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what makes bugbrand special?
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Author what makes bugbrand special?
odditymedium
i say this with the utmost respect and wonderment, as i am quite taken by wha i've found so far, and would like you who know more about bugbrand to help me articulate my thoughts:

what makes bugbrand sp special? is the combination of modules? the quality? the ergonomics? the flexibility of patching?

are there some unique modules not found elsewhere? are there more sweet spots? is there a central philosophy behind bugbrand modular?

for those of you who have bugs modular systems, how did you build one, which should i start with?

i'm just looking for some clues into this enigmatic format...

to tom, if he is reading this: thank you very much. the impression i get online is one of top notch sound, and excellent, friendly customer service, thank you again.
/\/\/\/
As a friend of mine said about my BugBrand setup... "this will still be cool in 20(+) years."

The system concept is something I really enjoy. Each new module that is designed/released fulfills a need or function, and is done in a way to complement the rest. While there are tons of great options in other formats as well... here it's kind of been distilled for you, often with a nice "twist" or some extra functionality built in. And everything is really playable. All of this combines to become a very cohesive and personalized instrument.

BugBrand is Tom, Tom is BugBrand (+ rumored to be a good guy otherwise).

So really everything is done up to Tom's vision and spec, which is a very high level in all regards. It seems like he has a very clear vision of what he wants the system to be, and is building it as much for himself as he is to share it with all of us. I guess this is true of many modular companies -- I can only say, I am a fan and definitely trust Tom's design and sound choices. It's really influenced my music making approach and possibilities, so I'm pretty grateful for that.

odditymedium wrote:

what makes bugbrand sp special? is the combination of modules? the quality? the ergonomics? the flexibility of patching?

are there some unique modules not found elsewhere? are there more sweet spots? is there a central philosophy behind bugbrand modular?


In short, yes - all of those things for sure.

odditymedium wrote:
for those of you who have bugs modular systems, how did you build one, which should i start with?


At the time, several years ago, I actually had no interest (as a guitarist) to get into a modular. Seemed a bit overwhelming to me. However, I liked the sound quality and feel of all the Red processors, and eventually picked up a DRM1. I was pretty blown away by the sounds coming from it, and the rest sort of just followed from that. I can definitely recommend the DRM2 as an excellent combination of the whole BugBrand appeal all in one box, and is already "pre-patched" as such to make it very quick and satisfying (of course still has tons of CV control). You could do very similar things with the SynthVoice as well, just a different approach (and a bit more flexibility). I have both and highly recommend... either/both!
SPIKE the Percussionist
Tom has an absolute attention to detail with his artistry of creating noiz weapons.

Its always a bit of a wait for his creations...but it is MORE than worth the wait.

Also...each one of the devices he tends to design have an EXTREME range of use.
From subtle nuance to complete Satanic noiz worship.
chrisdermo
Tom is what makes it special. Perfectionism in functionality/versatility, ergonomics, build quality, sonics (there isn't a single knob combination on any bugs I've owned that I wouldn't describe as a 'sweet spot' - this continues to blow my mind as every other synth Ive owned has fallen down in some regard) and customer service!
I've also never heard any analog eurorack that the Bugs couldn't nail to the floor sonically, and it's much more affordable than starting out with Buchla or Serge.

I started with a crossover filter for my other banana gear, which I loved so much I eventually sold a good 90% of my stuff and bought a synthvoice and really haven't looked back since.
Chirper is a good starting point for something a bit esoteric wih the Bugs sound, a DRM2 I'd say requires something to control it but is crazy deep and holds an insane amount of power if you just pair it at least a trigger sequencer of some sort. Synthvoice will keep you happy forever, or customise your own frame from the currently available stuff.
seeasound
For me it is the sound and tone that stands out. I also admire the simplicity and his approach to interface. Tom is a man with fine taste creating some timeless designs.

I saw youtube vids of his old modular which had a sound quality that i desired. He was not making modular at the time so I started with his eq, comp n CO filter. Later down the line I had played with a friends DRM1 and Delay both of which confirmed his magic with analog synthesis.

Then he got back into synths a few years ago I but never had the budget until recently when I picked up a custom frame with DRM2, DDSR sync normalised to DUAL ENV and a single OSC. Combined with the CO filter im pretty satisfied with this. A good combo of standard/normalised and experimental/open.
lud
Some wonderful unique offerings too - DDSR, DRMs, Joystick with touch pads etc.
Pretty much all the Bugbrand is as fun to play as it looks w00t
odditymedium
thanks everyone, these answers help a lot.

i read some oldblue archives and that explains tom's thinking a bit: https://www.bugbrand.co.uk/index.php?main_page=index&cPath=2_21

how comparable is bugbrand to serge? to ciat-lonbarde? to buchla? and to hordijk?
i'm asking both in terms of money and functionality

me being all ciat-lonbarde, are they comparable? in terms of functions, sound? are they compatible?

also, are new modular bugs all custom? how much would it cost to make a fairly powerful starter system with bugs?
seeasound
idno i feel that if ur asking these type of questions its better u find out for yourself with something basic and premade such as synthvoice or chirper or drm2. I would suggest drm2 since you have trigger optiions.... The differences between those manufacturers are quite apparent to me without having to posess any of them. Bugbrand is fairly versatile but based around the subtractive syntheses model. Which is alot more open ended than the terminology is widely accepted as being. Also brings lower level logic and math functions but not to the extent of serge which is perhaps the most versatile of the bunch. Ciat is focused on gesture....buchla probably aiming towards the expressiveness of an acoustic instrument? Bugbrand is the most vanilla of this bunch. This is my rapid analysis.
lud
The filters are great to ping like Serge and hordijk... BB is closer to them than CL as far as I can tell - that stuff is in a world of it's own (PB2 was too confusing for me)

These systems are all quite different to each other in obvious ways though...not like you just have to stick to one Dead Banana
Serge and Bug play together very nicely
chrisdermo
I patched my tetrax and bugs back and forth all the time, I found they complimented each other wonderfully and I never damaged the tetrax with negative voltages, though I tended to avoid sending in anything lower than -5v though.
In terms of timbre, the Tetrax and Sidrax sounds can be achieved on a modular system for sure - circular oscillator fm and such. Plumbutter sounds are fairly simple to my ears and could be achieved on a number of different systems. Playing style though - not going to get too near that in Bugs.
T. Jervell
I’ve got a Tetrax, Cocoquantus, a Blippoo Box and a fair share og BugBrand blues, and reds. They are all quite different (CL, Blippoo, BB). Use them for different things, with different approaches. I do agree with most of what’s already been said about BugBrand (sound, design philosophy etc.)
So all wonderful, all sounding different, all with sort of different approaches to gestural/touch-expression (joy/touch, barres, etc.).
And they all play nice together with banana-cables, which is SOOO much nicer that mini-jacks!! nanners
phisynth
I think another key word here is versatility. You can cover a lot of different sound territories with the bug, from abstract experimental madness to more conventional vanilla subtractive synthesis, and it will almost always sound musical, whereas CL is a lot more tied to the sound aesthetic of its creator, and although nice, it's much more difficult to find your own voice with it IMHO
odditymedium
i'm verrry triggered by your last sentence phisynth... hahaha

all kidding aside, should i go for a starter serge, or a starter bugs system?
the new random source 4x4 seems comparable in price, no?

again, no shade meant towards bugs, and sorry if this is inappropriate... i'm very taken by bugs, but then the comments such as "bugbrand is the most vanilla" etc has me wondering...
chrisdermo
odditymedium wrote:
comments such as "bugbrand is the most vanilla" etc has me wondering...


One person's vanilla is another's deluxe triple chocolate crunch toffee surprise.
polyroy
The only piece of gear I regret selling is my Bug system. Was absolutely perfect for me - great balance of function, well laid out panels and fantastic sound. Underpriced in my opinion, such great value for what you get.

I also love how it's never tried to be anything else, not a Buchla, Serge or a Moog, just Tom's great designs. Going from Euro and having so many options and constantly thinking 'oh what could be next' to just having a single system made me work a lot more creatively than I ever have done and I never felt I was lacking anything. Plus, bananas rule.
DickMarker
phisynth wrote:
I think another key word here is versatility. You can cover a lot of different sound territories with the bug, from abstract experimental madness to more conventional vanilla subtractive synthesis, and it will almost always sound musical, whereas CL is a lot more tied to the sound aesthetic of its creator, and although nice, it's much more difficult to find your own voice with it IMHO


This sums Bugbrand up very concisely imo - you can always dial in what you want from it with great ease, be that one extreme or the other and everything in between.

Bugbrand is the finest handmade West Country dairy vanilla ice cream around. It's up to you to add the chopped nuts and special sauce.
odditymedium
collected from here and there:

- ciat-lonbarde: "high end cookware"
- bugbrand: "finest handmade vanilla"
- serge: "raw, organic produce"
- buchla: ???
- hordijk: ???
- others: ???!!!

please fill in the blanks, lovin the food metaphors
seeasound
Well when I said vanilla i shoulda meant that vanilla never gets old...and is fine base for more exotic smatterings...

I dont have a serge and would love it one day....but im more drawn to its industrial design aesthetic than its particular raw quality of sound.

where serge is raw i would say bug is refined...I dunno how tom does it but all the bugs ive tried just sound good in a mix...its got "that" quality one desires from analog and you get fine control over frequency content and saturation which requires less fixing in the mix stage. These thigns are personally more important than exotic functionality which the bugs do have in spades.

So I would say that bugs look vanilla on the surface but dig deeper and its whatever you want. The exotic funtionality is there (i mean look at the DDSR..check out the manual)...its just presented as being more ambiguous than serge and buchla.

Honstly bug and serge would make an epic combo....ive gone for bug n buchla myself. If you cant look at the individual modules page on the bug site and conceive of a system for ur needs then perhaps a serge panel would be a more fun starting point with a chirper or drum2 thrown in so you get the sonic vibe
merlatte
To agree with what others have said, the Synth Voice is probably the best sounding synth I've owned- pretty much 100% sweet spot. Also, the simple building block approach is what you make of it and I went pretty easily from FM freakouts to 12TET melodic stuff, the latter of which would be pretty hard with, say, a Plumbutter (not a knock, I love Peter's stuff too).

The main thing I didn't like about the SV was that there weren't any readily available CV fuckery modules to be had in the BB ecosystem at the time and I grew a little impatient waiting for the Clockbox to materialize. That's obviously not much of an issue now and I do regret selling mine.

Also, every single interaction I had with Tom was terrific- his sterling reputation is entirely justified.
a100user
I can't really add much to what others have said about the musicality, functionality and general joy in playing a BugBrand system.

The only thing I can add is that if I decided to thin out my studio to the bare bones, I would never sell the BugBrand.
BugBrand
Sorry for my slow reply (away a few days) and humble thanks for all the kind words. I don't really know how to reply other than to smile & write a few snippets of response based on parts that stand out for me:::

I like the vanilla analogy - a classic ingredient that has had all sorts of disservices done to it through modern food production ways. Some of you know I'm fascinated by ingredients/foods/drinks and feel this blurs within all work/life for me. Take cider for example (another thing that has been widely fucked by modern production..) - the basis is so simple, just pure apple juice left to ferment with absolutely no additions, but there's a lifetime of investigation possible within - no best way, no perfect - the more you learn the less you know etc etc. And just because that cider there tastes great, doesn't mean that that other one can't equally be delicious as anything!

I've not really played many synths - barely touched any Buchla/Serge/Ciat - though have obviously looked at pictures and thought about such things. I think I've generally found my own way, but of course stand on the shoulders of those who've gone before and have clearly been influenced by ways going on around (physical & virtual).

I don't think I have a 'clear vision' - I consistently say I'm chaotic, that my workshop is a mess, that I'm spinning too many plates. But of course I know that I can be self-critical - lots has been achieved and I do finish some projects (perhaps why I don't post about every idea I start - so much falls by the wayside or gets stuck on the back burner for a month/year...). I remain curious on many aspects, so can imagine there's work/investigation for a good while to come.

Yeah, it is fascinating how the machines come in their beginning from what I want to play (but very intertwined with production methods I've built up over the years - the design process is very back & forth) but much joy comes from discovering how others play the machines [right now Jas is upstairs on lunchbreak playing a small setup - great sounds, so much joy and so much I don't in any way expect]. --- and all the sounds people post & send & perform with!

I also think what might 'sound good' is wide & subjective - I don't think I'm in any way a perfectionist and generally quite happy to take things as they come. I mean, I'm not going to spend days micro-tweaking nuances of an osc or filter - maybe the vanilla rejoins in here again. [and probably this reply too!] This brings me on to my focus on events - all the clock divisions etc - how to make the whole system jump around in ways that don't just go round & round in repeating 16 step loops.

Iterative is a word that crops up regularly for me - some designs have been with me for a good few years now, slowly changing each time I revisit them as I slowly learn new techniques and approaches. The current modular is building on the old stuff in some ways, departing in others - I look back and forward (perhaps too much / not enough on 'right here right now').

I'm currently enjoying the transient nature of playing a reasonably sized setup (eg 5Frames + mixer) - each time I switch things on, even though I currently focus on a few particular voice approaches, there'll be all sorts of different results, never the same twice. I like this flow and letting go - and I don't think this is in any way just a bug thing.

I will certainly acknowledge that availability has been something of an issue over the years, but think things are working reasonably well at present - I do feel that I need to further fill out the modular designs catalogue which is a focus through this year.

I still don't know how to really answer the questions about comparisons with Serge/Ciat etc. -- Serge has clearly been going far longer than I have, so has far wider design scope. Ciat is perhaps similar in that it is one person just doing his own thing - though the approaches are markedly different.

And, yes, most people use other machines in tandem - I'm a cog in whatever setup you have. I approve of the approach of trying to set up a system as a fixed instrument and learning to play that - ie. rather than constantly adding more more more. I've fallen down in that respect before and of course still have lots of ideas churning, but find I only really play when the setup isn't shifting under my feet.

Slowly does it!
Best, Tom
shred
cheers, Tom! thanks for all the work you do! applause SlayerBadger!
T. Jervell
Thanks for sharing your thoughts Tom! Interesting to hear about some of the things that goes on thumbs up
thetwlo
thumbs up
BugBrand wrote:
....
Best, Tom
odditymedium
thanks tom
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