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Tell me more about ARIES synths!
MUFF WIGGLER Forum Index -> Modular Synth General Discussion Goto page 1, 2  Next [all]
Author Tell me more about ARIES synths!

Modorange

I have been playing my minimoog and some other stuff, and although I have been fascinated by modulars, never had the chance to lay my hands on one. Well the other day a friend showed me a modular synth his brother had laying around, not working but it looked like a promising synth with some restoration. It's an Aries 300. It had a larger black plywood box with several modules and the keyboard controller. He was pretty clear that he wanted a valuation of it, I instantly wanted to buy it! But so far I may just help the guy restore it and then who knows? Here's a pic from his cellphone: [/URL]
Also, I looked through the subject headings on this forum and honestly have no idea under which Aries synths topics should be started? Thanks for all the juicy knowledge about to be bestowed on my lucky self!


pulse_divider

The Aries 300 was designed by Dennis Colin, the man who designed the Arp 2600 with Alan Pearlman, and is one of the best sounding vintage modular systems IMO.
I believe it was the first grid-based layout and was the visual inspiration for the Wiard 300 series.
There used to be a fairly comprehensive Aries site on the web but I can't find it now.... Maybe it was taken down?
Fellow wiggler davebr is a wizard and can service these. He has fixed a few of my modules and documented it on his www.modularsynthesis.com website.


Dave Peck

I remember these! I actually got a tour of the Aries 'factory' in the 70's when I was a teenager, and I got to spend a good amount of time then, and at other times since, playing with a few of these synths. I remember that the oscillators seemed especially 'clean' and accurate, stayed in tune well, tracked well, and had waveforms that were more pure and accurate then a lot of other modulars (no rounded top on the saw waves or triangle waves, no odd curves in the plateaus of the squares waves, nice clean transitions with no spikes or overshoot at the 'corners' etc. Sorta 'lab quality' characteristics). I remember that the VC phaser module was especially good.

If you were to get your hands on one, you may want to consider just tossing the ancient power supply and buying a decent off-the-shelf new PS first, then start working on bringing the modules back to operating condition.


andrewF

The best Aries site was
http://www.leinermedia.net/aries/home.html
but it is dead now.
You can see it on wayback machine - HERE

The owner, Robert, is a very nice & helpful guy (he helped me develop a VCO a few years back by sending some pretty rare Aries files), on electro-music and muffs, he is source66.


JohnLRice

Cool find! Back in the day I wanted an Aries synth so bad but the most I could afford was PAiA. cry cool

Forum member kkissinger is a very nice guy and knows more than most folks about Aries synths but has only made a couple posts to Muff's. He is very active over on http://www.electro-music.com/forum/ though with the same name.

Here is an old Aries related thread by him:
http://www.electro-music.com/forum/viewtopic.php

And here is his personal website:
http://kevinkissinger.com/ariesinfo.shtml


MindMachine

Didn't Ron Rivera of the old Rivera Music Systems (RMS) work at Aries or did he just do those beautiful modifications? There used to be an ad every month in Contemporary Keyboard for RMS and their Aries or Minimoog modifications. He was top notch.


pulse_divider

MindMachine wrote:
Didn't Ron Rivera of the old Rivera Music Systems (RMS) work at Aries or did he just do those beautiful modifications? There used to be an ad every month in Contemporary Keyboard for RMS and their Aries or Minimoog modifications. He was top notch.


IIRC I believe he was the production manager and builder of the assembled modules.


Morley

I had a system and it was excellent. Robert still has his system. It was fun to use and certainly very close to the big boys. Well worth sorting it out. Value these days? Who knows. They used to be less than an arp 2600 when I got mine.


Beermaster

I Still have an 11 module Aries 300 system- mainly made up of the later much rarer modules - big sturdy designs with dual concentric pots and loads of options .


Modorange

Dave Peck wrote:


If you were to get your hands on one, you may want to consider just tossing the ancient power supply and buying a decent off-the-shelf new PS first, then start working on bringing the modules back to operating condition.


Where would I get an off-the-shellf PS? I am still considering this, a project like this has never presented itself to me in the past.


numan7

Modorange wrote:
Dave Peck wrote:


If you were to get your hands on one, you may want to consider just tossing the ancient power supply and buying a decent off-the-shelf new PS first, then start working on bringing the modules back to operating condition.


Where would I get an off-the-shellf PS? I am still considering this, a project like this has never presented itself to me in the past.


https://www.google.com/?gws_rd=ssl#safe=off&q=power+one+power+supplies


cheers


pulse_divider

The modules run off +/-15V, which is standard in MOTM, Blacet and Dotcom systems. I've seen catalogs that say the original also had a +5V line, but none of the modules themselves actually use +5V so I'm not sure what that's all about.

I have an 18 module system and I'm using an old Blacet PS500 to power 16 of them with no issues. The modules have very low current draw and the 500 mA supply is enough for all of them. I just bought some 22 pin edge connectors from Mouser and soldered on cables that pigtail to the standard .156 MOTM connectors. I can then use any MOTM or Blacet busboard to power it.

The original power distribution on the back IIRC was a bunch of bus-bars connecting the edge connectors and it seemed like the standard, time-tested Frac/5U spec was the best choice.


Dave Peck

Here's a link to a data sheet for Power-One linear supplies. There are newer designs that are smaller and more efficient, these are similar design to the original used in the synth.

http://belpowersolutions.com/sites/belpowersolutions.com/files/documen ts/power/datasheet/lin.pdf

Look near the bottom of page 3 and you'll see some that provide the required +15 volt & -15 volt outputs. You need to select one that is rated for at least 1 AMP at +15V and 1AMP at -15V (check the second column for this info), so that rules out the first two listed but the remaining three +15/-15 supplies will work.

But there's no need to limit yourself to this manufacturer, or to limit yourself to these larger older linear designs. All you need to do is follow this same process of searching for a power supply that provides +15 volts (at least 1 amp) and -15 volts (at least 1 amp).

Here's a product search I did at Digikey for all power supplies with that rating, which shows a couple of these linear types but also several newer designs:

http://www.digikey.com/product-search/en?FV=fff40009%2Cfff80229%2C15c0 003%2C17d40096%2C17d80016&mnonly=0&newproducts=0&ColumnSort=-1120&page =1&stock=1&pbfree=0&rohs=0&quantity=&ptm=0&fid=0&pageSize=25

You'll need to pay attention to the "Current output (Max)" column and eliminate anything that is less than "1 amp, 1 amp", so all of the options that say things like "500 mA, 500 mA" are out.

But really, the power supply is not something you should be diving into if you don't really know exactly what you're doing - making a mistake here could seriously damage the synth modules! I encourage you to work with someone who knows this stuff and can walk you through the process of selecting and wiring up the power supply, step by step.


analogjeff

Aries is one system I have never see for sale... Does anyone know if they made a lot or not? THey seem very rare and I would love to hear one is person..


analogjeff

question for Aries owners.. DO they sound like an ARP? I know the designers came from ARP.. just curious...


markstyles

Back in the early 70's there was The Boston School of Electronic Music.. It was founded by Jim Michmerhuizen, who wrote the ARP 2600 manual which more or less became a bible for synth owners.. Cause he explained everything about synthesis, not just how to run an Arp 2600.. A lot of people were drawn to BSEM in it' short life (the house that it was in burn't down and there was no insurance).. No one was hurt.. But the sizeable amount of equipment they had accumulated.. Several synth manufactors, loaned or gave equipment to us.. People were showing up from around the globe to take courses there. It was the only thing of it's kind.. As a result, several people (who would later contribute to synths) became friends and business partners.. Gary Hall was one such student, he later went on to design a lot of digital delay stuff for Lexicon.. He just recently designed a long modular digital delay module carried by 4ms. Another student, Bob Snowdale bought ARIES Synth company when the founder wanted out of the business. They had a factory in Salem, Ma.. and did well, for several years. Analog modular synths, were complex, so it was not a 'fast business'.. Even ordering a finished system would take several weeks. They sold both finished systems, and kits..

I worked for ARIES for a couple of years.. I made their demo record, and got two cabinets worth of modules for it.. I built the kits, and then made the demo with only the modules I had.. I did do some overdubbing..

Original modules were designed by Dennis Colin, who did original design work for ARP.. ARP had made him sign a form, he would not work for any competors, for something like two years.. He broke that agreement.. Electronic design was his occupation, nothing ever came of that.. I became friends with Dennis, since he had designed a lot of the ARP 2600, he gave me several circuit designs, to build and to add into the ARP kbd.. I had a 2nd voltage (which ARP later added).. and three independent LFO's, which really thickened the ARPS sound.

The ARIES company was then sold to Bob Snowdale, and continued for several years.. Ron Rivera (also a friend from the Boston School of Electronic Music came in).. Started doing modifications, and then went on to design some modules..

At this point, I moved to NYC, and didn't stay in close contact.. The Aries sounded like a cross between an ARP and a Moog, (didn't have privy to schematics).. But it was a great sounding synth.. Most people built their own cabinets, ARIES did build a couple cabinet shapes, some wood, others covered with 'tolar' (can't remember name).. ARIES were not as sexy as an ARP 2500 or MOOG system. Faceplates could have been thicker, and finished nicer.. but they were solid soundwise..

ARIES did well for a while.. I had in the meantime moved to NYC and worked for Octave-Plateau, which was basically 8 ARP2600's under computer control.. Then of course Yamaha DX7 came along, and was cheap in comparison, for the voice output.. And a lot of the modular hardware companies just couldn't compete..

It's great to see analog modular stuff surfacing again. I plan to buy or build an analog modular system myself..


Dr. Sketch-n-Etch

I had an Aries catalogue when I was a kid (like, 40 years ago), and I used to drool over it. I couldn't even afford a PAiA system (a friend bought a Gnome and we tried to build it, and failed utterly -- after that, my interest in synth DIY disappeared until I was in my mid-forties).

Anyway...


ultraviolet_waveform

I would love to own one of these beasts, they look and sound amazing.

The closest I've gotten so far is an edit of a Mark Styles demo from the seventies. Who knew that a 20 second sample could be so versatile!

[s]http://soundcloud.com/jvalue/ultraviolet-waveform-aries-edit-1[/s]


microtonal

markstyles wrote:
Back in the early 70's …

It's great to see analog modular stuff surfacing again. I plan to buy or build an analog modular system myself..


Mark, welcome back! I still remember your demos and articles from late 70s/early 80s.


bitflip

There are some Aries docs and schems over at:

http://www.synthfool.com/docs/Aries/ w00t


microtonal

Aries 1975, 1977 and 1978 catalog pdfs posted. 1977 catalog pdf is the same as on the Synthfool/Kevin Lightner site. Also posted Aries 300 brochure pdf.

http://www.wavemakers-synth.com/aries/Aries_Catalog_1975.pdf
http://www.wavemakers-synth.com/aries/Aries_Catalog_1977.pdf
http://www.wavemakers-synth.com/aries/Aries_Catalog_1978.pdf
http://www.wavemakers-synth.com/aries/Aries300.pdf


CZ Rider

Thanks for sharing Mark! Great to read about BSEM and those Aries demos. Awesome sounding synth and internal parts are high quality with AB type J and Clarostat pots. Often mistaken for using 3.5mm, the Aries used Switchcraft .141" that are both high quality and reliable if you use the correct Switchcraft jacks and plugs.
Was just playing the Aries last night. Have a small system with almost all of the original Aries voice modules.


markstyles wrote:

Original modules were designed by Dennis Colin, who did original design work for ARP.

Dennis Colin is sort of an unsung hero. Like Bob Moog's ladder filter, Dennis had his mulit mode filter that was used in the Arp 2500, Aries and perhaps most famous the Oberheim SEM filter.
Here is a link to a paper by Dennis Colin on his multi mode filter.
Guitar Fool link to Dennis Colin filter paper PDF download


analogjeff

Maybe someone will restart the Aries company!!!


Navs

Thank you for the interesting stories.


GaryInHuaHin

What I remember most of Aries is that the noise source KICKED ASS! It was highly clipped in the initial gain stage and then boosted up 30V p-p. I used to run it into my MiniMoog's preamp. An awesome sound!

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