Marienberg modular system

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JohnLRice

Post by JohnLRice » Tue Dec 11, 2018 2:19 pm

:zombie: :zombie: :zombie:

After all these years I finally purchased a Marienberg module, the VC Sine Phase Oscillator because . . .I couldn't stop thinking about it! :roll: :hihi: :party:

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First step was to make it mountable in a DotCom rack frame. I enlarged the holes from the Marienberg standard of about 3mm to the Moon standard of about 5mm and then using a Dremel tool elongated the holes a bit towards the outer edges of the panel. Hole ugliness isn't noticeable at all when the screws are in.
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It's centered pretty well so it doesn’t look too bad when viewed straight on.
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and is not horribly noticeable when view at an angle. I think I'll live with the gaps for a while and someday if I'm "in a mood" I'll fabricate some side pieces that will attach to the panel flanges to fill in the gaps . . maybe . .
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Now I just have to figure out the power connection. I know it only needs +-15v and I have the needed connectors to make an adapter cable but I'm not sure yet which pins are what voltage. The connector's left and right pins are labeled V1 and V2 with the center pin unlabeled . . .I'm assuming it will be +15, 0v, -15 but I want to be sure. Email already sent to Steffen at Marienberg but if anyone here knows the details please let me know. 8-)

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fluxmonkey
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Post by fluxmonkey » Tue Dec 11, 2018 2:34 pm

JohnLRice wrote:
Now I just have to figure out the power connection. I know it only needs +-15v and I have the needed connectors to make an adapter cable but I'm not sure yet which pins are what voltage. The connector's left and right pins are labeled V1 and V2 with the center pin unlabeled . . .I'm assuming it will be +15, 0v, -15 but I want to be sure.
should be easy enuf to ping out with a multimeter... at least ground for sure, though the power rails might have regulators or something in the way...
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JohnLRice

Post by JohnLRice » Tue Dec 11, 2018 2:44 pm

fluxmonkey wrote:
JohnLRice wrote:
Now I just have to figure out the power connection. I know it only needs +-15v and I have the needed connectors to make an adapter cable but I'm not sure yet which pins are what voltage. The connector's left and right pins are labeled V1 and V2 with the center pin unlabeled . . .I'm assuming it will be +15, 0v, -15 but I want to be sure.
should be easy enuf to ping out with a multimeter... at least ground for sure, though the power rails might have regulators or something in the way...
that's what I thought, but I'm confused. :despair: Very high resistance between jack ground lugs and all of the pins and . . .even high resistance between jack ground lugs! :eek:

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sbuge
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Post by sbuge » Wed Dec 12, 2018 10:52 am

JLR Congrats for your purchase.
When it is powered up... please make a demo :bananaguitar:

JohnLRice

Post by JohnLRice » Wed Dec 12, 2018 2:05 pm

sbuge wrote:JLR Congrats for your purchase.
When it is powered up... please make a demo :bananaguitar:
:tu: It may be a long time before I get around to doing a proper demo for it (or at least something reasonable) but it's all working now and I put up a quick taste on Instagram of it controlling a COTK Spectral Modulator. It sounds great as just a VCO as well.

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Post by Dr Gris » Wed Dec 12, 2018 6:17 pm

That sounded great!!!
Looks like lots of patching between modules I don't even understand :mrgreen:

//M

JohnLRice

Post by JohnLRice » Thu Dec 13, 2018 9:48 am

Dr Gris wrote:That sounded great!!!
Looks like lots of patching between modules I don't even understand :mrgreen:

//M
Thanks!

Basically the patch takes a lot of cables but only uses a few modules and is actually fairly simple. A lot of what the COTK C998 does is like a voltage controlled fixed filter bank, no knobs for each band, just jacks for CV inputs. The Marienberg Sine Phase VCO produces 1 frequency at a time but has 8 outputs that are phase shifted 45 degrees from each other. So I just patched the outputs of the Sine Phase VCO into the inputs of the C998 for a specifically controlled filter sweep.

More info on these two modules below:
http://marienbergdevices.de/modular/ueb ... /vco-sine/
http://www.cluboftheknobs.com/MODULES_p ... _c998B.gif

As a side note, pulse output #1 has failed :cry: but I have sent an email to Marienberg and hopefully it will be an easy fix?

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Post by sbuge » Mon Dec 17, 2018 3:27 am

"Simple" patch but really impressive result JLR
Thank you for posting.
&I hope you get your module fixed.

JohnLRice

Post by JohnLRice » Mon Dec 17, 2018 11:46 am

sbuge wrote:"Simple" patch but really impressive result JLR
Thank you for posting.
&I hope you get your module fixed.
Thanks for the kind words! 8-) I got an email from Thomann saying they would get back to my when they have more information on possible solutions, hopefully it will be a painless fix!

JohnLRice

Post by JohnLRice » Mon Jan 07, 2019 8:39 am

JohnLRice wrote:
sbuge wrote:"Simple" patch but really impressive result JLR
Thank you for posting.
&I hope you get your module fixed.
Thanks for the kind words! 8-) I got an email from Thomann saying they would get back to my when they have more information on possible solutions, hopefully it will be a painless fix!
Yeay, all is good and I fixed it myself! :party: :cloud: :banana:

Thomann was great and got back to me in a few days and requested that I return the module to them so the manufacturer could check it out and repair it. They included complete instructions, documents, and said they would reimburse my shipping cost. :tu: But I thought I might be able to fix it and this time I was right. (I can't say that I've always been successful when I've thought this! :oops: ) Here's what I shared with them on what I did:
As previously stated the zero degree square wave LED stopped responding (always red) and the related square wave output while still present and producing the correct frequencies had a much lower output level. I also checked with an oscilloscope, see screen shot below. The top yellow trace is the problematic zero degree square output and the purple trace is the 45 degree square output. As you can see the yellow trace has a much lower output level and also the rise and fall times are three times slower than the correctly working purple trace:

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Since the zero degree sine output was still working correctly I assumed that the design of the circuit first creates sine waves and then uses a wave shaper circuit to create the square waves. Looking at the module it was fairly obvious that the eight identical quad op amp circuits on the jack PCB were likely doing the wave shaping for each output and since after staring at the PCB for a while through a microscope but didn’t see any damaged parts or bad solder joints, I hoped that maybe the op amp chip had failed since it would be relatively easy to replace thanks to being socketed.

To test my theory I swapped the op amp chips between the 0 and 45 degree channels and I was happy to see that the 0 degree channel came back to life and the 45 degree channel now had the problem. Yeay!

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Post by sbuge » Mon Jan 07, 2019 8:55 am

Nice to hear this & congrats!

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Post by josaka » Thu May 30, 2019 11:39 am

blink and you missed this..
[video][/video]

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Re: Marienberg modular system

Post by flx » Fri Mar 06, 2020 8:26 am

Hey, I thought I'd feed this thread with some videos I made last year. I had the chance to interview Holger Marienberg at length in German language, but I also made a summary video in English language here:




Here's me just jamming on a Marienberg modular for the first time, without any sequencer/keyboard:



I find this manufacturer incredibly fascinating, because there is not only this deep passion behind it, but its history ranges back into the East Germany communist era, where it all started.
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Re: Marienberg modular system

Post by sbuge » Fri Mar 06, 2020 11:28 am

Thanks for videos - so intresting and informative.

Marienberg have so versatile and feature-rich modules - I love the idea of everything trying to be as precise as possibe (it is like Cwejman in 5U).
& I loved your patch ... very nice textures you got there!

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Re: Marienberg modular system

Post by flx » Sat Mar 28, 2020 4:58 am

Alrighty, my Marienberg adventure is finally starting! I received a Precision PSU, their VC Multimode Filter and a prototype of their upcoming VC Envelope module, for which I‘ll produce videos soon.

Instagram teasers:



I have also bought a few MU (and one MOTM) modules from krisp1, to be able to do more in the 5U domain:
1C849A79-E4F6-4E08-97E7-A955604495FB.jpeg
For those modules I have now built adapter power cables, so that they can run off the Marienberg +/-15V PSU, which uses different connectors:
A255AB55-192A-431E-8877-699D74CA647D.jpeg
Making those cables was super easy, but let me know if you have questions. Here’s the Marienberg power connector pin assignment:
19106707-D85C-42FC-995F-8B198BA6F995.jpeg
My task for today is to mount the PSU and modules into my synth wardrobe, which I have already prepared with black wooden rails to screw the modules into. While they‘re all 5U tall, MU, MOTM and Marienberg differ in width and screw hole spacing of course.
C8EE05B0-D6A3-460D-A87B-ED798776DA7D.jpeg

And this brings me to another thing I wanted to do: answer the questions that arose in this thread about compatibility concerns.

Width: The modules are a bit thinner and have slightly different screw hole spacings than MU. The Marienberg brothers have admitted that this was an early oversight by them, but when people started asking about MU sized modules, there was already a customer base, which they didn’t want to alienate and one can still easily modify the modules to fit into an MU case.

Power: While most Marienberg modules run on standard +/-15V (only the wavetable VCO and MIDI-CV converters require 5V and 3.3V I think), they deliberately made their own PSU and power connectors. Their very first module was the precision VCO, which was meant to provide superior analog FM capabilities. This required a precise power supply to satisfy the Marienberg brothers’ scientifically-driven design goals. While the VCO also works fine with less precise PSUs, they feared that if somebody would order the module, put it into a case with a wonky PSU and go through the trouble of measuring the VCO’s output, that person would then start a discussion why the module isn’t as precise as it was advertised (even if sonically, it might not even make a difference).

Both of the above things haven’t been a big problem for Marienberg apparently, as customers would often order full systems, built and configured to their specific needs, which they’d expand then with more Marienberg modules later on. So there wasn’t a strong desire or pressure for compatibility, as the Marienberg module lineup provided all that was necessary for a functioning system. Of course one can patch a Marienberg system to another 5U format, due to the standard signal ranges.

That being said, from what I’ve heard, if all goes as planned, there will be some changes regarding all of this soon. There have been efforts to re-structure certain processes inside the company and I think with the successful production of the already mentioned new VC Envelope module, a new chapter of Marienberg might start.
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Re: Marienberg modular system

Post by steffengrondahl » Sat Mar 28, 2020 7:46 am

flx wrote:
Sat Mar 28, 2020 4:58 am
Width: The modules are a bit thinner and have slightly different screw hole spacings than MU. The Marienberg brothers have admitted that this was an early oversight by them, but when people started asking about MU sized modules, there was already a customer base, which they didn’t want to alienate and one can still easily modify the modules to fit into an MU case.
Sorry to derail this, but this is utterly ridiculous. First, they didn't looked into what already existed. The MU format was invented by Moog in the mid sixties and reinvented by Roger Arrick (synthesizers.com) in 2000 and Marienberg just made an oversight :bang: And of course also with their own properitary power :bang:

At least they could start making the modules both in their own format and MU format with dotcom connectors. For instance Gert@Moon Modular makes his modules with both dotcom and COTK connectors as default, and several of his modules exists in both MU/5U and the haft-height.

I'm never going to support this company. Self-absorbed, ignorant, arrogant :youkids:

Rant over.

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Re: Marienberg modular system

Post by flx » Sat Mar 28, 2020 11:05 am

steffengrondahl wrote:
Sat Mar 28, 2020 7:46 am
Rant over.
Haha! And what a rant it was! :mrgreen: I do agree that as consumers, we must totally vote with our wallets. However, I don't really understand the anger. If a modular synth manufacturer wants to make their own format, that's totally fine by me. It's great when these projects work out too, as it apparently has for Marienberg in the past. I can also understand if they don't want to deal the fallout of their customers using sub-par PSUs with their modules. As I wrote though, things have been changing on all fronts in our happy Synth World and more people "vote" for MU compatibility nowadays. In fact, in this month's German KEYS magazine 04/2020, the brothers are being interviewed and they say that they will indeed offer their modules in MU format in the future :yay:

And having met them personally and having talked to them a lot, let me assure you that those two are truly humble and knowledgeable people, who do the whole synth manufacturer thing for their pleasure, basically on the side to their day jobs.
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Re: Marienberg modular system

Post by flx » Sat Mar 28, 2020 11:10 am

Aaaanyway, my Saturday project has been successful! :nana: Installed the power supply and modules in my wardrobe rack and everything's working as intended.

Screen Shot 2020-03-28 at 17.04.34.jpeg
First patch :sb:
Untitled 2.jpg
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Re: Marienberg modular system

Post by flx » Sat Mar 28, 2020 2:15 pm

Another piece of news, which I had already shared on Instagram:



Tangerine Dream’s new Marienberg System. From the picture I can make out the following modules.

Top row:
Polyphonic MIDI-CV Converter
Mutliples
2x VCO A (precision oscillator e.g. for analog FM)
VCO B (standard VCO)
VC Wavetable VCO
Mixer
VC Multimode Filter
Attenuator
VCA

Bottom row:
Precision Power Supply
4x VC ADSR
VC Multimode Filter
Mixer
VCA
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Re: Marienberg modular system

Post by Tonefloat01 » Sat Oct 10, 2020 6:02 pm

So are there Marienberg module compatible with DotCom/5U systems without modifications? Or are they doing their own slightly different thing?
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Re: Marienberg modular system

Post by josaka » Sat Oct 10, 2020 8:25 pm

different systems.. there was talk of marienberg porting some over to .com.. dont think thats happened.. they sell through thomann so check there..

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Re: Marienberg modular system

Post by flx » Sun Oct 11, 2020 3:59 am

Yes, as of now it is a separate format, which can be easily adapted to DotCom though. The upcoming VC Envelope Generator B module, will be available in DotCom format, as well as the Marienberg format.
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