If you’re looking for an affordable drum machine that is geared towards generating kicks then the Kick Lancet from German based manufacturer Vermona is worth checking out.
The Kick Lancet is about as simple as an analog synth can be. Open up the box and you’ll find the diminutive Kick Lancet itself (21 cm x 14,5 cm x 5,5 cm), a short manual and a DC power adaptor (DC 12 V/1000 mA).
Getting Started with the Kick Lancet
To get started you can connect the Kick Lancet MIDI IN to the MIDI OUT of a keyboard or sequencer and then connect the OUTPUT jack of the Kick Lancet to your audio-interface or an amplifier. Once your cables are set up just switch on the OVERKLLL switch on the unit’s rear and the corresponding green LED should light up.
Kick Lancet Main Features:
10 sound shaping controls (decay, pitch, bend, time, FM freq. FM int. pulse, noise, wave, balls)
2 independent envelope generators with a decay/release phase
Analogue oscillator that produces sine and square waves and the ability to blend seamless from one to the other
Dedicated noise and pulse signals which can be added in the mixer section.
Kick Lancet Sound Generator Controls
DECAY: Use this to set the overall length of your kick sound and the fade out. The first half of the control lets you create nice tight kick drums suitable for dance music. Turn the control to 12 o’clock position and the kicks start to significantly increasing in length. Turn the knob maximum to the right and you’ll get long sounding bass drums.
PITCH: Use this knob to set the overall sound frequency of your kick. By adjusting the pitch knob to a higher value you can create tom and percussion type sounds. Note that the PITCH value interacts with the BEND and TIME values.
BEND: If a kick drum sounds a bit flat and not distinctive you can introduce some ‘Bend’. The BEND knob adjusts the intensity of a pitch modulation by the TIME envelope setting. Higher values will increase the amount of modulation and increase the perceived pitch of the sound (especially with DECAY set to shorter values). You should adjust PITCH, BEND and TIME in combination with each other and to taste. If PITCH is set to its maximum the BEND control will no longer modulate the pitch.
TIME: Use the TIME knob to adjust the release time of the pitch envelope. In general, short settings are best for classic bass drum type sounds while using longer values comes in handy when making percussion type sounds and effects.
FM FREQ: This control sets the modulation frequency (within a range between approx. 30Hz and 3kHz.) The kick sound is modulated in pitch via a sine wave. With values starting at the knob’s 9 o’clock position, the modulation enters the audible range, resulting in a broad frequency spectrum. Use this knob to create atonal and metallic timbres. At lower values the FM FREQ will result in modulations comparable to a typical LFO (vibrato).
FM INT: Use this knob to define the intensity of the frequency modulation. Set it fully counterclockwise to turn the FM modulation off.
ATTACK: Use this knob to add a short fixed needle impulse to the kick’s start. You can dial in this attack to make your kick more or less aggressive. Nearly all your sounds will require at least a little attack.
NOISE: Use this knob to add a short fixed noise to your kick sound’s start.
WAVE: The WAVE knob is a core part of your kick sound – it seamlessly blends a sine waveform into a rectangular shape waveform (the sound changes from softer to harder kicks). At higher values, the sound will start to overdrive and distort.
BALLS: Use this knob to enhance the bass frequencies and the higher frequencies in a certain proportion. In a word, the ‘BALLS’ knob makes your kick more phat! A little goes a long way with this one.
VOLUME: Use this to determine the overall volume of your kick.
How to use the Kick Lancet TRIG feature:
Use the TRIG function to manually trigger kicks without any keyboard or sequencer attached. Press and hold the TRIG button for three seconds and the sound will automatically retrigger in a 4-to-the-floor beat. Pressing the TRIG button again to adjust the tempo and set the tempo by tapping four times. Pressing and holding the TRIG button for another three seconds to end the automatic mode.
Triggering the Kick Lancet via the trigger-inputs.
There are three different ways to trigger the Lancet Kick via analogue signals:
- GATE: Use this jack to trigger the Kick Lancet using a 5 volt gate signal with a positive slope. A suitable signal can be generated by various sequencers, modular systems and analogue synthesizers.
- SWITCH: Use this jack to trigger the Kick Lancet via a switch contact with a short circuit. A foot pedal with an A-contact is suitable.
- AUDIO: The Kick Lancet can be triggered by any audio source although the results vary depending on the quality of the source. Use clear percussive sound signals (such as an individual output from another drum machine) for consistent results. You can also try connecting drum pads to the AUDIO input. The input’s sensitivity can be adjusted using the submerged trim pot next to the AUDIO jack.
Kick Lancet MIDI Settings
The Kick Lancet receives data on MIDI-channel 1 and note number 36 (C). You can change this by following these 3 steps:
- Turn off the Kick Lancet (make sure all LEDs are off)
- Press and hold the TRIG button while restarting the unit by pressing the OVERKILL switch (the LED above the TRIG button will start blinking.
- Send a MIDI note to your Kick Lancet by pressing a key on your master keyboard connected to the unit. The Kick Lancet will store the corresponding note number and MIDI-channel.
To restore your Kick Lancet to default settings follow steps 1 and 2 above but on step 3 deactivate the Kick Lancet by pressing the OVERKILL again. The next time you restart your Kick Lancet it will be reset to the factory default MIDI-channel 1 and note number 36 (C).
Does the Kick Lancet only do kick sounds?
While the Kick Lancet is obviously geared towards those low end thumps there is the ability to create more percussive and snare like sounds by using more extreme settings.
Is the Kick Lancet worth it?
For the price of a Kick Lancet or – even less – you can pick up a few decent drum machines with useable kicks plus more besides. That caveat aside, the Kick Lancet is a very easy to use and reliable kick drum synth with which you can sculpt a variety of kicks with next to no effort. A few more sound sculpting options would have made the Kick Lancet a must have for techno producers craving analog kicks in particular but as things stand there is enough quality here to justify the price if a kick drum synth is high on your wish list.
Kick Lancet vs Volca Kick
Coming in at a much cheaper price than the Kick Lancet and boasting a 16 step sequencer, and analog drive with distortion, the Korg Volca Kick is a viable alternative to the Lancet Kick. Check out my full overview of the Volca Kick synth.