Oscillators - point me in the right direction

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HenryBurlingame
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Oscillators - point me in the right direction

Post by HenryBurlingame » Thu Aug 27, 2020 3:35 pm

So it happened, I just couldn't be happy with a mostly empty LC9V case... I started my modular to just help connect some of my synths with a stereo mixer, some effects like reverb, and an output module, but I want to build a self-contained modular now so I am making a list of modules to add and I want to start with a few oscillators. I am hoping you all can point me in the right direction:

I am thinking about starting with two or three separate oscillators and I want to narrow down my seemingly infine options, so I would like your opinion on what types would be best. Not necessarily which exact oscillators, but which types (simple, analog, digital, complex, fm, wavetable, quad, etc., etc.). I was thinking about getting a complex oscillator and a wavetable oscillator, and maybe a module with multiple oscillators for chords or... but I am still exploring modular synthesis and dont know what directions I would really like to go in yet.

If you had to start over and could just have a couple oscillators what would you recommend? Help point me in the right direction so I can focus my research :eek: .

Thanks!

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Re: Oscillators - point me in the right direction

Post by commodorejohn » Thu Aug 27, 2020 3:53 pm

The right direction? Zero-going. No, wait...positive-going. No, zero-going. Hang on, try negative-going. Wait...
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HenryBurlingame
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Re: Oscillators - point me in the right direction

Post by HenryBurlingame » Thu Aug 27, 2020 4:10 pm

commodorejohn wrote:
Thu Aug 27, 2020 3:53 pm
The right direction? Zero-going. No, wait...positive-going. No, zero-going. Hang on, try negative-going. Wait...
:slapfight:

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Gringo Starr
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Re: Oscillators - point me in the right direction

Post by Gringo Starr » Thu Aug 27, 2020 4:16 pm

Well it’s kinda hard. Depending on what you do you might find all of them useful or just a couple. I’d start off with the two kinds that resonate with you the most. I’m sure you’ve watched plenty of YouTube videos by now. Start with whichever two you liked most.

It’s hard to hit the nail on the head every time you make a purchase. Buying and selling are part of the journey to discovering what you like. Don’t be careless of course but don’t be afraid to take a chance either.

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Re: Oscillators - point me in the right direction

Post by tom » Thu Aug 27, 2020 4:20 pm

There is no right or wrong.
Something thru zero plus something digital is a good idea.
Here at the West-Coast everything oscillates. You get sinewaves out of filters and so on.
Gringo Starr wrote:
Thu Aug 27, 2020 4:16 pm
Buying and selling are part of the journey to discovering what you like
This depends: there are pople who buy and sell all the time, some think and evaluate a long time before buying and some never sell, only buy.
Better you try before buy, then you realize quickly

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Re: Oscillators - point me in the right direction

Post by Gringo Starr » Thu Aug 27, 2020 4:46 pm

tom wrote:
Thu Aug 27, 2020 4:20 pm
There is no right or wrong.
Something thru zero plus something digital is a good idea.
Here at the West-Coast everything oscillates. You get sinewaves out of filters and so on.
Gringo Starr wrote:
Thu Aug 27, 2020 4:16 pm
Buying and selling are part of the journey to discovering what you like
This depends: there are pople who buy and sell all the time, some think and evaluate a long time before buying and some never sell, only buy.
Better you try before buy, then you realize quickly
That’s exactly why I said not to be careless. I sit on potential purchases for quite a while before I jump. I watch almost every possible demo and read or start a thread before I buy anything. Probably because of this I haven’t had to sell many but there have been a couple. I do believe it’s part of the process. Comparatively I doubt there’s very many people with complete systems that didn’t sell a couple things along the way.

To the OP. There’s plenty of Oscillator demos on YouTube. Listen to them all and the ones that resonate with you the most are your best chance at buying the right module without being able to play with it first.

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Re: Oscillators - point me in the right direction

Post by starthief » Thu Aug 27, 2020 4:53 pm

Personally, I don't see much point in a super-basic analog VCO... not when there are semi-basic VCOs (digital or analog) that offer more variety. E.g. Twin Waves, Plaits, Lifeforms Primary Oscillator, etc. But I could definitely understand going for a "basic" VCO if it has a specific character that you like, and I'm not about to say that people are wrong for liking their Dixies and STOs :)

I lean more toward "monster" oscillators -- Shapeshifter, Akemie's Castle, Ensemble Oscillator. These can be supplemented occasionally by Maths or a filter that's filling in an oscillator role, or even software synths (e.g. Bitwig Grid). I also like Rings or delay/reverb/filters resonating in feedback loops -- I don't count Rings as an oscillator, though it can be.

I've admired music made on all kinds of systems though. There are no wrong answers, there's just what personally fires up your inspiration or doesn't :)

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Re: Oscillators - point me in the right direction

Post by Sleepfc » Thu Aug 27, 2020 4:59 pm

Plaits is one of the cooler VCOs that I can think of. Relatively easy to use, lots of cool modes to play with and it covers a lot of territory. Great module if you wanted to kill a bunch of birds with one stone

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Re: Oscillators - point me in the right direction

Post by Sleepfc » Thu Aug 27, 2020 5:05 pm

Double post sorry

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Re: Oscillators - point me in the right direction

Post by pugix » Thu Aug 27, 2020 5:08 pm

Personally, I do see a point in a super-basic analog VCO. My suggestion boils down to: Start with an oscillator that you can operate without needing to look at the manual all the time. Oscillators need to oscillate, be stable, have good tracking, and provide basic waveforms. I'd want linear (and maybe through-zero) FM, too. If it were me, I'd get two of the same kind, such as two STOs or Dixies. Good for cross-modulation. If you want gold plating, get a pair of Random*Source NTOs.
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Re: Oscillators - point me in the right direction

Post by rhflame » Thu Aug 27, 2020 5:13 pm

I feel like oscillators are more the same than different. It's more about what you can do to them. One of my first was a DPO. Which is great because it covers the basics and can get wild. Plus it's analog. So it covers most of what you would need. I've heard the instruo troika would be good for chords

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Re: Oscillators - point me in the right direction

Post by Carrousel » Thu Aug 27, 2020 5:23 pm

In general, I think your impulse to try a complex oscillator and a wavetable oscillator isn’t a bad one (as a very broad statement, without knowing anything about your goals.)

A complex oscillator will slow you to explore how analog oscillators can modulate and affect each other; it’ll give you a world of analog timbres and probably teach you a lot about synthesis along the way.

A digital wavetable oscillator would complement the analog pair nicely. Modulating wavetable position with carefully curated voltage is another one of the joys of modular and would give access to an entirely different world of timbres from the complex analog osc.

As far as specific recommendations: I’ve always loved a Rubicon, Dixie pairing. Used them for years and now I have 2 of each. The Furthrrrr generator is another nice complex oscillator which I recently acquired - much fuzzier and more imprecise than the rubicon but very nice for getting Warm, rumbling textures and / or bass tones.

Wavetable-wise I’ve actually been dissatisfied with most of what I’ve tried, though usually for reasons that pertain to features other than the wavetable itself - eg touchy tuning or other limitations which annoyed me. I’ve really wanted to try the E-352 for some time though - the E350 is the finest wavetable oscillator I’ve yet used.
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Re: Oscillators - point me in the right direction

Post by everythingcontinues » Thu Aug 27, 2020 5:41 pm

I quite like the 4MS Spherical Wavetable Navigator. It's got 6 voices, so it's beyond good for chords. It's also a great early module, as it can do a LOT on its own-- individual triggers / envelopes for each of the voices, chord-based pitch spreading of the voices, LFOs for modulating itself, etc, etc. Loopop has a nice overview video on it.

Seeing as it has all that functionality, it is pretty large, complex and certainly not cheap. I find the interface to be very well-designed considering said complexity, but it does take some learning (I found the manual very well-written and helpful). Definitely not for everyone but potentially a unique option to consider.

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Re: Oscillators - point me in the right direction

Post by MarcelP » Thu Aug 27, 2020 6:09 pm

HenryBurlingame wrote:
Thu Aug 27, 2020 3:35 pm

If you had to start over and could just have a couple oscillators what would you recommend?
A complex oscillator and a "flexible filter".

I have a lot of oscillators and filters - haven't sold any because they ALL have their own individual characteristics, some are very useful generalists, some are unique specialists. The most used oscillator in my rack is the Furthrrrr generator. The "ultimate" filter choice is harder - would be one of WMD Aperture/Sisters/Twin Peak/Rossum Morpheus.

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Re: Oscillators - point me in the right direction

Post by rew_ » Thu Aug 27, 2020 7:19 pm

starthief wrote:
Thu Aug 27, 2020 4:53 pm
But I could definitely understand going for a "basic" VCO if it has a specific character that you like, and I'm not about to say that people are wrong for liking their Dixies and STOs :)
Picking a nit but the STO has waveshaping, it's not really a basic VCO!

I think a basic VCO prioritizes stability, and classic, static (pulse width excepted) wave outs. So Dixie, yes, but also SSF Spectrum, Z3000, Noise Reap Bermuda, that sort of thing.


(And to keep this slightly on topic, I think having a basic but feature-rich VCO like the Dixie is really great, and having more than one is even better.)

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Re: Oscillators - point me in the right direction

Post by Kattefjaes » Thu Aug 27, 2020 7:25 pm

A couple of Intellijel Dixie II+ isn't a bad place to start. They're space-efficient, sensibly priced, clean and have some really solid FM-fu. They have sync and sub and generally perform a lot better than their unassuming appearance would suggest. They're good for "basic" analogue VCO duties, but also more than capable if you want to yolk them together as building blocks in a frankenoscillator.

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Re: Oscillators - point me in the right direction

Post by bronzebygold » Thu Aug 27, 2020 11:45 pm

HenryBurlingame wrote:
Thu Aug 27, 2020 3:35 pm
If you had to start over and could just have a couple oscillators what would you recommend?
That's easy. Verbos Electronics Complex Oscillator and Joranalogue Generate 3. That's all I need forever. :love:

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Re: Oscillators - point me in the right direction

Post by osten » Fri Aug 28, 2020 2:00 am

I have plaits, personally I don't like it. I can recommend a TS-L by instrou. Those oscillators absolutely bang and they are tiny also.

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Re: Oscillators - point me in the right direction

Post by HenryBurlingame » Fri Aug 28, 2020 2:57 am

Thanks so much everyone, you are a lot of help as always! I also got my copy of Patch and Tweak today. I was afraid it was going to be more of a 'coffee table book', but there is actually some really good info in there, including about 40 pages on oscillators, so perfect timing.

I think I am going to start with the Instruo Cs-L. Then if I still have money left over after my other modules (sequencer, modulation sources, etc.) I am really thinking about adding a wavetable oscillator (looking closely at the 4ms SWN).

But I haven't pulled the trigger yet, so more advice is always appreciated :-).

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Re: Oscillators - point me in the right direction

Post by Arneb » Fri Aug 28, 2020 3:24 am

tom wrote:
Thu Aug 27, 2020 4:20 pm
Something thru zero plus something digital is a good idea.
Also something borrowed and something blue. Dropping loose change into your case is advised against though.

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Re: Oscillators - point me in the right direction

Post by oliodnb » Fri Aug 28, 2020 4:28 am

Sleepfc wrote:
Thu Aug 27, 2020 4:59 pm
Plaits is one of the cooler VCOs that I can think of. Relatively easy to use, lots of cool modes to play with and it covers a lot of territory. Great module if you wanted to kill a bunch of birds with one stone
I'd recommend a Plaits just because as a beginner I find very useful all the modules that offers a lot of options.
I bought more modules because I was constantly using that function on a Disting than because they sounded cool in a demo video.

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Re: Oscillators - point me in the right direction

Post by rank30 » Fri Aug 28, 2020 5:51 am

Sleepfc wrote:
Thu Aug 27, 2020 4:59 pm
Plaits is one of the cooler VCOs that I can think of. Relatively easy to use, lots of cool modes to play with and it covers a lot of territory. Great module if you wanted to kill a bunch of birds with one stone
I agree with Plaits. Loads of fun!
:eek:

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Re: Oscillators - point me in the right direction

Post by SIN_formant_A1472V » Fri Aug 28, 2020 6:04 am

I think you can do a lot with doubles of basic oscillators. Something that does a square, triangle, and sawtooth. With two of them you can mix and match sounds, cross modulate, maybe get metalizer and pulsewidth modulation going, all sorts of things really. Plus, if you are getting started, it's best to master those things anyways.

On the other hand, my favorite oscillator this summer was definitely the qubit scanned. You can get some pretty wild things going with the excite input and the hammer modulation. It's good for drones, but I also got some really squelchy next level 303 stuff out of it. Not sure what my next oscillator purchase is going to be, but I am leaning towards the 4ms wavetable navigator, with the intention of doing more atonal work with it.

I'd also recommend, naturally, just looking at the oscillators your influences are into.

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Re: Oscillators - point me in the right direction

Post by Spindrift » Fri Aug 28, 2020 6:32 am

If doing plain subtractive synthesis, don't expect a big difference in sound depending och what oscillator is used. Might be some slight imperfections in basic waveforms adding a bit of character, but those are typically very small compared to the changes something like a filter will produce.
However, the way oscillators respond to audio rate modulation can vary a lot. Here generally analogue is superior. But if you want something generating an exact sinewave to use to modulate another osc, digital can be better.

So I would be looking for a highly modulatable analogue osc (for example Generate 3 or DPO), and then a couple of simple osc where you mainly want pure waveforms that tune and track easily. And ideally with perfect sines so something like a Disting might even be better than a good basic analogue osc like Dixie.

Wavetable can be seen as an osc that has a bunch of preset modulations. Can be nice to have to complement conventional oscillators, but waves can often be too complex to use as a modulation source, and same other way around if modulating a wavetable osc with audio rate. But if you want already complex waveforms without patching several oscs together they are practical, and can of course go places that would be hard to do with a couple of regular oscs.

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Re: Oscillators - point me in the right direction

Post by hawklord2112 » Fri Aug 28, 2020 6:46 am

going to echo for Plaits

*however*
something basic like the Doepfer A110 and their Thru zero one, would give you a lot of fun for not much money.
also im jonesing for the Dreadbox Hysteria atm because it looks like tons o fun for less than a hundred quid.
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