LSB)
  • 1 + flash a twice

Selecting an algorithm

Turn knob 'S' to select one of the 16 algorithms, which are:
Group 1 Group 2 Group 3 Group 4
a Precision Adder Linear/Exponential Converter Sample and Hold LFO
b Four Quadrant Multiplier Quantizer Slew Rate Limiter Clockable LFO
c Full-wave Rectifier Comparator Pitch and Envelope Tracker VCO with linear FM
d Minimum/maximum Dual Waveshaper Clockable Delay/Echo VCO with waveshaping
LEDs 1-4 indicate the group number; LEDs a-d indicate the selected algorithm within the group. Note that, when displaying the current algorithm, exactly one of LEDs 1-4 and one of LEDs a-d will be lit. If zero, 2, 3 or 4 LEDs are lit in a column, then the LEDs are displaying different information.

Don't press the button

On the Disting PCB is a push button. This is used during factory setup and should not be pressed in normal use. If you should happen to press the button while the Disting is powered up, you will need to turn it off and on again to restore normal functionality.

The Algorithms

1-a Precision Adder

A = X + Y + offset
B = X - Y - offset
offset = ±10V in 1V steps derived from Z
Output A is the sum of inputs X & Y; output B is the difference between inputs X & Y. With nothing plugged into input X, B is therefore simply an inverted copy of Y.

The Z knob/CV sets an offset which is applied to both A and B. The offset is a whole number of Volts. If X/Y are 1V/Octave pitch CVs, Z is therefore an octave shift control. The maximum shift is 10V, positive or negative.

When Z changes, the offset is displayed on the LEDs. While the offset is being displayed, LEDs 1 & 2 both light. After a short while the LED display reverts to showing the current algorithm. The offset is shown as binary on LEDs a-d, with a the least significant bit. If the offset is negative, LED 3 also lights. The patterns on LEDs a-d are as follows ('0' indicates lit, '-' indicates unlit):

Value012345678910
LED a-0-0-0-0-0-
LED b--00--00--0
LED c----0000---
LED d--------000

1-b Four Quadrant Multiplier

A = X * Y * scale
B = -X * Y * scale
scale = 1/10 to 10x in steps derived from Z
Output A is the result of multiplying inputs X & Y. Output B is the inverse of output A.

If for example X is a signal and Y is an envelope, then this algorithm is a VCA. If both inputs are signals, then this is a ring modulator.

The Z knob/CV sets a scale factor which is applied to both outputs. The scale is an integer (whole number) which either multiplies or divides the result, and ranges in value from 1-10.

When Z changes, the scale is displayed on the LEDs. While the scale is being displayed, LEDs 1 & 2 both light. After a short while the LED display reverts to showing the current algorithm. The scale is shown as binary on LEDs a-d, with a the least significant bit. If the scale is a divisor, LED 3 also lights. The patterns on LEDs a-d are as follows ('0' indicates lit, '-' indicates unlit):

LED 3 unlitScale1x2x3x4x5x6x7x8x9x10x
LED a0-0-0-0-0-
LED b-00--00--0
LED c---0000---
LED d-------000
LED 3 litScale/2/3/4/5/6/7/8/9/10
LED a-0-0-0-0-
LED b00--00--0
LED c--0000---
LED d------000

1-c Full-wave Rectifier

A = abs( X + Y ) or abs( X )
B = abs( X - Y ) or abs( Y )
Z selects mode
This algorithm provides a full-wave rectifier or absolute value function. The Z knob/CV select between one of two modes. In 'independent' mode, A and B are the absolute values of X and Y, respectively. In 'combined' mode, A is the absolute value of the sum of X & Y; B is the absolute value of the difference of X & Y.

When Z changes, the mode is displayed on the LEDs. While the mode is being displayed, LEDs 1 & 2 both light. 'Independent' mode is indicated by LED 3 lighting; it is unlit in 'combined' mode. After a short while the LED display reverts to showing the current algorithm.

1-d Minimum/maximum

A = min( X, Y )
B = max( X, Y )
Z is gate
Output A is the minimum of inputs X & Y; output B is the maximum of the two inputs. If one input is zero (or disconnected), this is a half-wave rectifier.

The Z knob/CV provides a gate function. When Z goes higher than approximately 2.5V, the gate goes high and the outputs follow the inputs according to the min/max relationship. When Z goes below approximately -1.5V, the gate goes low and the outputs are frozen.

When the gate changes state, it is displayed on the LEDs. While the gate is being displayed, LEDs 1 & 2 both light. The state of the gate is reflected in LED 3. After a short while the LED display reverts to showing the current algorithm.

2-a Linear/Exponential Converter

A = ( 2 ^ X ) * scale
B = log2( Y / scale )
Z is Hz/V scale, centred on 1kHz
This algorithm provides a linear-to-exponential converter and an exponential-to-linear converter. You might use this to interface 1V/octave modules (Eurorack standard) with Hz/V synths (e.g. old Korg or Yamaha synths), but it could also be useful within Eurorack e.g. to convert an LFO (commonly with Hz/V pitch control) to a V/octave oscillator, or to convert an exponential FM input on a VCO into a linear FM input.

Input X is the exponential input; its corresponding linear output is A. Y is the linear input, whose exponential output is B.

Z sets the scale factor which is common to both conversions. It sets the number of Hz per Volt, with arrange from near zero to about 2kHz. The Yamaha CS-15, for example, uses about 1100Hz/V, which is about half way on the Z knob here.

The zero Volt point on the exponential scale used is C3 (approximately 130.81Hz).

2-b Quantizer

A = quantized( X )
B = trigger on note change
Z chooses scale & function of Y
Y = transpose (Z positive) or trigger (Z negative)
Output A is a quantized version of input X; the closest whole-semitone value to the unquantized V/octave pitch CV X. Output B is a trigger signal which fires whenever output A changes - a 5V pulse approximately 10ms long.

As well as providing a chromatic scale, this algorithm can also constrain the quantized values to a musical scale or chord. This is controlled by the Z knob/CV.

When Z changes, the scale is displayed on the LEDs. While the scale is being displayed, LEDs 1 & 2 both light. After a short while the LED display reverts to showing the current algorithm. The patterns on LEDs a-d are as follows ('0' indicates lit, '-' indicates unlit):

Scalechromaticmajor scaleminor scalemajor triadminor triadroot +5thmajor triad +6thminor triad +6thmajor triad +7thminor triad +7throot +5th +6throot +5th +7thpentatonic majorpentatonic minor
LED a-0-0-0-0-0-0-0
LED b--00--00--00--
LED c----0000----00
LED d--------000000
A further option is controlled by Z being positive or negative. When Z is negative, LED 3 also lights when displaying the scale.

When Z is positive input Y is a transpose control. The CV on input Y is quantized (to a chromatic scale) and added to output A (after input X has been quantized to the chosen scale).

When Z is negative input Y is a trigger. In this mode, input X is only sampled and converted to a new quantized value when input Y rises over approximately 1V. (In non-triggered mode, X is constantly sampled and a new note is output as soon as X moves into the next semitone range.)

2-c Comparator

A = gate from X > Y
B = inverted gate
Z is hysteresis
Output A is a gate signal (zero or +5V), high when input X has a higher voltage than input Y. Output B is an inverted copy of A (i.e. +5V when A is 0V and vice versa.)

The Z knob/CV input sets the hysteresis (for an explanation of hysteresis see here). It has an approximately 0-10V range. Negative values are clamped at zero.

2-d Dual Waveshaper

A = folded X
B = triangle-to-sine Y
Z is gain
This algorithm provides two independent waveshaping functions. The Z knob/CV is a gain control, with a range of approximately 30x. Negative values of Z invert the signal.

Input X/output A provide what is usually termed a wavefolder. This increases the harmonic content of the sound in interesting ways, especially as the gain changes.

Input Y/output B provide a triangle-to-sine waveshaper. Used on most audio this is a relatively gentle form of overdrive/saturation. However, when fed with the right level of triangle wave, the output is exactly a sine wave, which is useful when you have a triangle wave VCO handy but really want a pure sine wave instead.

3-a Sample and Hold

A = X when Y exceeds 1V
B = noise ±8V
Z is slew rate
Output A is a sample of input X, taken when the trigger input Y goes over 1V.

Output B is a white noise signal, with range ±8V. A noise signal is commonly fed into the input of a sample and hold device to generate clocked random voltages.

The Z knob/CV controls the slew rate of output A. At the minimum value of Z, changes in A are instantaneous. As Z increases, changes in A take place more slowly.

3-b Slew Rate Limiter

A = linear slew rate limited ( X + Y )
B = log slew rate limited ( X + Y )
Z is slew rate
Outputs A & B are both slew rate limited copies of the sum of X & Y. Output A uses linear slew rate limiting; a step change in the input will typically result in a ramp output, until the output reaches its desired value, at which point it will be constant. Output B uses logarithmic slew rate limiting; a step change in input results in a smooth curve that gradually approaches the desired value.

The Z knob/CV controls the slew rate for both outputs. At the minimum value of Z, changes are very rapid. As Z increases, changes take place more slowly.

3-c Pitch and Envelope Tracker

A = V/octave pitch derived from X, plus Y
B = envelope dervied from X
Z is slew rate for envelope
This algorithm provides pitch and envelope tracking of an incoming audio signal. It will track frequencies down to about 27Hz, which is just below the lowest note on a standard 88 key piano.

Output A is a 1V/octave pitch CV reflecting the pitch of the signal on input X. The 0V point is C3 (approximately 130.81Hz). Input Y is simply added to the pitch CV, providing a means of applying e.g. vibrato, or transposition.

Output B tracks the envelope of the signal on input X. It goes to zero when the algorithm fails to track a pitch.

Knob/CV Z sets the slew rate of the envelope, controlling how quickly it tracks changes in level. At the minimum value of Z, changes can be very rapid, which may produce undesirable effects, especially if pitch tracking is not working well. As Z increases, changes take place more slowly.

3-d Clockable Delay/Echo

X is signal
Y is clock input
Z is feedback
A = dry + delay in ratio according to feedback
B = delay signal only
This algorithm is a delay/echo effect, primarily intended for processing audio signals, where the delay time is set from a clock pulse. It operates at a quarter of the standard sample rate (i.e. at about 20kHz) and offers a maximum delay time of about 1600ms (for a disting mk2; for a mk1, 750ms).

Input X is the signal input. Any audio signal can be fed in here.

Input Y is the clock input. Any clock pulse in excess of 1V can be used. The time between rising trigger edges is used to set the delay time. If the time between triggers is greater than the maximum delay time, the time is divided by two until it is small enough. This way, you always end up with a rhythmically useful delay time.

The Z knob/CV controls the feedback, from zero to slightly more than 100%.

Output A is a mix of the dry (undelayed) signal and the delay effect. The amount of delay in the mix rises in direct proportion to the amount of feedback.

Output B is the delayed signal only. Use this and the input signal, plus an external mixer, if you need more flexibility in the dry/wet balance than is offered by output A.

4-a LFO

X is Hz/V frequency
Y is waveshape
Z is tune
A is saw -> sine -> triangle
B is pulse -> square -> pulse
Outputs A & B are LFOs (low frequency oscillators), with CV control of frequency and waveshape. The output signals are fixed at ±8V (16V peak-to-peak).

Input X is a Hz/V frequency control, scaled at 1Hz/V. Note that the input is allowed to go negative, resulting in a phase-reversed output.

Knob/CV Z is a tuning control, with a range of approximately ±10Hz. This is simply added to the setting from input X (so with input X disconnected, the knob can be used to manually set an LFO rate).

Input Y controls the waveshape of the output signals. Signals in the range ±10V give the full range of possible waveshapes:

Input Y-10V0V+10V
Output Asawsinetriangle
Output B0% duty cycle pulse50% duty cycle pulse
(square)
100% duty cycle pulse

4-b Clockable LFO

X is clock input
Y is waveshape
Z is integer multiplier/divider
A is saw -> sine -> triangle
B is pulse -> square -> pulse
Outputs A & B are LFOs (low frequency oscillators), with CV control of waveshape, and with the LFO cycle time set from a clock input. The output signals are fixed at ±8V (16V peak-to-peak).

Input X is the clock input. Any clock pulse in excess of 1V can be used. The time between rising trigger edges is used to set the cycle time.

Input Y controls the waveshape of the output signals. Signals in the range ±10V give the full range of possible waveshapes:

Input Y-10V0V+10V
Output Asawsinetriangle
Output B0% duty cycle pulse50% duty cycle pulse
(square)
100% duty cycle pulse
The Z knob/CV sets a scale factor which is applied to the cycle time. The scale is an integer (whole number) which either multiplies or divides the frequency, and ranges in value from 1-16.

When Z changes, the scale is displayed on the LEDs. While the scale is being displayed, LEDs 1 & 2 both light. After a short while the LED display reverts to showing the current algorithm. The scale is shown as binary on LEDs a-d, with a the least significant bit. If the scale is a divisor, LED 3 also lights. The patterns on LEDs a-d are as follows ('0' indicates lit, '-' indicates unlit):

LED 3 unlitFrequency1x2x3x4x5x6x7x8x9x10x11x12x13x14x15x16x
LED a0-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-
LED b-00--00--00--00-
LED c---0000----0000-
LED d-------00000000-
LED 4---------------0
LED 3 litFrequency/2/3/4/5/6/7/8/9/10/11/12/13/14/15/16
LED a-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-
LED b00--00--00--00-
LED c--0000----0000-
LED d------00000000-
LED 4---------------0

4-c VCO with linear FM

X is V/Oct pitch input
Y is linear FM input
Z is tune ±0.5 octaves
A is sine
B is saw
This algorithm is a VCO with a 1V/octave pitch CV input (X), and a linear FM input (Y), scaled at 100Hz/V. Note that, if the FM input goes sufficiently negative, it will take the frequency through and below zero, resulting in a phase inversion ("thru-zero FM").

The 0V point for the pitch input is C3 (approximately 130.81Hz).

The Z knob/CV provides a tuning control, with a range of approximately ±0.5 octaves.

The A and B outputs provide sine and saw waves respectively, with an amplitude of ±8V (16V peak-to-peak).

4-d VCO with waveshaping

X is V/Oct pitch input
Y is waveshape/PWM
Z is tune ±0.5 octaves
A is saw -> tri -> saw
B is pulse -> square -> pulse
This algorithm is a VCO with a 1V/octave pitch CV input (X), and waveshape/PWM input (Y).

The 0V point for the pitch input is C3 (approximately 130.81Hz).

The Z knob/CV provides a tuning control, with a range of approximately ±0.5 octaves.

Input Y controls the waveshape of the output signals. Signals in the range ±10V give the full range of possible waveshapes:

Input Y-10V0V+10V
Output Asaw (falling)trianglesaw (rising)
Output B0% duty cycle pulse50% duty cycle pulse
(square)
100% duty cycle pulse