Stairs & Staircase: What are the differences?

We recently introduced Stairs, which inherits the design legacy of the Expedition series Staircase module. I wanted to open up this thread for anyone who has any questions.

Here are some initial notes, but please ask questions if you have them!

Stairs has 6x frequency doubling stages, and Staircase has 5x frequency doubling stages. On Stairs, all frequency doublers have a dedicated output. On Staircase only the last 3x of them do.

Steps on Stairs and Frequency on Staircase are equivalent parameters. This parameter controls the amplitude of the input before the chain of frequency doubling stages.

Phase on Stairs responds a bit differently than Staircase – on Stairs it’s “Starting Phase” and on Staircase it’s “Phase Spread” (with response determined by the slide switch settings.) I like Stairs because it can blank out a portion of a larger space, making it possible to mask out an internal geometry, more like a keyer. This makes it easier to get “striped blob on black bg” instead of just “stripes”.

Staircase’s phase control has a modulation routing section as well (the “Harmonics” switches). This enables some complex modulation paths. If you want to achieve something similar with Stairs, multiple Stairs modules patched in a series chain, with the same modulation source patched in parallel to all Phase CV inputs will get you there and beyond.


I look forward to using the two modules together. I thought about getting a second Staircase years ago but never felt a need. Perhaps there were some more things to do that way, but I found enough ways to get complex patterns with the right modulations. Years later, I’m still discovering new variants!

However, Stairs looks sufficiently different to Staircase to make its presence in my synth worthwhile. So I look forward to discovering new tricks. I may use them in different layers or combine them to create even more variants. I suspect results the former usage will be more interesting than the latter, as my experience is that there’s a limit to the useful complexity of any single layer. Any use of Staircase gets me much closer to that limit, and I expect it will be the same with Stairs.



These are awesome notes, I had wondered how the Phase control was implemented on Stairs as I’ve found it more intuitive to use than Staircase’s.

For folks looking for info on Stairs, it might also help to clarify that the RGB inputs are actually a RGB to Luma converter and there is only one internal input to the frequency doubling core. It’s not a true “RGB Staircase” and you’d still need 3 of them if you want to process your RGB paths independently.


Yes, this is true! Stairs has a single input signal, which can come from either a mono (top jack patched only) or RGB (all three jacks patched) source. With RGB input, the signal is reduced to the luma channel before running thru the wavefolder chain. This makes it flexible for use as a luma solarizer, and thinking outside the box you can use it to do a luma weighted sum from any 3 arbitrary sources (aka input mixer.)


for reference
Y = 0.2126 R + 0.7152 G + 0.0722 B

so G gets the most signal followed by R and least is B

when patching as a weighted mixer keep this in mind!


Yeah, I like to think of it in terms of rough proportions, when patching:

Green is the biggest
Red is one third of Green
Blue is one third of Red

So if you were using it to mix ramps or shapes:

Patch the main base shape to Green
Patch some primary modulation to Red (big features)
Patch some secondary modulation to Blue (little details)


One patch that follows this idea is an ABS/XOR output from DSG3 (bottom right) into Green, DWO3 or VU009 (H range) into Red, VH.S’ Baja in its LFO<>audio range into Blue. This will give you a moving 2D shape/pattern that can then be wavefolded into all sorts of variations across the frame.

Then taking mults out of any of the sources or processed outputs into the Steps or Phase CV input of Stairs or the FM inputs of the “Red/Blue” oscillators can give wonderful results.