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3 easy ways to obtain VCO signal "drive" sounds.
MUFF WIGGLER Forum Index -> 5U Format Modules  
Author 3 easy ways to obtain VCO signal "drive" sounds.
Rex Coil 7
There are several ways to obtain VCO signal "drive". Granted, the filter(s) and/or the VCA may also be overdriven depending on how you patch all of this up. Here, I've focused on overdriving the VCOs' signal pre-VCF. Among others, I've used the following three methods to get there.

Method 1). The Synthesizers.Com Q113 Feedback loop(s): This first method works best with at least two VCOs (or perhaps two VCO signals, it also works with one VCO while using more than one waveform piped in to it in the same bus).

I used some confusing terms in that image .... I view that mixer as two columns of 4 channels, column "A" (left) and column "B" (right). So in that image I list channels 1, 2, and 3 as the VERTICAL stacks of knobs on each side (*"bus"). So when I say "channel 3" I mean the third knob down from the TOP, no matter which "side" it's on. "3A" is the third knob down on the LEFT side. "3B" is the third knob down on the RIGHT side. Thinking of the Q113 in this fashion keeps the "two bus" notion easier to grasp. The more VCOs used in this configuration, the greater the effect the feedback loop has on tone. And it does more than simply distort things, suddenly these different aspects of sound begin to emerge, depending on how much "drive" is used by increasing "channel 3's" gain levels., and also depending on how much of each VCO is mixed in on each input channel. These differences in tone can be pretty profound! Try different gain levels on each input, as well as the feedback loop's gain level. This method is highly convenient, only requiring one patchcord per bus to achieve the feedback loop.

Method 2.) The Synthesizers.Com Q118 Instrument Interface:
. Use it the same way you would use an OD pedal. Run your VCO signal into the INPUT jack, use the "AMPLIFIER" knob to adjust how much "overdrive" you wish to create. This method also creates a good deal of signal compression, so it can help to either attenuate or accentuate certain harmonics in some sounds. This works very well to overdrive the input stage of any filter(s) you may have downstream of this module.

In the image below, I've run the VCO's Saw and Pulse waves into a Q112 mixer, then out of the mixer in to the Q107 VCF's unattenuated input jack. Then I've run the VCO's Triangle wave into the Q118 Instrument Interface. The Q118 is set to produce a shit ton of signal level, with the relatively high output level of the VCO driving the Q118 into overdrive. But doing that also increases the output level of the Q118 to pretty darned high levels. So to control that a bit, and to keep from overdriving the living PISS out of the Q107 VCF, I run the output if the Q118 into the VCF's attenuated input, using the input level control to tame down the Q118's elevated output level (due to overdriving it). Think of the way I used it like the "GAIN" and "VOLUME" controls you would see on any common "overdrive" pedal ... gain, and volume knobs. This way a balanced mix of the three waveforms is achieved (the Saw and Pulse are mixed relative to one another in the Q112 mixer, and the Triangle wave is mixed in relative to the Saw/Pulse mix by using the attenuated input on the filter.). This "single VCO" patch is just one example, but the concept is transferable to a multi-VCO setup just as well.

Method 3.) The venerable Moog CP3 mixer (or clone): ... in my case the STG Mixer (Suit And Tie Guy "Mixer") module which is a modern clone of that Moog mixer circuit that is also very convenient due to it's easy peasy compatibility with Dot Com et al.. systems. And it's only 1U wide, to boot. Here's what it looks like (in my system), circled in blue ...

This thing works really well (the STG unit). It produces a nice somewhat compressed sound that can be driven into overdrive by increasing (not only) the input levels of the channels used, but also by increasing the negative and/or positive offset knobs as well. You can use it to create positive or negative bias as well. Like the Q113 Feedback method (Method #1) the more VCOs you have plugged into it, the more options you have regarding overdriven tones and sonic shaping.

All three methods produce different sounding distortion or clipping, they also produce different types of compression as well. I use all three methods in my own synth. Sometimes more of this or that, sometimes less of this or that. Season to taste (as usual).

Just a bit of sharing. Have fun!
Thanks for this.

I haven't fully understood how best to use the STG mixer. It seems pretty easy to make mush with multiple VCOs. I also don't understand why the turning the pots for the bottom two inputs (with nothing patched to them) seem to effect the volume/sound of the top three inputs when they are patched. I also have no idea what to do with the negative kill switch... Guess I don't know shit!
Well I realized that I hadn't actually used it the STG mixer that much since I got it. Sometimes it takes me a while to work a new module into my process. I just sat down with it now and think I figured it out.

The negative kill switch allows you to use get complete silence from the mater vol when you only need a positive signal. othrwise it won't go completely silent between the + & - sides (which seems to be normal on lots of modules).

the bottom two input pot are adding +5 and -6 volts to the mix when they are unpatched. I think they act the same as the top three inputs when patched... Is this correct?

I just mixed 5 VCOs and it sounded great! So I have no idea what I did to make an unpleasant "mush" before. And yes, the gain was fantstic!

I'll have to try your other ideas for VCO gain.

Thanks again!
Rex Coil 7
ba1 wrote:
...... the bottom two input pot are adding +5 and -6 volts to the mix when they are unpatched. I think they act the same as the top three inputs when patched... Is this correct?
Yup. Pretty much got it!

ba1 wrote:
I'll have to try your other ideas for VCO gain.

Thanks again!
No problem, I like helping the humans. smile
Rex Coil 7
I suppose the point of this thread is to show how to use modules that are not dedicated "drive" or "waveshaping" modules to produce very usable distortion and compression.

It's an ethos that sets focus on using mundane or otherwise un-sexy modules in a dual purpose role.

It's a way to obtain great results without giving up another space (or spaces) or another short-stack of munnies toward acquisition of purpose-built drive/shaping modules.

So you don't necessarily need to spend money or give up space(s) to obtain ~those~ sounds. If your $$$ or ~cab space~ budget is as tight as mine, these methods are attractive and practical.

"Resource efficiency" .... er sumthin'.

thumbs up
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