What Is Beads Doing When It Does This?

I was just using my Beads in Delay mode – triggering Seed (with it flashing) from a clock while a beat went into it, modulating Time to pick grains with Density far CCW. All normal so far.

But then when I turn off Seed and unplug the clock (but still leave the buffer frozen with Freeze on), the buffer almost completely stops play back except for a minuscule portion of the buffer. Turning Density kind of takes it through something like the harmonic series and modulating Time moves the buffer through a super bit crushed sound. Turning Seed back on or triggering it restores regular playback of the buffer in that mode.

Did I just stumble on to some mode I’m unaware of? It’s a crazy sound and not unwelcome, but I’m just not sure what’s happening. I do recognize that Delay mode effectively turns playback into one giant grain so am wondering if this is some hi/lo-def scrubbing mode I’d previously not discovered.

Edit: If memory serves, Spectral Madness in Clouds sounded a little like this.

Second edit: It seems getting it into this mode requires Density to be either full CW or CCW.

Third edit: Adding a link to a video of this. In it, I seed the beat and then when I freeze it, put it in high density mode and then turn off Seed, the mode starts. I trigger it from Marbles via the Freeze CV input for rhythmic variation.

This is not a “mode”, and you’re not “turning off” Seed.

As you know, the module operates as a delay/slicer with tap-tempo and clock synchronization when SEED is plugged in, with the DENSITY knob dividing the delay time.

Well, this is exactly what it’s doing in your video!

When you pull the cable from the SEED input, the module will get a burst of short impulsions from the scratching of the cable on the connector, and will adjust the delay time to match this short interval. Effectively, the delay time can be, for example, 10ms, with repetitions making an audio-rate waveform at 100 Hz. The subharmonics you hear when you turn DENSITY is this frequency being divided by the delay time ratios.

The TIME knob still controls which part of the buffer you loop on (ie, at this scale, which small fragment is the waveform being looped on at audio rate).

You don’t need to unplug SEED to get into this territory, and of course you can get it to oscillate at a frequency of your choice: just send an audio-rate oscillator signal (say a square wave from another module) and Beads will lock to its rate – you can thus effectively use this as a (sub-)oscillator with any arbitrary waveform taken from the buffer, and with the SHAPE control selecting how these waveform segments are spliced/cross-faded.

As a general rule of thumb, recent modules don’t have hidden modes. Whatever they do is described somewhere in the manual!


Ah, thank you for the helpful and detailed clarification! That all makes sense. It’s a great sound.

One thing I hadn’t figured out how to do when I was manipulating it in the video was getting it to track pitch, so your point about the sub oscillator now makes complete sense. Thank you!

One thing I’m still not sure of is the difference between having seed latched vs. toggled off w/ no triggers. That does cause a difference, is the loop set up the smallest duration interval when seed is off?

Patching the SEED input overrides the status of the SEED button. Without anything patched, SEED button locked = internal clock (set by DENSITY), SEED button pressed = tap tempo (as set by the taps on the button).