G.M. Lab Rondò
G.M. Lab is a Crumar and Genuine Soundware sideproject from Italy. They sell some projects as DIY kit or preassembled. Som projects are open source, some not. The Rondò is the later.
I bought this Rondò preassembled for 199,- € including VAT and shipping from Italy to Germany. The housing is made from a top and bottom black pcb (about 10 x 32 cm = about 4.0 x 12.6 inches) with the components on the inside. The top panel sliders and buttons are soldered on the top of the top pcb. Little metal plates are closing the sides between the two pcbs. And four plastic feets are on the bottom of the four housing corners. It came with the needed external wall wart power supply (12 V DC, 1000 mA, negativ outside). A manual is not needed except for the MIDI CC numbers (see below). Beside the power connection, there is only a DIN MIDI In and a mono 1/4" (6,3 mm) audio output. The MIDI note range is from #36 to #96 (US note names C2 to C7 if MIDI note #60 = C4; german names C to c''''). Inside it is mainly based on the electro-smith.com enbedded DSP platform named Daisy Seed 1.1. This sub-board inside contains an ARM processor, DRAM and 12 bit D/A converters.
The panel got 11 sliders with red LEDs (30 mm = 1.18" range of travel) and 3 button with red status LEDs sorted in 5 sections:
Here you set the levels of the four string parts (bass, cello, viola and violin) So you actually play up to four registers.
The polyphonic volume envelope features attack, breakpoint and release. Breakpoint is defining the level the release portion of the sounds starts from. So you might get long release times starting way more quite then the just released notes.
Without this section, the sounds would be rather simple electronic organ alike. The Motion is created by switching a preset vibrato on. And the right button switches a also preset chorus FX on.
The phaser got an on/off button and two sliders for speed (ranging from about 8 Hz down to no movement) and a depth of the phasing FX.
The brilliance slider is like a tone control from old HiFi systems. It emphases or lowers the high range audio. The volume is obvious.
So how does this Rondò sound? Surprisingly well!
The main character is much like the vintage ELKA string machines with their more fuzzy character. The Vibrato is a bit to depth for my personal preferences. The digital chorus does its job without much colouring of the sound. It is only a plain one LFO one delay line chorus and without any vintage ensemble FX character as on a two or three delay line ensemble FX with two LFOs. The phaser, again digital, is sounding much like a 4 stage OTA phaser, but lacks the character of a SmallStone or other well known phasers. The more expensive Waldorf Streichfett's ensemble and phaser effects sound more like the typical 70ies sound character of the italian string machines. The brilliance slider is very useful for getting an even more buzzy or bit warmer string sounds. I would recommend using some external ensemble and phasers, if available in the studio to get a full vintage string machine sound. For most live situation, the built in effects are doing the job.
It receives MIDI in Omni mode. So you might need a dedicated MIDI socket on you MIDI interface. For changing the sound while recording with a DAW or a sequencer, it receives MIDI CCs for all its sliders and buttons. As there is no MIDI Out, it obviously do not send any MIDI data.