Noob VCA Question

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konjurer
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Noob VCA Question

Post by konjurer » Wed Feb 19, 2020 10:32 am

Complete noob here. Just assembled by first modular - very basic with an OSC, ADSR, LFO and filter modules and NO VCA. Two issues:

1. I want to play a synth voice from a MIDI keyboard and it's not working (working erratically or not at all).
2. My envelope generator has almost no effect

After many searches here and watching many youtube videos I'm wondering if both are related to NOT having a VCA. The documentation on my ADSR is almost non-existent from the manufacturer and I'm not even sure how to connect to the ADSR. My ADSR has the following outputs GATE, OUT, PLUS, MINUS.

Questions:

1. I have CV and GATE coming from the MIDI but it is triggering erratically - do I need a VCA for the keyboard?

2. How do I connect my ADSR to create a simple synth voice I can shape?

3. Do I need a VCA to make the ADSR work?

Thanks

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Re: Noob VCA Question

Post by Happiness Forever » Wed Feb 19, 2020 10:39 am

Welcome to the fun!!!!

Go here viewtopic.php?f=4&t=44345

Have fun. 😀
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DCDanno
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Re: Noob VCA Question

Post by DCDanno » Wed Feb 19, 2020 11:03 am

Full disclosure, I'm new at this as well, so read this with that in mind.

It is possible to use your filter as a gate, replacing the VCA in a basic patch. It would like something like:

Keyboard Pitch -> VCO 1V/oct
Keyboard Gate -> ADSR Gate (in)
VCO Out -> Filter Audio in
ADSR Out -> Filter CV In

With filter in low pass mode set the filter frequency lower than the oscillator (if you want the sound to turn off after the note plays). Flip this if using high pass, ie set higher than osc. I've had to follow the high pass with a low pass to turn off the note, but that's probably my inexperience.

You can get some pretty cool sounds playing with the various filter and envelope parameters.

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Re: Noob VCA Question

Post by electricanada » Wed Feb 19, 2020 11:20 am

konjurer wrote:
Wed Feb 19, 2020 10:32 am
Complete noob here. Just assembled by first modular - very basic with an OSC, ADSR, LFO and filter modules and NO VCA. Two issues:

1. I want to play a synth voice from a MIDI keyboard and it's not working (working erratically or not at all).
2. My envelope generator has almost no effect

After many searches here and watching many youtube videos I'm wondering if both are related to NOT having a VCA. The documentation on my ADSR is almost non-existent from the manufacturer and I'm not even sure how to connect to the ADSR. My ADSR has the following outputs GATE, OUT, PLUS, MINUS.

Questions:

1. I have CV and GATE coming from the MIDI but it is triggering erratically - do I need a VCA for the keyboard?

2. How do I connect my ADSR to create a simple synth voice I can shape?

3. Do I need a VCA to make the ADSR work?

Thanks
Sounds like a midi connectivity problem. Try running just keyboard cv into the oscillator, while listening to the osc. Make sure that’s working right by itself.

Next, run the envelope into the osc fm input and listen to the osc. This will sound like weird sound fx, but it will enable you to make sure the gate is triggering consistently.

If that’s all working, then run the osc into the filter. Use the envelope to modulate the filter cutoff. Listen to the filter output. This will give you a typical synth voice, although perhaps a bit extreme.

A vca and attenuators will be very useful, but you can make a lot of cool sounds with what you already have.
Eléctrica (electric) Nāda (the yoga of sound).

Arneb
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Re: Noob VCA Question

Post by Arneb » Wed Feb 19, 2020 11:35 am

konjurer wrote:
Wed Feb 19, 2020 10:32 am
1. I have CV and GATE coming from the MIDI but it is triggering erratically - do I need a VCA for the keyboard?

2. How do I connect my ADSR to create a simple synth voice I can shape?

3. Do I need a VCA to make the ADSR work?
1. No, not really. What are you using to get CV/gate from the MIDI? Just because they're building those Volca-style 3.5'' MIDI connectors these days doesn't mean that you can plug them straight into a 1V/oct input and get pitch CV that way - the MIDI format is just too different from Eurorack-style CV to do this.

2. Well, the basic East Coast patch is a gate into ADSR, ADSR mult'ed into filter cutoff CV In and VCA CV In. I guess it would help if you could specify the ADSR manufacturer though.

3. No. You need a VCA to patch a volume progression following the ADSR. That's not the same thing as "making it work" - if you don't patch it at all, it won't effect the sound, but that's working as intended.

konjurer
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Re: Noob VCA Question

Post by konjurer » Wed Feb 19, 2020 12:12 pm

electricanada wrote:
Wed Feb 19, 2020 11:20 am
Next, run the envelope into the osc fm input and listen to the osc. This will sound like weird sound fx, but it will enable you to make sure the gate is triggering consistently.
Keep in mind that I'm a complete noob who gets confused easily as I'm learning the concepts and various terms... does "osc fm" mean "trig" on my OSC (Plaits)? My case has MIDI to CV and MIDI to GATE... so I patch my MIDI to GATE to the ADSR GATE (Dreadbox), then OUT to the OSC, correct?

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Re: Noob VCA Question

Post by Arneb » Wed Feb 19, 2020 12:22 pm

konjurer wrote:
Wed Feb 19, 2020 12:12 pm
electricanada wrote:
Wed Feb 19, 2020 11:20 am
Next, run the envelope into the osc fm input and listen to the osc. This will sound like weird sound fx, but it will enable you to make sure the gate is triggering consistently.
Keep in mind that I'm a complete noob who gets confused easily as I'm learning the concepts and various terms... does "osc fm" mean "trig" on my OSC (Plaits)?
Nope, "FM" means "FM" on the Plaits.

Also, Plaits isn't a good VCO choice for a complete noob - your words, not mine. When you're having your hands full with understanding one synthesis model, having 16 of them is actively counterproductive.
My case has MIDI to CV and MIDI to GATE... so I patch my MIDI to GATE to the ADSR GATE (Dreadbox), then OUT to the OSC, correct?
Normally OUT goes to the VCA CV In, and often also the VCF one. Here... well, turns out that Plaits has a built-in LPG (roughly speaking, an often-mystified West Coast part which acts as both VCA and VCF). Best bet for getting results quickly would be to use that - that is, ADSR's Out into Plaits' LEVEL In.

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Agawell
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Re: Noob VCA Question

Post by Agawell » Wed Feb 19, 2020 1:13 pm

I kind of agree with Arneb in that Plaits probably isn't the best noob vco - but you have it so don't worry - just keep it on one of the upper green modes for now and you'll be fine

I would be tempted to list all the modules you own - maybe a link to your rack on modulargrid - it really helps if we can see your rack as you see it so advice can be directed properly

and tell us what you are using for Midi-CV if it is not a module

FM means frequency modulation - there is a specific input for this on Plaits

Plaits has an Low Pass Gate (LPG) built into it (VCA and filter)

try patching the gate (via the adsr, maybe) into the level in of Plaits as this will control the LPG on the output of Plaits

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Re: Noob VCA Question

Post by electricanada » Wed Feb 19, 2020 10:08 pm

Given that you have Plaits, you don’t need to use fm to test your midi gate. Just run the gate into Plaits trigger in and see if it triggers reliably.
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konjurer
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Re: Noob VCA Question

Post by konjurer » Thu Feb 20, 2020 1:09 pm

Agawell wrote:
Wed Feb 19, 2020 1:13 pm
I would be tempted to list all the modules you own - maybe a link to your rack on modulargrid - it really helps if we can see your rack as you see it so advice can be directed properly and tell us what you are using for Midi-CV if it is not a module
Here's my rack...

https://www.modulargrid.net/e/racks/view/1118357

Here's my case... you can see the MIDI broken out on the case. There is a traditional 5 pin midi in and out on the back of the case.

Image

THANKS to everyone for all of the help! I am trying many of your suggestions as well as emailing the case manufacturer. This hard to map some of your suggestions to the labeled jacks on my modules so hopefully the modular grid will show you what I have available.

My goals for the system is both east coast (melodic using a keyboard from time to time) and west coast. So far, I'm really struggling on both fronts. The two modules that came with the case (Cellz and Chipz) are very uninspiring. I was hoping that the Plaits clone and the dreadbox mods would provide enough functionality to make some cool noise and voices but so far not much luck. I can't seem to get the ADSR to work with anything. Very disappointed so far. :cry:

konjurer
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Re: Noob VCA Question

Post by konjurer » Thu Feb 20, 2020 1:14 pm

electricanada wrote:
Wed Feb 19, 2020 10:08 pm
Given that you have Plaits, you don’t need to use fm to test your midi gate. Just run the gate into Plaits trigger in and see if it triggers reliably.
That doesn't work. Nor does the MIDI to CV change pitch although it kinda worked a couple times when I first tried. I'm starting to think it's an issue with the MIDI connection in the case.

konjurer
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Re: Noob VCA Question

Post by konjurer » Thu Feb 20, 2020 3:48 pm

We're getting somewhere... I hooked up another keyboard and I am getting CV for pitch from the keyboard. The oscillator generates a steady tone.

Now, how do I get the envelope to shape the sound and cutoff the tone after releasing the key? I'm still thinking I need a VCA to do this. I did try going into the filter as a make-shift VCA but that didn't seem to work - although it did seem to control the filter which was cool to do for the first time.

Trying to make my rig play from a keyboard, does an ADSR envelope generator need to control a VCA to shape the volume and cut off after the key release?

Thanks!

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Agawell
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Re: Noob VCA Question

Post by Agawell » Thu Feb 20, 2020 4:05 pm

gate from midi module to input of adsr

out of adsr to level of plaits

press key - listen to plaits outputs

is how it should work

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dubonaire
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Re: Noob VCA Question

Post by dubonaire » Thu Feb 20, 2020 4:21 pm

It seems you are not the only person with a Nifty case midi problem.

viewtopic.php?f=16&t=227877

konjurer
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Re: Noob VCA Question

Post by konjurer » Thu Feb 20, 2020 9:34 pm

Agawell wrote:
Thu Feb 20, 2020 4:05 pm
gate from midi module to input of adsr
out of adsr to level of plaits
press key - listen to plaits outputs
is how it should work
Yes! That works. Thanks.

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IEC
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Re: Noob VCA Question

Post by IEC » Sun Feb 23, 2020 7:08 pm

konjurer wrote:
Thu Feb 20, 2020 3:48 pm
We're getting somewhere... I hooked up another keyboard and I am getting CV for pitch from the keyboard. The oscillator generates a steady tone.

Now, how do I get the envelope to shape the sound and cutoff the tone after releasing the key? I'm still thinking I need a VCA to do this. I did try going into the filter as a make-shift VCA but that didn't seem to work - although it did seem to control the filter which was cool to do for the first time.

Trying to make my rig play from a keyboard, does an ADSR envelope generator need to control a VCA to shape the volume and cut off after the key release?

Thanks!
this is still correct for most cases i think... the EG just generates a control voltage, which should then tell a VCA how to open/close. if you are using a more straightforward VCO you will need a VCA. Its fairly confusing that EG's dont just have the VCA built in, but you can use them for other things too, and most people end up with multiple VCA's anyway

konjurer
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Re: Noob VCA Question

Post by konjurer » Sun Feb 23, 2020 7:32 pm

IEC wrote:
Sun Feb 23, 2020 7:08 pm
this is still correct for most cases i think... the EG just generates a control voltage, which should then tell a VCA how to open/close. if you are using a more straightforward VCO you will need a VCA. Its fairly confusing that EG's dont just have the VCA built in, but you can use them for other things too, and most people end up with multiple VCA's anyway
That's the best answer for my question! Thanks.

So if another noob like me comes along and reads this... you really do need a VCA to make your ADSR work (or something that does work like a VCA). This is the basic patching recipe for playing a "synth voice" through your modular synth from a MIDI keyboard...

MIDI keyboard CV to OSC (V/OCT)
MIDI keyboard GATE to ADSR
ADSR to VCA
VCA to OUTPUT

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IEC
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Re: Noob VCA Question

Post by IEC » Mon Feb 24, 2020 3:05 am

that sounds about right, of course the osc output has to go into the VCA input too :) i remember when i first got a bunch of modules i couldnt get a sound out of them, lol. I had to watch this video series to make it happen (and buy a VCA)

The problem was that fixed architecture synths always have the envelope hard wired to a VCA, so I did not really understand why an envelope generator would not have a VCA too. Now I understand that they are separate, for the same reason that lego blocks dont come glued together...

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