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Hinton Instruments

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The company for the production of synthesizers, MIDI devices and professional audio equipment, Hinton Instruments, was founded in the UK. Its creator, Graham Hinton, before the foundation of his company, has worked as a designer in Solid State Logic for a long time, engaging himself in the production of analog equipment and processors in the 1980s.

Hinton Instruments brand manufactured Eurocard sound modules featuring the same size of 100x160 mm. These are the products that brought success to the company. So the most famous instruments made by the brand and put on the music market were SwitchMix, Gearbox, Gearbox Expander, ModMix and Trimmer modules. All modules are built according to traditional professional standards in the IEC 60297 Eurocard format. Many chips inside of the musical equipment can be easily replaced when worn out or damaged, which increases the lifespan of Hinton instruments. The equipment has standard Mini jack, Bantam/TT connectors, balanced and unbalanced I/O for integration with other signal processors, sound recording instruments and mixers. Modules can be customized or configured according to the individual wishes of the musician.

Hinton Instruments development was influenced by important cooperation with other brands, joint collaboration in musical equipment designing, thanks to a wide range of skills of the company’s team in creation of all types of analog and digital systems. So the electronic equipment of the English company producing electronic musical instruments, Electronic Music Studios, was actually formed together with Hinton Instruments.

The first design of the company’s engineers was the modification of 1964 EAB V65C mixer. Hinton Instruments managed to convert the vintage EAB mixer into a module with 6 separate mic preamplifier channels. All outputs in the mixer have been reduced to the standard 7 pin XLR. The multicable can connect it to 6 linear drive modules in the 3U Eurocard rackmount format. Amplifiers can produce a signal up to 50Vpp. XLR outputs are suitable for direct connection to DAW. Each channel has a Telefunken EF86 amplifier. The custom-made modules will provide a -20dB pad, phase inversion, mute function, output level control, and also present the Graham Hinton's CLEAR ™ LED measurement system covering the 42dB range.

Released by the brand in 2009, SwitchMix introduced a matrix switcher for audio and direct coupling (DC-coupled CV), which allowed to replace literally a whole "tangle" of cables with one convenient and compact switchable routing matrix. SwitchMix has both balanced and unbalanced inputs and outputs, expanding the patching and routing capabilities of audio signals of various origins, for example, multitrack, effects or a mixer for headphones. The presence of balanced inputs made SwitchMix suitable for interaction with DAW sound cards of synthesizers such as Silent Way by Expert Sleepers and Volta by MOTU. In general, SwitchMix introduced a fully analog design for fast and accurate production of high-quality sound without FET distortion and delays. The lack of advanced MIDI functions significantly reduced the cost of the product as well as its overall dimensions. Also Eurorack versions of SMX8 are available - with or without connectors on the front panel. The rear panel cennactivity is represented by DB25 sockets corresponding to the Tascam balanced pin out. SMX8EJ has 3.5mm unbalanced connectors for connecting the synthesizers on the front panel and occupies 42HP of Eurorack space. SMX8EB offers balanced Bantam/TT connectors. A similar PinMix matrix system made by Hinton Instruments has included versions of racks of different sizes: 3U, 6U, 9U with its own power supply, universal Gate and Trigger converters.

ModMix series (2012) mixer is an 18HP Eurorack module consisting of two 4:1 audio/CV mixers, two linear multipliers (balanced modulators) with AC/DC coupling and a source of white and pink noise. One can imagine that this is doubled Minimoog’s central mixer with a ring modulator. ModMix can be used wherever you need to expand the number of audio or modulation inputs. ModMix II modulator has become unique in a way. There are two versions: ET and EJ, differing in the use of the standard Bantam connector and mini jack. It can be used to combine audio and modulation where other modules don’t offer enough inputs. ModMix II provides FM and pulse-width modulation for VCO, as well as audio and CV for VCF or multiple filters. Modulators offer classic ring modulation effects and can be combined with inputs for amplitude modulation, and also used with an external sine wave or a filter for frequency shift. Owing to the control voltage, the "modulation spikes" can be routed to other sources to create a vibrato effect, tremolo, for linear FM control or voltage-controlled polarization.

Trimmer attenuator model appeared as a fairly compact 8-channel controller with the possibility of its connection to SwitchMix (via DB25 inputs and outputs) or autonomous operation. Trimmer is more than an attenuator. Accurate calibration of each channel allows a range from -10 dB (/ 3) to + 10 dB (× 3) gain, so the signal or CV loss can be compensated.

The Gearbox module made it possible to convert an analog, MIDI and DINSync clock together. Any of the sources can be a master one, while the other two will be synchronized in accordance. It was developed in two versions: 8HP module with one 5 pin DIN connector and 6HP, which included four DIN I/O connectors. Any analog signal can be used as an input, allowing softly growing waveforms to function as a smooth control. MIDI and DINSync sequencers and drum machines as well as DAW can be controlled by analog signals or vice versa. Gearbox will eliminate the problem of negligent timing during changes in tempo. Versions have included the row of different types of connectors: Gearbox Basic EJ with mini jacks, Gearbox Basic ET with Bantam TT jacks, Gearbox Basic EB with Banana type connectors, Gearbox Full EJ with mini jacks, combining 8HP and 6HP, Gearbox Full EB with Banana type connectors, which also combines 8HP and 6HP. A wide variety of variations allowed musicians to easily select the necessary and suitable equipment for expanding the capabilities of their instruments at a fairly affordable cost.

Hinton Instruments continues to evolve today. It provides a wide range of equipment and engineering services for professional recording studios, motion pictures and the entertainment industry.