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1010music Bluebox Eurorack Edition

Eurorack Module By William Stokes
Published April 2024

1010music Bluebox 0424

When it arrived back in 2020, the desktop version of 1010’s Bluebox mixer and recorder was in many ways a game‑changer. Without a slider or pot in sight, its astonishingly simple interface comprised little more than a screen, four encoders and a dozen or so buttons, arranged on a panel of five by five inches. On top of this, it could record and play back hours of audio, and as 48kHz, 24‑bit WAV files, no less.

I write all of that in the past tense, but of course the desktop Bluebox is still very much available — and a touch cheaper than the Bluebox Eurorack Edition, which at its core is the same beast. Up to 12 mono tracks of audio (or six stereo tracks) are on offer, each with their own gain, volume, pan, four‑band EQ, on‑board reverb and delay. As if a compact mixer could offer any more, it also has a decent‑sounding and flexible bus compressor to help glue everything together at the other end.

The Bluebox’s interface, centred around its touchscreen, is flanked by four main encoders and two navigation buttons, named A and B. Eight rubberised buttons sit below the screen: these are used to cycle between different modes, and there are also three larger buttons that operate its recording and playback transport. Since it doesn’t have dedicated hardware controls per track, the Bluebox workflow, operating across both its touchscreen and hardware controls, revolves around choosing an appropriate screen for whatever function you want to focus on. Mixer mode allows a specific parameter, such as volume, to be viewed and adjusted across several tracks, while Track mode focuses on a chosen track, allowing all its different parameters to be viewed and adjusted in one place. It’s not perfect, and it can feel a little menu‑heavy, but it is sufficiently open‑ended to allow the user to find their preferred way of interacting, and it didn’t take long for me to find mine. Speaking of which, like its predecessor, the Bluebox is best mounted into a horizontal or angled part of your rack. I mounted mine into the lowermost vertical row of my system, which suited its input and output positions well, but soon found craning my neck to navigate its touchscreen at such an angle a little tiring.

The desktop Bluebox’s six TRS inputs and two outputs are here exploded into 12 TS inputs and four [DC‑coupled] outputs... That’s a serious amount of I/O.

Several extra jacks adapt the Bluebox Eurorack Edition into modular land, namely six CV inputs and an analogue clock output. Be warned, though, that it does require a lot of power, not to mention two headers on your busboard. The desktop Bluebox’s six TRS inputs and two outputs are here exploded into 12 TS inputs and four outputs respectively, and while the inputs remain AC‑coupled — meaning they cannot work with CV signals as well as audio — the outputs are DC‑coupled, meaning that they can. That’s a serious amount of I/O — surely as much or more than I’ve seen on any other Eurorack mixer, and with a headphone output on top to boot. The main takeaway here is that the Eurorack Bluebox can nestle right into your patch with effects and modulation, as well as handling its final output stage.

On top of this, with USB‑C ports and upgraded capabilities compared to the desktop version, the Eurorack Bluebox can also send and receive up to two channels of audio to and from your computer and DAW, essentially becoming a fully functional audio interface. Audio over USB, I’m told, was added in response to popular request, so many will doubtless be very happy to see it here, although it would have been nice to have had more than two channels. A second USB port can be used for MIDI control, though not with a computer. Since there’s capacity for both Type A and B TRS MIDI here, as well as its assignable CV inputs, it’s fair to say you’ll hardly be left wanting when it comes to remotely controlling channels’ levels, effects and more.

Even if its effects didn’t sound ace, and even if it couldn’t integrate creatively with your patch, the Bluebox would still be a highly powerful module. It feels almost like a miniature DAW, crammed into just 30HP (although it hasn’t really been miniaturised — this is more or less the exact size of the desktop version) and the capacity to record part or all of your patch at the drop of a hat is phenomenal. There are mixers, and then there are mixers you can almost, well, mix on. Far from simply drilling holes in its faceplate, 1010music have given this edition a real raison d’être in Eurorack while still staying true to what made the original Bluebox such a success. Doubtless this version will enjoy similar recognition.



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