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Small Blacet system around 2x Mini Wave?
MUFF WIGGLER Forum Index -> Fractional Rack Modules  
Author Small Blacet system around 2x Mini Wave?

diophantine

I really don't want to expand into yet another format, but it is inevitable. I've been wanting some Blacet stuff for years, and always intended it to go into my MU system, but that is reaching capacity - and DIY in that format is sometimes a pain!

Just saw the discontinuation of the Mini Wave today, so I ordered 2 kits from John. I have wanted a couple of these for a long time, and figure it is now or never...

So now the decision is: do I make a small (6U) Frac system, or do I build these into MOTM format?

Pro-Frac / Anti-MOTM:
- Cheaper
- Simpler/Faster to DIY

Pro-MOTM / Anti-Frac:
- Prefer 1/8" jacks and larger knobs
- Probably going to build some MOTM either way...

If I go the MOTM route, I would probably do the Hylander ROM expander, and the Tellun CV daughterboard. How necessary/useful do you find those? In theory, I think it would be nice to have a ton of ROMs available, but I don't know... CVing between ROMs doesn't seem that useful, except perhaps in some sequencing situations, but using a knob w/LEDs seems preferable to a rotary switch...

Also, how do you find knob spacing in Frac (specifically Blacet) compared to Euro? Most Euro stuff for me is irritatingly cramped, and would like to know if you consider Frac a nicer medium...

If I go the Frac route, I have the following in mind:
- I want it to work as a stand-alone, complete system
- I prefer more unusual/interesting modules, as I have lots covered elsewhere
- I want it to be fun
- Good for more experimental/drone/unusual/etc. stuff

So I'd have to be careful with which modules I buy. Here's what I had in mind to go with two MWs in 6U:
- Improbability Drive
- Window Comparator
- Super VCA (for mixer & vca duties)
- Dual Frequency Divider
- Scanner
- Hex Zone
- VCO
- Delay/Attack/Decay

Do any of these seem like overkill in such a small system, or seem like they wouldn't serve my needs well?
Would it be possible or even sensible to use a MicroLFO to feed the MWs, rather than the VCO?
Is the Hex Zone easy, moderate, or difficult to program?
Is there anything great that is missing?

I honestly would love a Binary Zone and a Wiard Noisering as well, but those seem quite tough to come by these days... (Ditto for the SynthTech modules.)

Anyhow... any advice here would be much appreciated!! Thanks!


ndkent

This may be obvious, but one thing to remember is, unless you use the second Miniwave as a quantitizer or otherwise process CV exclusively, you could probably use a second VCO. The Miniwave needs an oscillator to drive it if the task is waveform generation, it's not like Waveform City which had an onboard oscillator.


diophantine

ndkent wrote:
This may be obvious, but one thing to remember is, unless you use the second Miniwave as a quantitizer or otherwise process CV exclusively, you could probably use a second VCO. The Miniwave needs an oscillator to drive it if the task is waveform generation, it's not like Waveform City which had an onboard oscillator.

Good to know! I honestly wasn't certain if it absolutely needed that, or if it was just recommended for 'best' results...

Looking again at the Blacet Micro LFO, looks like it can only get up to 350 Hz, so it really couldn't take the place of a VCO. DAD goes up to 500 Hz. EG1 is apparently ~555 Hz. Any decent single-space VCOs? Not sure how wide the PAiA double VCO is, but it appears to need a +/-18V power supply.


Rob_C

diophantine wrote:
Also, how do you find knob spacing in Frac (specifically Blacet) compared to Euro? Most Euro stuff for me is irritatingly cramped, and would like to know if you consider Frac a nicer medium...

Knob spacing and whether panels are cramped or spacious are choices entirely up to the module designer/manufacturer.

Consider the multiple module. In Euro, this module could be a single row of 3.5" jacks in a very skinny module barely wider than the jacks themselves. But it doesn't have to be. It could be in a wider module, but whether that would be wasted rack space or good ergonomics is your judgement call. Frac modules are spaced in 1.5" increments (1.5", 3", 4.5", etc) so a Frac multiple panel with just one row of 3.5" jacks would certainly be spacious. There is nothing preventing a Frac manufacturer from releasing a .75" panel. I haven't seen any. More likely, the Frac module designer would keep the panel width at 1.5" and add a second row of jacks.

Euro modules have mounting holes closer to the edge of the module as compared to Frac modules. This perhaps could allow an extra knob or jack as opposed to Frac.

Cramming a lot of stuff into a panel can happen in Frac or Euro. PAIA's 9700S original series are Frac and have a lot of functionality in one panel. Their 9710K VCA puts the functionality of 3 VCAs, a white noise source and ADSR/LFO Envelope Generator in a 3-inch panel with thirteen 3.5" jacks, one toggle switch, an LED, and five pots.


diophantine

Yeah, I realize that ergonomics are specific to individual manufacturers and modules.

Blacet seems pretty consistent, spacing wise, so I was curious how it compares to an "average" Euro module. The spacing on the SynthTech Euro modules is generally OK, but I wouldn't want to go much tighter for a full system.


drumsofd00m

Re: mults and spacing, I seem to recall Metalbox offering mults (and other utility stuff like switches for remote access of certain module parameters) built into custom rack ears. This frees up a lot of space that usually goes to waste in Frac. If I didn't have custom Wiard logo rack ears that look too nice to drill holes in them, I'd definitely have gone that route.

Another space saving solution is to use Blacet's passive Mult/ Att module without rack mounting them. They don't need power and they're relatively light weight, so you can just plug them between patch cords dangling in the air, or if you want to be on the safe side regarding your patch cords and jacks (recommended), lay them on the table in front of the system.

+1 for two VCOs.


thee ghost ov n_phay

diophantine wrote:


Also, how do you find knob spacing in Frac (specifically Blacet) compared to Euro? Most Euro stuff for me is irritatingly cramped, and would like to know if you consider Frac a nicer medium...


Blacet's typical way of laying out his modules, with a row of pots down the right side and a row of sockets down the left works pretty well I find. I've owned a little bit of euro (ditched it for various reasons) the only euro gear I had that was as good as Blacet for spacing/ergonomics was Verbos. Others may think differently ofc.

The only other readybuilt frac stuff I have is a set of Wiard 1200 modules, these for me work at least as well as Blacet's, for all the post/socket standard spacing is different. All of the other Frac stuff I have I built from CGS, MOTM, JH etc gear, I copied the spacing mainly from Wiard 1200 but also a bit from Blacet.

Quote:
If I go the Frac route, I have the following in mind:
- I want it to work as a stand-alone, complete system
- I prefer more unusual/interesting modules, as I have lots covered elsewhere
- I want it to be fun
- Good for more experimental/drone/unusual/etc. stuff

So I'd have to be careful with which modules I buy. Here's what I had in mind to go with two MWs in 6U:
- Improbability Drive
- Window Comparator
- Super VCA (for mixer & vca duties)
- Dual Frequency Divider
- Scanner
- Hex Zone
- VCO
- Delay/Attack/Decay

Do any of these seem like overkill in such a small system, or seem like they wouldn't serve my needs well?
Would it be possible or even sensible to use a MicroLFO to feed the MWs, rather than the VCO?
Is the Hex Zone easy, moderate, or difficult to program?
Is there anything great that is missing?

I honestly would love a Binary Zone and a Wiard Noisering as well, but those seem quite tough to come by these days... (Ditto for the SynthTech modules.)


For a standalone system, I would ditch the window comparator (I have one, I like it but it's esoteric enough to be a bit of a luxury in a small system, also its best trick for me is doing double pulse width modulation on an osc output, and to do that you need 2 x LFO and some attenuators)

I would also ditch the scanner, which is the one and only Blacet module I own that I'm not very taken with.

I would replace these with a second VCO (so you can do MiniWave waveshaoping on 2 different sources, also audio rate FM between 2 of the Blacet VCOs sounds nice I think) and also either an LFO or a second D/A/D. I notice you don't have a filter, and will point out that if you can snag an example of the old, discontinued "Final Filtre", it has a built in AD envelope that can cycle and the eg also has it's own output so it can work independently of the filter itself. The Final filtre also has a really unusual timbre, which I like but which you may not. Or may. Worth looking out for one nevertheless.

The full Blacet envelope, the "EG1" is fantastic, I think the best EG available in any format.

The miniwave will work with a low frequency input, transforming the shape of an LFO wave as it does an audio signal.

The only 2 things I don't like about the hex zone are that it has way too few memories, and that the way of chaining patterns together is a bit fiddly. That apart it's a piece of piss to use, really good UI. Fantastic module.


Kyhotay

The PAiA 9720 VCO is a triple wide panel. You can easily change the power requirements to +/-15V by removing R1 & R2 and jumpering it with bare wire. It works great.


drumsofd00m

I *think* MW can act as window comparator too, off the top of my hat, tho like all MW emulations of continuously variable functions the VC aspect (in this case window width, position, polarity) will be quantized (e.g. to 16 steps if you fill one Bank with it).

MW/ WFC is so versatile & so limited at the same time, I feel it takes years to master.


plord

Replace the Window Comparator with a Binary Zone. Trust me. I know things.

Consider replacing the Dual Freq Divider with a Metalbox Gated Comparator.

Blacet pot and jack spacing is plenty roomy, and the Panasonic pots he ships with the kits are stiffer than a lot of other varieties so you are unlikely to knock one out of kilter with a sideswipe. There is a panel schematic somewhere on the Blacet site if you want to cut your own panels or order from FPE; I've made literally dozens.

Yes, the MW can act as a window comparator; it's on the Socket Rocket chip, you'll get one with your kit, check the manual for the bank and wave info.

3rd party ROMs: I was never able to really engage with Vector1, but literally every other ROM out there is money. I put the Morphine chip into one of my WFCs, I liked it so much. Don't skip on the Scale Quantizer.

Welcome to Frac. I also picked up 2 more MWs at the closeout smile


bf

One additional thought. If you are just stepping into 1/8" with this, consider building in banana frac.


diophantine

Thanks for all the solid advice! I think I am pretty sure I will be going Frac, rather than MOTM, for these builds.

Well, seems like I'll be ditching the Window Comparator for a 2nd VCO! Sounds good. I talked to a friend yesterday who had a Blacet system back in 2004/2005 also tell me that the 2nd VCO was a must, and that the Binary Zone is a must. So I will be on the lookout for that.

drumsofd00m wrote:
Re: mults and spacing, I seem to recall Metalbox offering mults (and other utility stuff like switches for remote access of certain module parameters) built into custom rack ears. This frees up a lot of space that usually goes to waste in Frac.

Nice, I think I'll definitely go this route, DIY! It is also seems like a pretty good excuse to finally buy myself a drill press... thumbs up

plord wrote:
Consider replacing the Dual Freq Divider with a Metalbox Gated Comparator.

Hmm, didn't realize they had a 2-unit width one, though I am seeing it now on Modulargrid. Is their website not really up-to-date, I guess?

plord wrote:
3rd party ROMs: I was never able to really engage with Vector1, but literally every other ROM out there is money. I put the Morphine chip into one of my WFCs, I liked it so much. Don't skip on the Scale Quantizer.

Good to know! I will have to check them out further... Looking into the MiniWave Expander. I know that at least one was made in Frac format, and I asked Dave Hylander if he had an FPD or would be willing to build another...

bf wrote:
One additional thought. If you are just stepping into 1/8" with this, consider building in banana frac.

First modular in 1/8" (I have a TTSH, 1601, and SEM), so yes, I'm considering bananas here. (Besides Serge, I also have bananas on my Steiner-Parker Synthasystem.) Just unsure of the extra time involved (Blacet looks appealing because all the parts are there and it should be pretty quick assembly), and I don't really know if this is a viable option on something like a Noisering (and seems possibly sacrilegious, haha!).


plord

diophantine wrote:
Nice, I think I'll definitely go this route, DIY! It is also seems like a pretty good excuse to finally buy myself a drill press... thumbs up

If you have second thoughts about the cost and space requirements of a drill press (they are REALLY HEAVY for what it's worth), may I humbly suggest a Roper-Whitney hand punch with a 1/4" bit? I have two of them, they will punch through Blacet panels like butter and if I throw my weight on them, I can cut clean through a 3mm panel from FPE.

diophantine wrote:

plord wrote:
Consider replacing the Dual Freq Divider with a Metalbox Gated Comparator.

Hmm, didn't realize they had a 2-unit width one, though I am seeing it now on Modulargrid. Is their website not really up-to-date, I guess?


Hmmmm, He might not be listing it, but I bet if you drop him a line he can still build the 2U version.


diophantine

plord wrote:
If you have second thoughts about the cost and space requirements of a drill press (they are REALLY HEAVY for what it's worth), may I humbly suggest a Roper-Whitney hand punch with a 1/4" bit

Perfect! No second thoughts about a drill press, but now is the worst time to pick one up (doing a lot of rearranging/cleanup/renovation/etc. in the garage... slowly). Thanks!


revtor

A step bit is a great way to make concentric accurate holes in thin panels. No drill press or punch needed!

https://www.amazon.com/Neiko-10193A-Titanium-Drill-3-Piece/dp/B001OEPY WK/ref=pd_bxgy_469_2?_encoding=UTF8&psc=1&refRID=S5YZKC4QB6ERHCAF174K


FO REAL!


diophantine

revtor wrote:
A step bit is a great way to make concentric accurate holes in thin panels. No drill press or punch needed!

I've actually got a couple of step bits, and have used them a few times (they're awesome!), though not for synth projects. But unless I'm using it on something fixed, I prefer using it in a drill press. Might be a different matter if I had a vise set up somewhere sturdy...

plord wrote:
3rd party ROMs: I was never able to really engage with Vector1, but literally every other ROM out there is money. I put the Morphine chip into one of my WFCs, I liked it so much. Don't skip on the Scale Quantizer.

I just bought a couple sets of Expander boards for these two MWs, since that was sort of my end-goal of my originally wanting MWs. Obviously I could fill these with the original ROM, the SR, GR-PPG/VS, GR-NEW, and the six Matthew Davidson ROMs. But are there others to consider? I know that a few folks have burned ROMs for paperkettle.com and Ensoniq wavetables. Perhaps I shouldn't just get 2 of each, but split them between the two, see what I like, see what I'm curious in as far as not-readily-available ROMs? Good to hear your advice about those particular ROMs, as it made me start to think in that direction... just curious if you (or anyone) has further thoughts or advice...

(Of course, now I am also thinking "why not get a 3rd MW and just install the Quantizer ROM?" But, of course, I'm also a horrible, horrible person...)

thee ghost ov n_phay wrote:
I would also ditch the scanner, which is the one and only Blacet module I own that I'm not very taken with.

So I took a closer look at this, an I think that I originally thought it was something that it isn't... I originally thought it would do cross-fading, like the Modcan one apparently does. But, looking at things again, that doesn't appear to be the case with the Blacet. Is it purely a voltage-controlled mapping of inputs to output, i.e. CV-IN < 1.5V: Out = In1; CV-IN > 1.5V && CV-IN < 3V: Out = In2; CV-IN > 3V: Out = In3? (The voltages in my example are purely arbitrary.) I know there's a trimpot for overlap, but does it just mix the full signals, rather than cross-fade, where, for instance, in the above example, between 1.5 and 1.75V Out = In1 + In2?

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