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Pittsburgh Modular Double Helix Owners: How do you like it?
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Author Pittsburgh Modular Double Helix Owners: How do you like it?
tflo
Recently, I've seriously been considering moving my rack into a more west coast direction. Most of the complex oscillators out there seem to cost a great deal of money, where the Double Helix appears to be the more affordable option. What do you guys think of it?
southphillysynths
I don't own one but recently heard it at machines in music!

I have had a few different west coast configurations for bongos in my system. Went through DPO, optomix, wogglebug, doepfer and got various results with all of those.

the double helix sounded GREAT and has some really great extra features and routing that complex oscillators usually don't.

the extra free running lfo is great because then you dont have to run one of the oscs at low range to fm the other. The lfo also has a random cv built right in! There is also the lowpass gate that has variable decay which is probably the single most important part of response for tuning the ringing of a lowpass gate in my opinion.

I am looking to sell a few things to grab one next chance I get, it really is a stand alone westcoast voice by itself and you really only need a few patch cables to be up and running!
SnakesandBladders
I have one. I like it a lot. You can get an insane range of timbres out of this thing. It's a great source of modulation for the rest of your rack as well...I have a smaller system, 6U 84hp, and I'm happy to use up 28hp with this module. It's really like 4 modules in 1. If you have more specific questions, I'd be happy to go into more detail. I'm just sleepy and hungry at the moment and fear ill forget to post in this thread if I dont right now.
southphillysynths
SnakesandBladders wrote:
I have one. I like it a lot. You can get an insane range of timbres out of this thing. It's a great source of modulation for the rest of your rack as well...I have a smaller system, 6U 84hp, and I'm happy to use up 28hp with this module. It's really like 4 modules in 1. If you have more specific questions, I'd be happy to go into more detail. I'm just sleepy and hungry at the moment and fear ill forget to post in this thread if I dont right now.


screaming goo yo all good!

Yeah I was wondering if the lfo has cv over speed? I don't think it does but if it did it would really solidify the whole westcost voice!
Zymos
Nope, only the knob. Can't have everything. Does have a ton of features for a great price though....
SnakesandBladders
thumbs up
southphillysynths wrote:
SnakesandBladders wrote:
I have one. I like it a lot. You can get an insane range of timbres out of this thing. It's a great source of modulation for the rest of your rack as well...I have a smaller system, 6U 84hp, and I'm happy to use up 28hp with this module. It's really like 4 modules in 1. If you have more specific questions, I'd be happy to go into more detail. I'm just sleepy and hungry at the moment and fear ill forget to post in this thread if I dont right now.


screaming goo yo all good!

Yeah I was wondering if the lfo has cv over speed? I don't think it does but if it did it would really solidify the whole westcost voice!


No it does not! That would have been great. Still worth looking into anyway. There is a great demo up now on a YouTube channel I believe is called learning modular* that shows it off well.
Soy Sos
These are really good:



jsco
only major negative is that tuning goes nonlinear below C3. otherwise, this is a really great analog complex oscillator. the routing bus is clever, and the included wavefolder and LPG make it super flexible. i sold mine, but i keep thinking about getting another.
SB-SIX
Just got one from modulargrid and played with it. Really like it alot! What I really like is that you can also use it as normal dual osc with sub osc (other complex oscs often miss waves, like DPO missing square on 1 and saw on 2, verbos missing sine on 1 and saw on 2 etc). The basic oscs sound really rich and characterful. It tracks surprisingly well. Had it running along with a doepfer osc, and it kept in sync over 5 octaves.

And from there a huge world of timbres and unexpected stuff can happen. Really liking the mod bus, very clever with all kinds of ways to patch your own signals or use the normalled ones, various attenuators on board, etc. FM/AM all sound really good to me.

Small downsides: The "vactrol" is really short, so you'll often need an extra envelope. And you'll probably need an external mixer to be able to set the levels of osc1, 2 and sub individually.
SB-SIX
Playing around a bit:
matttech
OH. MY. GOD

we're not worthy we're not worthy we're not worthy we're not worthy we're not worthy

this thing is absolutely astounding! I'm amazed that there isn't a ton more chatter about this module. It really does tick all the boxes for me. The basic tone is full and Powerful, the interface is innovative and really invites experimentation... And the range of Sounds you can get out of it with the minimum of effort is super impressive.

if I could compare it to something, it would be the cylonix cyclebox in a lot of ways: not sonically, but in terms of the interface - you essentially set up a load of modulation and patching and then flick switches to completely transform your patch. The key thing to spend a bit of time on at the start is creating some interesting modulation shapes to input into the to vca attached to the router. These dynamically control how much of the switched modulation routing is applied. So, for example, I had maths controlling one vca and the OR (2 envelopes combined) output of the 4ms PEG controlling the other. This allowed me to create complex shapes which would then sweep the modulation (set with the switches in the router) in and out. You could then use the switches to add increasing layers of timbral complexity... or indeed to strip it back again.

This approach really invites experimental techniques, as it seems to engage a completely different part of the brain. The results are immediate and very, very satisfying in a lot of cases.

The low pass Gate section is surprisingly effective, and also features wave folding which sounds great. It sounded really nice layering up the Plucky topend over a really beefy sub as well.

I've got to say that this module we regret to me, and is the most fun I've had with synths the day I played with the noise engineering loquelic iteritas for the first time... And that's saying something because that is one of my favourite modules. It's easy to get a bit blase or jaded about modules when you are dealing with them day in day out, 7 days a week all year round... but occasionally you come across one that really Ree ignites your passion and enthusiasm, and this certainly is one of those.

I have been very impressed by all of the Pittsburgh modular modules that I have tried from this first shipment actually. The binary filter is as good as the original filter, albeit with slightly less controls and in the much smaller footprint. I reckon that if I was only allowed one filter in my desert island modular, it would actually be this one. I miss the low/high notch of the original, but I guess you can't have everything!

The new PRIMARY OSCILLATOR is also very impressive, although I have spent less time with that one. The future I played with the most was the Fragments section comma and that really did offer something quite unique. It sounded really good layered up with other waves as well, creating an almost UNISON effect. Again, it really invited some experimentation in terms of poaching which is always welcome. The combination of that, the timbre wave folding output and the fullness of the other waves is really appealing... especially considering the size and price of this module. They really do pack it in.

Right, I'm going to go and flick some more switches! smile for anyone who is interested, I'm going to be uploading a few of these little patches to Instagram and Twitter etc just to give people an idea of the kind of fun I'm having with it. Just don't start moaning about the quality of the recording as it will be quick and dirty comment recorded on my phone directly from the speakers. One day I will bother improving this situation but now is not the time!

Cheers w00t
starthief
matttech wrote:
I'm amazed that there isn't a ton more chatter about this module. It really does tick all the boxes for me. The basic tone is full and Powerful, the interface is innovative and really invites experimentation... And the range of Sounds you can get out of it with the minimum of effort is super impressive.


I love the tone of the thing all over. I even love the weird crosstalk and the sort of not-really-overdrive thing that happens when the LPG opens too much.

I pulled it out of my rack once, intending to sell it in favor of a Dynamic Impulse Filter and a wavefolder. It went back in smile
strangegravity
Rockin' Banana! I like mine!
MindMachine
SB-SIX wrote:
Playing around a bit:


Great stuff. At 4:00 it sounds like pre 1981 Tangerine Dream. Very nice.
matttech
starthief wrote:
matttech wrote:
I'm amazed that there isn't a ton more chatter about this module. It really does tick all the boxes for me. The basic tone is full and Powerful, the interface is innovative and really invites experimentation... And the range of Sounds you can get out of it with the minimum of effort is super impressive.


I love the tone of the thing all over. I even love the weird crosstalk and the sort of not-really-overdrive thing that happens when the LPG opens too much.

I pulled it out of my rack once, intending to sell it in favor of a Dynamic Impulse Filter and a wavefolder. It went back in smile


Yeah man, I am ALL over this thing. I can’t remember the last time I tried out a new module and had so many “happy accidents”. It definitely helps to have a couple of complex modulation sources to feed those two router VCAs (or even just 2 mixers with various cv sources in them). I mean, I can’t say I often think to take a slow-ish LFO and use a short, choppy envelope to modulate the intensity at which it controls the wavefold routing being applied to a mix of 2 VCOs eek! ...and you get to that kind of level of patch programming pretty effortlessly - usually by simply flicking switches and adjusting the odd attenuators here and there. There were a lot of periods where I literally just sat there flicking switches and marvelling at the results. Obviously you can only go so far with complete guesswork before you have to do a little bit of digging around to understand how the routing in the background is set up....but it’s not a steep learning curve by any means.

...and unlike a lot of “voice modules”, there were hardly any moments of “oh bummer. I thought it could do BLAH, but it can’t” .....and a lot more “dang, you can do that AND that at the same time....all controlled by THAT. Sweeeet”

I actually expected the router section to be quite limited, and maybe a bit underwhelming...or even gimmicky..but far from it. As with the DPO, I am not expecting the tracking to have a wide range ...but to be honest, I never noticed any issues. That being said, the kind of sounds It was excelling it - and I can see me using it for - tracking REALLLLLY ain’t gonna be a top concern! smile as the DPO manual says “this is not a piece of laboratory equipment” (or words to those effect). I wouldn’t even care if I found crosstalk on this design either (not noticed anything thus far I don’t think), as the entertainment quota is so high..and again, I don’t know about you, but you’d struggle to identify crosstalk within the sounds I’ve been getting! zombie

The last hour has been all about the Blade wave. I was a bit sceptical about this, as I heard some demo videos of it at various trade shows and wasn’t blown away by it, wondering whether it was just a bit of a gimmick ... So I don’t know whether it was JUST the standard modulation of the blade wave ..or whether I had something else kicking in via the router at the same time, but I had this sound which went from a standard pulse wave to something way more crunchy and beefy every time a wonky Maths env kicked in
tnktni
Interested to hear how this compares to the other COs.
starthief
I've got a ton of crosstalk on mine. The secondary osc frequency affecting the primary osc frequency, leaking into the output when it's not patched, weird issues where the decay from the "impulse" input changes dramatically if you patch different things into the input. It's haunted... but it's all good smile

I admit I mostly do "vanilla" stuff with mine (the default sine from the primary, FMd by the default sine from the secondary, with an envelope patched into CV B to control the LPG and folder) and it still sounds fricking gorgeous. Or maybe "AM" with the LPG instead of FM. Though it also does roughly textured drones really nicely too. grin
Wjbratcher
Liking mine! It’s a pretty complete voice on its own, practically a semi- modular with all the normalling going on. But the only things stuck together are the wave-folder-lpg section and only one of the VCAs can be routed out of the module. Meaning, you can break apart this module and use most components separately if needed — or mostly.

The only things I wish it had, of course: triangle waves and linear fm.

But damn, it is versatile for the money. Two oscs, free lfo, vca-like things, switch router, wave folder and lpg with two input jacks, variable faux-vactrol response, and a gritty, cutting sound. I’ll never sell mine — only expand on it.

It’s cheap for what it does! Get a sequence going, add some Maths, filter it, add fx, and your family will be thoroughly annoyed for hours.
DonaldDuck
SB-SIX wrote:
Playing around a bit:


oh wow! This convinced me to actually by one.
goldi
This is my favorite oscillator. I’ve gotten amazing sounds out of it, from gorgeous high plucks with texture to manic basslines that somehow sound like a live player, but better. There’s just so much quick and easy modulation.
dedearmusic
I'm seriously thinking about this. The only downside for me is the lack of a triangle. Does anyone who has the Helix miss this?
starthief
A triangle might have been nice, but I don't really miss it.
dedearmusic
I saw on one of the youtube videos that the sine can be comparable to the triangle. I think there is more than enough in the module to get started with. If the triangle bothers me I could look at an additional STO later I guess (?) It does sound great.
strangegravity
I saw an interview with the PGH team. The sine was tweaked for more harmonics to be more musically useful and give the filter something to bite on.

For a pure sine I have self resonating filters.

This is a great VCO. I'm also glad they added sine to the LFO. All PGH LFOs prior were square or triangle.
starthief
I never thought to scope the sine coming out, but that makes sense. The module's sound strikes me as very "chewy", particularly with its folder and LPG.
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