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Knifonium
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Author Knifonium
metasonix
Does anyone know more about this? He apparently made a batch of 6, and sold them all. I suspect it's a bit expensive. Whoops, just found how much: 9000 euros.

http://www.sequencer.de/blog/knifonium-tube-synth-rohrensynthesizer/15 202
https://www.facebook.com/Knifonium
http://greatsynthesizers.com/en/news-en/2012/11/knifonium-tube-synthes izer

His website is still blank.
http://www.knifonium.com/

Clever fellow. I wish him the best of luck. Could have made a ladder filter with tube diodes myself, but it would have been big, costly and complicated. Like this thing.

It gets me that many people whined about how horribly expensive the Wretch was. This comes out, and I don't see a lot of criticism for charging 9000 euros (especially given that he's making his own keyboard assembly from scratch, then 9000 euros doesn't sound like all that much).

Sure enough, the German synth nerds are attacking him already. Weinglas was in that forum, he might want to say something.
http://www.digitalsynthesizer.de/viewtopic.php?f=2&t=73938
theabsent
Really, really good looking shit. Not in my price range though.
Moog$FooL$
gotta love that keyboard from scratch...... ambitious!!

thumbs up
weinglas
Yes, there was a discussion on a German forum, but here was one too: https://www.muffwiggler.com/forum/viewtopic.php?t=73748&highlight=knif onium

In the German forum the high price was a topic as was the question, if this could sound "clean" too. But most people liked the sound examples and the concept.

Many users on the sequencer.de forum do not like the wretch machine because of it's special sound. They always ask if it can sound like "usual" analog synths too. So the more "normal" sounds from the Knifonium were welcomed.

For me the question remains: could this thing sound like a wretch too? Or does it concentrate too much on making fat usual analog synth sounds. But then, why someone would need a tube synth for these sounds, although this one is really beautiful!
Kent
The sound files that he posted in WAV format sounded awesome. I would gladly trade my 2nd Buchla system for the Knifonium. Alas, it isn't a 9000€ system at the moment. It's about 1/2 way there.

The designer said that there are CV and Gate inputs. I'd drive it via those. Maybe he could make a box without the keyboard and it would be cheaper.
metasonix
weinglas wrote:
For me the question remains: could this thing sound like a wretch too? Or does it concentrate too much on making fat usual analog synth sounds. But then, why someone would need a tube synth for these sounds, although this one is really beautiful!

My opinion is, after hearing the soundfiles, it is "similar" to a conventional solid-state synth. More so than a Wretch, but still very different. As I keep saying, you can simulate solid-state with tubes, but they'll never behave in exactly the same way.
numan7
smile i wonder how/why it got such a goofy name (kinda makes me think of blades used for cutting linoleum)... and is the control path in this thing all tubes?

hmmm..... i think i'd prefer an RCA Mark II (the Metasonix! reissue, of course) for my ridiculously-billig-tubesynth!

cheers
QuantumMechanakillWave
I've been thinking about making a tube ladder filter with well balanced 12ax7's. Any advice on attaining dual triodes that are balanced well enough(internally)? This guy seems pretty legit: http://www.audiotubes.com/12ax7.htm

Using a tektronix curve tracer with mods/add-ons
metasonix
QuantumMechanakillWave wrote:
I've been thinking about making a tube ladder filter with well balanced 12ax7's. Any advice on attaining dual triodes that are balanced well enough(internally)?

Get a curve tracer and do it yourself. Seriously, I would NOT advise using dual triodes for this anyway. Too many variables to prevent matching.

General agreement among the (few) people who would know how to build a tube ladder filter is: use 6AL5-type or other small signal diodes instead. They tend to match more closely, and tend to be far less microphonic than triodes.

I know a dealer who has thousands of 3AL5s. And is desperate to get rid of them. They are the same as 6AL5s except for a 3.15v heater. Just hook 'em in series-parallel. They also have 6BC7 triple diodes for the same cheap price. Also a number of TV tubes with 9 or 12-pin bases that have extra built-in diodes, usually cheap and plentiful (meaning unwanted).

Quote:
This guy seems pretty legit: http://www.audiotubes.com/12ax7.htm

Brent is okay, but he charges absolute top dollar for things that (ten years ago anyway) were once very common.
QuantumMechanakillWave
Thanks for the info! Could you point me in the direction of any helpful reading or schems?

Also, the Knifonium seems pretty cool. It's too bad that the man behind the machine seems a bit standoffish.

Thank you for being accessible.
metasonix
QuantumMechanakillWave wrote:
Could you point me in the direction of any helpful reading or schems?

Some years ago, someone posted a suggestion for a tube ladder. Unfortunately I can't find it anymore. It's not a trivial thing to build.

Tim Stinchcombe did an obsessive analysis of the Moog ladder circuit, here. It might help you to understand what the damn thing does, or it might just drive you crazy.

I would start with a typical schematic for a ladder design, like this one. It needs two differential amps and at least 8-10 diodes, plus another gain stage for resonance feedback. The CV tuning circuit could be replaced with pentodes as constant-current sources, or you could just use the transistor circuit shown. You'd probably have to run at least 80-90 volts on this circuit to get usable performance. Don't let anyone try to fool you that tube diodes can't be used this way, the 6AL5 types have a low forward voltage drop for low currents like this--not enormously different from silicon diodes.

Quote:
Also, the Knifonium seems pretty cool. It's too bad that the man behind the machine seems a bit arrogant.

Knif is not atypical of really smart guys. He obviously knows what he's doing, but his grip on the economics of making music gear are a bit off. As for how successful his design is, you'd have to ask the guys who bought the production units. This is one item you'll never see in a music shop, nor even at NAMM.
QuantumMechanakillWave
Thank you for all of the info! How closely should the diode tubes be matched? I still have a lot of studying to do..

*dusts off math texts*
Nick's World of Synthesiz
Wow I did not realise other people were doing this.

I was working on a tube ladder filter using those soviet sub miniature tubes. Unfortunately the tube expert who was helping me died, and all the work is lost. I think he got quite far with the design.
QuantumMechanakillWave
I just finished a design using 12at7's. It seems that Mr. Knif Used variable mu tubes in order to solve the issue of tubes being biased with a negative voltage and transistors biased with positive. I am guessing he matched their response through bias, then applied positive voltage to the screen in ratio to the original filter schematic to mimic the response. I put a lot of effort into simplifying things. I put a dc blocking/ac coupling cap in between the positive (B+) voltage and the bias nets (formerly base, now grid). I grounded the other end of the bias net. The bias net is now referentially negative to varying degrees, at it's respective nodes in between the resistors. The feedback is preserved via the dc blocking/ac coupling cap.

After I complete (and fine tune) my build, I will publish the schematics here (in the DIY section) for others to try.

It may take some time before I am able to finish, as I am also in the midst of another ambitious DIY project Rockin' Banana!
metasonix
QuantumMechanakillWave wrote:
I just finished a design using 12at7's. It seems that Mr. Knif Used variable mu tubes in order to solve the issue of tubes being biased with a negative voltage and transistors biased with positive. I am guessing he matched their response through bias, then applied positive voltage to the screen in ratio to the original filter schematic to mimic the response.

Sounds like a workable plan. He probably ended up hand matching the vari-mu tubes in a special test jig, and throwing a lot of them away (or using them for something else). Lots of manual labor and expense required. Speaking from personal experience.

Quote:
After I complete (and fine tune) my build, I will publish the schematics here (in the DIY section) for others to try.

Yes, please. And then people will get to see for themselves why this would be an impractical product for the 21st century. Lots and lots of tubes, lots of challenges.
metasonix
This Hans Zimmer interview mentions him using a Knifonium for the soundtrack of Interstellar, plus mentions the booming Euro modular scene.

The interviewer failed to delve into that more deeply, and otherwise stuck to what look like scripted questions about the pipe organ. This is another reason why print magazines are dying.
QuantumMechanakillWave
Yeah, I was disappointed that they didn't talk more about euro. Not more disappointed than when I was in the Theater watching Interstellar, and I had seen the robots for the first time. I was ready to self-immolate. Dead Banana


**Interstellar Spoiler Alert**

Who the hell was their physics consultant that allowed them completely mangle the idea of time dilation? Completely fucks the logic of the plot. Their families would have died of old age while they were on the planet that was close to the black hole.
Villarceau
QuantumMechanakillWave wrote:
Who the hell was their physics consultant that allowed them completely mangle the idea of time dilation?


It was Kip Thorne.
Not sure I agree it was there that they went wrong with the time dilation though.
metasonix
Might as well keep this thread open. There has been very little traffic on Knif's Facebook, but he did say this in August 2016:
Quote:
We have not yet decided the price of the next batch. The previous one was 12000 euros per synth.


That's more than $16,000 USD. Probably worth it given all the hand labor. He is obsessive: the pots are Allen-Bradley sealed milspec, the keyboard assembly AND the joystick are apparently made entirely from scratch. There are pics of some joysticks--they are made of machined brass and aluminum parts....

He also said
Quote:
We finally made a spreadsheet of (almost) all parts in a Knifonium. Sum total: 2600
Compare that to about 600 parts in the S-1000 Wretch Machine. He has far more patience than I do. Judging just from the FB I'd say he's made perhaps three batches of 6 so far, since 2012.

Richard James bought a Knifonium as did Jean-Michel Jarre, and I recall that Hans Zimmer bought at least two. Also gather the guys from Pepe Deluxe bought one.
luchog
Impressive bit of hardware, but way beyond my current means. And the keyboard, despite also being an impressive bit of engineering, is definitely a non-starter for me as well. Now, if he came up with a ribbon controller, or set of ribbon controllers, with the same engineering quality, then... I still couldn't afford it. waah

Have to stick with scraping together the lunch money to buy Metasonix gear to get my tube fix. nanners
chakrapiercer
For those interested in tube synths:

There's a guy in Finland who builds his own tube synthesizers, and beautiful ones:

http://verdeaudio.com/index.php?page=synthesizer
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MonQrHCWsFE

Not for sale, unfortunately.
metasonix
chakrapiercer wrote:
For those interested in tube synths:
There's a guy in Finland who builds his own tube synthesizers, and beautiful ones:
http://verdeaudio.com/index.php?page=synthesizer
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MonQrHCWsFE
Not for sale, unfortunately.

I'm impressed. He seems to be using dekatrons and nixies as "appearance items".

The one with the giant glass power tetrode is funny. I've thought of building something using BIG tubes but it would not be a "practical product" anyway.
Yes Powder
I'd like to know how that reflex klystron oscillator sounds and behaves. Also, if he plans on doing anything with at pair of trigatrons or if they're just for show.
metasonix
Yes Powder wrote:
I'd like to know how that reflex klystron oscillator sounds and behaves. Also, if he plans on doing anything with at pair of trigatrons or if they're just for show.

Trigatrons are very rare and belong in a museum. Klystrons are dirt common. Both useless for "audio" devices of ANY type. I suppose it won't stop him from doing stupid experiments anyway....

Sharing the link to the TCA mailing list. They'll prob. just bitch about "crazy audiophools".

Whoops: Knif announced his new price for the next run of "5-6" Knifoniums. Now they are 13,500 euros. $16776 US. You could buy a pretty nice Toyota Yaris or a Fiat 500 for that much.
sbuge
Now the web page is up and running http://knifaudio.com/knifonium/
There is also a link to a manual (it is informative and well done for a short manual but not as fun reading as Dead Banana metasonix manuals Dead Banana )

I maybe have opportunity to try this synth a bit (because there is a synth meet in Helsinki quite soon & I heard rumors... )
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