emulating aalto in hardware

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DeanG
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emulating aalto in hardware

Post by DeanG » Sat Jul 25, 2020 10:31 am

I've kind of rediscovered aalto after a typical(for me) journey through eurorack and all in one hardware synths that has avoided softsynths with the exception of aalto and arturia's easel emulation. I have sold most all of my hardware and out of some sort of synth withdrawal I have been spending more time with aalto, and realizing this is the kind of synth I would love in hardware.

So it crossed my mind that I should explore the idea of building up a hardware system that uses the aalto softsynth design as its basis.

I haven't started researching modules etc for this yet. Any thoughts and suggestions would be great.

I think I will use modular grid as a design platform. (Then I will know how much I can't afford and probably stick to the software :confused: but the design exercise should at least be fun).
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Re: emulating aalto in hardware

Post by exper » Sat Jul 25, 2020 10:53 am

Fun exercise. I'd maybe go with something like this, obviously module choice is very personal though...

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Re: emulating aalto in hardware

Post by starthief » Sat Jul 25, 2020 11:16 am

Right on, Aalto is a fantastic synth and I still use it sometimes along with my modular.

Trying to imitate it exactly in Euro is probably a wild goose chase, but imitating the general setup and whatever you find to be the key features that make it great can be fruitful.

You'd want a TZFM or PM complex oscillator and wavefolder... I've been using Hertz Donut mk2, but am soon going to try Shapeshifter and I think that will be ideal for me. Lots of other players in this space too: Further Generator with the Strong Zero core, Rubicon + Dixie + wavefolder, any oscillator + Warps, any oscillator + Generate 3 + wavefolder, etc.

And then an LPG of your choice (I think trying to match Aalto's exactly would be frustrating). You wouldn't have to worry too much about vactrol response to pings, since it's almost always patched to an envelope generator anyway -- so I think the Doepfer LPG, or Pittsburgh Dynamic Impulse Filter, would be fine. I love Natural Gate myself but it's not easy to get your hands on one.

For the delay, something that can go well into audio rate and takes modulation nicely -- I love Mimeophon but there are others (Mungo D0, CG Delay 1022, etc.). You might want a peaking filter for the feedback loop too.

Filter of your choice. I don't think the filter character of Aalto is a key part of its sound and I don't even use it most of the time, unless it's to roll off highs a little.

Reverb of your choice too. Aalto's is smoother and more modern-sounding than classic West Coast stuff normally is, which can work, but I often wind up using Twangstrom, Ratshack Reverb or Valhalla Delay instead. In Euro I'd probably spring (heh) for a spring reverb or just get FX Aid.

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DeanG
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Re: emulating aalto in hardware

Post by DeanG » Sat Jul 25, 2020 11:36 am

Wow you're ahead of me on this. I have gotten away from eurorack and had mainly make noise. Still have to catch up . Thanks for the info so far. I should add, though I think you figured it, that I am just considering a monophonic voice.
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Re: emulating aalto in hardware

Post by brandonlogic » Sat Jul 25, 2020 12:39 pm

Also consider just getting a buchla easel!
Or just the 208c and midi controller

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Re: emulating aalto in hardware

Post by Exiannyc » Tue Sep 15, 2020 5:25 pm

Hello friends. I too love Aalto and dreamed of a hardware version.

I got a Pittsburgh Modular Voltage Research Laboratory, which I'm surprised has not been mentioned, I don't think, in this thread. It gave me part of the Aalto magic, and has a nutty deranged-avant-gard-electric-guitarist vibe of its own. Between the almost-Turing sequencer, the internal midi, the function generators, and the very loopy touch keyboard/sequencer, you can get some intricate recursively modulating systems going that are very expressive. (See some soundcloud pieces I put up, like this one https://soundcloud.com/christian-huygen ... curmudgeon )

But I really really missed the magic of Aalto's polyphony, and the amazing complex things you can do with the VOX parameter, which when applied to the sequencer rate, gives you a different sequencer rate for each of the voices... when applied to the panning, gives you a different panning location for each of the voices... This is the kind of thing hardware generally can't do, and it gives me no end of joy.

Also, I discovered that when you apply a Lot of modulation curves to Aalto's modulation attenuverters, the results sound (to me) quite dazzling. Give it a try!

All that said, I think there's a VRL currently up for sale on Reverb. It's a lovely instrument. You may want to check it out.

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Re: emulating aalto in hardware

Post by Estes » Wed Sep 16, 2020 4:51 am

Exiannyc wrote:
Tue Sep 15, 2020 5:25 pm

But I really really missed the magic of Aalto's polyphony, and the amazing complex things you can do with the VOX parameter, which when applied to the sequencer rate, gives you a different sequencer rate for each of the voices...
I think the magic in Aalto especially when playing polyphonic is that you can play on a tuned feedback/waveguide. I think the only synth that does something similar is the nonlinear labs c15.

The rest of the synth is very bucla inspired and can be achieved with the voltage research lab but also other lpg and oscilltors with crossmodulation.

However what both synths have in common is that they somehow tend to sound very organic. They both are a very unique instrument with very good design decisions.

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Re: emulating aalto in hardware

Post by Martebar » Wed Sep 16, 2020 5:39 am

Haha, amazing, I just spent the morning working on my own recreation of this and now I visit MW and see this topic pop up, cool coincidence :)

Anyway, my version is altered by the fact that I want to use mostly modules that I already own, so it might not be a perfect recreation, but right now I only need the Mimeophon and Verb to complete it (and the 68hp case too) which is neat! I hope that if I do that, and with the help of a 0-CTRL, I will finally feel like I have a complete "instrument".

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Re: emulating aalto in hardware

Post by Buttons ARE toys » Wed Sep 16, 2020 9:02 am

I put together Aalto inspired patches pretty often and it's mostly straight forward other than the waveguide delay. For that I use a Mungo D0 combined with 3 Sisters. By sending the signal to the filter's All input and then mixing the three outputs you can adjust the gain of the Center output to do something similar to the peaking filter. You could also do this with any filter that has low, band, and highpass outputs but I like 3 Sisters since I can control the width of the peak. I've always though that Happy Nerding's Tritone would be perfect for this role, but I haven't gotten around to adding one to my rack yet.
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Re: emulating aalto in hardware

Post by dragulasbruder » Mon Sep 21, 2020 2:11 pm

the waveguide section is sorely missing in hardware.
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Re: emulating aalto in hardware

Post by starthief » Mon Sep 21, 2020 2:29 pm

It seems to me that a Mimeophon with a Shelves in the feedback loop -- or any delay that can go down to Karplus lengths but track 1V/OCT and not slew while doing it, and any bandpass filter mixed with a dry bypass -- would just about do it.

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Re: emulating aalto in hardware

Post by Estes » Tue Sep 22, 2020 12:45 pm

starthief wrote:
Mon Sep 21, 2020 2:29 pm
It seems to me that a Mimeophon with a Shelves in the feedback loop -- or any delay that can go down to Karplus lengths but track 1V/OCT and not slew while doing it, and any bandpass filter mixed with a dry bypass -- would just about do it.
yeah but not polyphonic :waah:

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Re: emulating aalto in hardware

Post by starthief » Tue Sep 22, 2020 1:46 pm

A fair point.

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Martebar
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Re: emulating aalto in hardware

Post by Martebar » Wed Sep 23, 2020 2:30 am

I mean, the whole VST can be polyphonic, so it's not just the delay that is a problem in this case.
Or does it act polyphonically in monophonic patches too?

I don't think the point of this idea is to create a polyphonic modular synth.

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Re: emulating aalto in hardware

Post by Estes » Wed Sep 23, 2020 2:49 am

It was not a really a helpful comment I agree...
However the joy of aalto comes with its polyphonic capabilities imo. I can do some things with the voltage research lab of Pittsburgh Modular that come close to the feeling but when I play a pad with some unpredictable feedback movements I just can't think of anything similar out there. However one thing that I often think about is to get a nice synth/sampler/granular and record and process feedbacks and see what the result in poly would be.
Last edited by Estes on Wed Sep 23, 2020 2:51 am, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: emulating aalto in hardware

Post by Estes » Wed Sep 23, 2020 2:50 am

Double post

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Re: emulating aalto in hardware

Post by Martebar » Wed Sep 23, 2020 5:18 am

Estes wrote:
Wed Sep 23, 2020 2:49 am
However one thing that I often think about is to get a nice synth/sampler/granular and record and process feedbacks and see what the result in poly would be.
Get Kaivo! ;)

I can totally see why polyphony is an important strength of Aalto as a synth, but I really feel that a modular synth based on Aalto's architecture would be a very nice sound design tool and idea generator, even without polyphony.

To be honest, I'm really close to buying Mimeophon and that 68hp case, I can't get this idea out of my head :)

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Re: emulating aalto in hardware

Post by Estes » Wed Sep 23, 2020 9:42 am

Martebar wrote:
Wed Sep 23, 2020 5:18 am
Estes wrote:
Wed Sep 23, 2020 2:49 am
However one thing that I often think about is to get a nice synth/sampler/granular and record and process feedbacks and see what the result in poly would be.
Get Kaivo! ;)

I can totally see why polyphony is an important strength of Aalto as a synth, but I really feel that a modular synth based on Aalto's architecture would be a very nice sound design tool and idea generator, even without polyphony.

To be honest, I'm really close to buying Mimeophon and that 68hp case, I can't get this idea out of my head :)
I have for karplus strong delays the mimeophon, the more dedicated delay from cg products and the d0.
The mimeophon gives you instantly an overal good, easy, flexible delay. The mungo D0 is a beast but needs a lot of pacience to master but very rewarding. The cg product delay is analog, nice different from the D0 but always good to have if you work a lot with feedbacks...

So yeah its a good starting point...

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