Block - Comparator 1.3
Square Wave and Gate Extractor
Update 1.3: Added a handy lamp to the interface.
Update 1.2: A second output has been added! This output will output a single trigger/impulse whenever the comparator becomes true (instead of a gate that's open for the duration). For builders, the comparator macro has been updated as well.
Update 1.1: Includes an example Ensemble for learning how to turn Sandy Small's excellent Microwave Oscillator into a morphing rhythm source. In the future, I will try to include useful tutorial Ensembles with my Blocks.
This is the tenth Block in Michael Hetrick's "Euro Reakt" series. Please read the description for this Block, as it is a very versatile utility. This is one of the first Blocks that I wanted to make, but I had to improve my patching skills before I could create an accurate Comparator.
A comparator listens to a signal (audio or control), and determines whether the signal crosses a threshold (set by the Compare knob). If the signal exceeds this threshold, the comparator outputs a positive signal. Otherwise, the comparator outputs zero (if set to Uni mode) or -1 (if set to Bi mode).
What does this mean? Well, if you're working with audio signals, set it to Bi and you have a square wave (1-bit) version of your original audio. If you're working with control signals, set it to Uni and you have a rhythm extractor. This 1/0 signal can be plugged into a sequencer, like the 8 Steps Block in the standard Block library.
But wait, why use a comparator instead of simply using the square output from your LFO or oscillator? Well, the comparator can be used on much more complicated waveforms to extract variable rhythms. For example, download Sandy Small's Microwave Oscillator from the Block Library (seriously, if you don't already have it...). Set it to very low frequencies, so that it becomes an LFO instead of an oscillator. Use this comparator to extract gates from it. Now, slowly change the Compare setting to evolve and offset your rhythms. Change the wavetable to morph your rhythms into something new.
In the realm of Eurorack, comparators rarely exist on their own outside of utility modules (like in the WMD/SSF Toolbox module). However, they are used internally in nearly every rhythm-focused module. For example, Make Noise Maths uses a comparator for the End-of-Cycle and End-of-Rise outputs. Mutable Instruments Tides uses it on similar outputs. Intellijel's Shapeshifter uses it on the "Pulse" output (same for Neutron Sound's Orgone Accumulator). I think that you will find this to be a very versatile Block in your patches!
Note for Block Builders: This Block contains a Comparator macro that I've created. It has inputs for audio, compare level, ext. clock, and a switch for unipolar or bipolar operation. I hope that this saves someone else some time! Please let me know if you recommend any improvements to it.