Oscillators: Is There Any Audio Difference

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sunsinger
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Oscillators: Is There Any Audio Difference

Post by sunsinger » Mon Nov 30, 2009 6:43 pm

I need to buy a few more oscillators.

Has anyone noticed any qualitative sound or audio differences between more the expensive oscillators, like MOTM 300 or Modcan 01B, as opposed to synthesizers.com Q106 with the Q106CRS mod?

My Q106 Oscillators sound fine, and with the CRS modification they seem pretty stable, but I don't have another full range oscillator to compare them to.

My wallet is hurting, so I need to know if I should invest in one of the more expensive oscillators, or get two of the Q106 for the same price.

Is there really a difference between one buzz or another? :despair:

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Post by ach_gott » Mon Nov 30, 2009 6:48 pm

Having spent some time listening to your stuff at the website a few weeks back, I would answer "not in this context." It could be that there is a meaningful audible difference that

If I was pressed to distinguish between this or that oscillator in a well-populated mix such as those that you prefer, especially one with effects added afterwards, I would just shrug. :despair:

Yes, people swear by this or that oscillator's sound, but it's really about how you patch.

Now if we get into the digital options or DDVCO or ZO, that's a different ballgame.

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Post by Peake » Mon Nov 30, 2009 6:58 pm

I find that SEM oscillators are larger-sounding than CEM oscillators, and Moog Modular oscillators are larger-sounding than say the Moog Prodigy oscillators. The Chroma oscillators are larger than the Andromeda oscillators.

People want FAT, but they don't want FAT. Go figure ;)

Obviously, this is a flame-oriented topic, so your mileage (and the results of this thread) may vary.
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Post by rezzn8r » Mon Nov 30, 2009 6:59 pm

I don't see any FM on the Q106. I like FM on my VCOs :hyper:
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Post by sunsinger » Mon Nov 30, 2009 7:03 pm

ach_gott wrote:Having spent some time listening to your stuff at the website a few weeks back, I would answer "not in this context."
Just to clarify, so I know what your speaking to when you say "not in this context" what were you listening to, and where?

I have hardly published anything with my modular yet.

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Post by Scot Solida » Mon Nov 30, 2009 7:04 pm

Two more Dotcom oscillators will provide you with a lot of sonic power and a lot of versatility. It gives you two more LFOs, two more vocies for your sequencer... If I had to choose between one osc from one company and two from another, I'd go with two simply for the added flexibility. I have twelve Dotcom oscillators and I never noticed them lacking in any way compared to my other stuff.

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Post by sunsinger » Mon Nov 30, 2009 7:07 pm

Peake wrote:Obviously, this is a flame-oriented topic, so your mileage (and the results of this thread) may vary.
Ooops, I am not meaning to inflame anything or anyone. I'm just really curious if anyone has any test comparisons to offer... Really.

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Post by decaying.sine » Mon Nov 30, 2009 7:08 pm

I have two Oakley VCOs in the mail and two MOTM 300's in production so unfortunately I can't comment intelligently. You'll get different feature sets with some oscillators, but like ach_gott said, much depends on how you patch.

I like this thread for some discussion of MOTM-300 and Oakley VCOs. Of course, after reading the thread, I decided to just get a couple of each!
viewtopic.php?t=1591

I had a bunch of CEM3340, A111s. I liked the features, but I really didn't care for the sound as much as the samples of various 5U VCOs.
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Post by sunsinger » Mon Nov 30, 2009 7:23 pm

decaying.sine wrote:I had a bunch of CEM3340, A111s. I liked the features, but I really didn't care for the sound as much as the samples of various 5U VCOs.
Ahhh! So there are some noticeable differences with some oscillators.
That's what I am needing. I know there are alot of sonic differences with a filter attached. Sometimes that's a bit confusing. How do you hear the raw tone of an Oberheim oscillator. Those were always hardwired to a filter, I know, I had a 4 voice SEM based modular.

But pure oscillator tone is the thing I need to know about.

What Scott says makes alot of sense from the wallet point of view. I want to have some more voices to sequence with. I guess I'll go with some of these, and then get some of those when the economy lightens up a bit.

If anyone has any real world test based opinions though, I'd love to hear them.

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Post by decaying.sine » Mon Nov 30, 2009 7:35 pm

I acquired the A111s long before I ever heard any of the 5U oscillators. It's only my personal opinion, but I never quite enjoyed the sounds. I'm a noob and I hate to use terms like this, but the CEM3340 A111s always sounded thin, reedy, and buzzy to me. I think, if I understand correctly, others have characterized this as a "too clinical" sound. On the other hand, if I were to sync two or three of them, I liked the sound much better.

When I first heard the dotcom, MOTM, and Oakley VCOs, I knew that is the sound I personally hoped to hear. They each sounded very rich to my untrained ears.

If you can, try to dig up some samples of the basic waveforms for each of the VCOs that interest you.

The A110 and A111 are generally thought to be quite different in sound. Again, you are balancing the features you want (e.g., hard and soft sync, etc) with the overall sound.

With all of this being said, I was generally happy FM'ing my A111s, and also was satisfied with things once filtered. I simply had to make a choice and selected 5U VCOs over A111.

I enjoy making nasty noises with my modular, but I equally enjoy the sound of one or two VCOs with simple modulation so the choice was easy for me.
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Post by SynthBaron » Mon Nov 30, 2009 7:38 pm

I can hear a difference, comparing them side to side - not some blind test - between the "Moog", "Electronotes", and CEM based oscillator's raw waveforms. Especially the pulse wave.
Last edited by SynthBaron on Mon Nov 30, 2009 7:41 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Oscillators: Is There Any Audio Difference

Post by SynthBaron » Mon Nov 30, 2009 7:40 pm

sunsinger wrote: My Q106 Oscillators sound fine, and with the CRS modification they seem pretty stable
I'm pretty sure all the CRS does is provide accurate range switching, not increased stability. If anything, it's probably more unstable because there's now another potentiometer in the CV path.

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Re: Oscillators: Is There Any Audio Difference

Post by sunsinger » Mon Nov 30, 2009 7:49 pm

SynthBaron wrote:
sunsinger wrote: My Q106 Oscillators sound fine, and with the CRS modification they seem pretty stable
I'm pretty sure all the CRS does is provide accurate range switching, not increased stability. If anything, it's probably more unstable because there's now another potentiometer in the CV path.
Hmmm... Well using the range switch does produce some unpredictable results in tuning on the one Q106 that I have that does not have the CRS mod.

I think I prefer the CRS mod because I'm usually using range switching on one or more oscillator when running my sequencers.

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Re: Oscillators: Is There Any Audio Difference

Post by 3vcos » Mon Nov 30, 2009 7:52 pm

Well, its all subject to opinion. In my opinion, the Q106 is one of the nicest sounding oscillators out there. I've owned these modular VCOs:
MOTM 300
Technosaurus
Serge
Wiard
Plan B
Livewire
Analog Systems
Blacet
Paia

I think the Dot Com can hold its own with the best of these. I've been very happy with the sound of the Q106, then considering they are rather inexpensive I would consider them a great deal. If you're happy with the sound of the Q106 I would definitely go with a couple more.

Good Luck!



sunsinger wrote:I need to buy a few more oscillators.

Has anyone noticed any qualitative sound or audio differences between more the expensive oscillators, like MOTM 300 or Modcan 01B, as opposed to synthesizers.com Q106 with the Q106CRS mod?

My Q106 Oscillators sound fine, and with the CRS modification they seem pretty stable, but I don't have another full range oscillator to compare them to.

My wallet is hurting, so I need to know if I should invest in one of the more expensive oscillators, or get two of the Q106 for the same price.

Is there really a difference between one buzz or another? :despair:

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Re: Oscillators: Is There Any Audio Difference

Post by sunsinger » Mon Nov 30, 2009 7:59 pm

3vcos wrote:Well, its all subject to opinion. In my opinion, the Q106 is one of the nicest sounding oscillators out there. I've owned these modular VCOs:
MOTM 300
Technosaurus
Serge
Wiard
Plan B
Livewire
Analog Systems
Blacet
Paia

I think the Dot Com can hold its own with the best of these. I've been very happy with the sound of the Q106, then considering they are rather inexpensive I would consider them a great deal. If you're happy with the sound of the Q106 I would definitely go with a couple more.

Good Luck!
Thank you 3vcos...
That is certainly a lively set of systems to draw comparisons from. Very helpful.

I would love to have a Serge Resonant Filter Bank though, but that's another discussion. :tu:

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Post by doctorvague » Mon Nov 30, 2009 8:01 pm

Aside from any differences between the basic waves -

FM quality, especially at audio FM rates

soft sync - does it have it, is it variable? I love this about the Arrick with the osc aid. After using it I think every osc should have variable soft sync it's the fucking bomb, I'm sorry it just is.

Hard sync - how does it sound/respond? This really varies.

attenuators/mixers on CV inputs - speaks for itself

I'm looking at the Q106 and it has
1 hard sync input
1 linear FM input with attenuator
1 PWM attenuator
2 1/V oct inputs
1 expo input with attenuator

I'm not saying oscillators don't sound different, just talking about other features that matter too

now if this wasn't the 5U forum I'd mention Blacet's VC wave or TipTop's HSM input and freq readout... but consider them unmentioned :whistle:

When you get to Modcan's VCDO you're in a whole 'nother area
A really nice fun area IMO...

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Post by bwhittington » Mon Nov 30, 2009 8:17 pm

rezzn8r wrote:I don't see any FM on the Q106. I like FM on my VCOs :hyper:
:hmm:

:whistle:
doctorvague wrote: I'm looking at the Q106 and it has
1 hard sync input
1 linear FM input with attenuator
1 PWM attenuator
2 1/V oct inputs
1 expo input with attenuator
I'd have said the Q106 can be FM'ed to death. :despair:

Don't personally have any other 5U oscillators to compare it to. I went through my must-try-an-MOTM-oscillator phase, but I just don't see it. The MOTM-300 might possibly be better than a Q106, but I'm pretty sure it's not better than *two* Q106's.

Cheers,
Brian

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Post by rezzn8r » Mon Nov 30, 2009 8:28 pm

oops
I don't own a 106, just glanced at the panel and missed the linear
my bad :oops:
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Post by kindredlost » Mon Nov 30, 2009 8:57 pm

Hard to beat 2 Q106's with CRS for the bucks.

An interesting sounding "DVCO" design is the MOTM-520 Cloud Generator.

http://www.synthtech.com/new_stuff.html

Okay, sounds like another esoteric ZO or something, but I was pretty well blown away when I heard the prototype at 2009 MOTK. There is even a controller module planned to program this beast. Included is something like 16 VCO's, 48 LFO's and 48 2Pole LPF's inside a 2 space module. On crack!

The $499 tag is the kicker. Only $50 more than for 2 Q106's w/CRS. You'll also need the cable adapter for $40.

I have six Q106's and I set up one for Soft Sync internally. It sounds snappy-good! I'm fixin' to fill up the fourth cabinet but when I start another cab I'll certainly be including more Q106's and a few oscillator aid modules.

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Post by paults » Mon Nov 30, 2009 10:14 pm

Well, there are ways to design VCOs 'a certain way' that will effect the 3 things that make up 'what a VCO sounds like':

a) the DC path (ie the CV summer). This will effect tracking and tempreature stability. It's also tied to.......

b) the FM circuitry. This has to do mostly with *audio rate* FM, and as an aside audio-rate PWM. You can set the overall depth of the FM, and choosing the reset comparators in the PWM side and the sawtooth integration side (not the same part). To get really deep audio FM/PWM you need a very fast comparators. You also need to have careful integration reset compensation (called Franco compensation) as well.

c) the "downstream" waveshapers. Most VCOs start with a sawtooth, then shape that into a triangle. The triangle then gets shaped into sine and pulses. Some VCOs may have 'purer' tones coming out than others, but the ear my *prefer* something 'dirtier' especially if you like certain musical styles. Also, if in one's patching VCFs are generally used, they will remove most 'dirties' from the original waveform anyway.

It has been my observation that synth users prefer lots of harmonic content. This then usually can be attributed to faster edges, on the falling edge of the sawtooth, and the pulse output. VCO designers can control this by parts selection. Like the aforementioned CG (and the Morphing Terrarium) we at MOTM are looking at new ways to increase (musically) harmonic content, in these cases dynamic harmonic content using voltage control.

Most people use more than 1 VCO in a patch, so it is possible that 2 VCOs FMing each other from X will sound different than 2 VCOs from Y, because the electrical designs add constraints that are not evident until you audio-rate the 2 together.

But we live in a new electrical/audio world of "good enough", where people with $20,000 worth of ProTools, Manley compressors, Apogee converters and ADAM monitors create music to be listened to for 92KBS MP3s over 11 cent earbuds (except Ron!).

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Post by decaying.sine » Mon Nov 30, 2009 11:15 pm

dropping knowledge FTW! Thanks for the info Paul. I'd like to have voltage control of my mood. I am fairly certain SynthTech can make this happen :hihi:
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Post by sunsinger » Mon Nov 30, 2009 11:18 pm

paults wrote:But we live in a new electrical/audio world of "good enough", where people with $20,000 worth of ProTools, Manley compressors, Apogee converters and ADAM monitors create music to be listened to for 92KBS MP3s over 11 cent earbuds (except Ron!).
Well said Paul.

Yeah I create music with just about everything that you mentioned, except for one thing. I absolutely refuse to sell any music on any site that doesn't offer downloads at full CD quality or better. I'm actually going the other direction, and mixing all of my new music prepared for 24 bit 96Khz @ 5.1 channel surround. For my own enjoyment firstly. And just to be prepared... for the future??? Perhaps... But I am straying from the subject of my own thread. You got me! :deadbanana:

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Post by synthetic » Mon Nov 30, 2009 11:28 pm

I was surprised to hear the first report of the Haible oscillator that it didn't sound much different than the MOTM. I really expected that it was a bigger part of the sound than that.

http://studionebula.com/blog/2009/11/29 ... -ends-well

Paul S has always said that the filter was 70% or something, and I never thought that was true. But maybe it is.

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Post by paults » Tue Dec 01, 2009 12:23 am

Well, the VCF is the most *dramatic* component of the overall timbre of a patch. My own wild-ass handwaving states:

10% is the VCA
70% is the VCF
30% is the VCO *itself* (not in conjunction with another VCO)

Maybe Ron can use a Q106 sawtooth and run it through his MOTM-440 LP and then his MOTM-480 LP and comment. They will sound *totally* different.

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Post by sunsinger » Tue Dec 01, 2009 2:34 am

paults wrote:Well, the VCF is the most *dramatic* component of the overall timbre of a patch. My own wild-ass handwaving states:

10% is the VCA
70% is the VCF
30% is the VCO *itself* (not in conjunction with another VCO)

Maybe Ron can use a Q106 sawtooth and run it through his MOTM-440 LP and then his MOTM-480 LP and comment. They will sound *totally* different.
Yeah, sounds good Paul I'll try that. I was using both the 440 and 480 today. I really like what the 480 does. It's a nice filter.
I'll post what it sounds like tomorrow. Make an Audio File or two.

Hey, maybe you could send me a nice MOTM 300 oscillator to see if I can compare both oscillators side by side. :mrgreen:

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