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WIGGLING 'LITE' IN GUEST MODE

Sweet Spots
MUFF WIGGLER Forum Index -> Modular Synth General Discussion  
Author Sweet Spots
NewNewRon
We seem to talk a lot about sweet spots and I wonder how it is that some synths and combos of Oscillators have more than others.
Take exponential FM, for example, I have an AFG and a DPO and I can get some lovely tones using Expo FM, but the sweet spots are small and the gaps between them can sound pretty nasty. I just took delivery of a Bugbrand synth voice, and I can hardly seem to find any spots which aren't sweet, one way or another.
Expo FM is just maths, right? Why is one sweeter than the other?
cptnal
In my rack: Shapeshifter sweet spots are like looking for an infinite number of needles in an infinite haystack. At the other end of the spectrum is Belgrad, which is one big sweet spot.
Navs
Don't know the specifics of the modules, and while it is 'just maths', there's lots at play and much that can spoil play. The usual stuff: pitch instability, DC offsets.

I think two of the same VCO are going to behave better than two from different manufacturers, unless their tracking is way off. Maybe that's part of the sweet spots you're experiencing with the Bugbrand. hmmm.....
sexslut
I feel like this is pretty subjective. For example, I think the DPO is nothing but sweet spots.

Interesting conversation topic, though! Keep going! smile
wackelpeter
As mentioned above, different types of VCO different outputs, which in turn affects the behaviour of Expo FM...

I'm thinking there of slightly different output levels, offset, slightly alternating waveforms, minimal differences in tracking.

What i found an interesting, nice and useful form of FMing is the way it's done on the Buchla 258 VCO, were you can modulate your VCO up or down.
witchbutter
cptnal wrote:
In my rack: Shapeshifter sweet spots are like looking for an infinite number of needles in an infinite haystack. At the other end of the spectrum is Belgrad, which is one big sweet spot.


Belgrad oozes so much goodness.
BillyB909
Just to be clear, what do we mean be sweet spots? In my mind it's where the various modulations and overtones line up to create some kind of sense of the patch really 'ringing' for want of a better word? And you might get to this via a combination of design and serendipity? And then you can attentuate a little bit of extra modulation just to move through it?

What I find that whilst these sound great on their own, it can end up a bit like the old synth preset designers creating stuff that sounds great, but won't sit in a mix? So it's kind of about the external context too?

Or I may have misunderstood. I find it quite hard to get to those spots with the Shapeshifter too, btw. Too many choices!
NewNewRon
sexslut wrote:
I feel like this is pretty subjective. For example, I think the DPO is nothing but sweet spots.

Interesting conversation topic, though! Keep going! smile


It is, of course. It's just that some days finding complex waveforms which are also musical to the musician's ear seems awfully difficult, and other times it's a breeze.
I just revisited the DPO after your comments and, of course, I found some pretty big sweet spots wink
wavecircle
Depends on how comfortable you are with the module also. Once you learn the patches you like, you will drift towards variations of those.

It is far easier for a filter to be full of sweet spots than an oscillator. Filters are the refiner of sound. Oscillators are the raw material, there is so much more you can do with them.
Parnelli
I would think that sweet spots come from circuit design and the way that they are intended handle resonance, feedback, and other properties of a waveform. A really "tight" circuit isn't going to allow much deviation from the intended function, like a clock circuit that must be accurate. On the other hand though I don't have any specs I'd be willing to bet that my WASP filter was designed really "loose" to allow for that gritty feel, feedback and squeal.

AC wave forms begin to behave differently when a circuit's resonant frequency is approached; they can down right run away from themselves and go into self oscillation. I think that if you could see it on a scope you would find that your "sweet spots" coincide with these natural circuit resonances.

Of course I've been known to be full of crap at times.
milkshake
Sweet spots is how you can recognise a good synth.

The best synths will output a useful/musical sound no matter how you patch it or how the knobs are set. The Rob Hordijk stuff is an example of such a synth.

The less sweet spots, or the more you have to work for it, the lesser the quality of the instrument.


Basically its all in the designer, very few people fully understand circuit theory AND synthesizer programming. The ones that do can make great instruments. Others just copy stuff.
LoFi Junglist
Subtle sweet-spot modulation is why I love atteneuverters so much.
Parnelli
Any good muff wiggler should do their best to understand sweet spot modulation! cool
johnnywoods
In my experience, sweet spots are wider in more unified systems. This was always a frustration for me in Eurorack. With something like a bugbrand, every module is built to interact with every other, and the designers anticipate certain use cases. The Wiard 300 is a perfect example. Pretty much every module is one gigantic sweet spot. Good quality hardwired synths work similarly, in my opinion.
cptnal
I would venture to suggest that wiggling, in and of itself, is a constant and never-ending search for THE sweet spot. dizzy
Navs
milkshake wrote:
Sweet spots is how you can recognise a good synth.

The best synths will output a useful/musical sound no matter how you patch it or how the knobs are set. The Rob Hordijk stuff is an example of such a synth.

The less sweet spots, or the more you have to work for it, the lesser the quality of the instrument.


Basically its all in the designer, very few people fully understand circuit theory AND synthesizer programming. The ones that do can make great instruments. Others just copy stuff.


Agree about good and bad designs and designers but I've got to disagree about an abundance or lack of sweet spots being an indicator of quality. I think it reflects whether the designer has limited your options or not.
ranix
When I work with FM, I like to use an oscilloscope in x/y mode to visualize the carrier wave vs the modulator. The goal is usually (for harmonic tones instead of dissonant ones) to use modulators of even multiples or divisions to the carrier.

The core of my FM voices are usually:

1x synthesizers.com Q960 with the aid module (carrier)
1x Q960 without the aid (modulator)
1x Happy Nerding FM aid

I feed the inverted pulse output of the carrier oscillator aid to the hard sync of the modulator oscillator. This lets me control the phase of the modulator by tuning the pulse width of the carrier's pulse output.

The saw output of the carrier inserts into the carrier input of the FM Aid. The sine (or whatever) output of the modulator inserts into the modulator input of the FM Aid.

Now, when I graph the sine output of the two oscillators against each other, I get a Lissajous pattern. I can tune the phase of the modulator by turning the Pulse Width knob on the carrier oscillator, and this rotates the Lissajous pattern.

An obvious disconnection in the Lissajous pattern will be apparent where the line fails to connect. I can tune the two oscillators to perfect harmony by using their frequency knobs to make the two ends meet.

Once the two ends meet, I have my modulator tuned to a 100% perfect multiple (or division) of the carrier frequency and I have a Lissajous curve.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lissajous_curve

I didn't explain the frequency relationship well because I don't understand it enough yet, this can get other useful perfect ratios as well like 2:3 and 5:4
milkshake
Navs wrote:
milkshake wrote:
Sweet spots is how you can recognise a good synth.

The best synths will output a useful/musical sound no matter how you patch it or how the knobs are set. The Rob Hordijk stuff is an example of such a synth.

The less sweet spots, or the more you have to work for it, the lesser the quality of the instrument.


Basically its all in the designer, very few people fully understand circuit theory AND synthesizer programming. The ones that do can make great instruments. Others just copy stuff.


Agree about good and bad designs and designers but I've got to disagree about an abundance or lack of sweet spots being an indicator of quality. I think it reflects whether the designer has limited your options or not.


Everything within the law's of nature is possible, but you'll need almost infinite amounts of $$$ and real estate. So limitations are a necessity, I actually thought it goes without saying.

A great synthesizer designer knows what to omit and make the rest always sound musical. In the world there are less than a handful of people who can do this.

[RHD fanboy rant]
So the hrm osc doesn't have sync capabilities, but it always sounds great no matter how you patch it. Want hardsync, enter the osc sync, which has arguably the best hardsync capability of all oscillators out there. Want softsync, use the rungler or the tripple lf osc. All Rob's modules have huge limitations, but its impossible to make a boring sound with them. And that's the sign of a truly great instrument: One huge sweet spot.
[/RHD fanboy rant]

This doesn't just go for synths but for all musical instruments. Great musical instruments have one huge sweet spot and they make playing it easy compared to the lesser instruments where you have to work around the dead spots.

Feel free to disagree thumbs up
milkshake
ranix wrote:

I didn't explain the frequency relationship well because I don't understand it enough yet, this can get other useful perfect ratios as well like 2:3 and 5:4


There are lots more, that's where you enter the world of micro tuning.
Navs
milkshake wrote:
Feel free to disagree thumbs up


You're on hihi

There are many modules that are designed to sound 'nice' through limitation - the filter that sounds 'vintage' because it doesn't fully open, the digital delay that has a wonderful 'analogue/BBD' sound but can't be used for much else because of its bandwidth-limited or slewed CV inputs etc.

So, I'm not talking about having the kitchen sink but the fact that, in those cases, the designer has decided what I can and can't do with their module. This is ok - sometimes you just want simple - but for me it does not define the quality of an instrument, especially in the modular realm.

Oh, and Rob is the master, so no arguments there! we're not worthy
milkshake
Ok.

So what does define the quality of an instrument for you?
NewNewRon
Quote "The more you pay for something, the less likely you are to critise it."

Initially, definitely... smile occasionally we fess up and get smart.
Navs
NewNewRon wrote:
Quote "The more you pay for something, the less likely you are to critise it."

Initially, definitely... smile occasionally we fess up and get smart.


Yeah, basically lol

But I also take friendly issue with the notion of a 'quality' instrument. Each instrument has its own quality, regardless of price, build or cleverness of design. It really is horses for courses.

To return to the initial question, it's interesting that both NewNewRon and Milkshake name single-designer systems for easy, stable results. I don't think that's a coincidence.
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