Looking for comments on first mod synth setup

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sgnhh
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Looking for comments on first mod synth setup

Post by sgnhh » Fri Jan 18, 2008 9:31 am

Hey all, just found this forum the other night, it's a great resource -- so first off cheers to the small community for that.

I'm putting together my first modular synth system (it's a Eurorack) and was wondering if any of yous with more experience could make some helpful comments or suggestions for me. This is what I'm looking to currently include

Plan B Model 15
Doepfer A124 Wasp Filter
Doepfer A136 Distortion/Waveshaper
Doepfer A146 LFO2
Bananalogue Serge 3p
Livewire Frequensteiner

NOW, I realize I'm missing a couple key modules here--namely ADSR and VCAs. Are there any good recommendations for these? Is there any benefit to getting either a single ADSR or VCA unit over a quad one? For example, the Doepfer linear VCA is $90 at AH and the quad linear VCA is $175. This seems like a considerable bang for the buck, which makes me question if it's too good to be true. Same can be said for the ADSR, as it's somewhat similarly priced ($95 for a single and $265 for the quad).

Any comments or recommendations you guys have is greatly appreciated.

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Post by Muff Wiggler » Fri Jan 18, 2008 9:58 am

hey there! welcome to the forum, nice that you found your way here, and we are happy to have you 8)

Looks like you are jumping into the addiction - be careful!! If you are sure you never want to have extra spending money every again, go ahead, but don't say you weren't warned!!

and good luck keeping your system small ;)

Looks like you've already done some groundword and research, good stuff! It's definately very helpful to have an idea about what you are after, much easier than starting from nothing....

Looking at your modules list, one thing jumps out - as you mentioned, you are still short an EG and a VCA. The lack of these will greatly limit the amount you can do with the other modules... I know it's hard to get 'everything you need' all at once, however the other thing that I noticed is that you have two filters in your list...

If I was you, I would drop one of them (probably the Wasp - the Frequensteiner is a VERY flexible filter that can cover a LOT of ground and always sound great), and put the cash towards the modules you'll really need to get a basic system together - the EG and the VCA

there's LOTS of time to add more filters, and LOTS of filters to add. Believe me.

Only other thing I can think to suggest at the moment, is to take a look at this thread:

viewtopic.php?t=13&start=0

you can probably skip the stuff about the different companies and their plusses or minuses, as you seem to know what gear you want - but there's probably some other advice in there that may help you, or at least prompt some more questions or thoguhts...

hope this helps!! please keep us posted 8)

cheers, and good luck!

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Post by Muff Wiggler » Fri Jan 18, 2008 10:07 am

some more thoughts that i just had -

if you are trying to accomplish something specific at the moment with your choice of modules, you should probably ignore this...

however if you are trying to build a baseline/core system that you can build upon, this may be worth considering...

there's two modules in your list that I would see as 'addons to a base system' but not essential functionality, in particular with the lack of EG and ADSR. Most prominent in this category is the A136 Distortion/Waveshaper. Fun modules to have around for sure, but certainly not a modular must-have - this is a nice addon utility after you have a system capable of standard basic patches.

It's not such a clear-cut argument with the LFO, however I would put it in this same category as well. Yes, of course, you can use your VCO as an LFO, but you only have one VCO, so you may not often do this... you can also use your VCF as a sine LFO as well, so you do already have a couple of options for a looping sort of modulation source.

I think your choice of the 3P in the system you have specced is very wise. It can provide a few different essential functions for you.

So, back to the "if I was you" argument (and I'm NOT, you need to pick the modules you'll enjoy, this is just one man's opinion), I would drop the Wasp filter, the Wavedshaper and the LFO. I would add an EG and a VCA (I'm sure Doepfer has a few of each.....), and enjoy a good solid starter system.

Next I would add a second VCO as soon as I could to start experimenting with FM and tuned intervals. Next I would add a noise source, then probably an LFO, beyond that - season to taste 8)

hope this is helpful

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Post by Chuck E. Jesus » Fri Jan 18, 2008 10:52 am

make sure you build your own rack case, you will save lots of money...

if you are going to do "tonal music", i'm not sure the Plan B is the best choice for a first osc...if you want crazy ass noise, it's a great choice...i'm not saying that a PB 15 can't make "tonal music", but there seems to be issues with the tracking....i'm still working that out on mine, i'll give a full report when i get it sorted...still, i can see owning several 8)

linear VCAs are usually used for control voltages but can be used for audio in a pinch...i believe those quad VCAs need a control voltage to do anything and if you want to mix signals you will need a mixer...the A131 exponential VCA is for audio and allows two inputs...

i'd suggest dropping a line to Analogue Haven and asking questions...if you call i think anyone who answers can help you out, but i've been dealing with Andrew lately, he's cool...or email Shawn Cleary...and keep an eye on their used modules, there is always new stuff coming in it seems, you'll save some bread...just make sure to have them check the mods out before shipping...


good luck, and welcome to the club...

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Post by Squibbons » Fri Jan 18, 2008 10:59 am

As for the question on whether to go single vs quad vca / quad adsr, personally, I would go with the quads if you can afford them / have the space, or dual ones if you can find those. I find that the things I end up needing the most VCO's, VCA's, and EG's( ADSR's ). It certainly isn't glamorous sounding just having a bunch of VCA's and EG's. If you get them now, you won't have to scrounge for them later. =) However, if you are really serious about keeping your system small, at least one of each is recommended. I started with a Quad VCA and 1 EG.

In Frac Format, the Blacet Quad VCA is about the only one there is( though there are some dual VCAs in Frac ). Same with ADSR's. No one makes a quad ADSR or AD in frac, not even a dual one!

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Post by sgnhh » Fri Jan 18, 2008 11:24 am

Thanks for the comments and help guys.

In regards to the model 15, I am all about crazy ass noise, so that is a good thing to hear.

I am building my own case (already ordered the Doepfer DIY kit with the 2xbus board, should arrive today)--will probably begin work on that tomorrow morning.

I think I probably will drop at least the wasp filter, need to look at my funds to see what I can keep and drop.

The quad ADSR looks pretty appetizing, but I can't help but think that having at least one independent VCA in addition to the quad VCA mixer would be a good idea. Once again, need to double check my fundage.

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Post by sgnhh » Fri Jan 18, 2008 11:49 am

So which type of VCA would I need to use with a VCO? Linear or expotential?

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Post by Muff Wiggler » Fri Jan 18, 2008 12:13 pm

depends more on the EG you are firing it with. If you have an expo EG, you probably want a linear VCA. If you have a exponential VCA, you probably want an linear EG

For control voltages, linear vcas are easiest to deal with.

but for audio envelopes, you *really* want an exponential response, in particular if you want really fast, blippy envelopes.

Doesn't matter if you get your exponential response from the EG or the VCA. For example, all the Blacet EGs are linear (however you can fake exponential decay - the most important 'sounding' of the ADSR parameters - or any other parameter - by patching INV OUT back into CV IN for the parameter). But anyway the EG is linear, and Blacet has both exponential and linear VCAs for sale. Not sure about Doepfer, but it's probably a similar situation

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Post by thermionicjunky » Fri Jan 18, 2008 12:18 pm

People normally use exponential for audio, but you can use linear for a different response. Are there any that can switch between exponential and linear in Euro? My Modcan and Dotcom VCAs have switches.

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Post by thermionicjunky » Fri Jan 18, 2008 12:31 pm

The Analogue Systems rs180 has one linear input and one logarithmic input. That would also provide you with a two input mixer.

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Post by sgnhh » Fri Jan 18, 2008 2:52 pm

Hmm. None of the Doepfer EGs say if they are linear or exponential.

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Post by Kwote » Fri Jan 18, 2008 3:29 pm

sgnhh wrote:Hmm. None of the Doepfer EGs say if they are linear or exponential.
perhaps contact dieter doepfer directly?
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Post by sgnhh » Fri Jan 18, 2008 3:31 pm

Not a bad suggestion. Thanks.

EDIT: Poo, he's at NAMM until the 27th. I'd email AH but I know they are there until the 20th. Balls.

Anyway, this is what I'm thinking now

Model 15 VCO
Frequensteiner
Serge 3p
A-136 Distortion/Waveshaper
A-143-2 Quad ADSR
A-135 Voltage Controlled Mixer (4 linear VCAs)

The VCMIX is temporary until I get word on the Quad ADSR. If that is linear, I may just get one exponential VCA and leave it at that until tax return time.

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Post by zerosum » Fri Jan 18, 2008 6:28 pm

Hmmmm...Im not a Euro guy, but I will someday.....When I can get modules again.
Your setup looks fun, definitly agree that the ADSR is a must(a blacet EG-1 my second module).

Frequensteiner looks fun, Im sure it has plenty of self oscillation that you could use it as a second sinewave oscillator.

The model 15 is the reason I want to get into Euro!

Looking forward to watching your system grow!

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Post by Madcap Labs » Fri Jan 18, 2008 10:12 pm

I have the Doepfer Quad VCA - it's great, but be aware that it is essentially a single VCA that can control four signals simultaneously, as opposed to four separate VCAs that can be controlled independently. I apologize if I'm stating the obvious.
For the record, I returned my Model 15, 'cause I just couldn't get it to track consistently - but I'm trying to make tonal music with it, so if you're all about the skronk, go nuts.
For a small system, you might wanna look at the Cwejman VM-1 - it's an oscillator, multi-mode filter, two envelopes and VCA in a single module. Cwejman stuff has its detractors, who say the modules are overly "precise" or "cold", but I think they're awesome - they're very well-designed, and beautifully manufactured - they're like Swiss watches. The oscillators track flawlessly and the envelopes are wicked fast. In this module, the filter will self-oscillate, which means you can use the resulting sine wave output to modulate the oscillator and get into FM - you might balk at $699.00 for "one" module, but if you look at what you get, it's quite a deal.
Whatever decision you make, your musical world is about to go from black and white to technicolor - have fun!

Peace and love,

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Post by Chuck E. Jesus » Fri Jan 18, 2008 10:38 pm

Madcap Labs wrote: For the record, I returned my Model 15, 'cause I just couldn't get it to track consistently - but I'm trying to make tonal music with it, so if you're all about the skronk, go nuts.
this worries me...i've read much of the same on AH's forum, although Peter G. claims they should track 6-7 octaves...i'm no Keith Wakeman so i don't need 12 octaves of tracking, but i'd like do be able to do a bassline if i want...i like noise as much as the next weirdo, but i want my gear to operate like it's supposed to...

if you don't mind me asking, did you deal with Peter from Plan B regarding the tracking problem, because it looks like i may have to...he seems willing to help, but i've never dealt with him over one of his products....

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Post by Madcap Labs » Fri Jan 18, 2008 11:05 pm

From what I understand, every Model 15 is slightly different. I couldn't even get two octaves out of mine before it started to go south. This doesn't bother some people, but I expect to be able to turn on my rig every day and make music with it, without dicking around with calibration procedures, etc. Shawn at Analogue Haven was very cool about it and took it back. Peter seems like a really nice guy, albeit kinda busy, and maybe a little scattered. Man, do I love that Model 13 DTG, though. And the 15 does *sound* really good - not unlike a Moog oscillator, to my somewhat discerning ear. But, man, I cannot recommend the Cwejman oscillator enough - super-flexible, bright and clear, and tracks like a VI - you'll run out of ears before it runs out of tracking capability.

- E

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Post by Chuck E. Jesus » Fri Jan 18, 2008 11:31 pm

thanks for the reply...

i really want to love the Plan B M15, but it ain't tracking one octave even...the sound is awesome, and i absolutley love the freq range it will sweep...but i really need something i can depend on, i don't feel like calibrating every other day either...

the Cwejman is looking very interesting, and i would probably get more use out of a "workhorse" pair of oscs...also have my eye on the new Livewire AFG, but not sure when it will be available....

can't do anything until next week anyway, we'll see what happens..

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Post by Madcap Labs » Fri Jan 18, 2008 11:55 pm

Right on. You will *not* be disappointed in the Cwej - they sound great on their own, the FM is superb (and internally patched), the sync is *wicked*, due to the precision of the oscillators, and they make wonderful LFOs, and since they can cross-modulate, the module can do a lot of what the Livewire Dalek (or is it the Vulcan?) does, too.

We all have our eye on the AFG, but I've not heard a peep from the folks at NAMM, just photos that look suspiciously like the photos from last year - anyone know what's up? Anyone heard from Felix? I know he's there...

- E

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Post by sgnhh » Sat Jan 19, 2008 11:39 am

I've also read that about the Model 15. Don't know what to say about it other than I'll pick up a second VCO eventually and just use that one if I want more reliable tones.

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Post by Chuck E. Jesus » Sat Jan 19, 2008 1:18 pm

sgnhh wrote:I've also read that about the Model 15. Don't know what to say about it other than I'll pick up a second VCO eventually and just use that one if I want more reliable tones.
i want to keep the M15, believe me, i just can't afford both...i've used a variety of synth gear in the past, but i've never run across an osc that sounds or performs like it...if you get the M15, you are going to want another osc anyway, believe me...

(sorry for the thread hijack)

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Post by Muff Wiggler » Sat Jan 19, 2008 3:16 pm

that's so crappy about the model 15 :(

the sounds i've heard from it are awesome, and the whole modular world is somewhat lacking in triangle-core VCOs

such a shame it doesn't track reliably

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Post by Chuck E. Jesus » Sat Jan 19, 2008 3:48 pm

@ sqnhh: i'm not sure what the Doepfer A140 EG's response is, but if you use it with the A131 VCA (exp), you can get extremely snappy transients...i have a linear amp as well, but i rarely use it, i just use the A138(lin) mixer and control the CVs by hand....i suggest starting with the A140 and A131 and add to your setup as your needs grow...

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Post by sgnhh » Sat Jan 19, 2008 11:35 pm

Here's what I ended up choosing:

Model 15
Frequensteiner
Serge 3p
A-143-2 Quad ADSR
A-136 Distortion/Waveshaper
A-131 Exp. VCA
A-138b Exp. Mixer

Also started building my case today, but AH didn't send me part of the DIY kit... so I'm waiting to put this order through until I talk to them on Monday about that.

Aside from that slight hiccup, I'm really excited to be starting all of this. I think the components I picked out will do me well (for a while...), and I dig the way my case is turning out.

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Post by Muff Wiggler » Sun Jan 20, 2008 2:01 am

awesome! good stuff. I think you made some great decisions.

you're gonna love the Frequensteiner!

I think you'll love having a modular, even a small rig like this. I'm sure you'll end up adding more stuff, faster, than you ever expected - but all of us do

congrats, this looks like a GREAT start! 8)

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