The Neurotron Ring Modulator is an adaptation of the Lovetone Ring Stinger, initially released in 1998 until production ceased in 2001. It’s a ring modulator in the same way that the Flange With No Name is a flanger—that is to say, there’s a ring modulator at the center of it, but it’s surrounded by so many other features and concepts that it bears almost no resemblance to other ring mods. (According to Dan Coggins, the designer, it was “the most bizarre pedal we ever made”.)
In addition to pure transformer-based ring modulation, it also gets into octave fuzz and synth territory. The carrier wave is modulated by an LFO, and it can be used in either PWM (pulse width modulation) or FM (frequency modulation) modes. Expression controls are available for the LFO depth and VCO frequency, and it has both CV input and VCO output for syncing with other effects and external systems.
As you might have gathered by now, it’s a very complex effect. Because of this, we’ve taken the step of recreating the original Lovetone user manual as a separate document, and the controls are only described briefly in this main build document. Keep the manual handy when using it. You really need to understand how it works in order to get the most out of it.
Curiously, the most identifiable recorded example of the Ring Stinger is not an instrument at all. On Radiohead’s “Kid A” (the title track of the album), the vocals are processed through a Ring Stinger. And once you play with the pedal awhile, it’s surprisingly easy to pick out what settings they likely used.
The Neurotron is a faithful recreation of the Ring Stinger. The major difference is that the Octave/Ring footswitch has been changed to a toggle. (More on the rationale for this in the build documentation, if you’re curious.) We also improved the bypass method is improved from the original, which helps keep the modulation signal tamed in bypass mode, and we improved the power supply filtering, but otherwise all of the features are the same as the original.
We have also created an Interactive BOM tool for this project to help with the build process. Components are grouped by value, and you can click any component to see which other parts have the same value and where they’re located. (Chrome-based browsers only)
Special thanks to Ian (LaceSensor / Gigahearts FX), the DIY community’s resident Lovetone expert, for help verifying the Neurotron prototype against an original Ring Stinger for accuracy.