In everyday usage, 'chaos' means 'disorder, 'randomness'. In mathematics however, chaos has a very specific meaning. Chaos theory deals with systems exhibiting highly irregular behaviour, seemingly random yet completely deterministic.
Applying this to the world of modular synths opens up a whole new world of modulation opportunities, introducing a natural irregularity to otherwise purely ‘mechanical’ music, yet with much more control and repeatability than just simple randomness.
In chaos theory, the combination of all possible oscillations at a specific set of parameters is known as the ‘attractor’. Orbit 3 incorporates a modified electronic analogue of the classic double-scroll attractor. Since it contains some (bi)stable regions in addition to chaotic ones, this type is known as a ‘strange’ attractor.
The voltages at each of the module’s outputs can be thought to describe the orbit of a particle through 3D space around two equilibrium points. The positions of these points, as well as the distribution of the orbits and rate of movement can all be adjusted under manual or voltage control.
Not just limited to low frequency modulation use, Orbit 3 can operate in the audio frequency domain as well, yielding a variety of waveforms from its three complementary output pairs. These span a wide range, from near-sine waves to white noise. The addition of temperature compensation and calibrated pitch tracking makes for an unconventional and lively, yet also accurate audio oscillator.
And when you need a break from all that musical chaos, simply connecting any pair of outputs to the XY inputs of an oscilloscope will surely not disappoint!