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easel k worth the extra money for a modular noob?
MUFF WIGGLER Forum Index -> Buchla, EMS & Serge  
Author easel k worth the extra money for a modular noob?
smitty.west
i'm a complete noob when it comes to the world of modular synths-- i'm primarily a guitarist with some background in "traditional" synthesis--, but i frequently romanticize about my future with them.

the music easel has always appealed to me primarily due to the fact that it's a fully self-contained system; it's all there. sonic attributes aside, i just love the concept of having everything i need (for now) being at my fingertips.

i'm very close to pulling the trigger on an easel, but after being recently made aware of the "k" variant, am wondering if it's worth the extra money for a noob like me or if any advantage/difference would be lost given my skill set/knowledge.

coming from a relatively traditional musical upbringing, will the k's controller make sense to me? i'm a quick learner so will learn it if it's something completely counter-intuitive to me out the gate, but at the same time don't want to be left with a piece of kit that i'd be left making bleeps and bloops with exclusively (due to interface layout).

any info/feedback would be greatly appreciated.
dan_p
The touch plate controller is a great way to control a synth, no doubt about it. But I can't help feeling its a bit OTT for the easel. If you were going to grab some more Buchla then its definitely worth looking into. but I can't see how useful all the extra features like switches, pressure pads etc would yield just with the 208. The Easel is right there and is so easy to play, you just grab a slider and get tweaky. I"m not sure mapping each function to the controller would be any better, I don't know. maybe a little?

I had a 208r and a 223e so have used them together. I haven't used a 218e though so don't have direct experience. One thing I did use with my 208r all the time was a joystick (I had a 121d) so the hex pads on the 223e would be useful.

The 223e is by no means hard to programme but there is still some faff involved, I know you would could set it up once then almost forget it but then maybe that defeats the object of having all that power. I just see the Easel with the 218 as being quicker and more accessible almost. More immediate.

But the 223e is so very cool.
nickbaba
Hey Smitty - I'm kind of in the same boat as you - I'm after an Easel as my first step into Buchla and I like the look of the K model.
Not only in terms of function but hey it just looks way cooler than the keyboard version IMHO.
One thing to bear in mind is that there is only one 223e preset that can be stored in the Easel memory at a time e.g. you set up the 223e one way and it will remember that next time it's switched on, but only that, so you can't have multiple presets stored in memory as you can with other 200 series modules. Also you can't store any 223e set-ups on the iProgram card (I asked).
So whether that's an issue depends how you think you will use it. Myself I think I'll probably set-up an octave or so in 12 tone scale and some pressure/mod functions and leave it at that - as dan p says, most of the control in the easel is right there on the sliders... and as he also says, the 223e is just so very cool.
How many musical instruments (especially synths) have anything as alien and futuristic as the 223e to control them? Most synths are just basically electronic 18th Century pianos hehe...!!
Also FWIW you may be interested to know this, from a BEMI email to me: "the easel-k is a 2-4 week wait, if not sooner. The issue with the standard easel wait time is the keyboard section which has very long lead times…"
JamieH
I am in a similar position, i cant decide between standard Easel and Easel-K, I was thinking that if i wanted to play via a standard keyboard i could plug a midi keyboard in, the 223 does look pretty cool and the video's i have watched make it look very interesting, but i was leaning towards wanting my Easel to be slightly more musical in the way i use it, I have a eurorack that is great for bonkers noises... so basically im not sure what to do...

Not to mention the K is about £500 extra
Umcorps
It seems to me that the K is a good example of the truth of old saying that, when the only tool you have is a hammer, every problem looks like a nail.

The 223e is the only immediate response that BEMI have to the well known problems they have with sourcing the 218. I'm with dan_p on this. It's overkill. There isn't enough to the 218 to make full use of what the 223 offers. And it kind of starts to move the Easel away from being a self-contained instrument in its own right.

Don't get me wrong. I'd absolutely love a 223 in my hands. But I'd want it to come with a Skylab system attached at the very least.

Basically, BEMI have a problem and are asking you to pay a premium for the wrong solution.
3001
Are you sure the Easel is the best choice for all in one? Does it really have anything you'd want? It does not have filters, the envelope is rather limited. It's a great synth for what it is, but it might not fit all your demands... you might get underwhelmed. The way Don approaches it is unique, so at times it the terminology can get confusing but all and all the easel is very limited. I must mirror what other people said, I am not sure the 208/easel can really take advantage of the additional features of the 223e. Also it is kind of a pain in the ass to set up chromatically. 218 is great because it is set up already for you. Yet you can do different tunings which imho is the best reason for the 223e over the 218... the problem is you can only store one setting, and programming the 223e is not exactly fun either...
wsy
JamieH wrote:
I am in a similar position, i cant decide between standard Easel and Easel-K, I was thinking that if i wanted to play via a standard keyboard i could plug a midi keyboard in, the 223 does look pretty cool and the video's i have watched make it look very interesting, but i was leaning towards wanting my Easel to be slightly more musical in the way i use it, I have a eurorack that is great for bonkers noises... so basically im not sure what to do...

Not to mention the K is about £500 extra


Same here.... I was lusting after the Easel-K but then got a chance to play with the sound generator, and I hate to say it, but the Easel module isn't even
close to as much fun as a full modular Buchla.

In the fifteen minutes I had to play with the Easel sound generator, it seemed less fun than the Moog Voyager Electric Blue (which
I have & love). The Moog, new, is about $500 cheaper than the Easel, and $1200 cheaper than the Easel-K. But the budget ain't
gonna play well going to a three-boat Buchla at $15,000, so I'm kinda stuck.

[[Edit: I read the Buchla Easel manual cover to cover, and although there is *some* flexibility in the sound generation chain, it
may well be a proper subset of what the Moog Voyager can do, even without the expansion box. Haven't proved it to myself
yet... but it sure looks that way. And the Moog comes with 800+ memories and a touch surface. But that Thunder-derived controller
just looks sooooo cool.

Maybe someday...]]

- Bill
dkcg
The 223e is very cool, but seems way overkill for an easel. Especially since you can save a bunch of setups, scales, etc. and the easel already has a small sequencer you can use as an arp. It would be such a shame for the 223e's one preset to be used for imitating a 218.

I think if the 223e is the main attraction, save a bit more and get a skylab case and build it out. If the easel is the main attraction, get the 218 touch plates.
wsy
Mistake du jour: Watching this video:

http://www.synthtopia.com/content/2014/03/12/buchla-iprogram-card-over view/

Nothing like seeing and hearing what someone who really understands things to cloud my own judgement and reignite GAS.

So, a question: Does (or can) the 223e do the same things the normal keyboard do, as in the note, pressure, gate, and
arpeggiation? Or is that something that I'd lose going to an Easel-K ?

Question 2: I see a trimpot on the oscillators for scaling. Can the Easel-K be scaled to 1V/octave to be compatible with my other gear,
or is it 0.1 volts/note only and the trimpot doesn't have the control authority to get all the way to 1 volt per octave?

- Bill
Leoespejo
Answer 1: yes it can, although notes are a little difficult to tune in 223e if you want a 12 tone melody.

Answer 2: I'm not sure, but i'd say the answer is no. Buchla is 1.2 volts/oct. wich is the obvious way to go IMHO, but there are solutions in the market for your other gear. hihi
MATSmile
If you want something that can be tuned anyway you want go with 216, really rad module.
dkcg
wsy wrote:
So, a question: Does (or can) the 223e do the same things the normal keyboard do, as in the note, pressure, gate, and
arpeggiation? Or is that something that I'd lose going to an Easel-K ?


The radio outputs can be setup to give you a gate out, frequency (note), pressure, and location.
The arp has it's own set of outputs (frequency CV, pulse and not gate, and levels). A pad can be part of the radio outputs and/or the arpeggiator. I usually set mine up so the left half is radio output like a "normal" keayboard and the right is sent to the arpeggiator. I also have the pads in the middle set up to enable and disable dividors on the Pendulum and the Y in one of the X/Y pads set up to control arpeggiator rate/division CV input.
nickbaba
hmmm...gotta say this thread is kinda starting to put me off getting an Easel K.

(Not that I'd consider a Skylab system - way out of my budget and level of expertise.)

I thought this might be a good first step into Buchla... but its kind of offputting to think that maybe the Easel K only exists to solve BEMI's problems with the 218s.

Maybe thinking about a Euro Verbos system with touch-plate instead?

Oh man, BEMI say the K's will be shipping any day, too... d'oh! seriously, i just don't get it
dkcg
Well you do get an additional arpeggiator with the "k", and a controller that can be split up into anything you can think of, like half arpeggios, half standard tonal keys with gates, 2 X/Y pads that can be setup like 2 joysticks, 3 toggle buttons (or use them with pitch CVs instead of on/off switches).

I would guess that having a small system, the need for presets would dwindle too.

The think about the 218 I see as an advantage would be it's already setup for use as a keyboard, no fuzting around and programming in stuff, nice simple and quick controls. Like a pickup truck that's ready to go vs. a finicky track car that requires lots of tweaks to get it set up.
Borellus
MATSmile wrote:
If you want something that can be tuned anyway you want go with 216, really rad module.


I'd be very tempted to get an Easel if BEMI offered a 208/216 combo. The 216 seems like the ideal Easel controller (for me, anyway).
stephentrask
Does anyone know why the standard Easel with the keyboard is $100 less than buying the Easel and keyboard separately but the Easel K is $200 more than buying the no controller Easel and the 223e separately?
ritchiedrums
I have had my BEMI easel for a year now.

Seeing you are coming from guitar, I am going to present a fact.
Any Easel I've heard anywhere has tuning issues.
Some worse than others, but there are Issues across the octaves.

The 218 is presented as a traditional keyboard.
It is easy to hear immediately what notes are wrong when pressing a key.
Then you can adjust within your "Priority" octave.
The K is not a traditional keyboard, so it might get frustrating when your K is
set up to play C2, C3 & C4, but C4 is sounding like something else....

Being a Noob, I suggest the traditional easel.
Mainly because any helpful demo you find will be with a 218.
Guinness ftw!
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