A philøsøphical expløratiøn øf cøntent related tø synthesis, synth DIY, and øther music technøløgical pursuits. Written and møderated by yøur very øwn resident turd-ferg: Røsnald Fensch.  

Bradley Telcom Jitter and Hit Synthesizer Model 2A

I saw Thomas Fang perform last week at Modular8 where he showed up with a tasteful collection of electronic instruments. His performance ruled. I loved the bass shaking and high frequency ringing tones that came out of those two blue boxes. I asked him to come over and spin me a tale of what the hell they were. While he was here for the ol' stop n' chat, we shot a video of the basic feature set and some jam clips.

From Fang:

"Back in 2010 I spotted a post on MatrixSynth with some pictures by RJD2 of a pretty unusual piece of test equipment called the Bradley Telcom Jitter and Hit Synthesizer. Being interested in weird old devices that make noise, I added it to my saved searches on eBay, but didn't manage to buy one until almost three years later. These units were made by the Bradley Telcom Corporation, initially based in the Bronx and later in Leonia, New Jersey. An article by Frank Bradley published in Telephony magazine in 1973 explains that the Jitter and Hit synths were designed to generate tones and simulate line impairments when testing modems used for voice band data transmission. But beyond this specialized purpose, it turns out that these semi-modular analog synthesizers are very useful for creating drones and rhythmic noise."


"The standard banana input and output jacks make it easy to patch multiple units to each other, and to other modular and semi-modular synth gear. Based on handwritten QC labels, it appears that units were still manufactured until at least 1987, but the external carrying case and panel labeling retained their original charm without ever being updated (if early '70s scientific test equipment industrial design can be considered charming). Serial numbers suggest a total production run of under 800, and far fewer appear to survive today.

In the accompanying video shot by Ross, we show off the basic features of the synth: a master sine wave oscillator, modulation oscillator, phase modulation and amplitude modulation controls, a feature called Single Frequency Interference, the "hit" and related impulse generator, a noise generator, and the frequency translation and harmonic distortion module. The video also includes two Jitter and Hit synthesizers being cross-patched."


"When I discovered that a surplus electronics warehouse had four of them, I convinced three friends to each buy a unit and we performed a few shows in Austin as the Bradley Telcom Ensemble, including this one (pictured on left) at the 2014 New Media Art and Sound Summit."


On the left you can see some stills from the user manual. The 47 page document was too large to upload to the site, but here you can find some visual examples which may better assist your understanding of the various functions of the unit.