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Adding 4U/Serge to my 3U/5U system
MUFF WIGGLER Forum Index -> Buchla, EMS & Serge  
Author Adding 4U/Serge to my 3U/5U system
The Disquiet
Hi all,

I have been infected by the modular virus for a few years now. w00t Started with 5U, then added 3U and now have a hybrid 5U/3U system. It have a lot of Cwejman, pretty much all his modules, and the 5U is mainly Modcan.

I’ve been lurking at 4U, and especially at Serge to extend the sound pallet of my existing system. I’m planning to get rid of most of the 3U, will only keep the Cwejman.

I have a few questions:

1. How does the build quality of the STS panels compare with the Serge builds from for example Randomsource or Loudest Warning ? Do they use the same components? I understand that the STS panels have been updated and tweaked but I guess those modification could be done in DIY builds as well?

2. Do the Serge panels use sealed pots, or are they ordinairy Alpha pots?

3. The core of my existing system is:
Cwejman MMF1, MMF2, MMF6, QMMF-4, DMF-2, VCO-6, VCO-2RM, RES-4, RG-6, CTG-VC
Modcan 39B, 07B, 36B, 69B, 61B, 73B, 68B, 31B, 32B

Initially I think it would be wise (and cost effective) to add only Serge components that bring me new sound and functionality added to my existing system. I want to start carefully with 1 Serge panel, or 2 M-class Serge panels. I’ve been reading this forum and understand that the Animal or Creature panels are a good introduction. But I wonder if it’s the best extension of my particular system? Do you think it’s better to start with a self contained Serge mini-system and go from there or only add components that aren't there in my existing system yet?

4. When patching between 3U, 4U and 5U systems how do I deal with the lack of ground on the banana connectors? I will have a mini-jack, jack, banana panel made to patch between. If the 3U, 4U, 5U PSUs are grounded together would all be well? (I have Hinton PSUs)

Thanks!

PS to give you an idea of the sound pallets that I use, my music moves between abstract new classical music and 'alt-pop' like this:

[soundcloud url="https://api.soundcloud.com/tracks/207783296" params="auto_play=false&hide_related=false&show_comments=true&show_use r=true&show_reposts=false&visual=true" width="100%" height="450" iframe="true" /]
DomMorley
Hey Michel

Just a quick note on the Creature. I had one for a while and the sound was great - really something different to my 5U / 3U collection. But I had to get rid of it because tuning I found to be a nightmare. The 1v/oct knob covers about 8 octaves in it's turn and I found it pretty much impossible to get it right in the point where it was on a note! Knowing what you do I imagine you will find this as frustrating as I did.

I would go with a panel or M-Class with stand-alone VCOs if I were you.
The Disquiet
DomMorley wrote:
Hey Michel

Just a quick note on the Creature. I had one for a while and the sound was great - really something different to my 5U / 3U collection. But I had to get rid of it because tuning I found to be a nightmare. The 1v/oct knob covers about 8 octaves in it's turn and I found it pretty much impossible to get it right in the point where it was on a note! Knowing what you do I imagine you will find this as frustrating as I did.

I would go with a panel or M-Class with stand-alone VCOs if I were you.


Ah, good point, thanks Dom. I see that the VCOs on the Animal have a fine tune knob. I guess that'll solve that problem.

How well do those Serge VCOs track by the way...?
livefreela
re: your concerns regarding build quality, and given that you have some really while i don't own any sts stuff, the random source kits are in my opinion the nicest in diy - i have the entire line. they're extremely well thought out, and well documented. obviously in diy, an element is left to the skill/budget of the builder, but on his boms ralph is very particular about spec'ing high-end components where appropriate (burr brown amps/styrenes/micas/etc. etc.). pots are all pcb mounted with standard 9mm vertical footprints - bananas are soldered directly to component boards as well. the only wiring is on toggle switches when used. so while the modules are harder to mod than traditional "wired" serge, the modules are very tidy and durable. the machining on the panels is also beautiful. the cwejman/synthtech you own is obviously first rate so i'm thinking you'll dig the rs offerings. btw - their 555 osc tracks extremely well too - far superior in that regard to the other 4u oscs i have used...
oldenjon
The Disquiet wrote:

1. How does the build quality of the STS panels compare with the Serge builds from for example Randomsource or Loudest Warning ? Do they use the same components? I understand that the STS panels have been updated and tweaked but I guess those modification could be done in DIY builds as well?

Loudest Warning and Random Source panels are both DIY, which means you get to control the quality of the components that go into them. R*S also sells assembled modules, in which case I'm sure Ralf is using top shelf components.

The Disquiet wrote:

2. Do the Serge panels use sealed pots, or are they ordinary Alpha pots?

STS uses Alpha pots which are not sealed, nor are they cermet. They are cheap, but a lot of people like the feel of them.

The Disquiet wrote:

3. The core of my existing system is:
Cwejman MMF1, MMF2, MMF6, QMMF-4, DMF-2, VCO-6, VCO-2RM, RES-4, RG-6, CTG-VC
Modcan 39B, 07B, 36B, 69B, 61B, 73B, 68B, 31B, 32B


Can't comment here as I don't own any Cwejman or Modcan. But the animal is a very good introduction to Serge. If you're interested I'm doing a run of DIY Animal-esque panels, check out the DIY forum for more info


The Disquiet wrote:

4. When patching between 3U, 4U and 5U systems how do I deal with the lack of ground on the banana connectors? I will have a mini-jack, jack, banana panel made to patch between. If the 3U, 4U, 5U PSUs are grounded together would all be well? (I have Hinton PSUs)

I just bought a small enclosure from Tayda and made some simple multiples that connect the shield of the TS jacks to the same ground as my PSU.
oldenjon
The Disquiet wrote:
I see that the VCOs on the Animal have a fine tune knob. I guess that'll solve that problem.

How well do those Serge VCOs track by the way...?


The Serge VCOs track pretty well, I get ~5 octaves on mine which is more than a lot of other VCOs. The 555 is among the best tracking VCOs, and is pretty cheap to build. The character of it is not to my liking, but Lin FM is quite nice. Another option is the Living VCO, coming soon to 4U via R*S
The Disquiet
Thanks for the feedback guys!

In the meantime I bought a 2nd hand STS Animal and a Random*Source DSG panel

That should get me going. It's all arriving next week. Am very curious! w00t
DomMorley
The Disquiet wrote:
Thanks for the feedback guys!

In the meantime I bought a 2nd hand STS Animal and a Random*Source DSG panel


nanners It's peanut butter jelly time! Rockin' Banana!

I've been playing with my La Bestia and Sturm & Drang today. SO much fun!
Dogma
livefreela wrote:
re: your concerns regarding build quality, and given that you have some really while i don't own any sts stuff, the random source kits are in my opinion the nicest in diy - i have the entire line. they're extremely well thought out, and well documented. obviously in diy, an element is left to the skill/budget of the builder, but on his boms ralph is very particular about spec'ing high-end components where appropriate (burr brown amps/styrenes/micas/etc. etc.). pots are all pcb mounted with standard 9mm vertical footprints - bananas are soldered directly to component boards as well. the only wiring is on toggle switches when used. so while the modules are harder to mod than traditional "wired" serge, the modules are very tidy and durable. the machining on the panels is also beautiful. the cwejman/synthtech you own is obviously first rate so i'm thinking you'll dig the rs offerings. btw - their 555 osc tracks extremely well too - far superior in that regard to the other 4u oscs i have used...


Im about to embark on a 4 x 4 from RS so this is such great news as I heard a little differently from another builder that the PCB layout was all over the place but what rev he had I dont know..
Its so great that RS are making these available...
Just waiting for a few to come back in stock...
livefreela
dodgy layouts?!?! balls to that hihi seriously though, as layout artists, fonik & ralph do first rate work - no concerns necessary there! the older black rs boards are very nice, but the newer green ones are really special - i don't know if they switched fabs or something else, but the recent ones are in a different league altogether - of a quality usually reserved for boutique rack gear.

the boards can be quite dense, but they're all done sensibly. i've built the entire line of modules, and each has worked without issue on first power up.
The Disquiet
I have their DSG, very nice!

Perhaps a minor niggle is that the lights on the DSG are very bright. Like 4ms bright. Maybe I should replace the white plastic with red or orange to dim them a bit.
Dogma
livefreela wrote:
dodgy layouts?!?! balls to that hihi seriously though, as layout artists, fonik & ralph do first rate work - no concerns necessary there! the older black rs boards are very nice, but the newer green ones are really special - i don't know if they switched fabs or something else, but the recent ones are in a different league altogether - of a quality usually reserved for boutique rack gear.

the boards can be quite dense, but they're all done sensibly. i've built the entire line of modules, and each has worked without issue on first power up.


ive since had much more exposure to these and they are the biz for sure smile

These should drectly interface with a Phenol?

Really looking forward to a new Donks - my fave wavefolder in a serge sandwich smile !!! thumbs up thumbs up thumbs up
Dogma
The Disquiet wrote:
I have their DSG, very nice!

Perhaps a minor niggle is that the lights on the DSG are very bright. Like 4ms bright. Maybe I should replace the white plastic with red or orange to dim them a bit.


So how does the RS sound with the STS?

DSG looks amazing i must say
batchas
Dogma wrote:
These should drectly interface with a Phenol?

I read on kilpatrick pages that CV and audio signals on PHENOL can handle signals in the range of about -10V to +10V without damage and that they are designed for the -5V to +5V range used by the PHENOL outputs.
Pitch = standard 1v/oct like Serge.

Also Pulse, gate and clock inputs can detect any voltage greater than about +1V. Any range of voltages can be put into these jacks, making them useful even with CV and audio signals.

Looks good to cross-patch with a Serge IMO. As long as you ground both together, you're good to go.
The Disquiet
Dogma wrote:

So how does the RS sound with the STS?


Their DSG pairs with the Animal very nicely. Very accurate and snappy. I'm mainly used it as LFO/modulator and envelope. The VCO function I haven't been able to get to track properly, but that's probably a pilot error
PraxisCat
Serge and Kilpatricks stuff work well together, and this includes the Phenol. Which honestly a Phenol + serge tkb = awesome.
rob909101
I have a 4U XL boat that does play nicely with my Oakley 5U. some attenutaors help..
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