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Help me build a synth interface


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Help me build a simple but flexible synth interface with no more than 18 knobs. Primary purpose would be lead, bass, drone and occasional sound effect/percussion duties. In that order.


What would the essentials be? Here's what I have so far ...


1- Filter cutoff (LPF)

2- Resonance

3- Noise volume

4- Oscillator coarse pitch

5- Oscillator waveform ( the usual suspects)

6- Detune (knob for converging/diverging 2-3 oscillators)

7- Lfo rate (triangle?)

8- Lfo destination (filter, osc, amp)

9-12 Filter ADSR

13-16 Amp ADSR

17- Chorus Depth (post filter)

18- Waveshape/distortion depth (pre filter)


So what would you change? Would you want a multi-mode filter? Or the ability to change filter envelope depth? Or oscillator sync or FM? How about a ring modulator? Or a choice of LFO waveforms?


What would you give up? Would you simplify the envelopes to free up knobs? Maybe just have one envelope with selectable routings (e.g. filter, pitch+amp, amp, filter+amp)? Or pots to attenuate the level of the envelope into those destinations?


I realize I could get a Drehbank, but I really want a simple interface. Thanks for any advice you offer ...




PS: Also posted at the other place.

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Are you building a synth, Tusker? Or maybe a MIDI controller? I'm curious! :)


At first glance, here's what I'm missing in your list:


- A way to select waveforms for every individual oscillator. These could very well be switches, btw.


- If you're going to control more than two oscillators, a way to individually detune oscs 2 and 3. This becomes vital if you have osc sync capabilities.


- To me, controls for filter keyboard tracking and filter envelope amount would be essential. Both should allow negative values as well.


In my experience, allowing multiple duty for envelope knobs simply sucks. The SE-1 works like that: Two set of ADSR knobs for 4 envelopes. It's so frustrating that sometimes, I simply give up using the two assignable envs! :mad: At least, you would need some graphic or numeric display of where the actual values are, or endless encoders. Better yet, both. :)

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I'm sorry. Nothing that exciting. :o


I shoulda clarified. I'm using the 18 knobs on the Nord Modular for a monosynth. I could add something like a drehbank which has 64 knobs ...


... but I don't think I will be able to reach everything live if I do that. Or I could use the AN1X knobs, but again it makes things complicated. You just replace one problem with another. So instead I'm looking to really simple monosynth designs like the micron:




or some of the elements from a setup like the minimodular:




... or even something simple like a TB303.


And I'm looking for advice from you guys who have played a lot of analog synths. Making it a single oscillator synth wouldn't release enough knobs to add the keytracking and envelope amount knobs. So I maybe I need to forget the chorus and waveshaping. I know I can't have it all. Hence my question.



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In addition to what Marino said, and perhaps less important: if you're at all a fan of Joe Zawinul, you'll want ADSR for oscillator pitch. He only uses very tiny amounts, but goes a long way to reduce the mechanical/artificial sound of a synth.


Note that you'll want more parameters to set up a sound than you'll necessarily want to adjust live. So build a synth that makes sense, and then assign to knobs the parameters you'll actually change during live performance.


Bottom line is it takes more than 18 knobs! But 18 live knobs should be fine. (Or go for the 64-knob controller.)

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Thanks Jeff. I agree about the pitch control. I ride the pitch wheel/bender most of the time. Closer to Metheny's GR-Synth articulation than to Joe's. Nowhere near as controlled though. :o


I made some changes based on all your suggestions and came up with this:


1- Filter cutoff (LPF)

2- Resonance

3- Noise crossfade (crossfades the oscillators out as it fades in)

4- Osc 1/2 crossfade

5- Osc 1 waveform

6- Osc 2 waveform

7- Osc 2 pitch

8- Lfo rate and depth (combined)

9- Lfo destination (filter, osc pitch, osc pulse width, amp)

10-11 Special AD (envelope)

12- Special AD destination (filter, osc 2 pitch, or both)

13- Special AD depth (bidirectional, adjusts both depths concurrently)

14- Normal/Sync/FM toggle for Osc 1

15-18 Amp ADSR


What do you think? 18 knobs is too little. But I would like to optimize around that target and see what comes out, at least for now. BTW, I will also have a separate LFO=>pitch on the mod wheel.



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