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Questions about oldschool Piaia modular stuff
MUFF WIGGLER Forum Index -> Fractional Rack Modules  
Author Questions about oldschool Piaia modular stuff
Hey, I've got an opportunity to pick up a couple of vintage Piaia cabinets for under a grand off my local Craigslist. I've never used Piaia anything so I figured I'd post a thread here to get some facts. The guy said he could get me the original owners name and I'll be hearing back from him once he's bought a few banana cables so I can test the thing.

here's what's in it:

(Cabinet 1)
2 x 4770 Watt Block
1 x 4740 Envelope Generator
1 x 4710 Balanced Modulator
1 x Inverter Buffer
1 x Envelope Follower
(Cabinet 2)
1 x 4771 Regulated Power
1 x 4730 VCF
1 x 4711 Mixer
1 x 4761 Wing
1 x 4720VCO
2 x 4710 Balanced Modulator
1 x 4750 Control Oscillator Noise

Since all this shit was probably kit built and the seller doesn't know how to use the machine I'm assuming there might be problems given the age of the system and the limits of the builder's solder skillz. So I've got a few questions for you fellow wigglers first: Am I right that these systems use Banana and 1/8th jacks? it would look like it from all the pictures I've seen but when I go over to try it out that will be the first ever time I've ever played anything Piaia, does it conform to the 1v/octave standard or does it do Hz/Volt scaling?

At $800CDN (his asking price) am I wasting my money and/or time? I've been wanting to expand my euro rig once and for all so I can focus my attention on building a Buchla from the case up, would this plus a format jumbler be a good expansion or am I running the risk of taking on one hell of a mess?

I'll post more information here as I get it I'm really interested in hearing from you guys I've been burned a couple of times on CL before and so I want to be sure that I know what I'm getting into.

Looks in good condition compared to some I've seen.

I posted a question about these awhile back, I really like the vibe of these systems & the ccts. are pretty simple w/ some interesting modules. You can get all the schems. & build instructions online so you'd be able to fix any issues pretty easy I'd say, maybe upgrade some parts etc.

I don't think they are nanners tho, they use suttin wierd IIRC.
A few things from memory about the Paia systems that might give you pause:

1. They are Hz/volt so won't track against anything V/oct.

2. They use pin jacks, not banana jacks. They are smaller than bananas. The audio signals are 1/8" IIRC.

3. The filters and oscillators are a bit squelchy sounding, if I can use that subjective term.

Nice toys and a great way to learn about synthesis (I remember staring at the catalog for hours in my youth and building a few kits). However, I wouldn't touch one unless it was nearly free. The build quality will vary greatly and ~30 years of age on the parts and cold solder joints...well you can guess what that might do.
In the examples I've heard, there's been lots of CV bleed through on the audio output. That alone discourages me from purchasing one.
when i was first getting back into synths, i picked up a bunch of old PAIA stuff... partly sentimental, partly as a cheap in. it has it's charms, and i still have some laying around. fun to play with, but frustrating if you expect to get clean signals or accurate tracking. the circuits are very barebones simple (which sometimes simplifies troubleshooting), using cheap parts wherever possible. even if the original build quality was good, you'll have some bad pots and electrolytics by now.

if it had a second oscillator and was half the price, and you had some repair chops and just wanted to make some noise, i'd recommend it. but if you want music, there are better options available, especially DIY.

fluxmonkey wrote:
if it had a second oscillator and was half the price, and you had some repair chops and just wanted to make some noise, i'd recommend it. but if you want music, there are better options available, especially DIY.


+1 to the above and everything else Fluxmonkey wrote. Me too.

That's too much money for the modules involved. 3osc 4700 cabinets regularly go on ebay around 5-600USD.

Audio Signals are .5V p-p. CV's 0-5V using tip jacks, not banana's. You *can* greatly improve the PAIA modules, and a couple (VCA, PWR) you *need* to improve. They can be a lot of lofi fun. Regardless of the orig build, you *will* have to do some mods/fixes. Count on it. PAIA is, was and always will-be, a DIY situation. Summary? Pass on this one. (And I'm a PAIA fan)

<edit>Wood box (case, not innerds) appears to be orig PAIA issue, not a DIY job. That's a rare bit, offered only a short time in the early 70's, AIRC. It was designed as an expansion case for the 2720. The 4700's and their road cases made it disappear, being easier to mfr. The lower 4771 PWR has been modded, at least the cord is not orig. They were/are bright red!</edit>

Kind regards,Randal
Thanks everyone for the advice I've decided not to buy this one though I did offer to show the owner how to use it. I feel a bit bad about buying something this guy has never even patched up since he bought it, it would be like stealing another man's girl or something. Hopefully he'll take me up on that.
ex_dead_teenager wrote:
… it would be like stealing another man's girl or something.

Worse: It would be like stealing another man's girl before he even had a chance to get to second base.
straight up.

I hope this guy takes me up on some free modular tutoring. It's tragic but it seems that Vancouver is just not the sort of place where folks know about these instruments. Some other dude on Craigslist dropped 9 grand on 12U of Euro from AH and then sold the lot for 3000 because it was "too difficult to figure out". I feel sorry for that man. I would have bought part of it but I had given up searching CL after months of nobody selling modular.

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