5U Users and module layouts poll

Moog, Synthesizers.com, MOTM, Modcan, Moon and others..... Go big!

Moderators: Joe., lisa, luketeaford, Kent

Post Reply

Do you dismiss modules with ...

... Faders?
4
7%
... other knobs than the typical Cosmo (MU) or PKES (MOTM) ones?
3
5%
... knobs that have more dense layout and so don't use the standard MOTM/Moog/Dotcom grid?
3
5%
... both faders and non-typical knobs?
1
2%
... both non-typical knobs and more dense layouts?
2
4%
... everything non standard (faders, knobs & density)?
7
13%
I don't care about faders, knobs or density per se
35
64%
 
Total votes: 55

User avatar
sonicwarrior
Super Deluxe Wiggler
Posts: 3815
Joined: Tue Sep 29, 2009 3:36 pm
Location: Cologne, Germany

5U Users and module layouts poll

Post by sonicwarrior » Mon Jul 28, 2014 5:56 am

Apparently there are some users who are bound to the more traditional Moog like look in MU or 'the grid' in MOTM format and as I'm curious I wanted to start a little poll to see how many are OK with alternative layouts.

E.g. some SSL modules make use of sliders and Curetronic uses a different grid (the same grid for pots and jacks, more wide regarding jacks, more dense regarding pots), different knobs and jacks and that might be a reason that both are not THAT often seen in 5U rigs.
Soundcloud
For sale: Jürgen Haible Tau Phaser (MOTM format)

User avatar
steffengrondahl
Wiggling with Experience
Posts: 345
Joined: Sat May 12, 2012 6:25 am
Location: Denmark

Re: 5U Users and module layouts poll

Post by steffengrondahl » Mon Jul 28, 2014 6:37 am

Standard knobs for me, please. I even find that some of my MU modules has too small knobs to my taste (like the Delta VCF and S-VCO), but it's OK.
sonicwarrior wrote:E.g. some SSL modules make use of sliders and Curetronic uses a different grid (the same grid for pots and jacks, more wide regarding jacks, more dense regarding pots), different knobs and jacks and that might be a reason that both are not THAT often seen in 5U rigs.
SSL has just two modules with sliders. One of them is quite new (the VCADSR), the other (DDVCO) big and expensive. But I believe there's actually quite a lot of DDVCO out there.

But Curetronics might suffer from the non-classical design and layout? :hmm: Yes, you might have a point.

User avatar
alternating.bit
Super Deluxe Wiggler
Posts: 3133
Joined: Mon Nov 25, 2013 7:27 am
Location: East Coast, USA

Post by alternating.bit » Mon Jul 28, 2014 7:18 am

I actually love the Curetronic look. I was so close to buying a bunch of their modules, but opted for some regular 5U's instead. But layout doesn't concern me too much as long as the color scheme is similar and there are knobs... sliders are just... ew. no.

User avatar
sonicwarrior
Super Deluxe Wiggler
Posts: 3815
Joined: Tue Sep 29, 2009 3:36 pm
Location: Cologne, Germany

Re: 5U Users and module layouts poll

Post by sonicwarrior » Mon Jul 28, 2014 7:34 am

steffengrondahl wrote:SSL has just two modules with sliders.
Aren't two 'some'? More fader/slider modules are planned.
Soundcloud
For sale: Jürgen Haible Tau Phaser (MOTM format)

User avatar
Leverkusen
Super Deluxe Wiggler
Posts: 2230
Joined: Mon Jul 29, 2013 2:26 am
Location: Suhlendorf

Post by Leverkusen » Mon Jul 28, 2014 8:22 am

I don't care much about these things by now as long the knobs are more or less made in a similiar style (black with a silver batch on top). I even planted a moom sequencer in a Hordijksystem, but I want them all to have the same color and don't like different shades of black in my system so much. Vaders are welcome, though. Especially when they have LEDs. :hihi:

User avatar
Just me
Has enough VCA's
Posts: 4490
Joined: Sat Apr 10, 2010 11:45 am
Location: Downtown

Post by Just me » Mon Jul 28, 2014 8:55 am

So long as it is black face, I use it. I could never use an MOTM grid system however. Once your system gets large, having a unique layout to he modules makes them much easier to find in the system.
If I have water in my ear, is it safe for me to listen to electronic music?

User avatar
sduck
experimental use of gravity
Posts: 13607
Joined: Wed Feb 18, 2009 6:03 pm
Location: Vortepexaion, TN, USA

Post by sduck » Mon Jul 28, 2014 12:31 pm

Just me wrote:I could never use an MOTM grid system however. Once your system gets large, having a unique layout to the modules makes them much easier to find in the system.
You know, off hand I'd agree with you. But, in reality I have a large MOTM based system. And while a lot of my modules are my own design, which are about as "off the grid" as you can get, I still have a cabinet and a half of solid grid-based MOTM modules, all grouped together. And experience has proven that once you spend any time at all with the system, you don't have any trouble at all finding the module you're looking for - I can find any of them with my eyes closed. It's called practice, or muscle memory, or something like that. And while you might have some initial problems finding the modules you're looking for if you were to start using my system, I bet that with your experience with modular synths you would be able to learn in a similar way very quickly.

It's like learning the violin or cello after learning guitar - at first you're like, "no frets? How do I know where the notes are?". But as long as you know what the notes are supposed to sound like, you figure it out pretty quickly.

Don't worry, not playing devils advocate here, don't expect you to change anything. Just some brain farts from me.
flickr cloud of sound touyube NOT A MODERATOR ANYMORE

User avatar
Savage
Cogito Pro Mundus
Posts: 785
Joined: Thu Jul 26, 2012 11:55 am
Location: Currently visiting Earth

Post by Savage » Mon Jul 28, 2014 3:28 pm

sduck wrote:
Just me wrote:I could never use an MOTM grid system however. Once your system gets large, having a unique layout to the modules makes them much easier to find in the system.
You know, off hand I'd agree with you. But, in reality I have a large MOTM based system. And while a lot of my modules are my own design, which are about as "off the grid" as you can get, I still have a cabinet and a half of solid grid-based MOTM modules, all grouped together. And experience has proven that once you spend any time at all with the system, you don't have any trouble at all finding the module you're looking for - I can find any of them with my eyes closed. It's called practice, or muscle memory, or something like that. And while you might have some initial problems finding the modules you're looking for if you were to start using my system, I bet that with your experience with modular synths you would be able to learn in a similar way very quickly.

It's like learning the violin or cello after learning guitar - at first you're like, "no frets? How do I know where the notes are?". But as long as you know what the notes are supposed to sound like, you figure it out pretty quickly.

Don't worry, not playing devils advocate here, don't expect you to change anything. Just some brain farts from me.
But what happens if you decide to move stuff around? Or if you happen to add several modules at once and have to rearrange everything? Right now, I'm getting ready to add two VCO's, and a fair amount of stuff, not just VCO's, is going to get moved around. In the last expansion, I added a sequencer, two VCO's, and a fixed filter bank causing a lot of stuff to get moved around. I think I'd find that confusing after I had gotten used to everything being in one place and looking so similar. I understand you can just relearn everything because that's what I do with MU, but everything looks kind of different, too, so it's pretty easy. When I was deciding on a 5U format back in the Dark Ages, saw a monster MOTM system, and couldn't even tell where one module stopped and the next one began let alone what was what, this was the main reason I went MU. Just wondering how you deal with these expansion/rearrangement situations with MOTM because I really like a few of the modules that seem to be exclusively found in that format...
My hovercraft is full of eels.

User avatar
sduck
experimental use of gravity
Posts: 13607
Joined: Wed Feb 18, 2009 6:03 pm
Location: Vortepexaion, TN, USA

Post by sduck » Mon Jul 28, 2014 4:00 pm

Savage wrote: But what happens if you decide to move stuff around?
You practice for a bit, and learn where things are. Practice, practice, practice. We're all doing that all the time, even if we don't call it that.

All I'm actually saying is that sometimes our preconceptions get in the way of the realities of working with this stuff. I have read this exact thing (paraphrased of course) on occasion - "I like everything about MOTM format except the grid" - when in reality that's not an issue for a reasonably competent synth user. We all have certain preconceptions that dictate our choices, and determining which ones are good and which ones are bad is a key to growth. For instance, I've long felt that euro stuff was tiny, and too small for people like me with big hands, and shied away from it. But then I got some euro stuff, at first to see about mounting it behind 5U panels, but then I found that I'm fine with the size - it's NOT too small! I can work the knobs and such just fine! A preconception bites the dust.

I'm not trying to convert anybody - we all know that the MOTM format is basically dead. And that would be a fair thing to say in a negative way about it - when the guy who invented the format has abandoned it, it's essentially dead. It's currently only a viable format (as far as availability) for DIYers, but for that it's still one of the best formats around.
flickr cloud of sound touyube NOT A MODERATOR ANYMORE

User avatar
Stereotactixxx
Ultra Wiggler
Posts: 831
Joined: Thu Mar 17, 2011 11:16 am
Location: Sweden

Post by Stereotactixxx » Mon Jul 28, 2014 4:09 pm

I use MU (have no experience with MOTM other than that many of my MU modules basically follow an MOTM grid) and there are some modules I right out dismiss based on looks. Thats why I voted "both non-typical knobs and more dense layout". Truthfully though, many modules with these features are not dismissed, but end up further down on the must have list, the more they deviate from something that will go well together with the rest of my instrument.

I find classic MU (not necessarily meaning Moog) to have a good balance of coherency within the format and uniqueness per module. MU is also often very clearly laid out and labeled, top of the line functionality without too much "trying to stand out of the crowd by making an artistic statement". Standing out of the crowd means standing out like a sore thumb in my instrument, no matter how good the module might look on its own.

The traditionally used knobs go a long way to cover most needs. I see a lot of modules using smaller knobs with the same Cosmo looks. I have also bought a few of these modules. It's OK I guess, but it's almost always done to make the design denser. This is something I don't agree with. I say let 5U be 5U. Larger knobs look better, feel nicer and are more easily dialed to a preferred position. Space around knobs is also important to maintain playability. Faders can in some rare cases (and right now only the double deka springs to mind) be advantageous for visual help. If they are used to save space or to make a design statement, it's not for me.

So yes, I try to avoid small knobs, dense modules, "creative looks" and even printed panels, but in many cases I'm not being totally dismissive. Right now though, with so many modules on my must have list, a modules with several of these "flaws" will have a hard time competing for my next purchase.

dan_e10
Common Wiggler
Posts: 119
Joined: Thu Feb 16, 2012 11:48 am

Post by dan_e10 » Mon Jul 28, 2014 4:33 pm

Dumb question, sorry, but what is the MOTM grid exactly? The MOTM modules I looked at looked similar to modules from other manufacturers.
Dan

User avatar
Dave Peck
Super Deluxe Wiggler
Posts: 3393
Joined: Thu Mar 24, 2011 1:22 pm
Location: SF bay area

Post by Dave Peck » Mon Jul 28, 2014 7:05 pm

The 'MOTM grid' is the visual effect caused by the fact that MOTM 5U modules have a solid flat front panel (no bent sides) and a black finish that goes all the way to the edges, so when you place a bunch of them together it can be difficult to easily distinguish the separate modules - they all seem to run together into one big panel.

Whereas MU modules from other manufacturers usually have bent left & right edges (for rigidity, because they are made from a thinner material than the MOTM 5U modules, and to match the appearance of Moog modules which share this characteristic) and these bent edges typically have a vertical silvery stripe on these bent edges (because you can't silkscreen the graphics onto a bent edge) and this makes it very easy to visually differentiate between adjacent modules. They don't appear to all run together like the MOTM 5U style.

User avatar
kindredlost
5U skiff friendly
Posts: 5560
Joined: Wed Oct 28, 2009 1:45 pm
Location: Texoma

Post by kindredlost » Mon Jul 28, 2014 7:27 pm

"MOTM GRID" to me is more like the lower quadrant is jacks and all the rest of the knobs and switches are above. When plied together it gets to be a butt load of jacks all looking the same.

I don't really care at all about the looks of a module for the most part. It is the functional properties which count for me. Also, I like density if it is a value thing. Putting everything plus the kitchen sink into a module and it costing a kidney isn't what I'd consider a good idea.
Bandcamp, soundcloud, videos
"The Sands of Time are eroded by The River of Constant Change" - Peter Gabriel

User avatar
sduck
experimental use of gravity
Posts: 13607
Joined: Wed Feb 18, 2009 6:03 pm
Location: Vortepexaion, TN, USA

Post by sduck » Mon Jul 28, 2014 8:26 pm

This is the MOTM grid: (and some of my off-the-grid modules)

Image

(sorry it's a fuzzy pic - I just cropped a section out of a much larger pic of the whole system)

It's the layout of the knobs and jacks. Has nothing to do with the sea of black thing as Dave P suggested (lose 10 points). You either hate it or you love it I guess. The sea of black thing - 2 people have mentioned that "you can't tell where one module ends and the next one starts" - in pictures (like the one above), this can be so; in real life, not an issue. Unless you're blind, you can tell. Again, you either hate it or you love it.
flickr cloud of sound touyube NOT A MODERATOR ANYMORE

User avatar
Just me
Has enough VCA's
Posts: 4490
Joined: Sat Apr 10, 2010 11:45 am
Location: Downtown

Post by Just me » Mon Jul 28, 2014 8:52 pm

My problem with MOTM and the grid stems from playing live. I work up a set on my full modular and then move only the modules used for that show into a cabinet (or two). It is always dark on stage so visual recognition is important to me. Then of course, when that show is over, they usually get randomized back into the full system.
I also have modules that don't fit the MU aesthetic with hand lables and small knobs or sliders, etc. Whatever works. I'll finish my joystick modules before knobcon. I hope.
If I have water in my ear, is it safe for me to listen to electronic music?

User avatar
boothnavy
Ultra Wiggler
Posts: 983
Joined: Mon Mar 29, 2010 9:18 pm
Location: Boston

Post by boothnavy » Mon Jul 28, 2014 9:35 pm

Just from someone's perspective who lays out panels...

Some of my modules are based on designs of classic synthesizers, which inherently goes against "the grid." I do this as a tribute not only to the great functionality of the circuits but also as a tribute to what I feel is good design.

Manufacturers spend a lot of time and resources on coming up with both functional and esthetically pleasing designs/user controls, but it is hard to reinvent the wheel. Look at the number of Les Paul and Stratocaster copies in the guitar world...

There are certainly some classic synths that i think had very successful designs: Minimoog, Arp 2600, SH-101, because they are clear and intuitive. Others, I would argue, are less so (the Andromeda comes to mind...). They all have more or less the same function, it's just a question of user interface and preference.

So, to grid or not to grid? Why choose...
boothnavy - synthesist

www.analogcraftsman.com

User avatar
whitewulfe
Chaos beckons, I heed the call
Posts: 1769
Joined: Sun Sep 05, 2010 1:52 pm
Location: C-YXD (Edmonton, Canada)

Post by whitewulfe » Wed Jul 30, 2014 10:50 pm

Standard Cosmo knobs for me, however alternate layouts I'm willing to work with provided they're designed intelligently and can be readily used in a manner more or less like Moog and/or dotcom modules. Part of the draw for MU for me was it's simplistic yet readily usable interface/UI.

Some modules that are denser (like say the SSL VC Envelope Generator) I've no problem with, as they were designed to still be quite easily used despite having so much crammed into one panel. Modules like the Analog Craftsman 5x Attenuators aren't necessarily my thing due to being too dense.

User avatar
Bob Borries
Veteran Wiggler
Posts: 711
Joined: Sun Jul 11, 2010 11:41 pm
Location: L.A.

Post by Bob Borries » Wed Jul 30, 2014 11:50 pm

I wouldn't let knobs compromise my sound, if a module sounds great I'm going to buy it. Moog didn't shy away from sliders, if it's good enough for him, it's good enough for me.

Image

User avatar
sonicwarrior
Super Deluxe Wiggler
Posts: 3815
Joined: Tue Sep 29, 2009 3:36 pm
Location: Cologne, Germany

Post by sonicwarrior » Fri Aug 01, 2014 3:46 pm

Bob Borries wrote:Moog didn't shy away from sliders
Wasn't the Sonic Six been developed by someone else?
But sliders are used on other classics, too, like the Odyssey/2600 or the CS series and several Roland machines.
Soundcloud
For sale: Jürgen Haible Tau Phaser (MOTM format)

User avatar
lvoemachine
Super Deluxe Wiggler
Posts: 1131
Joined: Tue Mar 06, 2012 12:09 am
Location: Iowa

Post by lvoemachine » Fri Aug 01, 2014 9:59 pm

I expect my modules to sound good more than anything. I also have mu so I expect them not to be motm like and be jack bottom and knobs up top for no reason. I want layouts to logically lead me to how the pcb behind actually functions and also not to be a graphic design atrocity. As far as knobs go, changing them out isn't hard or expensive and on things like a serge res eq that's a small panel but it still feels good even without silver tops on my knobs :)

User avatar
davebr
Veteran Wiggler
Posts: 668
Joined: Mon Sep 07, 2009 12:55 am
Location: Portland, OR USA

Post by davebr » Sat Aug 02, 2014 11:44 am

sonicwarrior wrote:
Bob Borries wrote:Moog didn't shy away from sliders
Wasn't the Sonic Six been developed by someone else?
The Sonic Six was based on the Sonic V which was designed by an ex-Moog employee for Musonics. In 1971 the R. A. Moog company and Musonics merged to form Moog/Musonics which later renamed to Moog Music Inc. The Musonic Sonic V was redesigned into a portable synthesizer to become the Sonic Six which was released in 1974. It certainly differs from all other Moogs in look and feel. I did a restoration and have some photos on my Sonic Six page.

Like everyone who has responded, I have my own criteria. I generally like my modules black with white legends, similar knobs, knobs to the top and jacks to the bottom. Even Paul varied font and tic marks over time.

When I design a module or panel I deviate from this when it makes sense. For me that is following some logical flow based on the module or for density. My Buchla 266 Source of Uncertainty is very dense, but I value panel space highly and wanted to keep this to a 2U module. Below are four panels I designed and I consider them all to have a common look and feel even though they differ in knob size, tic marks and spacings. The ComputerVoltageSource (2nd from left) differs in vertical spacing because I needed small knobs and space for switches and an LCD display. The Jurgen Haible vibrato scanner (2nd from right) differs in vertical spacing because I wanted all 9 of the jacks next to the knobs and in a single line. It also has a different knob because that *&#% switch is so hard to turn. The 266 SOU differs in vertical spacing because of the density but I matched the vibrato scanner. What's nice about this industry is the consumer can pick and choose, and if you DIY you can follow your own standards.

Sliders are nice, but I consider their reliability long term to be poor since they are not sealed. Every "vintage" piece of gear I have with sliders is intermittent and taking them apart to clean and lube them only works for a while. Every "vintage" piece of gear I acquire with sliders has one or more shafts broken off. I do acquire some gear with potentiometer shafts broken off but it is much more rare.

If I were to use this live on stage, I would want to take a page from the 1966 Magnatone MP-3 book: rear lighted legends from a dimmable EL strip. Those you could see!

Dave

Image

Post Reply

Return to “5U Format Modules”