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ALM Busy Circuits Beast’s Chalkboard review

This two-channel octave controller emits much sweeter results than its name suggests

  • £104
ALM Busy Circuits Beast's Chalkboard
(Image: © ALM Busy Circuits)

MusicRadar Verdict

If you need extended range for modules with limited range, or a quick way of setting an octave, this is the best tool for the job.

Pros

  • +

    Excellent build quality.

  • +

    Intuitive module.

  • +

    Two channels.

Cons

  • -

    No CV control.

ALM Busy Circuits Beast’s Chalkboard: What is it?

ALM Busy Circuits’ Beast’s Chalkboard is a two-channel octave controller for Eurorack systems. It follows the same design philosophy as other modules in the company's range, which is clean and clear, with great eligibility of labelling and satisfying knobs. 

The build quality is typical ALM and we have no doubts it will handle life in the studio or on the road. It’s a small module at just 6hp and is a skiff-friendly 22mm deep including the header.

ALM Busy Circuits Beast’s Chalkboard

(Image credit: Future)

ALM Busy Circuits Beast’s Chalkboard: Performance and verdict

This is essentially a module that allows you to input a volts-per-octave feed into the ‘in’ port, then use the rotary control to adjust that in steps of -2 octaves to +2 octaves. This isn’t a variable control, so dialling in your preferred volts per octave output is a cinch. A nice feature here is that you get two outputs per channel. While they retain the same octave out, it’s nice to see and could save the need for a mult somewhere else.

Better still is the use of space, which gives all this functionality twice over. What’s interesting here is that this effectively extends the range of the module, as you could output a signal two octaves below your source, patch that into the second channel and output that at a further two octaves lower, making for a module that offers a -4 to +4 range. This might be something that isn’t needed but is worth considering for a rig.

This duality of output and overall channels makes this a pretty handy tool for keeping multiple volts per octave sound sources in tune but with some latitude in octave range. Not all sound sources are made equal, with some variation in range for pitch. The Beast’s Chalkboard adds to this range and is useful for this scenario.

While use as an octave switcher is the obvious intention here, it’s worth remembering that octave ranges are simply voltages and in Eurorack, most of the time, modules that can affect voltages for pitch can be applied for other uses. If this is kept in mind, it’s easy to see how this module could find its way into use for other purposes, from a kind of quantised CV control, albeit with the limitations of the voltages being preset for pitch.

It’d be nice to have some CV control over the switching of octaves here, for a little extra versatility but in reality it works just fine. There’s room to experiment for the musician who enjoys that, but for its intended purpose, the Beast’s Chalkboard does exactly as you’d expect and does so in a neat little package.

MusicRadar verdict: If you need extended range for modules with limited range, or a quick way of setting an octave, this is the best tool for the job.

ALM Busy Circuits Beast’s Chalkboard: Hands-on demos

ALM TV

SundayAfternoonModular

ALM Busy Circuits Beast’s Chalkboard: Specifications