NAMM 2023: Intellijel's Cascadia looks like it has enough power, connectivity and features to massively appeal to the hardcore modular synth community, but an encouraging approach and workflow that could see it adopted by a wider fanbase.
Cascadia is a desktop, semi-modular synth that does, as Intellijel says, sit in a footprint about the size of your laptop (it's around 35 cm by 25cm). The company has managed to pack a lot into this small space including very flexible oscillators, a lot of connectivity and a huge amount of modulation. The synth boasts flavours of both East and West Coast synthesis, and while it has over 100 patch points, there's a logical connectivity and colour standard so you shouldn’t get lost if you are new to modular (and semi-modular), or if you want to dive deeply into the synth. And there's certainly a lot to get into.
A quick run through the main features and we get two analogue oscillators: A and B. A features thru-zero FM, dedicated Index VCA, a sub oscillator, pulse width modulation and soft/hard sync, while B can also act as an LFO. There's a hugely flexible 'liquid-sounding' 4-pole filter with eight modes, a 6-channel waveform mixer – which includes the sub and three styles of noise – and in parallel with the filter, there's a West coast-style wavefolder with which you can bring in some Buchla-style harmonics.
This East and West Coast theme continues by way of the modulation features in envelopes A and B. The first is a flexible east coast style ADSR/AHDSR envelope with a Hold function, while B is a complex multimode envelope with more West Coast stylings. There are three main modes, each with their own switchable functions making this alone a powerful and flexible module. It's complex, but Dan from intellijel gives a good overview of it in the video above.
These features alone – plus the connectivity options and almost ridiculous number of utilities – will keep most modular synth fans happy, but there's enough appeal in Intellijel's debut all-in-one synth to appeal to players beyond that, which appears to be one of Intellijel's aims with Cascadia. It look very cool, is packed to the rafters and looks like it will give you everything in one box – and some.
Cascadia is $2149 and available now. There's more information from Intellijel here.
Check out our other news from NAMM 2023.