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ADDAC System’s Limited Edition ‘Cracklebox’



“Iconic” modular instrument is a tribute to work of Dutch musician and instrument maker Michel Waiswisz

They’re only making 75 of these recreation instruments, so it’s clearly not a get rich quick scheme. Read the company release:

Lisbon, Portugal — ADDAC System announces a strictly limited edition release of an iconic electronic instrument in modular format: Cracklebox. With just 75 units being manufactured, Cracklebox (ADDAC708) is a tribute to the pioneering work of Dutch musician and instrument maker Michel Waiswisz (1949 – 2008), who invented Cracklebox with Geert Hamelberg in the late 1960s. 

The Cracklebox was a small, handheld device that was designed to explore new sonic territories. As one of the first electronic musical instruments to use circuit bending techniques in the creation of electronic music, it allowed musicians to manipulate and control electronic circuits in real-time — thus creating an enormous range of unique and experimental sounds. Waiswisz used a circuit from a toy piano as the basis for the instrument, and then added a series of touch-sensitive pads that were connected to the circuit. When a player touched one of the pads, the circuit would be complete, producing a crackling sound.

“The Cracklebox was probably the first commercially available portable, self-powered, alternative ‘keyboard’ analog electronic instrument that also featured a built in loudspeaker,” commented André Gonçalves, CEO and Founder of ADDAC System. “In the decades since its invention, the Cracklebox has continued to be an important and influential instrument in the world of electronic music. It is still in use today, and is considered a classic example of the potential electronic music has to create unique and innovative sounds.”

Re-booting a classic
In the 1970s about 4000 Crackleboxes were built and sold by STEIM in Amsterdam. Today, many people consider the Cracklebox as the archetype of ‘glitch’ or ‘circuit bending’. This ADDAC System Eurorack recreation includes a 9v battery swappable through the front panel; this allows isolation of the current flowing through the user’s fingers from the Eurorack frame PSU. We also removed the internal speaker and integrated a transformer instead to isolate the output signal.

The module features an On/Off switch to turn off the 9v battery, a Power Starve knob, which reduces the 9v voltage feeding the circuitry and changing its overall timbre/pitch
, and an Output Gain knob to control the output volume.
 A Boost switch is also included to add more presence to the signal if needed. 

Its Output section can be used as an audio, as a gate or a CV signal. When using it as a CV source, users may wish to experiment by sending it through other modules with slew, sample and hold, quantization and other functionality to help tame and control its peculiar CV output.

Tech Specs:


5.5 cm deep

20mA +12V

20mA -12V

9v battery required

A personal note on motivation 
While growing up in my personal music practice, Michel and STEIM were always an inspiration for me. Eventually, in 2007, I had the opportunity to make a residence at STEIM and will always cherish my time there. Meeting Michel, ‘the gentle giant’, was a deeply personal experience, highlighted by having the opportunity of doing live visuals for a small performance he did with The Hands.

About one year later, I was invited to give an electronics workshop in Istanbul and while shopping for electronic parts for the workshop, I went to a small, old electronics shop where I found about 75 pieces of the 709 opamp used in the Cracklebox. I bought them all and kept them stored ever since, hoping to make something with them someday in the future. My thanks goes out to Cihan Gulbudak, who took me to that particular electronics shop. 

Meanwhile, the years passed — and while reminiscing about this, in a way I feel that I am following his footsteps. Developing musical instruments at ADDAC System has been my life for the last 13 years. A few months ago, I found the 709 ics box in the studio, and started thinking of finally making something. I thought of creating a Eurorack module with the Cracklebox, and made all the extra electronic circuitry needed to work in the Eurorack environment.

While I finished it late last year, I planned to release it on July 8th, on Michel Waiswisz’ birthday. Also notice the reference in the ADDAC708 name, July 8th.

— André Gonçalves, 2023

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