FM Aid or a second VCO

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paosciante
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FM Aid or a second VCO

Post by paosciante » Wed May 20, 2020 1:49 pm

Hi!

I want to create some nice FM tones. At the moment I am using a Dixie and an STO, which sometimes deliver but it tends to feel very chaotic and difficult to replicate.

I ve done some research and everything I see from the Fm Aid looks amazing, it just delivers the sort of FM sounds I want to experiment with (gnarly/growley/robotic stuff), and it seems to be really controllable. But at the same time it feels like cheating and as I would be missing on all the extra benefits from having an entire extra VCO (using it as an extra voice, unison, etc). I ve been thinking about the Doepfer a110-4, similar price and seems to be tailored towards FM. But I have not found any demo or sound I really loved.

Sooo what are your experiences with these two modules? Im sort of planning on getting a Doepfer a110-6 as a "poor man" Intellijel Rubicon and a crossfader, but I would like to pair it either with the FM Aid or a110-4 to get a nice and versatile eastcoast/complex osc setup, and use the STO and Dixie for more traditional stuff... With all that in mind, do you feel I would be missing a lot from not having the a110-4?


Cheers!

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Re: FM Aid or a second VCO

Post by paosciante » Wed May 20, 2020 1:54 pm

Ooh! Forgot about this...

I don't fully understand how the Fm Aid works in terms of the other modules you are using it with. So is it redundant to worry about having VCOs with linear Fm or even thruzero Fm if you use the FM Aid? I do love that Doepfer a110-6 concept, but as I say I am looking into building a sort of DPO/Rubicon+Dixie+ufold/Fhurrhhrgenerator/any combination we all know to create a complex VCO, but if the FM Aid and a "simpler" VCO like a standard Doepfer (or even the a110-4) does the job and I won't be benefiting from all the extra stuff the 110-6 has to offer, that would be great!

:)

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Re: FM Aid or a second VCO

Post by Dennis » Wed May 20, 2020 2:06 pm

Technically speaking FM AID uses Phase Modulation, not Frequency Modulation. The sonic difference is that the produces sound is brighter.

taken from the website

so its technically not the same as FM as you maybe heard already but nonetheless awesome. it can enhance any vco greatly!

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Shledge
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Re: FM Aid or a second VCO

Post by Shledge » Wed May 20, 2020 2:09 pm

FM AID is a nice little module that can definitely take you there. I don't use mine often, but it's really good if I want to make any VCO do TZFM. It can do a lot more than that too.

Dedicated TZFM VCOs are tricky to use though, even the Rubicon, so getting musical results out of them takes some practice. Rubicon v2 is a little easier than the likes of the A110-4, but both still need "finessing", so to speak. But once you do, they sound glorious.

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Re: FM Aid or a second VCO

Post by andybizarre » Wed May 20, 2020 2:22 pm

FM Aid is ace. If you like its FM sounds, you should get it. A favourite patch of mine is crossfading multiple outputs of a VCO with the sub out of that same VCO CV`ing the crossfade, multed into FM Aid. Being the waves always in harmonic relation to each other, the FM sounds like one sweet spot over the whole range. Adding a wavefolder will result in a pretty complex oscillator. Keep in mind that FM Aid brings TZFM to self oscillating filters as well.
From what I`ve heard from the A-110-6 (I don`t own one), I guess it`s a highly experimental VCO. I wouldn`t get for instant gratification or vanilla FM sounds.

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Re: FM Aid or a second VCO

Post by starthief » Wed May 20, 2020 2:27 pm

If you're not as obsessed with FM as I am, you'd probably be fine with two VCOs of any kind plus an FM Aid :)

I have several modules which do TZFM or phase modulation, and I still find FM Aid useful because it's got a different character, and because it lets me freely process the modulator and carrier in ways one normally can't in an all-in-one FM module.

And it also serves as a waveshaper/wavefolder for other purposes as well.

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Re: FM Aid or a second VCO

Post by paosciante » Wed May 20, 2020 2:32 pm

Yeah, Ive read about Fm Aid being actually PM Aid. I am not too interested on having something totally pure (in terms of having the real deal), but I don't want to be missing on anything if I go the FM Aid route, as it seems a bit of a shortcut... Don't know if this is just some sort of mental (and snob) block Ive built myself. I just want to have a nice gnarly generator setup but don't want to go crazy on my wallet as at the end of the day I am more into the classic sawtooth into lowpass sound.

I am thinking about getting a Doepfer a110-6 (I like that it has more waveforms than the 110-4), and and FM Aid and combine those two with my wavefolder. Would the a110-6 be overkill if the FM Aid is already providing linear and thruzero fm capabilities? I'd be happy to maybe get one of those 4hp Precision VCOs and a Standard 110-2 if theres no point in having a thruzero VCO when already using the FM Aid.


I could also ditch the Fm Aid and get the 110-6 thruzero plus one of the more traditional Doepfer VCOs, but I really do love everything Ive listened from the FM Aid (not something that happens a lot) and I really like how you can use it with other audio stuff (like samples or drums) as a crazy distortion/waveshaper device (could this be done with regular FM without the FM Aid?)

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Re: FM Aid or a second VCO

Post by paosciante » Wed May 20, 2020 2:36 pm

Great... I am definitely going the FM Aid route hehe.

I am not looking for a purist FM solution at all. So FM Aid sounds like an awesome idea. I do feel like that Doepfer a110-6 could bring a lot of fun into the table though

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Re: FM Aid or a second VCO

Post by ATW » Wed May 20, 2020 2:45 pm

starthief wrote:
Wed May 20, 2020 2:27 pm
I have several modules which do TZFM or phase modulation…
What are some of your go-to TZFM/PM capable modules, Starthief? I am considering FM Aid, too—before I dive in I want to see how much FM/PM I can derive with my existing sound sources. I have Mangroves, a the two CEM3340-based VCOs in the Neutron that I can sync, Plaits, and my other oscillator is a Disting. Overdriving the modulating vco signal with a vca (in this case Mix3) gets has some nice FM results, too.

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Re: FM Aid or a second VCO

Post by nectarios » Wed May 20, 2020 3:21 pm

I have FM Aid and A-110-4 and Dannysound EN129.
I really like FM Aid, its great for when you want tuned stuff with minimal fuss and play around with it modulating the CV amount of PM, to heart's content and it will always be in tune.

The Doepfer A-110-4 is one of my favorite sounding VCOs and that's before I think about how cheap it is.

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Re: FM Aid or a second VCO

Post by albiedamned » Wed May 20, 2020 3:52 pm

FM Aid is great! However you should definitely still consider a second oscillator. See this thread I started a few years ago (ugh, make that almost 5 years ago!) about using FM Aid with a single oscillator versus multiple oscillators: viewtopic.php?f=16&t=145426.

One other option to consider if you're into more controlled, tuned FM sounds is the Modcan FMVDO. It's digital, and it has a switch to limit the FM ratio to integers. That produces pitched tones instead of the chaotic inharmonic FM you typically hear when you patch one oscillator into another. I have FM Aid and FMVDO and I wouldn't part with either.
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Re: FM Aid or a second VCO

Post by starthief » Wed May 20, 2020 4:30 pm

ATW wrote:
Wed May 20, 2020 2:45 pm
starthief wrote:
Wed May 20, 2020 2:27 pm
I have several modules which do TZFM or phase modulation…
What are some of your go-to TZFM/PM capable modules, Starthief? I am considering FM Aid, too—before I dive in I want to see how much FM/PM I can derive with my existing sound sources. I have Mangroves, a the two CEM3340-based VCOs in the Neutron that I can sync, Plaits, and my other oscillator is a Disting. Overdriving the modulating vco signal with a vca (in this case Mix3) gets has some nice FM results, too.
Akemie's Castle: good old dirty Yamaha OPL3 PM
Hertz Donut mk2: TZFM, internally or external source
E352: an internal 2-Op FM mode, a phase modulation mode, and an external FM input that'll do exponential or linear TZFM
Rings: has a basic 2-Op FM mode
Disting EX, though I don't see myself using it as an oscillator often since there's all the rest of this :)

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Re: FM Aid or a second VCO

Post by Shledge » Wed May 20, 2020 8:00 pm

Warps doubles as a TZFM oscillator, although digital.
paosciante wrote:
Wed May 20, 2020 2:32 pm
Yeah, Ive read about Fm Aid being actually PM Aid. I am not too interested on having something totally pure (in terms of having the real deal), but I don't want to be missing on anything if I go the FM Aid route, as it seems a bit of a shortcut... Don't know if this is just some sort of mental (and snob) block Ive built myself. I just want to have a nice gnarly generator setup but don't want to go crazy on my wallet as at the end of the day I am more into the classic sawtooth into lowpass sound.
FM Aid is completely analogue, it may be PM but not exactly in the Chowning implementation that you'd typically see in digital FM synths, IIRC. More like a TZFM approach using PM. I wouldn't consider it "cheating", in fact you get a little more flexibility this way since it can do wavefolding and sync-like sounds too.

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Re: FM Aid or a second VCO

Post by hinterlands303 » Wed May 20, 2020 10:30 pm

nectarios wrote:
Wed May 20, 2020 3:21 pm
The Doepfer A-110-4 is one of my favorite sounding VCOs and that's before I think about how cheap it is.
Same. I foolishly sold one and bought it back a month later.

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Re: FM Aid or a second VCO

Post by ndkent » Wed May 20, 2020 11:23 pm

I remember I had a bit of a hunt and wait to actually get an FM Aid, so considering it's not a very expensive module, less than most VCO modules, I would (and did) just get it and then figure out what it can give you by your own use.

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Re: FM Aid or a second VCO

Post by autopoiesis » Thu May 21, 2020 12:04 am

it might not be clear but the FM Aid is not an oscillator and won't make a complex dual oscillator configuration when paired with just one oscillator. when paired with just one, it can do wavefolding and sync-ish timbres, but when paired with two oscillators (one oscillator's sawtooth wave patched into the carrier input, and another oscillator's sine wave patched into the modulator input) it will do the analog phase modulation trick that sounds just like really great, deep TZFM. (eg, like a rubicon FM'd by a dixie.) in fact, the "FM" we know from the DX7 was realized through phase modulation, not TZFM.

the results of phase modulation differ much more from those of TZFM when the carrier or modulator is something other than a sine wave. I happen to really like those unique results from PM when using, for example, a wavetable oscillator as the modulator in a PM patch.

as already suggested, the FM Aid route is hardly cheating in any regard. it's arguably more "modular" than a TZFM VCO + modulating VCO pairing, or than a complex dual oscillator module, but you might not be that interested yet in the patching edge cases (usually involving parallel audio processing that can't be done when the carrier is actually having its phase or frequency modulated at the source, versus in the FM Aid scenario where that modulation is "outsourced" into the FM Aid) that it offers over either of those. they are very rewarding to explore though.

what's obviously great about the FM Aid is the extreme depth of pitch-stable phase modulation you're able to get out of it, and with all the interesting imperfections of the analog operators involved. but whatever carrier oscillator you choose for it, you'll probably want to stick with that carrier because you have to calibrate the trimmer on the front of the FM Aid panel to its waveform amplitude in order to minimize the "buzzing" artefacts that result from its method of realizing phase modulation in the analog domain. I find that putting a low-pass filter (with the operators' pitch CV muted into its 1v/oct input - ie, "keytracking") after the FM Aid helps a lot in taming those artefacts. there have been threads on this aspect of the module and it shouldn't deter you because it's an amazing tool.

I'd recommend pairing the FM Aid with two oscillators that track similarly and where one of them has a clean sawtooth. if one of them already has a suboscillator, you're close to the Rubicon + Dixie setup but with arguably more flexibility. IMO, you won't get much more benefit out of either of your carrier or modulator oscillators being TZFM-capable if you're using them with the FM Aid.

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Re: FM Aid or a second VCO

Post by blaythe.steuer » Thu May 21, 2020 1:19 am

I have an FM Aid and it is a wonderful sleeper module. Just the wavefolding aspect (when you don’t use a modulator signal) is worth the price and HP.

like, you can FM anything with anything! that’s so much fun and it’s just exciting to put all kinds of sounds through it and getting really weird and interesting results :)

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Re: FM Aid or a second VCO

Post by mbartkow » Thu May 21, 2020 2:25 am

Shledge wrote:
Wed May 20, 2020 8:00 pm
FM Aid is completely analogue, it may be PM but not exactly in the Chowning implementation that you'd typically see in digital FM synths.
If you look at Chowning's paper, his formulas implement phase modulation, so do DX-style digital synths. What do you mean by saying that FM Aid is not that thing?

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Re: FM Aid or a second VCO

Post by starthief » Thu May 21, 2020 3:21 am

All I can think of there is, Yamaha's implementation used a quarter-sine lookup table to save address space. Then with the TX81Z, OPL3 etc. they took advantage of that to create rectified and windowed variations derived from the same table.

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Re: FM Aid or a second VCO

Post by Shledge » Thu May 21, 2020 5:51 am

mbartkow wrote:
Thu May 21, 2020 2:25 am
Shledge wrote:
Wed May 20, 2020 8:00 pm
FM Aid is completely analogue, it may be PM but not exactly in the Chowning implementation that you'd typically see in digital FM synths.
If you look at Chowning's paper, his formulas implement phase modulation, so do DX-style digital synths. What do you mean by saying that FM Aid is not that thing?
It's more of a wave multiplier circuit and the fact it isn't a digital implementation in order to do PM. It sounds a bit different too, due to the fact it is completely dependent on the source waveforms for waveshaping. You can use that to your advantage by changing the audio levels of the waveforms going into it.

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Re: FM Aid or a second VCO

Post by mbartkow » Thu May 21, 2020 7:06 am

Shledge wrote:
Thu May 21, 2020 5:51 am
It's more of a wave multiplier circuit and the fact it isn't a digital implementation in order to do PM. It sounds a bit different too, due to the fact it is completely dependent on the source waveforms for waveshaping. You can use that to your advantage by changing the audio levels of the waveforms going into it.
Ahh this. Thank you for the explanation, I thought you were suggesting Chowning did frequency modulation, not phase modulation.
Yes, indeed it depends on exact matching of the input wave shape and amplitude. But assuming having these covered isn't the final effect equivalent to phase modulation?

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Re: FM Aid or a second VCO

Post by paosciante » Thu May 21, 2020 7:06 am

All this info is amazing! I love this forum


Yeah, FM Aid is now certainly on my list hehe. I ll probably buy a 110-4 on the near future as I feel it can add a lot of exploration to my other vcos, and its always cool to have some extra voices. I now think the 110-6 might be overkill and I actually rather get a 110-4 and a Doepfer precision for the same price.

I am sort of building a 9U case with mainly Doepfer modules (because of availability in Spain, pricepoint, gotta admit aesthetics do play a big part, and I really want to have an entire system with one brand and use it like someone would use a Shared System or one of those amazing Verbos systems... I still have a 6U with other stuff like Rene, Maths, Dixie, etc). So I am really looking forward into getting a bunch of nice Doepfer VCOs, I am glad to hear the FM Aid makes it more or less irrelevant to worry about TZFM on the VCOs, but at the 110-4 price I am inclined to getting it just to have a nice nontraditional VCO in that system.

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Re: FM Aid or a second VCO

Post by Shledge » Thu May 21, 2020 9:49 am

mbartkow wrote:
Thu May 21, 2020 7:06 am
Ahh this. Thank you for the explanation, I thought you were suggesting Chowning did frequency modulation, not phase modulation.
Yes, indeed it depends on exact matching of the input wave shape and amplitude. But assuming having these covered isn't the final effect equivalent to phase modulation?
Bad wording on my part!

Closest I've got was using digital VCOs and tweaking the amplitude/offset to remove any imperfections of the output waveform, but the outcome always sounds a bit different to modules I have that can do digital PM like Braids or Graphic VCO. It's brighter and more controllable than TZFM, but it often sounds more "buzzy" compared to digital PM.

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Re: FM Aid or a second VCO

Post by helix » Thu May 21, 2020 10:34 am

I've got the FM aid. It's really great, this post has made me want to use it more as i often kind of forget its there!

If you want another osc that does it's own FM and also can do many other things including the usual shapes, a Mutable Plaits isn't a bad shout....I use mine a LOT

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Re: FM Aid or a second VCO

Post by MindMachine » Fri May 22, 2020 8:56 pm

You will not be disappointed with the FM Aid. Read the full thread that JlR started when it came out. It is an amazing module, especially for the price. It is no one trick pony. It is pretty infinite, depending if you use one VCO in or two... different waveforms... different tunings...Using VCAs' pre and post along with mixing and cv leveling it can produce a great range of tone. Mixing lfo's into the CV can produce great seqeunces of timbre (I currently have a Ladik Uncertain LFO into its CV... it does it on its own).

I also have the Dixe VCO II+ and the STO, along with Sputniks and a Wiard/Malekko VCOII. They all sound great with the FM Aid. It is one of the very best values in Euro. The precision of the Dixie will give your STO great FM, but the FM Aid is another world of sound.
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