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#2890545 - 11/16/17 01:59 AM Modular synths
GRollins Offline
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Registered: 09/01/17
Posts: 522
This is another one of those topics that's likely to have been covered in some manner or another, but it's not likely that there would have been a global overview thread of quite the sort I'm looking for and new models may have rendered older judgements obsolete, anyway.

The setup:
-->As some of you may be aware, I've got an old Kurzweil K2500 that was free, but broken. Through the kindness of strangers (read: Dave Weiser and a buddy of his who does hands-on repair work) I got the thing partially repaired, but discovered that there were other problems and...fooey...it just wasn't going to be worth the time and trouble. Then...
-->Right about the same time that I was pulling back from the repair idea, a thread popped up about the Hammond Novachord, a lovely sounding machine from back in the late '30s, which led to...
-->The idea that perhaps I could build some tube guts to give voice to the keybed (a Fatar piece, I believe) of the K2500 so that it didn't have to be scrapped entirely. Might as well make that modular, you know, since I might want to pop different circuit topologies in and out, which in turn led to...
-->Looking at modular synth stuff of current design, meaning solid state, for some of the modules. No, I haven't given up on tubes for at least some pieces, but there are likely to be some areas where solid state provides a better solution than tubes and vice versa.

The question--well, Question #1, anyway:
What's the pecking order in the modular world? I know Moog has modules, but they don't seem to offer them as separates at this time--although you can buy some bloody pricey reissues of classic setups from the old days. Once you get beyond Moog, however, there are seemingly dozens of cottage manufacturers of modules and I am, frankly, intimidated. Plus, a lot of them appear to be the same circuits, rendered from old schematics, just with different face plates, such that you might find that ABC makes an oscillator that's identical to one by XYZ, because they're both based on a classic Moog circuit from 1967. Assuming decent build quality, those two oscillators could be assumed to sound pretty much identical.

In the world I'm familiar with, you can't go too far wrong with Yamaha, Korg, or Roland ("no one ever got fired for buying IBM"). Each has their proponents, but you'll also find people who own one of each, so the divisions aren't too bad. Behringer, on the other hand, is more controversial, having had quality problems in the past (and possibly still?). Williams doesn't seem to show up on anyone's GAS list.

What are the equivalent companies in the modular world?

Yes, I'm aware that this may not be the right forum for this. I've looked at muff wiggler (that name!), but...but...I've only got so many hours in a day and I'm not sure I can justify the time to try to keep up with two fora at this point in my life. So I thought that I'd try here first, in case there were any closet modular folks who were willing to talk shop. There don't seem to be a lot of modules in the pictures I see of peoples' rigs, so I don't know how many locals use that approach, but it's worth a try.

Grey
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#2890548 - 11/16/17 03:21 AM Re: Modular synths [Re: GRollins]
ClavAnother Offline
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Registered: 07/01/13
Posts: 110
I think STG Soundlabs modules in either eurorack or Moog format are the way to go.

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#2890552 - 11/16/17 03:51 AM Re: Modular synths [Re: GRollins]
Markyboard Offline
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Registered: 02/10/01
Posts: 5169
Loc: Springfield, Virginia
This link is a pretty good summary of the formats which is often one of the first considerations. Size/space often dictates which format to choose but if not then also consider ergonomics - size of knobs, jacks, cables etc.

In the modualar world I'm not sure you'll find any one brand on top, probably because it's...modular. I think choosing the most desired components (to you) across different manufacturers is the big appeal. While some do pursue an all Moog or an all Roland set I think it's more common to choose a certain "type" of oscillator(s) or filter based on what you want to achieve. There are some really wacky oscillators that bring something different to the sound pallet. Same for Lfos, envelope generators, randomizers, wave folders(love), VCAs etc.

I'm not big into the whole modular craze but chose a select set of modules for add-ons with maximum flexibility to integrate with my non-modular synths. In fact I don't have a filter since I always run my modules into one of my other boards.

Probably not a common application but either way, don't we have enough Moog type sh*t without going modular?

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#2890563 - 11/16/17 06:32 AM Re: Modular synths [Re: Markyboard]
GRollins Offline
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Registered: 09/01/17
Posts: 522
Originally Posted By: Markyboard
This link is a pretty good summary of the formats which is often one of the first considerations. Size/space often dictates which format to choose but if not then also consider ergonomics - size of knobs, jacks, cables etc.

In the modualar world I'm not sure you'll find any one brand on top, probably because it's...modular. I think choosing the most desired components (to you) across different manufacturers is the big appeal. While some do pursue an all Moog or an all Roland set I think it's more common to choose a certain "type" of oscillator(s) or filter based on what you want to achieve. There are some really wacky oscillators that bring something different to the sound pallet. Same for Lfos, envelope generators, randomizers, wave folders(love), VCAs etc.

I'm not big into the whole modular craze but chose a select set of modules for add-ons with maximum flexibility to integrate with my non-modular synths. In fact I don't have a filter since I always run my modules into one of my other boards.

Probably not a common application but either way, don't we have enough Moog type sh*t without going modular?


Thanks for the link. I'd already found a format/size comparison at synthesizers.com, but the relative pricing thing is interesting.

I don't have any firm convictions regarding size, but I do prefer larger knobs over smaller ones. It's easier to make fine adjustments. Other than that, it's up for grabs.

Don't I have enough Moog shit? Well, yes...and no. I've only got one Moog--a Little Phatty--but it's got two oscillators and given that the richness/depth of the tone is pretty much limited by the number of oscillators, I'm a bit frustrated. Three oscillators would be nice--that would lead me to either the Voyager or the Model D reissue, or possibly the Behringer Model D.

More than three oscillators? Ah...ummm...(wait, that might make a good name for an album!)...anyway, that kind of leads me to modular synthesis.

WARNING***WARNING***WARNING
***OH SHIT ALERT***
But what if I'm stupid, er, ambitious enough that I also want to poly chain so as to be able to do something weird like, oh, I don't know...play a chord. It is not yet clear to me whether that's feasible in the modular world. Obviously, that's going to have to be some form of MIDI unit, but I haven't seen one yet. Maybe I just haven't looked at enough websites (but there are so many of them, he whined). In fact, I saw somewhere (don't remember where--may not have been accurate) that it can't be done with available hardware. There's also the fact that I'll have to keep an eye on costs. If I start buying too many doo-dads, I'll find myself up in the price range of a used Voyager or D, at which point the game changes.

I'm trying to keep this cheap. My local CL is a wasteland. I've been watching it daily for years and don't recall ever seeing one single module for sale. Local music stores? No. Going to have to go new or eBay if I decide to go the modular route.

What do I want out of a modular system? Richness. Texture. Maybe polyphony, if I can get it. Or maybe the polyphony will end up being a deal killer. There are times when I've been annoyed by the monophonicity (look, Ma, I coined a new word!) of my Little Phatty. That's a decision that I'll have to make sooner rather than later, because it will determine which hardware route I follow.

Do I need "another" Moog-sounding kind of thing? Not per se. It's not as though I'm hankering to play two Moogs simultaneously. Basically, I just want one synth with richer sound.

Grey


Edited by GRollins (11/16/17 06:34 AM)
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#2890564 - 11/16/17 06:36 AM Re: Modular synths [Re: GRollins]
GRollins Offline
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Registered: 09/01/17
Posts: 522
dB,
Do you have the ability to add terms to the spell checker? I appreciate having one, but words like "Phatty" are legitimate in our world and it's annoying to have red squiggly lines all over my post if they don't need to be.

Grey
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#2890566 - 11/16/17 06:49 AM Re: Modular synths [Re: Markyboard]
The Real MC Offline
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Registered: 05/17/05
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My first synthesizer was a PAiA modular in 1981, gigged with it for three years. It was fun to mess around with and I learned a lot about synthesis on it. Forgot all about it after I got a Moog Source. It is fascinating to see the modular renaissance but I have no desire to get back into them. They are a great learning tool, but playing on one can be solitary and they can be a money pit. Once I got into non-modular analogs that were programmable, I never looked back.

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#2890567 - 11/16/17 06:52 AM Re: Modular synths [Re: GRollins]
The Real MC Offline
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Originally Posted By: GRollins
dB,
Do you have the ability to add terms to the spell checker? I appreciate having one, but words like "Phatty" are legitimate in our world and it's annoying to have red squiggly lines all over my post if they don't need to be.

Grey


Spellchecker is on your computer not the internet.

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#2890569 - 11/16/17 07:11 AM Re: Modular synths [Re: The Real MC]
CEB Offline
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Posts: 12551
Do you have any virtual modulars? If not....

Sonigen Modular is free and sounds pretty darn good for a free VST. Will this be the same as real wires no. But you can use it to decide what you really want in terms of hardware modules.


Edited by CEB (11/16/17 07:13 AM)
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#2890606 - 11/16/17 09:07 AM Re: Modular synths [Re: GRollins]
Markyboard Offline
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Registered: 02/10/01
Posts: 5169
Loc: Springfield, Virginia
Originally Posted By: GRollins

I don't have any firm convictions regarding size, but I do prefer larger knobs over smaller ones. It's easier to make fine adjustments. Other than that, it's up for grabs.

Grey


I was of the same mindset, until I realized that there's many more options/modules for Eurorack. Plus it worked out with my space allocation. But whatever works best for YOU.


Originally Posted By: GRollins

More than three oscillators? Ah...ummm...(wait, that might make a good name for an album!)...anyway, that kind of leads me to modular synthesis.

I'm trying to keep this cheap. My local CL is a wasteland. I've been watching it daily for years and don't recall ever seeing one single module for sale. Local music stores? No. Going to have to go new or eBay if I decide to go the modular route.

What do I want out of a modular system? Richness. Texture. Maybe polyphony, if I can get it. Or maybe the polyphony will end up being a deal killer. There are times when I've been annoyed by the monophonicity (look, Ma, I coined a new word!) of my Little Phatty. That's a decision that I'll have to make sooner rather than later, because it will determine which hardware route I follow.


Grey



Sorry, but cheap and polyphony don't typically play in the modular world. Good oscillators cost, so do good filters. And they add up fast. Also as you have very specific goals you would have to get pretty lucky to find what you want on Ebay or CL at a decent price. The good modules tend to hold their value. And if you want polyphony (lets say 3 voices?) then you're talking 12 oscillators, a fancy midi-cv module, a mixer etc.! There are dual oscillator modules but they are quite expensive.

What will become even more expensive is if/when you decide that the modules you bought (maybe cheap) are no longer satisfying you. No different than "normal" gear other than you might be getting into an endless cycle of upgrading different modules i.e. the money pit. And then expanding your system - need a bigger main frame....ARGGGG- no thanks.

Think it out carefully. Last year I bought one 84hp Eurorack skiff-boat and filled it up with nice modules. It keeps me endlessly geeky when I choose to experiment with strange modulations. But even this limited modular application cost-wise was close to the price of a Voyager

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#2890609 - 11/16/17 09:19 AM Re: Modular synths [Re: Markyboard]
mate stubb Offline
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I was far off into modulars a few years ago. Formatwise, if variety and module choice is your thing, eurorack has far and away the most selection. It's a little cramped for fingers when lots of patch cables are inserted. But you can get more modules in a smaller space, and the individual modules can be somewhat less expensive (panel hardware being a major component of cost.

Polyphony in a modular is overrated IMO. It's not what they are best at. By the time you patch up even 4 voices and tweak them to sound similar, it's boring. That's what poly synths are for.

What I find them to be great for is entering a zen like state when you are exploring sound, patching and tweaking and experimenting and building up the complexity of the sound. Do you often end up with bleeps and bloops? Yup, and you have a lot of fun while doing it.

Beware, buying modules is like smoking crack. Every time you get a few hundred dollars off you go!

My own Synth of Doom modular (MOTM format) got way out of hand:

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#2890615 - 11/16/17 10:25 AM Re: Modular synths [Re: mate stubb]
The Real MC Offline
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Originally Posted By: mate stubb
Polyphony in a modular is overrated IMO. It's not what they are best at. By the time you patch up even 4 voices and tweak them to sound similar, it's boring. That's what poly synths are for.


Configuring a polyphonic modular for homogenous patches is very hard. Besides the duplicate patching you have to normalized all the modules. That's a LOT of work. It doesn't take long to wish for a programmer.

Anyone who has played the Oberheim SEM polyphonics will understand. Even though they don't use patchcords, normalizing the SEMs isn't easy.

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#2890618 - 11/16/17 10:33 AM Re: Modular synths [Re: The Real MC]
mate stubb Offline
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To give a perspective about how many modules are necessary for polyphony, the synth pictured above is capable of 4 notes.

It required a polyphonic midi interface module, and each voice runs 2 VCO, one or 2 VCF, 1 VCA, 2 EG.
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---
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#2890622 - 11/16/17 11:17 AM Re: Modular synths [Re: mate stubb]
OB Dave Offline
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Registered: 04/25/09
Posts: 969
Loc: San Diego CA, US
Is that Moe Howard standing on top of it? And I see you have a Chroma and a Chroma expander too, in what appear to be mint condition. Very nice!

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#2890623 - 11/16/17 11:25 AM Re: Modular synths [Re: mate stubb]
RABid Offline
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Registered: 11/01/01
Posts: 12144
I will echo what was said above. ...

THERE IS NO CHEAP MODULAR. ... BE READY FOR A GAS ATTACK!

I have two setups. A synthesizers.com system that resembles the Mood modular. And a huge Eurorack system. I'd recommend either. Eurorack is great for mixing and matching companies. Your critical piece is oscillators. You need a model that is stable and will play over a wide range while holding tune. I personally hate digital oscillators. If going digital, might as well go virtual. Digital oscillators cannot hold up to analog when doing audio rate modulation.

A good place to poke around is the Muff Wiggler Forum. I used to hang there a lot but had to quit. That place gives me GAS.
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#2890624 - 11/16/17 11:37 AM Re: Modular synths [Re: RABid]
RABid Offline
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Oh, you can find a lot of used Doepher online which is a good starting point. Also consider some of the all in one modules with patch points as a starter. Moog, Oberheim, Doepfer and others make simple voice modules with osc, filter, amp, eg and lfo in a single unit. Some are in a case and some are designed to be mounted in a rack.
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#2890650 - 11/16/17 04:03 PM Re: Modular synths [Re: mate stubb]
GRollins Offline
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Posts: 522
Originally Posted By: mate stubb
My own Synth of Doom modular (MOTM format) got way out of hand.


Moderator! Moe's posting pornography again!

Grey
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#2890655 - 11/16/17 04:18 PM Re: Modular synths [Re: GRollins]
Dave Bryce Administrator Offline
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Originally Posted By: GRollins
dB,
Do you have the ability to add terms to the spell checker? I appreciate having one, but words like "Phatty" are legitimate in our world and it's annoying to have red squiggly lines all over my post if they don't need to be.

Not really, brother Grey; or, if I do, I don't know how. Sorry...


Originally Posted By: GRollins
Originally Posted By: mate stubb
My own Synth of Doom modular (MOTM format) got way out of hand.


Moderator! Moe's posting pornography again!

Your point being..? You wanna make sure he gets kudos? Sure, no prob. twothumbs
Well done, brother Moe. PianoBanana

dB
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#2890661 - 11/16/17 04:55 PM Re: Modular synths [Re: RABid]
GRollins Offline
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Registered: 09/01/17
Posts: 522
Originally Posted By: RABid
BE READY FOR A GAS ATTACK!


I don't have GAS...yet. This is kind of a pre-GAS exploratory mission to decide what I might want somewhere down the line.

The whole Moog/synth thing isn't central to the music I hear in my head; I'm not that firmly in the Keith Emerson camp (Moog/Hammond/piano). I'm more taken with Rick Wakeman's approach, where he throws five or six different voices (Moog/Hammond/piano/Mellotron/Korg/Yamaha/Roland--basically anything the store had with keys attached to it) into the mix, with the Moog sound being one of many textures to be woven into the whole. (Note that I'm not saying that I can play like either of them.)

Asheville, NC, aka Moog Central, ain't all that far from me. In fact I was born near there and still have kin in that neck of the woods, so I visit fairly often. I spent an enjoyable couple of hours on a Voyager in the Moog Store a year or two ago and was quite taken with it. Don't ask which Voyager, I don't know. There seem to have been a half-dozen variations over the years. (My wife says she thinks it was 2015, perhaps, so whichever version was current at that time. Bless her heart, she was bored to death--couldn't even hear the stuff I was playing, because you play their keyboards under headphones, she kept trying to read a book, but the kids kept interrupting, etc. Thanks for being such a good sport, hon...) Anyway, the things being bloody expensive, I had to walk away, but it was a pretty cool keyboard.

Now I've circled back to the idea of a more advanced synth. If modular will get me where I want to go, then that's one thing. If replacing the Little Phatty with a Voyager will do the trick, then that's another. I don't--at this time--have any intention of doing both a Voyager and a modular system. I'm not that heavily into pure synth sounds. What does appeal to me is the idea of--maybe--supplementing a Voyager with a couple of the Voyager rack units in a poly chain, but that would take a wheelbarrow's worth of cash to pull off.

Then along came the announcement about the Behringer Model D, just to make things difficult. And my soldering iron keeps whispering to me, wanting to make tube circuits.

Jeez.

Can't a guy get any peace around here without developing a case of the I-wannas?

Grey
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#2890666 - 11/16/17 05:14 PM Re: Modular synths [Re: GRollins]
GRollins Offline
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Registered: 09/01/17
Posts: 522
Oh, and Moe...how is it that the book by "Floyd" has a pink cover?

Grey
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#2890668 - 11/16/17 05:24 PM Re: Modular synths [Re: GRollins]
Dave Bryce Administrator Offline
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Originally Posted By: GRollins
Can't a guy get any peace around here without developing a case of the I-wannas?

roll hitt wacko boing roll

Thanks for that... smile

dB
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#2890669 - 11/16/17 05:28 PM Re: Modular synths [Re: GRollins]
Marzzz Offline
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#2890675 - 11/16/17 06:02 PM Re: Modular synths [Re: Marzzz]
GRollins Offline
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The 15's notably more expensive than the Voyager. Out of my league, I'm afraid. I can barely justify the money I've spent on keyboards to date--a 15 would buy everything I have now several times over.

Honestly, I'm not sure that a 15 would be all that much better than a Voyager, at least for me.

Incidentally, there's one on eBay right now if anyone's interested. Even used it's more than all my other stuff put together, like, twice over. And they don't even have keyboards. At $10k, the least they could do is throw in a keyboard, ya know?

Grey
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#2890676 - 11/16/17 06:45 PM Re: Modular synths [Re: GRollins]
Al Coda Offline
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Originally Posted By: GRollins

The 15's notably more expensive than the Voyager.
...

Even used it's more than all my other stuff put together, like, twice over. And they don't even have keyboards. At $10k, the least they could do is throw in a keyboard, ya know?

Grey


no (used) original neccessary ...

My friend (who does also service for my gear) and keyboardplayer, mixer and sounddesigner, actually has the mos-lab Model 15 in his homestudio doing sounddesign for a US movie and he reported it sounds great.

With the 960 sequencer rev.B, which is the most expensive combo, it´s EUR 9,- cheaper than a MOOG Voyager XL costs @Thomann.

Without any sequencer revision, the price is on par w/ the Minimoog D reissue.

A.C.

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#2890694 - 11/16/17 09:04 PM Re: Modular synths [Re: GRollins]
mate stubb Offline
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Originally Posted By: GRollins
Oh, and Moe...how is it that the book by "Floyd" has a pink cover?



Heh. That's one of my electronics texts from back in the stone age and I was a young wanna be EE.
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---
Kawai Novus: "Please feel surprised even more."

http://www.hotrodmotm.com

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#2890715 - 11/17/17 02:11 AM Re: Modular synths [Re: Al Coda]
GRollins Offline
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Registered: 09/01/17
Posts: 522
Originally Posted By: Al Coda
Originally Posted By: GRollins

The 15's notably more expensive than the Voyager.
...

Even used it's more than all my other stuff put together, like, twice over. And they don't even have keyboards. At $10k, the least they could do is throw in a keyboard, ya know?

Grey




no (used) original neccessary ...

My friend (who does also service for my gear) and keyboardplayer, mixer and sounddesigner, actually has the mos-lab Model 15 in his homestudio doing sounddesign for a US movie and he reported it sounds great.

With the 960 sequencer rev.B, which is the most expensive combo, it´s EUR 9,- cheaper than a MOOG Voyager XL costs @Thomann.

Without any sequencer revision, the price is on par w/ the Minimoog D reissue.

A.C.


I confess that I have yet to find a use for a sequencer. They work great for some people's music, I guess, but they just don't match up with my approach...at least for now.

Whew! Think of all the money I just saved! Leaves more for oscillators and such.

And while I'm thinking about costs, I might as well throw in that synthesizers.com has this nifty little spreadsheet that will let you work up a system based on their components. I tossed in a few of these and a few of those and very quickly found myself up in Voyager territory. Doesn't look as though synthesizers.com, supposedly one of the cheaper brands, would be all that much cheaper than a Voyager. If you start looking at some of the more expensive companies, I imagine you could easily surpass the cost of a Moog Model 15.

Grey
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#2890718 - 11/17/17 02:26 AM Re: Modular synths [Re: mate stubb]
GRollins Offline
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Registered: 09/01/17
Posts: 522
Originally Posted By: mate stubb
Originally Posted By: GRollins
Oh, and Moe...how is it that the book by "Floyd" has a pink cover?

Heh. That's one of my electronics texts from back in the stone age and I was a young wanna be EE.


I never set out to be an EE, but that didn't stop me from taking a bunch of electronics courses as electives. Oddly, I bought more electronics textbooks after graduation than I did while I was in school. None by "pink Floyd" though.

Same for computers. Didn't think I'd be doing that either, but then I spent my life in mainframe computers. Picked up a few things about PCs along the way.

These days I feel the same way about computers that I do about cars: Used to like to fiddle with them--now I just want the damned things to work when I turn them on and could care less about the details. I'm burned out.

I have this habit of scanning peoples' book shelves. Goes with the author thing. I want to see what they're reading; try to assess where their heads are at. I have book shelves that look a lot like yours. What that might say about either of us is open to interpretation.

Grey
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#2890725 - 11/17/17 04:27 AM Re: Modular synths [Re: GRollins]
Markyboard Offline
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Registered: 02/10/01
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Loc: Springfield, Virginia
Originally Posted By: GRollins
I tossed in a few of these and a few of those and very quickly found myself up in Voyager territory. Doesn't look as though synthesizers.com, supposedly one of the cheaper brands, would be all that much cheaper than a Voyager. If you start looking at some of the more expensive companies, I imagine you could easily surpass the cost of a Moog Model 15.

Grey


Your continued comparison between a modular and a Voyager says you have a lot more contemplation and research to do - at least to me. Forget about comparing price. These are 2 completely different beasts, 2 different approaches to sound design/creation and 2 different approaches to performance. I suggest you spend some serious time with a modular of any type. Just because you can configure a modular with 3 oscillators, a mixer, some LFOs/envelopes and a low pass filter does not mean you will achieve the Voyager or Minimoog experience - and visa versa.

With a modular, getting there is half the battle, and 100% of the fun...or 100% of the frustration if it's not for you.

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#2890748 - 11/17/17 07:09 AM Re: Modular synths [Re: GRollins]
The Real MC Offline
MP Hall of Fame Member

Registered: 05/17/05
Posts: 4720
Loc: Secluded Tranquil NY Wine Coun...
Originally Posted By: GRollins
And while I'm thinking about costs, I might as well throw in that synthesizers.com has this nifty little spreadsheet that will let you work up a system based on their components. I tossed in a few of these and a few of those and very quickly found myself up in Voyager territory. Doesn't look as though synthesizers.com, supposedly one of the cheaper brands, would be all that much cheaper than a Voyager. If you start looking at some of the more expensive companies, I imagine you could easily surpass the cost of a Moog Model 15.


Costs shouldn't be the only metric. Keep in mind that since the Voyager has a fixed audio path, that concept eliminates certain parts (panels, jacks, power rail support) of a modular so that reduces the cost. Comparing costs between a modular and a fixed audio path synth isn't a 1-to-1 correlation.

If a fixed audio path isn't a limitation, the Voyager does have a generous modulation system that the original Minimoog didn't have. Voyager can sound fat like the Minimoog (with the slew rate mod) and can also get many other sounds. Those are things that costs won't tell you.

Quote:
I have this habit of scanning peoples' book shelves. Goes with the author thing. I want to see what they're reading; try to assess where their heads are at.


I do that too. I still have most of my college books from the 1980s. Digging into synths exposed me to circuits and components I didn't know about. Over time I realized that there were gaps in my college curriculum - IE none of my classes covered OTAs or the Ebers-Moll large signal DC analysis of bipolar junction transistors (foundation for expo converters in VCOs). I would often check out other libraries or people's books and happen upon something that none of my books had or contained a better or more detailed analysis. I even stop at my college bookstore - years after graduating - to scan for anything new and useful. I still add books to my library.

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#2890762 - 11/17/17 07:53 AM Re: Modular synths [Re: Markyboard]
GRollins Offline
Gold Member

Registered: 09/01/17
Posts: 522
Originally Posted By: Markyboard
Originally Posted By: GRollins
I tossed in a few of these and a few of those and very quickly found myself up in Voyager territory. Doesn't look as though synthesizers.com, supposedly one of the cheaper brands, would be all that much cheaper than a Voyager. If you start looking at some of the more expensive companies, I imagine you could easily surpass the cost of a Moog Model 15.

Grey


Your continued comparison between a modular and a Voyager says you have a lot more contemplation and research to do - at least to me. Forget about comparing price. These are 2 completely different beasts, 2 different approaches to sound design/creation and 2 different approaches to performance. I suggest you spend some serious time with a modular of any type. Just because you can configure a modular with 3 oscillators, a mixer, some LFOs/envelopes and a low pass filter does not mean you will achieve the Voyager or Minimoog experience - and visa versa.

With a modular, getting there is half the battle, and 100% of the fun...or 100% of the frustration if it's not for you.


I'm probably not making myself clear (again...sigh...).

While we can delve into the innards of, say, an oscillator, and get all excited about whether it's a relaxation oscillator or perhaps even a crystal oscillator that you downshift to a lower frequency, at the end of the day you apply DC on one end and at the other end you get a (hopefully) predictable AC signal. Assuming a Moog-style approach, you start with a harmonically rich signal, such as a square wave, then apply what is, in essence, Fourier analysis on the fly, by subtracting harmonics to leave you with a signal that suits your current mood. Taken to an extreme, you can take a square wave all the way down to its fundamental frequency--a sine wave--although with conventional 4th order (aka 24 dB/oct) filters, you're going to still have some residual harmonics.

Honestly, that makes me feel kinda squirmy. I spent years designing and perfecting circuits for high end audio use and the last thing you wanted was for the circuit to oscillate or have residual distortion. Now, all of a sudden, you're supposed to design for oscillation? What's next? Dogs mating with cats? The sun rising in the west? Sofia Vergara calling to tell me she's lonely?

What's this world coming to?

In any event, you take the output from the oscillator, Fourier the hell out of it with a filter of your choosing (that's actually an area I want to explore if I start making my own modules), then mix with the outputs of other oscillators and filters, amplify if needed (filtering down a square/triangle/what-have-you removes energy from the original signal and reduces the volume), then, perhaps, sprinkle with a bit of special effects for seasoning.

Ta-da! Music!

Well, maybe.

It might also just be beeps and boops. Boring, at least to me. Others seem to get off on that sort of thing. YMMV as they say.

Which is the difference between a modular and something like a Voyager or my humble Little Phatty.

A modular allows you immediate, unrestricted access to any and all points in the signal and control chains. You take physical wires and fiddle to your heart's content in an attempt to build a signal that matches what you hear in your head. (I don't know about you, but I hear voices in my head.) If you buy something like a Voyager, you're limited to a certain number of VCOs, LFOs, VCFs, etc.--whatever they decided to put into the box, but when all is said and done it's a modular with less control. True, you've got a few jacks up in the corner that you can mess with, but even then decisions were made in Asheville as to what you're going to be able to get to.

So what's the big deal? Why would someone want a Voyager instead of a modular? Why give up the versatility of an all-access circuit for one that's been purposefully dumbed-down, so to speak.

In a word: Convenience.

In principle, you could take a mess of hardware like Moe pictured above and build a signal exactly the same as what you get out of a Voyager. Again, you might want to exercise care in choosing your oscillators, filters, etc., but if you know what the signal parameters are for a given Voyager voice, you can do it over again with a modular system...and about a hundred cables.

The Voyager is smaller, lighter, and easier to work with. It also has presets, which are nothing more than automated wires. Rather than have to spend ten minutes slinging cables from point A to point H and from point B to point T and from point C to point M, on and on, you can poke a button and be there instantly, repeatably. Heaven. Unless you're Keith Emerson and feel that the actual on-stage rewiring is part of the experience you're providing for your audience. For most people the Voyager is a more efficient performance machine.

I've been writing original material. Will it ever see the light of day? Unlikely. There's virtually zero chance that I'll be able to form a band with musicians available locally. The corollary is that the stuff that I do is unlikely ever to be performed live. Thus I have the luxury of taking time to create patches that suit me. But do I want to spend the time to laboriously create my own patches? More to the point, do I have the time to create my own patches?

Well, there's the master bathroom to be finished (I'm back on that, by the way), the back deck needs to be replanked, etc.--all those things that I've mentioned in other posts in other threads. But here's something I haven't mentioned: I've already outlived my father by eighteen years and am rapidly approaching the age at which my mother died. I'm only 60, which isn't all that old in the great scheme of things, but are my genetics going to step in at some point and say, "Hey, bub, time's up!" I try to weigh the time things take in a manner somewhat differently from others, because I don't know how much mileage is left on my odometer. I've also got more stories to write and want to make sure that I spend time with my kids and, you know, all that kind of stuff. I may live another couple of decades. I may live another couple of months. But do I want to spend that time (however much it may be) poking plugs into jacks in search of that Nth degree of refinement of tone? I really liked some of the patches on the Voyager. Some I felt could do with some fine-tuning. Some I felt were the usual raucous noise that passes for music with some, but doesn't appeal to me. It's a slippery slope. The cool patches are good to go. The fine-tunable ones would take--hopefully--only a small amount of time to whip into shape. But...but...what if I were to start from scratch? Oi! Run for the hills! People have said that modulars are a black hole for money. Yeah, I can see that. But I have to weigh the idea that they're a black hole for time. Am I willing to trade time for control? That's the question.

See what I'm saying?

Does this allay your concerns that I'm totally adrift in this?

Grey
_________________________
I'm not interested in someone's ability to program. I'm interested in their ability to compose and play.

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#2890771 - 11/17/17 08:13 AM Re: Modular synths [Re: GRollins]
Markyboard Offline
MP Hall of Fame Member

Registered: 02/10/01
Posts: 5169
Loc: Springfield, Virginia
Originally Posted By: GRollins
More to the point, do I have the time to create my own patches?


Something tells me...you have the time. poke laugh

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#2890773 - 11/17/17 08:15 AM Re: Modular synths [Re: The Real MC]
GRollins Offline
Gold Member

Registered: 09/01/17
Posts: 522
Originally Posted By: The Real MC
Costs shouldn't be the only metric.


You posted while I was writing the above, but since I didn't address the monetary point, I'll take another whack at this.

Money isn't the only thing, as I hope to have made clear in my previous post, but, like others, I'm not rich and the amount of money something costs is a factor that will have to be dealt with in the real world.

If money was no object, I'd simply buy a Voyager (or similar device) and a modular system. Since I don't have the financial resources to do both, then I'll need to make a philosophical choice: Control or time?

It's not that I think that a Voyager and a modular are "the same" or equivalent (well, they are, but...), it's a fork in the road. And I'm ruminating publicly about the benefits of one path or the other. Neither path is a one-shot purchase. If I go modular, I'll always want another oscillator. If I buy a Voyager, I'll also want a couple of rack units so I can poly chain. I won't want sixteen or whatever the maximum is, but I'm going to want at least two additional units so I can play a triad.

I know me. I've lived with me all my life. I'm going to want to push things a bit. How many people there are with rack Voyagers backing up their keyboard one, I do not know, but I'm going to want at least three, even if it brands me as lunatic fringe.

Crikey, will someone please go rob a bank for me? My dreams are bigger than my wallet.

None of you have ever had that problem, I know. you're all stable, well-adjusted individuals without runaway imaginations that hear things that mundane hardware cannot produce.

Could I dive deeper into the Little Phatty world--buy a couple of Slim Phattys?

Well, yes, but if I've learned anything in the three or four years that I've had this thing, it's that two oscillators (for the pendants: yes, yes, three, if you insist on counting the LFO) are not enough to produce the tones I hear in my head. The Little Phatty just isn't rich enough.

Or maybe I'm not rich enough.

One thing's for certain, I'd be richer if I wasn't spending money on music!

Grey
_________________________
I'm not interested in someone's ability to program. I'm interested in their ability to compose and play.

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#2890799 - 11/17/17 09:41 AM Re: Modular synths [Re: Markyboard]
mate stubb Offline
Grand Poobah of the Trebuchet
10k Club

Registered: 10/26/03
Posts: 15591
Originally Posted By: Markyboard
Originally Posted By: GRollins
More to the point, do I have the time to create my own patches?


Something tells me...you have the time. poke laugh


roll

In the time it took to write your last two posts, you could have patched a Blade Runner worthy patch. I read carefully but didn't get the point of your post still.

You ask the wrong question. It's not "do I have enough time left in my life to get involved in modulars." The question is, "would I enjoy doing sound design on modulars?"

If the whole point is to come up with sounds and use them in music, and you don't particularly enjoy the exploratory process to get there, then save a crap ton of money and try a software modular.

If you enjoy the journey and exploration as much as the outcome, and think the physical experience of turning dials and inserting patch cables will be soothing and a zen like experience, then a hardware modular might be for you. The trick would be to try to find an opportunity to play with one before you spend thousands of dollars.
_________________________
Moe
---
Kawai Novus: "Please feel surprised even more."

http://www.hotrodmotm.com

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#2890821 - 11/17/17 10:57 AM Re: Modular synths [Re: mate stubb]
GRollins Offline
Gold Member

Registered: 09/01/17
Posts: 522
Originally Posted By: mate stubb
Originally Posted By: Markyboard
Originally Posted By: GRollins
More to the point, do I have the time to create my own patches?


Something tells me...you have the time. poke laugh


roll

In the time it took to write your last two posts, you could have patched a Blade Runner worthy patch. I read carefully but didn't get the point of your post still.

You ask the wrong question. It's not "do I have enough time left in my life to get involved in modulars." The question is, "would I enjoy doing sound design on modulars?"

If the whole point is to come up with sounds and use them in music, and you don't particularly enjoy the exploratory process to get there, then save a crap ton of money and try a software modular.

If you enjoy the journey and exploration as much as the outcome, and think the physical experience of turning dials and inserting patch cables will be soothing and a zen like experience, then a hardware modular might be for you. The trick would be to try to find an opportunity to play with one before you spend thousands of dollars.


I can get lost in electronics or playing music or writing in the way you suggest, but patching...less so. It's more a means to an end.

Not as absolute as with cars, where I used to take things apart for the simple joy of looking at the pieces, adjusting things, then putting it all back together. Now I change oil and stuff to save money, but there's no joy in it at all. Ditto for computers. Just get the confounded thing to run--I've got things I need to do.

Messing with patches is, for me, somewhere in between. It may slide more towards enjoyment, or it may slide towards drudgery, or it may stay the same. If I can get something that matches what I hear in my head, then I'm generally okay. If I get close, but can't close the gap between what I want and what I'm getting, then yeah, that's frustrating. Is it something I would do on its own? No.

I've just spent about two hours pulling down sheetrock and discovering that the damned plumbers screwed up the hot & cold lines to the tub faucet 35 years ago. There's a rat's nest of criss-crossed CPVC where they corrected the problem so that the faucet would work properly. The thing is, I'm going to replace that faucet, so do I try to leave the pipes the way they are or do I correct their mistakes? All this takes time. Would I rather be creating a patch or pulling down sheetrock? Music, obviously, but the bathroom needs to be done. I'm just taking a break so I can look at something other than rusty nails and roach egg cases that have lain hidden in the walls for eons untold. When I get done here, I'll go back to working on the bath.

(Ugh.)

You say I'm asking the wrong question. No, not really. My mental equations are more complex than that. I've got other things to try to balance. No matter when I shuffle off this mortal coil, I want to leave my kids something they can point at and say, "Poppa did that!" The more the better. Four out of five of my kids read voraciously. I've got an eleven year-old who's reading at college level and his brother's not far behind. I want to leave them stories; as many as possible. Both boys are showing interest in music. I want to leave them music (to the extent that I can--probably guitar/bass/some keys). It's not entirely about what I want, it's also about what I can leave for them. To be entirely selfish and say that I'm going to spend all the hours of all my days creating patches isn't productive in that sense. I don't feel right about that. My father left me nothing except some tools I inherited after he died and some bad memories that I won't go into here. I want to do things differently.

You folks are making fun of me for writing more than three sentences per post. Guilty as charged. I'm an author. Words come naturally to me and I enjoy the writing process the same way I enjoy playing music. If I don't write, I get antsy, the same as with not playing music. Two outlets for the same impulse. It's in my nature, somehow.

Grey


Edited by GRollins (11/17/17 11:01 AM)
_________________________
I'm not interested in someone's ability to program. I'm interested in their ability to compose and play.

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#2890829 - 11/17/17 11:22 AM Re: Modular synths [Re: GRollins]
GovernorSilver Offline
MP Hall of Fame Member

Registered: 03/22/06
Posts: 5508
Loc: Washington DC
If you're the kind of muso who just wants to fire up an analog synth and play prog rock solos, I don't think modular is the way to go. You'd probably be happier w/ the Voyager, Model D Reissue... something along those lines - a self-contained keyboard.
_________________________
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#2890837 - 11/17/17 12:09 PM Re: Modular synths [Re: GovernorSilver]
RABid Offline
10k Club

Registered: 11/01/01
Posts: 12144
I started my modular with a Livewire Vulcan Modulator and a Livewire Dalek Modulator. It was a really good start and nothing like a MiniMoog.




_________________________
Skate to where the puck was 5 years ago.

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#2890841 - 11/17/17 12:18 PM Re: Modular synths [Re: GRollins]
mate stubb Offline
Grand Poobah of the Trebuchet
10k Club

Registered: 10/26/03
Posts: 15591
Originally Posted By: GRollins

You folks are making fun of me for writing more than three sentences per post. Guilty as charged. I'm an author. Words come naturally to me and I enjoy the writing process the same way I enjoy playing music.


Making fun? Well, slightly maybe. Gotta haze the new guy a little. But it's more about getting to know who you are a little better.
_________________________
Moe
---
Kawai Novus: "Please feel surprised even more."

http://www.hotrodmotm.com

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#2890846 - 11/17/17 12:43 PM Re: Modular synths [Re: GovernorSilver]
GRollins Offline
Gold Member

Registered: 09/01/17
Posts: 522
Originally Posted By: GovernorSilver
If you're the kind of muso who just wants to fire up an analog synth and play prog rock solos, I don't think modular is the way to go. You'd probably be happier w/ the Voyager, Model D Reissue... something along those lines - a self-contained keyboard.


Hey fella,
As of this moment, covered with sheetrock and mud dust, sore, and pretty much disgruntled with life, I have to say that I'm pretty much 60/40 for going Voyager. Instant gratification and all that.

I don't think I've got the energy to go popping cables in and out. I hurt myself yesterday and today has been a slog. I'm quitting for the day. Probably get clean and play for a bit before my wife gets home.

Grey

P.S.: If I happen to come off as grumpy, it's because I am, but not with you guys. This bathroom crap (...pause for laugh track...) is really getting me down.
_________________________
I'm not interested in someone's ability to program. I'm interested in their ability to compose and play.

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#2890849 - 11/17/17 12:58 PM Re: Modular synths [Re: GRollins]
RABid Offline
10k Club

Registered: 11/01/01
Posts: 12144
You can always start with the Voyager and get the VX-351 interface later that will give it some patching abilities with modular equipment. My only complaint with the VX-351 is that the multiple is not buffered.
_________________________
Skate to where the puck was 5 years ago.

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#2890853 - 11/17/17 01:19 PM Re: Modular synths [Re: RABid]
GRollins Offline
Gold Member

Registered: 09/01/17
Posts: 522
Originally Posted By: RABid
I started my modular with a Livewire Vulcan Modulator and a Livewire Dalek Modulator. It was a really good start and nothing like a MiniMoog.






Okay, now you've prompted my thinking. Good job.

CALLING ALL VOYAGER OWNERS:
How much do you use the patch bay? Do you feel that it adds to the whole Voyager thing?

When I played the Voyager at the Moog store, they didn't have any cables available and I didn't want to spend all day at it, anyway, seeing as how I had the whole family along and they were all out of their element. I just ran through a bunch of presets, figuring that if I listened to enough of them, I'd get a sense of what the thing was capable of.

Now, as to Vulcans and Daleks, I'm not far enough along in my thought process to worry about kinky stuff. I'm still flipping coins, trying to decide whether the modular thing will produce results in a reasonable period of time. Given, say, four oscillators, two LFOs, and a UFO (ahem), can I come up with a reasonable approximation of something I hear in my head?

Somebody's going to pop up and tell me there really is a module called a UFO in...three, two, one...

Grey
_________________________
I'm not interested in someone's ability to program. I'm interested in their ability to compose and play.

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#2890854 - 11/17/17 01:22 PM Re: Modular synths [Re: mate stubb]
GRollins Offline
Gold Member

Registered: 09/01/17
Posts: 522
Originally Posted By: mate stubb
Making fun? Well, slightly maybe. Gotta haze the new guy a little. But it's more about getting to know who you are a little better.


Gettin' to knooooow you,
Gettin' to feel free and easy.

And I'll take my haze purple, thank you.

Grey
_________________________
I'm not interested in someone's ability to program. I'm interested in their ability to compose and play.

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#2890856 - 11/17/17 01:33 PM Re: Modular synths [Re: GRollins]
GovernorSilver Offline
MP Hall of Fame Member

Registered: 03/22/06
Posts: 5508
Loc: Washington DC
Originally Posted By: GRollins
Originally Posted By: GovernorSilver
If you're the kind of muso who just wants to fire up an analog synth and play prog rock solos, I don't think modular is the way to go. You'd probably be happier w/ the Voyager, Model D Reissue... something along those lines - a self-contained keyboard.


Hey fella,
As of this moment, covered with sheetrock and mud dust, sore, and pretty much disgruntled with life, I have to say that I'm pretty much 60/40 for going Voyager. Instant gratification and all that.

I don't think I've got the energy to go popping cables in and out. I hurt myself yesterday and today has been a slog. I'm quitting for the day. Probably get clean and play for a bit before my wife gets home.


Sorry you hurt yourself. Heal fast!

As a former Voyager owner, I can report that the Voyager has a tremendous amount of tweakability for a self-contained non-modular synth. Actually one of the reasons I sold it was that I realized it has more programmability than I would ever use - I get on just fine with the cheaper, simpler analog synths.

The VX expander, as mentioned, would turn the Voyager into a semi-modular.
_________________________
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#2890857 - 11/17/17 01:34 PM Re: Modular synths [Re: GRollins]
Dave Bryce Administrator Offline
KCFFL Champ '14, '16
10k Club

Registered: 09/24/00
Posts: 19077
Loc: Thousand Oaks,CA,UNITED STATES
Originally Posted By: GRollins
This bathroom crap (...pause for laugh track...) is really getting me down.

rimshot


Quote:
I'll take my haze purple, thank you.

cool puff

dB
_________________________
snax

rockit ==> ReverbNationSoundCloud <==rawk


Professional affiliations: Amphion Loudspeakers • Cloud Microphones • Crumar/GSi • elysia GmbH • Reverb Foundry • Roswell Pro Audio...and Electronic Musician

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#2890860 - 11/17/17 01:53 PM Re: Modular synths [Re: RABid]
GRollins Offline
Gold Member

Registered: 09/01/17
Posts: 522
Originally Posted By: RABid
You can always start with the Voyager and get the VX-351 interface later that will give it some patching abilities with modular equipment. My only complaint with the VX-351 is that the multiple is not buffered.


Okay...talk to me about this VX-351. I'm aware that it exists, but I've yet to be able to wrap my head around what it's good for. I've read the description on the Moog site and it sounds to me as though it's redundant; just more of the same stuff that's already on the Voyager. So clue me in as to what this critter brings to the table.

Multiples.
As I understand it, a multiple is literally just a bunch of jacks in parallel, right? A basic passive signal splitter. You want one that's buffered, as in, like unity gain circuits that isolate incoming signal from output? That's easy.
1) What input impedance do you want?
2) What output impedance do you want?
3) How much current do you need for whatever you're wanting to drive?
4) How much bandwidth do you need?
The quickest path is to use an emitter/Source/cathode follower. Bandwidth from DC to light, or close enough as makes no never-mind. Choose something in a TO-220 case and you can deliver enough current to drive a small speaker directly. Otherwise, a TO-92 will do just peachy.

The multiples I keep seeing sport four jacks, one of which gets used as input, so you're really only getting three outs. Jeez, man, live a little. Make one with, like, ten jacks.

Or perhaps what's needed--assuming that the output of whatever's going into the multiple is getting loaded down; having too much current drawn--is a separate module that you can use to boost available current before going to the multiple.

I have it on good authority that I'm goofy in the head, so maybe not.

Or maybe I'll just build my own current boosters and multiples.

Hmmm...

Grey
_________________________
I'm not interested in someone's ability to program. I'm interested in their ability to compose and play.

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#2890869 - 11/17/17 02:20 PM Re: Modular synths [Re: GRollins]
Markyboard Offline
MP Hall of Fame Member

Registered: 02/10/01
Posts: 5169
Loc: Springfield, Virginia
Originally Posted By: GRollins

CALLING ALL VOYAGER OWNERS:
How much do you use the patch bay? Do you feel that it adds to the whole Voyager thing?
Grey


Well as I indicated - to each his own. Semi-modular is my thing i.e. my favorite synth format. I love integrating different functions from various synths and they often become an extension of the Voyager - triggered on the same midi channel or CV output. So yes - even if its just using the Voyager as a controller to route after-touch or a pedal to another synth I use the expander boxes quite often. But I'll also often use the Voyager stand-alone. The mod busses and "pot mapping" will satisfy the tweakiest; the sound is balls deluxe.


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#2890878 - 11/17/17 02:41 PM Re: Modular synths [Re: GRollins]
Markyboard Offline
MP Hall of Fame Member

Registered: 02/10/01
Posts: 5169
Loc: Springfield, Virginia
Originally Posted By: GRollins


Okay...talk to me about this VX-351. I'm aware that it exists, but I've yet to be able to wrap my head around what it's good for. I've read the description on the Moog site and it sounds to me as though it's redundant; just more of the same stuff that's already on the Voyager. So clue me in as to what this critter brings to the table.


It brings out a number of the Voyager control signals so you can modify them and/or reroute them back into one of the Voyager CV inputs. This helps if your 2 mod busses are tied up with other routings or the routing doesn't exist to begin with. Of course you can also connect these to other synths.

As an analogy suppose your hot water pipe in your bathroom was routed...err...never mind.



Originally Posted By: GRollins

Multiples.
As I understand it, a multiple is literally just a bunch of jacks in parallel, right? A basic passive signal splitter. You want one that's buffered, as in, like unity gain circuits that isolate incoming signal from output? That's easy.
1) What input impedance do you want?
2) What output impedance do you want?
3) How much current do you need for whatever you're wanting to drive?
4) How much bandwidth do you need?
The quickest path is to use an emitter/Source/cathode follower. Bandwidth from DC to light, or close enough as makes no never-mind. Choose something in a TO-220 case and you can deliver enough current to drive a small speaker directly. Otherwise, a TO-92 will do just peachy.

The multiples I keep seeing sport four jacks, one of which gets used as input, so you're really only getting three outs. Jeez, man, live a little. Make one with, like, ten jacks.

Or perhaps what's needed--assuming that the output of whatever's going into the multiple is getting loaded down; having too much current drawn--is a separate module that you can use to boost available current before going to the multiple.

I have it on good authority that I'm goofy in the head, so maybe not.

Or maybe I'll just build my own current boosters and multiples.

Hmmm...

Grey


I went on a mini-tirade last year regarding crappy multiples - even buffered multiples. When you're trying to route CV voltage that need very accurate 1V/Oct it becomes evident which ones suck (i.e. loaded down because they don't know how to properly design them) and which ones are good. Cross-talk between channels is another issue. I have issues running a gate and Pitch CC voltage out of the same multi-channel mult. I suspect with the lower Eurorack voltages this is more challenging then it appears.

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#2890894 - 11/17/17 03:47 PM Re: Modular synths [Re: Markyboard]
GRollins Offline
Gold Member

Registered: 09/01/17
Posts: 522
Mark,
Oh, crap...now you've gone and raised yet more questions.

1) I'm having trouble getting the different Voyagers into my head. Is there a simple way to map the changes? A thread here? A website? More to the point, I see that yours does not have a patch bay in the upper left corner. Which leads me to...
2) Does the VX-351 add the same thing to your Voyager that the later ones had built-in or is it still above and beyond those?

Grey
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#2890899 - 11/17/17 04:13 PM Re: Modular synths [Re: GRollins]
Markyboard Offline
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Registered: 02/10/01
Posts: 5169
Loc: Springfield, Virginia
Off the top of my head: disregarding cosmetic changes there's the standard Voyager - 44 note, no built in patch expander, the Voyager O(ld) S(chool)- no midi, patch memory or other digital control stuff and no touch pad, Voyager RME - Rack mount standard Voyager - no touch pad, and the Voyager XL - 5 octave, patch expander and ribbon controller.

There's been a handful of mods to the Voyagers including improved after-touch, slew rate mod, patch memory expansion, quiet back-light( for versions with the lit panels),and maybe a couple of others.

There's a number of cosmetic editions including different woods and color back lit panels, the original signature edition sighed by Bob Moog and an aluminum body model.

Iirc the Voyager XL had a couple extra mults or maybe an extra mixer beyond what the vx-351 and cp-251 offer.


Edited by Markyboard (11/17/17 04:31 PM)

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#2890904 - 11/17/17 04:28 PM Re: Modular synths [Re: Markyboard]
Markyboard Offline
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Registered: 02/10/01
Posts: 5169
Loc: Springfield, Virginia
Oh yeah, who could forget this (cough) beauty?


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#2890906 - 11/17/17 04:31 PM Re: Modular synths [Re: GRollins]
David Emm Offline
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Registered: 09/14/12
Posts: 995
Loc: Oz. Its too damned green.
In my slightly inebriated opinion, your situation has Moog Voyager XL written on it clearly, in a sense. While Eurorack is basically the leading modular format, the XL (IF you could drop such $ on it) comes with a healthy patch bay and other fine amenities in one unit. Less pricey but still potent: Dave Smith's Pro 2, which can act as a robust anchor synth for modular gear. That'd be a pragmatic approach that would *seem* to be more in line with your hesitance over the serious time sink anything modular represents. Only you, your SO and your wallet can decide that, but its a workable intermediate approach. You get a lot of the power in a more sane, reduced set. Its one angle of approach to consider. If you develop Module Acquisition Syndrome, KC takes no responsibility.
_________________________
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~ Nick Swardson

https://soundcloud.com/david-emm-1




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#2890912 - 11/17/17 05:01 PM Re: Modular synths [Re: Markyboard]
GRollins Offline
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Registered: 09/01/17
Posts: 522
Would it be safe to say that:
Performer Edition = Select Series (different woods) = Electric Blue Edition (ash cab, blue LEDs) = Aluminum (Al cab, only 100 made) = RME (rack mount)

at least as far as the electronics go?

Then the XL and XL Tolex (only 100 made) are the same, but different from the Performer variants in that they have the patch bay and maybe some other stuff, right?

Would a VX-351 add anything to an XL or is that stuff already there, up in the corner?

I think I may have played an XL in Asheville, but I'm not certain.

Grey
_________________________
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#2890914 - 11/17/17 05:08 PM Re: Modular synths [Re: David Emm]
Marzzz Offline
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Registered: 11/24/00
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Back to the Model 15 for a moment...

The thing (for me, anyway) with modular is that I would still want a traditional OSC-VCF-EG single path, but with significant modulation options. I want it to sound musical and be able to play melodic lines, as opposed to a bloop-and-bleep fest. The Mnimoog D reissue has a few patch points on its back panel to play with, as well as the External input (so that I could do something like run a few other oscillators into the Moog filter and EGs). Kinda semi-modular, as Markyboard mentioned. The ultimate at that level would be a Model 15, but yeah I need to win a lottery first.

FWIW I had a Voyager since it came out, and sold it early last year because I never bonded with it. The Model D reissue is an absolute dream come true for me, and this time around there is no one who will ever make me sell it.

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#2890915 - 11/17/17 05:31 PM Re: Modular synths [Re: David Emm]
GRollins Offline
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Registered: 09/01/17
Posts: 522
Originally Posted By: David Emm
In my slightly inebriated opinion, your situation has Moog Voyager XL written on it clearly, in a sense. While Eurorack is basically the leading modular format, the XL (IF you could drop such $ on it) comes with a healthy patch bay and other fine amenities in one unit. Less pricey but still potent: Dave Smith's Pro 2, which can act as a robust anchor synth for modular gear. That'd be a pragmatic approach that would *seem* to be more in line with your hesitance over the serious time sink anything modular represents. Only you, your SO and your wallet can decide that, but its a workable intermediate approach. You get a lot of the power in a more sane, reduced set. Its one angle of approach to consider. If you develop Module Acquisition Syndrome, KC takes no responsibility.


Slightly inebriated? Only slightly inebriated?

Dude, come back when your thought processes have been properly lubricated. We're talking serious hardware, here. This is no time for half-measures.

[Pauses for a sip of Spaten Octoberfest...]

Okay, what was I saying? Oh...right...your turn.

No, wait, that's not what I meant to say. What I meant to say was that I've heard (on YouTube, etc.), but never played, a Dave Smith keyboard. There certainly aren't any around here that I know of.

I'm sure I'll piss off a number of people by saying this, but I found the sound...um...uninvolving. Can't put my finger on why. It's like I'm on the outside looking in, instead of actually becoming one with the music.

(Maybe I should be smoking instead of drinking if I'm going to talk like that.)

Now, the caveat here is that YouTube's sound quality isn't the greatest, so maybe it's just a question of fidelity, but I don't get the same remote feeling from videos of Moog, Yamaha, Korg, et. al. There's a sort of weight that's missing, something in the bass or lower midrange, perhaps. It just doesn't grab me.

The XL appeals to me, if for no other reason than the fact that it's got the patch bay and a wider keyboard. All you experts who were playing piano in the womb can get by on, like, 13 keys. Fools like me need lots of real estate in the same manner that a kid who just got his driver's license feels more comfortable in a wide open parking lot. There's less to hit. Once I get better, I'll approach some sort of Zen state where I can do it all on a single key and slay audiences far and wide.

As if...

Grey
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#2890919 - 11/17/17 05:43 PM Re: Modular synths [Re: GRollins]
Markyboard Offline
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Registered: 02/10/01
Posts: 5169
Loc: Springfield, Virginia
Originally Posted By: GRollins
Would it be safe to say that:
Performer Edition = Select Series (different woods) = Electric Blue Edition (ash cab, blue LEDs) = Aluminum (Al cab, only 100 made) = RME (rack mount)

at least as far as the electronics go?

You got it.

Originally Posted By: GRollins

Then the XL and XL Tolex (only 100 made) are the same, but different from the Performer variants in that they have the patch bay and maybe some other stuff, right?

Yes


Originally Posted By: GRollins

Would a VX-351 add anything to an XL or is that stuff already there, up in the corner?

Already built in. In fact there's no port to connect a VX-351 to since its already integrated in.

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#2890938 - 11/17/17 06:15 PM Re: Modular synths [Re: Marzzz]
GRollins Offline
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Registered: 09/01/17
Posts: 522
Originally Posted By: Marzzz
I want it to sound musical and be able to play melodic lines, as opposed to a bloop-and-bleep fest.

FWIW I had a Voyager since it came out, and sold it early last year because I never bonded with it. The Model D reissue is an absolute dream come true for me, and this time around there is no one who will ever make me sell it.


I'm not aware of a band that's ever done this, so there's no referent for me to fall back on, but let me try an analogy. You know how bands have lead and rhythm guitar players? Well, I'm not what you would call a lead keyboard player. I'm more of a rhythm keyboard player.

This is one of those perilous points where the thread will teeter on the verge of a precipice because Grey said something weird and no one will understand.

No, I'm not saying that I play a lot of boring slow pad stuff. Very little, in fact. No, I'm not saying that I play only chords (this is where my lead/rhythm guitar analogy is weak).

Dammit, this isn't going well. Let me try again.

Okay, think of the way Chris Squire played bass in early Yes. A lot of unconventional--frequently complicated--bass lines, yet they were still fulfilling the function of rhythm. I play keys like that. I play guitar and bass like that, for that matter. It's too complicated to be called rhythm playing, where you just go chunk, chunk in the background, but it's not so free-ranging as to be called lead, either. Some sort of middle ground.

With me so far?

"I want it to sound musical and be able to play melodic lines..." Yeah, like that. What he said. Only I don't go quite so far afield.

If we were talking guitars or basses, I'd say I want "tone" and it would help a lot, but keyboard players don't talk that way. I'm not saying that they don't get erections upon hearing an old Hammond in full cry, but there are some differences in the ways that string players and key players approach their desired sounds, mentally.

Now that I've gone and derailed my own thread...

The Model D.
Now there's a wild card. The Moog Model D, either original or reissue, and the Behringer Model D. Where do they fit into this swirling swarm of sinuously singing synths?

The Moog D has the weight of tradition and a thousand recordings that have imprinted That Sound into my DNA. Despite being nearly fifty years old, it's sprightly and fresh in the right hands. As far as I can tell, there's no price advantage to a D over a Voyager. The Ds have as good or better resale value (at this time--no need to brag about picking one up for $100 twenty years ago or whenever) than a Voyager. So, at least from the cost standpoint, I'd better be damned certain whether I want a D or a Voyager when it comes to plunking down money, assuming that I go that way.

But then there's that confounded Behringer.

They couldn't have picked a better (or worse--pick one) time to release their version. Can't argue with the price. Jeez, for the cost of a used Moog D or Voyager, I could get a whole herd of Behringers and a MIDI keyboard to drive them. Poly chain time!

I'm tired and I'm sore and I'm not inebriated enough. This is all quite difficult.

Grey
_________________________
I'm not interested in someone's ability to program. I'm interested in their ability to compose and play.

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#2890948 - 11/17/17 06:28 PM Re: Modular synths [Re: GRollins]
Marzzz Offline
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Registered: 11/24/00
Posts: 2356
Loc: Scottsdale, AZ
"Tone" is not an irrelevant concept, especially with regard to analog synthesis. Allow me to quote someone over at Gearslutz:

Oh god.
I had some spare money to spend and ended up biting the bullet when a B-stock Mini [Model D Reissue] came up. I figured it was too good a deal to pass up, and that I could always sell it at a profit. I didn't really want one too badly, what with no preset storage or mod matrix or stuff, I figured it's a pretty limited thing. I had never really played one.
It was delivered today.
Oh god.
I get it now.
All the comparisons with premium electric guitars, all the "this is a real musical instrument", all the talk about "that" sound. I get it now.
This thing is NEVER going to leave.


That's why I struggled to gel with my Voyager for more than a decade. That's why it took all of 30 seconds to know that the Minimoog D reissue was the greatest synth purchase I ever made, save for the original Minimoog I had back in the mid 70's.

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#2890949 - 11/17/17 06:28 PM Re: Modular synths [Re: Markyboard]
GRollins Offline
Gold Member

Registered: 09/01/17
Posts: 522
Originally Posted By: Markyboard
Originally Posted By: GRollins
Would it be safe to say that:
Performer Edition = Select Series (different woods) = Electric Blue Edition (ash cab, blue LEDs) = Aluminum (Al cab, only 100 made) = RME (rack mount)

at least as far as the electronics go?

You got it.

Originally Posted By: GRollins

Then the XL and XL Tolex (only 100 made) are the same, but different from the Performer variants in that they have the patch bay and maybe some other stuff, right?

Yes


Originally Posted By: GRollins

Would a VX-351 add anything to an XL or is that stuff already there, up in the corner?

Already built in. In fact there's no port to connect a VX-351 to since its already integrated in.


Splendid.
Thank you.

So really, there are only two Voyagers: The Performer and the XL. Everything else is just (expensive) window dressing.

Whew! I feel better now.

Grey
_________________________
I'm not interested in someone's ability to program. I'm interested in their ability to compose and play.

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#2890953 - 11/17/17 06:35 PM Re: Modular synths [Re: Marzzz]
GRollins Offline
Gold Member

Registered: 09/01/17
Posts: 522
Originally Posted By: Marzzz
"Tone" is not an irrelevant concept, especially with regard to analog synthesis. Allow me to quote someone over at Gearslutz:

Oh god.
I had some spare money to spend and ended up biting the bullet when a B-stock Mini [Model D Reissue] came up. I figured it was too good a deal to pass up, and that I could always sell it at a profit. I didn't really want one too badly, what with no preset storage or mod matrix or stuff, I figured it's a pretty limited thing. I had never really played one.
It was delivered today.
Oh god.
I get it now.
All the comparisons with premium electric guitars, all the "this is a real musical instrument", all the talk about "that" sound. I get it now.
This thing is NEVER going to leave.


That's why I struggled to gel with my Voyager for more than a decade. That's why it took all of 30 seconds to know that the Minimoog D reissue was the greatest synth purchase I ever made, save for the original Minimoog I had back in the mid 70's.


If you guys keep this crap up, you'll have me buying a D, a Voyager XL, and a modular system, drat your hides!

And me wanting only one pure synth.

Somebody above said going to Muff Wiggler gave him GAS. Well, what the hell's he doing here? This place is every bit as bad!

Grey
_________________________
I'm not interested in someone's ability to program. I'm interested in their ability to compose and play.

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#2891062 - 11/18/17 07:30 AM Re: Modular synths [Re: GRollins]
GRollins Offline
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Registered: 09/01/17
Posts: 522
I've looked at the owner's manuals for the various Voyagers and can't figure this out. The answers may be in there, but the nomenclature shifts (poly chain equals polyphonic in Moog-speak, for instance) and I'm not sure what to look for. If I had one here to experiment with--plus associated hardware--then I could just just give it a whirl, but we're talking serious money to get to that stage so I thought I'd ask the experts first.

Hypothetical setup: Voyager XL (or possibly Performer w/sundry VX boxes) poly chained with one or more Voyager RMEs.

The question: If you start patching on the XL, does that have the same effect down the line or do you have to have VX boxes with each RME to achieve the same sound? I'm kinda thinking that it will take VXs for each RME, but I'm hoping to be wrong so as not to have to buy a million doo-dads if I go that route; nearly as bad as a modular system.

Grey
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I'm not interested in someone's ability to program. I'm interested in their ability to compose and play.

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#2891084 - 11/18/17 09:11 AM Re: Modular synths [Re: GRollins]
Markyboard Offline
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Registered: 02/10/01
Posts: 5169
Loc: Springfield, Virginia
You're not wrong - poly chaining only provides for contiguous notes between units/modules along with other midi transmitted data . While easy enough to select the same patch across all your poly-chained modules, the external patching and associated parameters are not stored. These therefore have to be replicated.

I can't remember if you addressed this Grey but have you considered a poly analog? Something like an Andromeda or a Prophet 12 or ....? I'm not sure which box this doesn't check but it sure seems more in line with what you're trying to accomplish.

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#2891094 - 11/18/17 09:49 AM Re: Modular synths [Re: Markyboard]
mate stubb Offline
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10k Club

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I think Grey is fixed on the Moog sound. Memorymoog anyone?
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#2891096 - 11/18/17 09:55 AM Re: Modular synths [Re: Markyboard]
GRollins Offline
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Registered: 09/01/17
Posts: 522
Originally Posted By: Markyboard
You're not wrong...

I can't remember if you addressed this Grey but have you considered a poly analog? Something like an Andromeda or a Prophet 12 or ....? I'm not sure which box this doesn't check but it sure seems more in line with what you're trying to accomplish.


Dammit, I just knew you were going to say that!

The Little Phatty, somehow, manages to propagate voice selection and control changes down the line. The Moog videos show the guy twisting knobs on the keyboard, at which point all the Slim Phattys behind him obediently track what he's doing. Cute demo. I was hoping that the Voyager/RME setup would have something similar. Maybe it does, but doesn't include the patch bay, even though that's basically just a variation on the voltages determined by the knob settings.

I think I mentioned above that the Dave Smith stuff just doesn't sound right to me, though I'd be hard pressed to describe why.

The Andromeda is an unknown quantity to me. I've never seen one and can't say that I know of a track that uses one, such that I could say, "Ah ha! The sound of an Andromeda!" I'll do a bit of homework on that later.

Grey
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I'm not interested in someone's ability to program. I'm interested in their ability to compose and play.

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#2891097 - 11/18/17 10:00 AM Re: Modular synths [Re: mate stubb]
GRollins Offline
Gold Member

Registered: 09/01/17
Posts: 522
Originally Posted By: mate stubb
I think Grey is fixed on the Moog sound. Memorymoog anyone?


I know they exist(ed), but don't know anything about them. I have the vague impression that they're a pretty old design, yes? Late '70s? '80s? If I'm right in thinking that they're that old, how reliable are/were they? I know that the Model Ds from the '70s are still around, but that doesn't necessarily mean that other models have fared as well.

More homework.

Actually, if they're as old as I'm thinking, do they support MIDI?

Grey
_________________________
I'm not interested in someone's ability to program. I'm interested in their ability to compose and play.

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#2891102 - 11/18/17 10:15 AM Re: Modular synths [Re: GRollins]
mate stubb Offline
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Posts: 15591
Originally Posted By: GRollins


I think I mentioned above that the Dave Smith stuff just doesn't sound right to me, though I'd be hard pressed to describe why.


Careful with this statement. Dave has produced a series of instruments (Evolver, P8, Mopho, etc.) which a lot of people find somewhat underwhelming sounding. A lot of this is attributed to the particular Curtis filter chip he used in everything, and some attribute it to his DCO circuitry being too precise.

BUT....

After that, Dave has produced instruments with different filters which sound a lot different. Listen to the Pro-2, Prophet 6, and even the Obie 6. They all use new discrete filter designs and sound a lot more exciting than the old ones did.
_________________________
Moe
---
Kawai Novus: "Please feel surprised even more."

http://www.hotrodmotm.com

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#2891104 - 11/18/17 10:19 AM Re: Modular synths [Re: GRollins]
mate stubb Offline
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10k Club

Registered: 10/26/03
Posts: 15591
Originally Posted By: GRollins
Originally Posted By: mate stubb
I think Grey is fixed on the Moog sound. Memorymoog anyone?


I know they exist(ed), but don't know anything about them. I have the vague impression that they're a pretty old design, yes? Late '70s?


I was kidding. Memorymoogs are hard to get to a state where they are reliable. Polymoogs on the other hand...

I kid! I kid!

See my post above about the newer Dave Smith instruments.
_________________________
Moe
---
Kawai Novus: "Please feel surprised even more."

http://www.hotrodmotm.com

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#2891106 - 11/18/17 10:22 AM Re: Modular synths [Re: mate stubb]
Marzzz Offline
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Registered: 11/24/00
Posts: 2356
Loc: Scottsdale, AZ
Originally Posted By: mate stubb
Dave has produced a series of instruments (Evolver, P8, Mopho, etc.) which a lot of people find somewhat underwhelming sounding. A lot of this is attributed to the particular Curtis filter chip he used in everything
Exactly- other than the PolyEvolver, I just never really liked the sound of DSI synths, that is until...
Originally Posted By: mate stubb
BUT....After that, Dave has produced instruments with different filters which sound a lot different. Listen to the Pro-2, Prophet 6, and even the Obie 6. They all use new discrete filter designs and sound a lot more exciting than the old ones did.
Yes, when he came out with the Prophet 6, it was a revelation. And the OB-6 is even more amazing. I just wish it was an OB-8, but it still really has that 80's OB/SEM vibe...

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#2891115 - 11/18/17 11:54 AM Re: Modular synths [Re: Marzzz]
Markyboard Offline
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Registered: 02/10/01
Posts: 5169
Loc: Springfield, Virginia
OK Grey - I've made my decision and I don't want to hear anymore arguing from you.

No modulars - its the wrong tool for you. It won't get you where you want to go and you won't enjoy the ridiculous amount of time needed to approach the sounds in your head. I forbid you to further consider this option and would have you change this thread title if possible.

Multi Voyagers, Phattys, Model Ds: No better then modular for your purpose. You're trying to make the Voyager (or Model D) into something it's not. Even if the external patching never existed I would tell you this is a clumsy expensive approach that will leave you unsatisfied. I also find it hard to believe that every sound in your head is achievable with a Moog, as good as they can sound from the right person. I forbid this approach.

Find a way to try out a number of poly-analogs or virtual analogs (eg. Solaris) that grabs you. Spend a few hundred bucks and take a trip to Washington Music Center or similar. It's chump change compared to the investment you're talking about. Marshal (aka Marzzz) is right; the Dave Smith OB6 and Prophet6 sound awesome. You could buy both and cover a lot more ground then any of your mono schemes. If you're set on the Moog sound do it mono and multi-track with your Phatty; or replace with a single Voyager or Sub37. That's what they're designed for. Then go enhance it with a poly.

Get off the 3 oscillator mindset and use your ears. Videos are deceiving and you've built up this mystique in your head of what might be. I love 3 osc monos - I have a few. But as a poly - no way! I think someone (Real MC?) tried to warn you about this already. Also with monos, get off the "has to come with 5 octaves". Midi will solve this if/when needed. If you want to play piano - get a piano.

OK - sorry for the harshness (and I'm 57.2% joking). I get you're just posting out loud and brainstorming. But seriously some of your ideas are just a bit wacko IMO.

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#2891128 - 11/18/17 01:23 PM Re: Modular synths [Re: Markyboard]
JerryA Online   content
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Registered: 08/02/00
Posts: 7000
Loc: New England
Originally Posted By: Markyboard
No modulars - its the wrong tool for you.


grin


+100 On OB6 and Prophet 6. Grey, they sound warm and huge. There is a world of sound in Polymod alone. smile


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#2891182 - 11/19/17 03:22 AM Re: Modular synths [Re: Markyboard]
GRollins Offline
Gold Member

Registered: 09/01/17
Posts: 522
Originally Posted By: Markyboard
No modulars - its the wrong tool for you. It won't get you where you want to go and you won't enjoy the ridiculous amount of time needed to approach the sounds in your head. I forbid you to further consider this option and would have you change this thread title if possible.

Get off the 3 oscillator mindset and use your ears.

...some of your ideas are just a bit wacko IMO.


My analyst told me, that I was right out of my head
The way he described it, he said I'd be better dead...
--Annie Ross--

I started in listening to the Andromeda and right off the bat I knew something wasn't working. Finished two demos and gave up. Went to researching the thing and...two oscillators.

Huh.

You seem to believe that I've built three oscillators up in my mind as an abstract, theoretical exercise; that I should drop that and go listen. Actually, it's the other way around. It's listening that's brought me to where I am; to starting this thread. I tried to figure out why I liked some synths and not others. One of the baselines turned out to be the number of oscillators. 1 oscillator (e.g. the Mother 32). Non-starter. Pathetic. 2 oscillators (my Little Phatty). Marginal--okay for some patches, some of the time. 3 oscillators (D, Voyager). Much better--not a guaranteed success, of course, but a much richer tonal palette to work with.

Okay...so if 3 is good, then maybe...4? 5? More? That's what led me to the modular idea; start stacking oscillators. Sadly, at this point, I'm willing to concede that the time-building-patches thing will probably be a booger, but I didn't arrive at the modular idea on a whim. There was a method to my madness, so to speak. I want a rich sound and was considering multiple oscillators to get it. Unfortunately, it seems that the practical aspects will be daunting.

Note that I'm not saying that I can necessarily detect whether something has two oscillators by ear--at least I won't guarantee I can do it reliably, as a parlor trick--but I know instantly something is wrong with the sound (at least for my purposes).

On to the OB6/Prophet 6. Well, yeah, it's pretty much the same general sort of sound that I thought I remembered. It's...lighter in weight than I want, for want of a better way to describe it. Just as--if not more--damning, is the fact that every single voice that comes out of the thing sounds like an excerpt from a sci-fi movie soundtrack. That's not at all what I'm looking for. Now, don't get me wrong...I like science fiction. In fact, I've had the better part of fifty science fiction stories published, so you might say that I like sci-fi a lot. It's just not the music I hear in my head. I think it's the "house sound" for Dave Smith in the same way that Moog has a house sound that's distinct and different from other manufacturers. (In that same vein, I've never warmed to Roland keyboards. Their sounds just don't work for me.)

And though polyphonic it may be, it's got...wait for it...two oscillators. (No, I didn't cheat and look up the hardware specs before listening.) The voices are (I'm trying for yet another descriptive term) thin. Tissue thin. There's no there, there. It's like you can see through the voice.

I think I'm going to have to simply quit listening to two oscillator machines. I've already got one. I want to move ahead, not laterally. More complexity, not more of the same.

That said, I think that you, I, and several others posting in this thread are converging on the same idea: that a modular system isn't where I need to go, at least at this time. The journey is not where I'm at--I want to get to the destination.

JerryA,
You've got a strange way of trying to sell me on the idea of an OB6/Prophet 6...by posting a video featuring "the most annoying sound in the world."

Hmmm...methinks it's reverse psychology!
(Maybe he works for Moog and is trying to get me away from DSI.)

Grey

P.S.: To the person who wrote to say that they were watching this thread, being on a similar journey: Just because I'm backing away from modulars doesn't mean that you should. You do what's right for your ears. Okay?
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#2891190 - 11/19/17 04:56 AM Re: Modular synths [Re: GRollins]
JerryA Online   content
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Originally Posted By: GRollins
JerryA,
You've got a strange way of trying to sell me on the idea of an OB6/Prophet 6...by posting a video featuring "the most annoying sound in the world."

Hmmm...methinks it's reverse psychology!
(Maybe he works for Moog and is trying to get me away from DSI.)


No, I screwed up. facepalm grin

But at least we illustrated that modular is probably not for you. cop

I have a slim phatty which I run external signals into and run "vintage-izing CV signals" into as well. If it were polyphonic, it would be a dream synth but it would still have only two oscillators because sometimes you want that sound. If you are not a Moog guy, perhaps you are a ladder filter guy?

Hear are a couple more ways to skin this cat:

1) buy a (mono-synth) with a ton of oscillators and open patching like the GRPA4 or Matrixbrute
2) buy one of the more boutique polysynths with ladder filter and (sometimes) an extra oscillator or suboscillator

1) The GRP A4




Some candidates for 2)

2) Studio Electronic Omega 8





2) Modal 008



2) Modal 002



Each of them is serious coin .... but less than a Moog 15 and you can tell your SO it doesn't hog the space like a grand piano. grin

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#2891197 - 11/19/17 06:44 AM Re: Modular synths [Re: GRollins]
Markyboard Offline
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First let me say I'm thrilled that we're talking synths here. Seems to be limited topics on using synths so thanks for your continued thoughtful viewpoints.

If someone were to post about what a waste it is to have 3 oscillators on a synth I'd be taking a completely different stance. As I stated earlier I have a number of 3 oscillator synths and I LOVE 3 oscillator synths - especially monos. They take me places in my sound exploration/noodling that a 2 oscillator synth would not. And they're simply just plain fun. But I also listen to the guys here that actually make real music with these toys. You want powerful, you want thick deep bass, you want balls of sound? It's way more about the arrangements and mixing and knowing which tools to use when and how to use them effectively.

I remember forum member Carlo (aka Marino) telling me that the best way to judge a synth is with a single oscillator. If you cant make that synth shine with a single oscillator then what is the 2nd or 3rd oscillators really doing for you? My fragile ego didn't buy into this at the time, but knowing and respecting the sounds and music he produces I took his "lesson" home with me. It continues to greatly influenced my approach to sound creation. I get it now - even though I can't come close to doing what Carlo does. But as I scroll through my 3 oscillator Memorymoog patches and 4 osc Poly Evolver patches, many are only using 2 oscillators.

There's so much more to a synth than the oscillators (I know you know this) but the interaction between modules and how you drive each stage, and various type filters and then the VCA...it's a complex system. And all this ends up on just one track that may need to work with many. So to claim that all those wonderful classic 2 oscillator synths just don't do it for you...based on computer demos? Really?

If it were me I'd be thinking maybe I'm missing something here; maybe there's another approach, perhaps a better way? Also I'll state it again - you need to have hands on with these synths through decent monitors and actually turn knobs trying to create a selection of sounds that you're after. IMO demos don't tell you shit (or are at best very limited) when you're into rolling your own.

Of course you may be another one of those guys who's sound I admire with your approach, so what do I know? Just remember Uncle Ben's last words to Peter Parker;

"With 3 oscillators comes great responsibility".


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#2891199 - 11/19/17 06:56 AM Re: Modular synths [Re: JerryA]
Markyboard Offline
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Originally Posted By: JerryA

1) The GRP A4





Thanks ...Jerry!!! mad wink

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#2891224 - 11/19/17 10:06 AM Re: Modular synths [Re: Markyboard]
mate stubb Offline
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For more than 2 oscillators per voice, you may be headed into high quality VA territory.

Bowen Solaris (knobby, 4 oscillators, 4 filters, 6 envelopes, 4 LFOs PER VOICE. Includes Moog type oscillators and filters:



Access Virus (knobby, 3 oscillators, 2 filters, 3 LFO, 2 EG per voice, multitimbral)



Waldorf Blofeld (somewhat knobby, 3 oscillators, 2 filters, 3 LFO, 4 EG per voice)



I have been craving a Blofeld to play with. They are affordable and I think they sound great.

All of these machines have oscillators that do not just analogue but wave table, granular or other types of synthesis. I heard Virus like sounds all over the new Blade Runner score. Listen to demos of these 3 on YT.


Edited by mate stubb (11/19/17 10:13 AM)
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#2891229 - 11/19/17 10:31 AM Re: Modular synths [Re: mate stubb]
rod76 Offline
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Registered: 08/13/02
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Alesis Ion and the Korg KingKorg also have 3 Oscillators each.

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#2891233 - 11/19/17 11:01 AM Re: Modular synths [Re: rod76]
Marzzz Offline
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3 Oscillators...

One of the things I really love about the Moog D reissue is how absolutely amazing it sounds with just one oscillator. It just has that weight.

Now, I guess if you want a poly with 3 OSCs, you are looking at a refurbed (and good luck with that....) Memorymoog. But to me, the Memorymoog was just too powerful, there was little room for anything else when you were playing it. Only other synth with that kind of power was the Yamaha CS-80, and that was parallel one OSC architecture.

So as far as analog polysynths go, I am in the two OSCs are enough camp. When you are holding chords, there really is a lot going on sonically. I think save the 3 OSC for a mono synth, or a thinner-sounding VA. I thought the Andromeda sounded great with two OSCs, once you learned no to overload the signal path...

btw- Studioelectronics Omega/Code does sound very powerful, but I have this thing about polyAT. One of the reasons I am watching the development of the Deckard's Dream.

Hey Markyboard, two "L"s in my name, please ! wave

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#2891239 - 11/19/17 11:59 AM Re: Modular synths [Re: Marzzz]
Markyboard Offline
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End of discussion.

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#2891290 - 11/19/17 05:08 PM Re: Modular synths [Re: Markyboard]
Marzzz Offline
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Originally Posted By: Markyboard
End of discussion.

I am surprised it took this long to bring it up...! Are they still making them?

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#2891302 - 11/19/17 06:05 PM Re: Modular synths [Re: Markyboard]
mate stubb Offline
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Originally Posted By: Markyboard


End of discussion.


Hold on there bub. We can discuss this too! Python

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---
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#2891374 - 11/20/17 05:30 AM Re: Modular synths [Re: Markyboard]
BuckW Offline
Senior Member

Registered: 06/20/17
Posts: 127
Originally Posted By: Markyboard
Oh yeah, who could forget this (cough) beauty?



Drug dealers edition?

This is the synth the Alfred Molina character would have had in Boogie Nights between lighting firecrackers in his mansion.

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#2891384 - 11/20/17 06:04 AM Re: Modular synths [Re: mate stubb]
Markyboard Offline
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Originally Posted By: mate stubb


Hold on there bub. We can discuss this too! Python





2 osc/voice- I checked this and the Matrix 12 before posting the Schmidt. I'm actually surprised, are there really only 2 poly analogs with 3 or 4 osc/voice? Btw I'm waiting for my new neighbor Arun to get home to check out his Chroma- never played one before but it looks dreamy love

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#2891403 - 11/20/17 07:33 AM Re: Modular synths [Re: Marzzz]
GRollins Offline
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Posts: 522
Originally Posted By: Marzzz
One of the things I really love about the Moog D reissue is how absolutely amazing it sounds with just one oscillator. It just has that weight.


Actually, the Model D has three, not counting noise, etc. That's one of the things that's made it an enduring classic--it's got enough complexity to satisfy the ear.

All righty...lemme try this from a different perspective with the caveat that I'm under assault by germs and my mental portions ain't working so good.

(According to some, they don't work so good when I'm well, either...)

There was this critter named Fourier who lived in France back about 200 years ago. Smart cookie. He figured out that you can analyze waveforms as aggregates of sine waves. Now, this is mind-blowing stuff. Completely boggling.

Suppose you want a square wave but all you have on hand are sines. Well, you take one unit (let's say it's a volt) of the fundamental, then add 1/3 volt of the third harmonic, 1/5 volt of the fifth harmonic, 1/7 volt of the seventh harmonic, 1/9 volt of the ninth harmonic...in other words, add all the odd order harmonics in decreasing ratios, all the way out to infinity.

Ta da!

Instant square wave. Okay, okay, there are a few housekeeping details, but it really is that simple, conceptually.

This is exceedingly powerful stuff. And the cool thing is that it works in reverse, too. If you start with a square, you can filter it bit by bit, removing harmonics one at a time, until you get back to the original fundamental sine wave.

This is the basis of subtractive synthesis.

'Round about now, them what's knows this stuff are wondering if this is gonna be another one of those long, meandering posts that Grey is (in)famous for.

Yep.

Bear with me. I'm going somewhere with this.

Suppose we want to imitate a flute. Flutes are easy. Pretty much just a fundamental with a little second harmonic and third harmonic added for seasoning. So we start filtering down our square wave...whoa!...wait a minute!...a square wave ain't gots no second harmonic; all it has are odd-order harmonics. But, being resourceful lads, we reach out and flip the switch from square wave to sawtooth wave (fundamental, 1/2 second, 1/3 third, 1/4 fourth, 1/5 fifth...note the presence of even order harmonics) and filter it down. Add a little noise to simulate breath, possibly stick an LFO on the signal to vary the volume a bit, and we've got a passable imitation of a flute.

What about a guitar? That's going to get more complicated, but it's not too bad. We'll need more harmonics, both odd and even, to get the basic sound, but then we get into variables such as where the string is plucked. Still, it's manageable.

We could run through all the instruments, one by one, but that would take a while. The point is that some instruments have more complex waveforms than others. And our ability to create a passable imitation of a given instrument decreases with the increasing complexity of the instrument's waveform.

There are a number of factors in this, but one of the biggies is that if the human ear hears a sequence of harmonics arranged in a stack, it knows that the tones are related. It reduces the complexity of the sound, psychoacoustically, to one, single sound. Even if that's not what you intended.

So if you take one oscillator and set it for a triangle wave, then no matter what you do to the signal, your ear is not fooled. It still recognizes that as a single signal, even if you've wallpapered the room with harmonics...it's still one signal. So you need an entirely different signal with a slightly different fundamental frequency (aka "detuned") and/or an entirely different harmonic structure (square, if you started with sawtooth, or whatever), to satisfy the need for complexity. But even then, your ear is still going to reduce that to two waveforms, because it recognizes the harmonic structures as being related.

Incidentally, that's one reason why reverb is so popular. It helps decorrelates the signals, blurring the fact that there's not really that much going on, sonically. It helps fool the ear.

I want to emphasize that I'm not trying to recreate the sound of, say, a violin. What I do want is more complexity in a single note. Then I'll add those more complex notes together in the same manner as a symphony orchestra comprised of one hundred instruments playing in unison. No, I'm not saying that I want 100 note polyphony--I'm saying that instruments creating complex waveforms can work together and sound quite nice in the process. I think, for me, three to maybe eight note polyphony would be sufficient, but each note needs to have sufficient complexity to satisfy my ear if played as a single note. As I noted in a previous post, the breakover point--for me--seems to be around three oscillators. You're free to use one, two, whatever makes you happy.

Which is why I started considering modulars, even though it now looks as though that's going to be too much of a muchness for me, given my particulars.

Now perhaps you can see why I'm spending so much time contemplating oscillators...and we haven't even started filters (topology, order, implementation) yet.

Holy cow.

All right, that's enough for the moment. I'm pretty sick and need some down time. Hopefully, this made sense, 'cause my brain has been reduced to oatmeal and I'm having trouble keeping my thoughts straight. I caught one error--said triangle when I meant to say sawtooth--but that doesn't mean there aren't others. I'll try to patch things (ahem) up later, if necessary.

Grey
_________________________
I'm not interested in someone's ability to program. I'm interested in their ability to compose and play.

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#2891404 - 11/20/17 07:35 AM Re: Modular synths [Re: Markyboard]
CEB Offline
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Originally Posted By: Markyboard
....

I remember forum member Carlo (aka Marino) telling me that the best way to judge a synth is with a single oscillator. ...


Maybe it should be a separate topic but the question on What steps to take to judge a synth might be good. With me I start with does the keys feel good enough to warrant even turning the thing on. Then I go to single oscillators set it to triangle wave at it upper most ranges and listen for unwanted crap. Then repeat the process for sine waves. Especially critical with VA where you can get a lot of aliasing.

Then I check how good the bass on an individual oscillator basis is then all oscillators set to saw detuned and see how much hair can be dialed up but hair can have A LOT to do with gain staging and amplification.

To a certain extent waves are waves. The real character is in the filters.


Edited by CEB (11/20/17 07:40 AM)
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#2891417 - 11/20/17 08:08 AM Re: Modular synths [Re: GRollins]
Markyboard Offline
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Originally Posted By: GRollins


All right, that's enough for the moment. I'm pretty sick and need some down time. Hopefully, this made sense, 'cause my brain has been reduced to oatmeal and I'm having trouble keeping my thoughts straight.
Grey


GET BETTER GREY....GET BETTER!



laugh

(serious though I do hope you feel better soon)

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#2891446 - 11/20/17 10:51 AM Re: Modular synths [Re: Markyboard]
mate stubb Offline
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Originally Posted By: Markyboard


2 osc/voice- I checked this and the Matrix 12 before posting the Schmidt. I'm actually surprised, are there really only 2 poly analogs with 3 or 4 osc/voice? Btw I'm waiting for my new neighbor Arun to get home to check out his Chroma- never played one before but it looks dreamy love


Sir, you are looking at a Chroma plus Expander. They are both capable of layering via a single button press. With that setup, you can run 4 oscillators at once with still 8 voice polyphony, or 8 oscillators at once for 4 voice polyphony.

And that's before you do any multitimbral tricks to stack as many voices as you want (requires external computer to do that.)

I once sequenced the entire orchestral ending of Nights in White Satin with 2 Chromas and an Apple II for a concert. I could have desperately used a nice digital reverb (barely available back then) but otherwise it sounded pretty great.

_________________________
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---
Kawai Novus: "Please feel surprised even more."

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#2891447 - 11/20/17 10:57 AM Re: Modular synths [Re: CEB]
GRollins Offline
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Registered: 09/01/17
Posts: 522
Originally Posted By: CEB
With me I start with does the keys feel good enough to warrant even turning the thing on.


This is becoming increasingly important to me as I gain experience with keyboards (like the action on my Yamaha MM8, Kronos is slow and has a weird bounce at the bottom), but I can't change the physical keys...except when I can...

Which leads me to:

Does anyone have any hands-on experience with the M-Audio Hammer keyboard?

M-Audio Hammer keyboard

If I'm reading things properly, it may be so new that people haven't gotten their mitts on them yet. No, it doesn't seem that they've got 61/73/76, or at least I didn't see them.

NOTE: MF has them in one of their sales. 15% off >$150, which this qualifies for (they're $399). Something to ponder...if the keys feel good. The chance of one showing up around here to touch are nil. I'd have to buy blind if I was to get one, but someone in a better market might be able to give a report.

Grey
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I'm not interested in someone's ability to program. I'm interested in their ability to compose and play.

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#2891492 - 11/20/17 03:55 PM Re: Modular synths [Re: GRollins]
dsetto Offline
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Registered: 01/28/15
Posts: 542
Loc: Los Angeles
Which one of these is most important to you?
- deeply compelling raw tone
- deeply flexible
- polyphony 4-8 voice

are you willing to go the route of one polyphonic, one monophonic - neither one meeting all 3 criteria in isolation, but all 3 criteria met in the pair, under $6k?

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#2891513 - 11/20/17 05:52 PM Re: Modular synths [Re: GRollins]
Marzzz Offline
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Registered: 11/24/00
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Originally Posted By: GRollins
Originally Posted By: Marzzz
One of the things I really love about the Moog D reissue is how absolutely amazing it sounds with just one oscillator. It just has that weight.

Actually, the Model D has three, not counting noise, etc. That's one of the things that's made it an enduring classic--it's got enough complexity to satisfy the ear.

OK, let me rephrase that. One of the things I really love about the Moog D reissue is how absolutely amazing it sounds when using just one of its three oscillators.

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#2891547 - 11/20/17 08:09 PM Re: Modular synths [Re: Marzzz]
mate stubb Offline
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roll
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---
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#2891577 - 11/21/17 12:54 AM Re: Modular synths [Re: dsetto]
GRollins Offline
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Registered: 09/01/17
Posts: 522
Originally Posted By: dsetto
Which one of these is most important to you?
- deeply compelling raw tone
- deeply flexible
- polyphony 4-8 voice

are you willing to go the route of one polyphonic, one monophonic - neither one meeting all 3 criteria in isolation, but all 3 criteria met in the pair, under $6k?


Tone is most important for me. Paramount. Tops. Ne plus ultra.

Flexibility is in the eye of the beholder. What use are 440 knobs if you still can't get a tone you like? On the other hand, if you've just nailed the tone, the fact that you did it with three knobs becomes irrelevant. So, with that in mind, I'd say that flexibility, per se, is not necessarily all that important, as long as I can get the tones I want.

Polyphony is in second place. I can get a couple of decent tones out of my Little Phatty, but then I screw up because I'm not paying attention and I try to play a chord. Suddenly I'm playing a G when I was originally playing a C (the Phatty's set to "play last note hit"). It's not like the Note Police are going to arrest me, but it's annoying. Poly chaining would get me there but, at least within the Phatty system, I'm limited to the two oscillators and no noise.

Did I mention I'd like noise? I'd like noise. Sometimes. Phattys ain't gots no noise. Bummer.

And, yes, I got the email from Moog saying stuff's on sale. Mucho on sale. Now that's just downright evil. Suddenly brand new Voyager XLs are down in the upper end of the used range. Ditto for Model Ds. Now, Voyagers will poly chain using RMEs. As far as I know, there's no rack mount D and I'm not sure that Ds will poly chain anyway.

The Behringer D is still an unknown quantity at this time.

For that matter, there's an awful lot of modular stuff on sale at the moment, but I think I'm going to close my eyes and pretend that I don't see those items.

Grey
_________________________
I'm not interested in someone's ability to program. I'm interested in their ability to compose and play.

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#2891578 - 11/21/17 01:05 AM Re: Modular synths [Re: Marzzz]
GRollins Offline
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Registered: 09/01/17
Posts: 522
Originally Posted By: Marzzz
OK, let me rephrase that.


The English language is a marvelous and versatile tool for communication, but that doesn't mean it's always as precise as we'd like. I'm all the time saying things that come out wrong...just read any five posts I've written here. Chances are, at least one out of the five went astray in some way.

It's my super power.

Oh, and while I'm at it, I might as well throw in that--barring winning the lottery--the idea of $10k keyboard systems just ain't gonna get off the ground. I never made all that much money when I was working and now that I'm retired...well, unless Steven Spielberg options one of my stories, I'm going to have to keep this semi-rational.

Grey
_________________________
I'm not interested in someone's ability to program. I'm interested in their ability to compose and play.

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#2891603 - 11/21/17 06:13 AM Re: Modular synths [Re: GRollins]
GRollins Offline
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Registered: 09/01/17
Posts: 522
Something I should have posted earlier regarding the whole poly chain thing:

YouTube video--Polyphonic Slim Phatty Chain

From about 1:00-1:15, the Moog guy (it's an official Moog video) is cranking knobs on a Little Phatty, demonstrating that all the Slims in the background are following what he's doing.

If I can get polyphony in one chassis, wonderful. We can call that Plan A. If I can't, then Plan B is to poly chain. Plan C will be to give up polyphony and stick with mono--it's not a deal killer, but it's a big step down.

As far as tone goes, I know I like the Moog house sound. Unfortunately, the Dave Smith house sound leaves me cold. The various modular companies are hard to judge because, by their very nature, modular systems aren't generally set up comparing analogous (ahem) systems with equivalent modules from one mfg. vs. another. Well, that and the expense. There aren't going to be a lot of people with the cash to do that and why have two equivalent systems anyway? Build them differently so as to get more variation in sounds.

The boutique builders are expensive. When you're talking 12-13k Euros for that tubed synth that came up in the Hammond Novachord thread, I'm out of the game.

It may be that my appetite is bigger than my wallet. It won't be the first time that's happened. I may have to give up polyphony and go with a D or a Voyager (possible later poly chain?). Either of those new would be a stretch, even on sale. More likely used would be the ticket. The Behringer? I could do new on that pretty easily. It's still not clear to me whether they poly chain. Behringer's mum. They still--just checked--don't admit that the unit exists, even though there are apparently scads of the things in the field for evaluation. So...no way to download an owner's manual and read through that.

I'm sitting here wrapped in blankets with just my eyes peeking out the top, trying to stay warm while the confounded germs storm my gates. I'm going to take a few minutes and catch up on some of the demo videos that you kind folks have provided.

The C, I've seen. Schmidt, yes? Big bucks. >US$20k. Be the first on your block to...well, never mind. I'm not a good enough keyboardist to justify the machinery that I've got on hand; I've just been very, very fortunate in that the Great Bear sent me the A-100 and the Kronos at prices that I could justify. It doesn't really matter whether the Schmidt sounds good or not, I'll never be able to justify that sort of money for a keyboard. It's like talking about owning a Ferrari. If I see a Ferrari in a parking lot, I'll go over and look at it, but I'm not going to go to a Ferrari dealership and kick the tires. It's pointless and the condescending looks of the salesmen would wound my soul.

The others, I will look into, so thanks for the links. It'll be good passive entertainment.

Grey
_________________________
I'm not interested in someone's ability to program. I'm interested in their ability to compose and play.

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#2891604 - 11/21/17 06:16 AM Re: Modular synths [Re: GRollins]
dsetto Offline
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Registered: 01/28/15
Posts: 542
Loc: Los Angeles
I just hashed this out, & see you've addressed a lot of what I wrote. Oh well. ...

Ok, from everything you've written, Voyager-polychained seems to be a leading hypothetical. Go find out how well that works. I don't know.

[This rare Moog sale's got me thinking they're trying to make some room. The other end of that process may be something you're interested in. Now, that's an evil thing to bring up. Others talk of the Yeti.*]

Deeply moving raw tone in a sufficiently-polyphonic, 3-oscillator package, for the common man - in terms of pricing, configuration energy, and portability - is towards Yeti, in stores, in 2017. (You've mentioned no concern about portability - but that's a thing for some, too.)

--
I think MarkyBoard's advice has been spot on. Monophonic for it, polyphonic for it. The trouble is in satisfying the itches in fewest scratches. As MB said, one of each certainly covers the gamut.

Perhaps, spend live time with the boards in question. ... Perhaps, sit down with some DSI. P6, OB-6. … The Rev2 whose raw tone does not meet your #1, and is excess of your polyphony, when stacked, it can be 4 osc + 2 sub osc + 6 EG's (2 unassigned) + 8 LFO's + 2 modulation step sequencers, on a terrific 61 key. Stacked, that’s 4-voice for $1500. 8 for $2k. No, its raw saw, or filtered saw is not that of its VCO siblings or Moog’s. Each of those are the combinations they are.

Add a 3-osc Moog to one of those 2-osc or 4-osc DSI's. (That may be music & sound hunt satisfying.) D, as a portable, neutered 15. Or Voyager for chain dreams & greater programmability. If things continue like the past 5 years, the analog landscape’s gonna evolve in this next 6-12 months. Good luck.


* But, what if this Yeti is real. What if it’s “only” a 2-osc, ‘sub 37’-par poly? … What-ifs are evil. But I feel like I’m doing you a disservice to not share what I believe are possibilities, in light of making suggestions of things that exist today. … one of which is surprisingly, deeply, and momentarily discounted - and soon-to-be discontinued. And a recurring & sound thread suggestion.

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#2891606 - 11/21/17 06:25 AM Re: Modular synths [Re: Marzzz]
The Real MC Offline
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Originally Posted By: Marzzz
Only other synth with that kind of power was the Yamaha CS-80, and that was parallel one OSC architecture.


And the Oberheim OBX/OBXa/SEM polysynths. Strangely enough, the Oberheims and Memorymoog seem to coexist peacefully.

Quote:
So as far as analog polysynths go, I am in the two OSCs are enough camp. When you are holding chords, there really is a lot going on sonically. I think save the 3 OSC for a mono synth, or a thinner-sounding VA. I thought the Andromeda sounded great with two OSCs, once you learned no to overload the signal path...


Two VCOs is enough for an analog polysynth, but 3rd VCO is very useful in the voice mod section of the Memorymoog as a modulator. There's another world of sound palettes there. Using the 3rd VCO as an LFO that can track the keyboard is a really cool feature, especially combined with filter EG modulating the modulation depth of the 3rd VCO. I exploit that a lot on my Voyager too.

Memorymoog is also a very good monophonic too.

They are also handyman's specials. Stock ones are a service nightmare. They can be overhauled into a more reliable machine but it is a lot of work.

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#2891607 - 11/21/17 06:28 AM Re: Modular synths [Re: dsetto]
dsetto Offline
Gold Member

Registered: 01/28/15
Posts: 542
Loc: Los Angeles
If this is cold, I know I can still make warmth with it.
"been here", prophet rev2

At once, I both agree & disagree with you on your assessment of DSI. As a piano player, I yearn for gobs of polyphony & possibilities of timbral complexity. I believe the different assessments arise from different perspectives and needs. I'm not trying to convince you, though it sounds as I am. I'm not. I am simply trying to be helpful. I believe I understand your pursuit.

edit 1: I also want best timing.
edit 2: If you can make a 3-4 voice poly-chained Voyager work for you, that could sound glorious. I'll stay tuned to your exploration on that.


Edited by dsetto (11/21/17 06:48 AM)
Edit Reason: timing & glory

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#2891701 - 11/21/17 12:05 PM Re: Modular synths [Re: Marzzz]
GovernorSilver Offline
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Registered: 03/22/06
Posts: 5508
Loc: Washington DC
Originally Posted By: Marzzz

btw- Studioelectronics Omega/Code does sound very powerful, but I have this thing about polyAT. One of the reasons I am watching the development of the Deckard's Dream.



Add me to the list of peeps keeping an eye on this beast. Sounds damned good to me even if it "only" has 16 VCOs.

Just noticed a rackmount expander is planned, to add a couple of analog FX and CV inputs.
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#2891858 - 11/22/17 06:44 AM Re: Modular synths [Re: GovernorSilver]
GRollins Offline
Gold Member

Registered: 09/01/17
Posts: 522
This being sick thing has taken the wind out of my sails. I'm going to do a partial catch-up. A lot of people have suggested various keyboards and I spent some time yesterday listening to some--not all--of them. I knew from the git-go that I wouldn't be able to keep all of them straight in my head, so I took brief notes. The notes may or may not make sense to others, but I'm going to post them as-is, because if I do a full "review" of each keyboard, we'll be here forever.

***************************************************************

GRP A4--price not clear, but appears to be at least $3-4k, sound is pretty good, don’t need arpeggiator/sequencer

Studio Electronics Omega 8--son of a bitch--maybe I really can do this after all--had it pegged as 2 osc. just from the sound

Modal 008--ditto, uninvolving

Modal 002--worse, headed wrong direction, sounds like a toy piano

Bowen Solaris--E3200--fair sound (at least as configured, “osc inserts?” whuzzat?), close, but no cigar, ~$4k--won’t rule it out (maybe change “inserts”), but it’s not grabbing me--not seeing that four osc. are doing anything useful vs. three from current sounds

Access Virus--unfortunate name for someone who’s sick--not liking the sound--too tired to research

Waldorf Blofeld--might be worth another look later

***************************************************************

Notes about the notes:
--I don't remember whether I've said before, but I don't need an arpeggiator or sequencer to do what I want to do. Given that they add to the cost, I'd rather not have to pay for it. If it's part of The Ultimate Keyboard, then I guess it'll be part of the package, but it'll probably just collect dust.
--E3200 in the Solaris note means 3200 Euros--just checking on the general price range.
--Clearly, no one is going to hire me as a keyboard reviewer. I don't fit into the, "if you're shopping for a keyboard in this price range, you've got to try this one!" mold.

I'm not trying to step on anyone's toes, here. I know that you guys are trying to be helpful and that some of you own these boards or are gassing for them. Please don't take it personally if I'm not getting off on "your" keyboard. Also factor in that I may not be as tactful at the moment as I should be--blame the germs if I seem grumpier than usual.

This Moog sale is interesting. Given that Moog currently has no flagship keyboard based on current technology and that they're pushing the existing stock pretty hard (XLs going for 20% off at this writing--a pretty healthy discount), I have to wonder if they're trying to clear the decks for a new top-o'-the-line board.

Also factor in that they will be intensely aware of the Behringer Model D...and its pricing vis-a-vis their Model D. That's some serious pressure. There's no way that they can come anywhere close to matching that price and still manufacture the things here in the US. Yes, I know they've discontinued their Model D Reissue, but still...the mere existence of the Behringer at that price point is going to be a major factor in their decision making process.

So, whither Moog?

I was reading some stuff posted online after Moog announced that they were discontinuing the Voyager RME. People were "certain" that Moog was on the verge of releasing a polyphonic board, that it would be this and that and the other thing. Bear in mind that this was 2 1/2 years ago. Nothing of the sort has happened--at least not yet. However, they still had the keyboard version of the XL in their lineup at that time. That's no longer true.

How long can/will they continue with their current product structure? Their website has a lot of links, but the majority of them say some variation of, "Not in production at this time." Lots of sizzle. No steak. That will need to change, pronto, if they're going to stay in business.

Grey
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#2891879 - 11/22/17 07:56 AM Re: Modular synths [Re: GRollins]
mate stubb Offline
Grand Poobah of the Trebuchet
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Don't hold your breath for a polyphonic Moog. Look up "Arp Avatar."
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#2891914 - 11/22/17 09:08 AM Re: Modular synths [Re: mate stubb]
CEB Offline
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Registered: 06/03/09
Posts: 12551
Gear is overrated. Half the classic sound was amplification. People use pussy digital amps these days.
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#2891921 - 11/22/17 09:53 AM Re: Modular synths [Re: CEB]
GRollins Offline
Gold Member

Registered: 09/01/17
Posts: 522
Moe,
I'm not expecting that they will go for a polyphonic board (and even if they were to do so, the price would be stratospheric)--that was other people talking pipe dreams. Moog's strategy of late has been to sell a monophonic board and a bunch of add-ons to keep you coming back. I imagine they'll probably hew closely to that same line.

CEB,
We're on the same page. Convenience (in this case meaning weight) has driven a lot of the "innovation" seen in music since, well, the seventies.

I think I've mentioned this before, but I've got a humble Hafler P-500 amp (250W/ch 8 Ohms) that simply blows the friggin' doors off of any and all of the current amps with switching power supplies. Very few people bother to A/B compare amps. They play it a few minutes and if music comes out, they decide that it sounds good.

Having lighter equipment is nice. My back isn't what it was and it got to the point where I took the Hafler out of my rack and put a QSC in. But I did so acknowledging that I was taking a dramatic hit in terms of sound quality, even if the supposed power of the QSC was almost twice as high with more-or-less equal specs (any "improvements" in the specs were in the QSC's favor).

I could go into the whichness of the whyfors, but that's a different thread for a different day.

In twenty, thirty years, I doubt we're going to see many people trying to get that "classic 2017 sound" in amplification. Keyboards? Maybe. But amps? Not on your life. Current stuff is lighter and smaller, but that doesn't mean it sounds good compared to "real" amps.

Grey
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#2891946 - 11/22/17 12:29 PM Re: Modular synths [Re: GRollins]
mate stubb Offline
Grand Poobah of the Trebuchet
10k Club

Registered: 10/26/03
Posts: 15591
Originally Posted By: GRollins
Very few people bother to A/B compare amps. They play it a few minutes and if music comes out, they decide that it sounds good.


Ha ha!

Best amplification I ever had:



It was a 3 way ported cabinet of my own design, with JBL 2215 15" woofer, JBL 2208 8" midrange, JBL 2420 horn driver. Biamped with a Crown DC300 power amp. Thundrous!

Pontiac Firebird emblem optional.
_________________________
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---
Kawai Novus: "Please feel surprised even more."

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#2891961 - 11/22/17 02:12 PM Re: Modular synths [Re: mate stubb]
GRollins Offline
Gold Member

Registered: 09/01/17
Posts: 522
Biamping is the way to go, man. I'm a big believer in multi-amp rigs.

The silver lining to my unable-to-find-people-to-play-with cloud is that I can load up on the absolute heaviest, most impractical, hi-fi gear there is, 'cause I'll never have to carry it anywhere!

Sounds friggin' wonderful. Just came up from the Dungeon--been playing music for the first time in days and although the germs still have me in their sway, I'm a (relatively) happy camper. Been missing my tunes, sumpin' awful.

Grey
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I'm not interested in someone's ability to program. I'm interested in their ability to compose and play.

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#2892045 - 11/23/17 07:18 AM Re: Modular synths [Re: GRollins]
GRollins Offline
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Registered: 09/01/17
Posts: 522
I listened to some more Solaris demos and I'm to the point where I almost see it as living in some alternate, parallel universe. Not necessarily something I'd want as a Moog-replacer, but more as a separate item of interest. The kind of thing I might want to look into later on. Expensive though, and apparently very much a limited production item--not the sort of thing you order from MF, et. al. on a whim.

I've also got another scheme in mind--one I've been afraid to mention--but it seems feasible to me, at least as a thought experiment: To use the MIDI out on my Little Phatty to trigger one (or more) oscillators running in parallel with the two onboard oscillators.

1) This is predicated on the notion that the Little Phatty can be set to keep putting out its own audio signal when the MIDI is switched on, elseways I don't gain anything. Don't see that it wouldn't, and I know the MM8 can do it, because I'm running the internal voices of the MM8 in parallel with the voices from the XS rack unit through two separate channels on my mixer. Still, every time I count on something as a locked-down notion, reality smacks me across the face face and says, "Not so fast, Bub!" so I'd better check to make sure.
2) If I'm running the outboard oscillator(s) in parallel with the internal stuff, the tonality of the external stuff can be argued both pro and con. If it matches the "sound" of the Moog, then it would be an integral part of a greater whole. If it sounds different, then that might actually be interesting because it could broaden the tone somewhat.
3) Yes, I'm aware that the external hardware wouldn't auto-track when changing voices/parameters on the Little Phatty. It would need to be adjusted separately.
4) Just to be clear, this is not meant to be polyphonic in any sense. This is just a brute force method (assuming that #1 works out--it should, but...) to add another oscillator to the Phatty to phatten (ahem) the tone a bit. A poor man's Voyager, so to speak. The LP would continue to go into the mixer on one channel. The other oscillator would go in on another channel.

Little Phatty -> MIDI module -> VCO, ADSR, etc. -> mixer
|
direct to mixer

5) Hmmm...actually, I suppose that I could create a rough stereo image using the pan controls on the mixer. Not sure how believable it would be, but it might be worth a try.

Grey
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#2892079 - 11/23/17 09:39 AM Re: Modular synths [Re: GRollins]
JerryA Online   content
MP Hall of Fame Member

Registered: 08/02/00
Posts: 7000
Loc: New England
Originally Posted By: GRollins
I've also got another scheme in mind--one I've been afraid to mention--but it seems feasible to me, at least as a thought experiment: To use the MIDI out on my Little Phatty to trigger one (or more) oscillators running in parallel with the two onboard oscillators.


Grey, I too have been afraid to mention this as a solution lest it seem too Phatty-centric, but it seem one of the things you want is an analog monosynth with a ton of oscillators. Here's how I use my Slim Phatty with an S90ES, which is roughly analogous to your using the Little Phatty with your XS rack.

1) All sounds go through the phatty filter which blends them in a way nothing else can.

2) Secondary outputs on the Yamaha send left to pitch cv on Moog, right to audio in on Moog. Effects off. Pan the tones as you like. You can have white noise (or any combination of oscillators) with your Phatty. Audio into the Moog gets slightly overdriven so the Yamaha waveforms are as warm as you would hope for. Try it and you'll see.

3) Pitch mod inputs in the Phatty can receive white noise, (to make them sound ancient) audio rate signals for FM effects, or just horn style burps, etc.

4) You save each setting in the Yamaha for different timbres, and separately, you do your patch programming on the Phatty. The Phatty is the core sound, the Yamaha patches are different types of spices on it. You mix and match freely. On this track, the velocity sensitive attack-burps, the FM and the noise modulation that you hear beginning at 4.20 on this track is courtesy of the Yamaha modulating the Phatty's two oscillators. The conservative, lousy improvisation is courtesy of me.

https://soundcloud.com/user-276611702/stratus

I had bigger sounds (Yamaha saw waves at different octaves) through the Phatty available on another slider which I didn't happen to tap into cause I wimped out in the middle of the solo, ha! But that's a different lesson. The sound-design lesson is: your Phatty can be the core of a big monophonic sound. Do it with your yamaha xs, or add a Behringer D if you want to be unnecessarily "analog-purist" about it. Here's the thread where the brilliant guys on this forum helped me think through the Pitch CV approach:

http://forums.musicplayer.com/ubbthreads.php/topics/2560314/1

As you can see from this thread, they will work with you. A great community. thu

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#2892094 - 11/23/17 11:16 AM Re: Modular synths [Re: JerryA]
GRollins Offline
Gold Member

Registered: 09/01/17
Posts: 522
Funny you should mention the Behringer Model D...

About half an hour after I posted the above, it occurred to me ("Lightbulllb!" as Gru would put it) that it would be a really interesting solution to my situation.

1) Best case scenario is that it will poly chain. I was trying to ask about that in the Behringer Model D thread, but the bottom line was that everyone was just guessing--no one really knew whether it would or not.
2) Second best scenario is that it will run in parallel with the Little Phatty, giving me five Moog-flavored oscillators. Monophonic, yes, but (hopefully) rich as hell. Thick & creamy. Yum.
3) Third scenario (still haven't been downstairs to experiment with the LP...) is that--for whatever reason--the LP will not play in parallel with the D. I've still got a Moog Model D for 8.5% of the price of a real one. Fun toy, right? I can try the LP as a keyboard (only 37 keys--pretty limited) or get another keyboard (no one responded about the M-Audio Hammer--maybe M-Audio is a cuss word around here, or maybe it's just so new that no one has seen one, don't know). Regardless, it'll be a nifty thing to have in my arsenal.

So, with the above rationalizations in mind, I called MF and asked for a discount. Got one. Ordered one. Cool.

No, that doesn't mean that I'm considering all this as moot. The Behringer is an experiment. Lots cheaper than a mess of modular doo-dads and easier to fiddle with.

Grey


Edited by GRollins (11/23/17 11:18 AM)
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#2892610 - 11/27/17 03:36 AM Re: Modular synths [Re: GRollins]
JerryA Online   content
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Registered: 08/02/00
Posts: 7000
Loc: New England
Originally Posted By: GRollins
Ordered one. Cool.


Well done. The only way to put together these rigs is to be willing to try them out and see what happens. thu

Originally Posted By: GRollins
2) Second best scenario is that it will run in parallel with the Little Phatty, giving me five Moog-flavored oscillators. Monophonic, yes, but (hopefully) rich as hell. Thick & creamy. Yum.


cool

In addition, try running one into the other. Moog=>Behringer should be brighter than Behringer=>Moog. The (rare) resonant high pass filter on the Behringer should yield some interesting timbral variations when coupled with the Moog filter in series. (shawms, duduks, etc) Please keep us apprised of your adventures.

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#2892636 - 11/27/17 06:22 AM Re: Modular synths [Re: JerryA]
GRollins Offline
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Registered: 09/01/17
Posts: 522
It occurs to me that I wasn't as clear as I might have been regarding my Lightbulllb! The epiphany was actually #2, above.

I had reluctantly gone back to the idea of considering the modular route and trying to stack up a bunch of stuff behind the Little Phatty to be triggered via MIDI, so as to enrich the sound of the LP. Started thinking about the cost aspect. Started frowning. Then the realization hit that the Behringer D has not one, not two, but three oscillators, plus noise (which the LP doesn't have), LFO, VCF, etc. for $299. I don't think you could even buy that particular assortment of modular parts used for that price. My timing was fortuitous, in that I had this email ad staring at me, saying that it was Thanksgiving and to call for deals that weren't listed (the Behringer D wasn't; the Moog Model D was, but that's more money than I can justify putting into a keyboard at this time, even though it's on sale). So, what with the discount, Backstage Pass points, plus a smidgen more for the rebate that my credit card gives me, I get a pretty cheap synth to experiment with.

Now all I have to worry about is the fact that the ship date has been slipping. Here's hoping that it's simply due to the fact that they're so back ordered that they're having trouble keeping up with demand, rather than problems with the product. After all, Behringer doesn't have the best of reputations and the YouTube videos have all stressed that their evaluation units are prototypes, with various and sundry bugs being hinted at. I may end up being on the bleeding edge.

Another Evil Experiment I've got in mind is to use the D as a fancy guitar/bass effects pedal. It takes amplification to get the signal up enough to drive the LP, but I spent a couple of days not long after I got the Moog, playing bass through it. I eventually got tired of it, but it may be time for another round of fiddling. After all, it's right in the price realm of some of the boutique effects pedals out there.

I've almost come to the conclusion that there's little point in me buying a dedicated MIDI controller front end if I decide to run the D as a separate keyboard. Weirdly, there don't seem to be any 73/6 key units anywhere. Not one. The vast majority of the controllers are 61 keys and under; there are a mere handful of 88s. Given that I'd like 73/6 keys, minimum, that leaves me with a choice of, like, five or six 88s. Period. Two M-Audios, one Roland, and a couple of others that escape me at the moment. You've got the baseline M-Audio at ~$180 and it's got synth action, which I'd prefer to avoid, then the price jumps to ca. $400 for the M-Audio Hammer (which no one has weighed in on), then bouncing up to around $1k. Hmmm. At that point, I can buy a used "real" 73/6 or 88 keyboard, such as the Roland Fantom that's on my local CL. I'm not drawn to the Roland house sound, but hey, if I'm buying a MIDI controller and it just happens to come with 1000 voices built-in, who am I to complain? Not that I'm going to run right out and snag that particular keyboard--it's just an example. Hell, for that matter, I could nab a Yamaha MOXF8, which someone said has the same keybed that my MM8 has and go that route. Options abound. I'm afraid to start a "What's a good MIDI controller?" thread for fear of getting roasted, though the search engine doesn't turn up anything within the last year or whatever (although I fear that I and the local search function don't see eye to eye). I'm sure there are dozens of opinions scattered here and there as individual posts, but there's not an easy way to search for that. The search term "MIDI controller" inundates you with a bunch of pointless stuff. Oh, well. Maybe later.

By the way, I listened to Stratus. Pretty cool.

Grey
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