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Just for fun, compact polyphonic eurorack
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Author Just for fun, compact polyphonic eurorack
Josef_K
So I'm just bored and came up with this 4-voice eurorack synth. I have distant plans to build a little ~160HP case and fit my midi-keyboard in there, so I thought what if the synth was kinda stripped down but polyphonic? Enter the 4-voice with 4 STO:s, 4 Ripples, 2 quadra (8 ASR envelopes) and Quad VCA. Is this just stupid or would it sound rather cool, what do you think? I got excited at the idea of playing a chord with STO:s and modulating the shape and/or Ripples cutoff with a quadrature LFO, making the chord emphasize different notes as you play. One should be able to get some great unique rhodes/polysynth sounds out of this with some outboard phaser and/or chorus.

Do you have any plans for (or actually own) stripped down polyphonic performance-oriented euroracks, or anything similar? I'd love to see some ideas smile

https://www.modulargrid.net/e/racks/view/535350
pieter
I take it the Midi Thing can send proper four-voice polyphonic gates from the midi signal?

While €3000 is quite a lot for a polysynth, the benefit of your setup is that you can dial in the filters differently for the different voices. So for example, you can make the primary voice brighter than the subsequently triggered voices. But then I would go further and get different filters and oscillators to get more variety in the character of the different voices.
kwaidan
At one time, this rack was 210 HP, but I shortened it to 168 HP. It's basically a TipTop tabletop rack with the longer rails. On a separate rack, I've got a bunch of filters and EQs. The quad VCAs really help to keep adjustments level for each voice.

Josef_K
pieter wrote:
I take it the Midi Thing can send proper four-voice polyphonic gates from the midi signal?

While €3000 is quite a lot for a polysynth, the benefit of your setup is that you can dial in the filters differently for the different voices. So for example, you can make the primary voice brighter than the subsequently triggered voices. But then I would go further and get different filters and oscillators to get more variety in the character of the different voices.


Yeah it seems like it sends gates and cv for up to four voices. Yeah, of course these modules are quite useful together with another case for more experimental stuff or something, so adding quite a small amount to these €3000 and one has much more than a polysynth smile regarding types of oscillators and filters, that's always a hard choice to make. There is much more consistency in a setup with the same modules for each voice, but the sound is of course much more limited...
Josef_K
kwaidan wrote:
At one time, this rack was 210 HP, but I shortened it to 168 HP. It's basically a TipTop tabletop rack with the longer rails. On a separate rack, I've got a bunch of filters and EQs. The quad VCAs really help to keep adjustments level for each voice.



Cool! How's the sound of the Qu-bit filters? They would be a great alternative to the Ripples I guess, cheaper and smaller. BP and LP outs are probably all I need.
kwaidan
The Qu-Bit sounds really nice, especially with chords. I wish it had more CV modulation inputs, but Doepfer mixers can take care of that problem.

In the past, I used other filters, but the Qu-Bit sounds the best. Some filters seem geared toward squeelchy distorted monosynth madness, which doesn't work well with chords. Plus, all the components are matched.

I used to have four separate oscillators but went with the Troika because the components are matched. For now, I use the Spectrum for the low end, but eventually, I will get Instruo's new VCO.

Also, Doepfer is coming out with a four voice VCO.
blinosynth
nowadays u just need an OD er301
sampler though ...
but they are all so entusiastic about it
i wish i could afford it :(
Josef_K
kwaidan wrote:
The Qu-Bit sounds really nice, especially with chords. I wish it had more CV modulation inputs, but Doepfer mixers can take care of that problem.

In the past, I used other filters, but the Qu-Bit sounds the best. Some filters seem geared toward squeelchy distorted monosynth madness, which doesn't work well with chords. Plus, all the components are matched.

I used to have four separate oscillators but went with the Troika because the components are matched. For now, I use the Spectrum for the low end, but eventually, I will get Instruo's new VCO.

Also, Doepfer is coming out with a four voice VCO.


Cool, if I ever get around to start this project the Tone seems more tempting than the 4x Ripples for sure (maybe even before that smile ) Yeah, I really like the "shape" modulation sound of the STO and think it would be killer in a polyphonic setting, so I'd like that or something similar, freq. mod is cool as well but pwm in poly probably sounds a bit strange... maybe good for a lead/highest note, but honestly the thought of trying to play lead and chords on this and getting the gate to trigger the correct oscillators feels like it would be a hazzle. Better just use a dedicated lead synth for that, we're not in low-budget land here anyways

blinosynth wrote:
nowadays u just need an OD er301
sampler though ...
but they are all so entusiastic about it
i wish i could afford it :(


Well that's quite different from a 4-voice modular polysynth, isn't it? smile I've never worked with samplers either so I'd be completely lost with one of those. Maybe someday I'll change my mind, who knows smile
sasbom
I sort of have a 4 voice polyphonic set-up, but it isn't the most compact hahaha

I use the FH-1 from expert sleepers. The thing is highly configurable,
and you can even expand it's outputs and configure those as well.

I have 2,5 plus 1 voices available to me currently
2 pair ladik vco's going through the Eowave Fluctuations Magnetiques
separated in 2 sets of 2 multimode filters, a disting mk4 running
wavetables,
and finally a ladik U-202 connecting a cv gate pair to a ms20-mini.

I hope to get a dinsync sara and another VCO, then I'd be able to get 4 voices out of my modular alone and use the ms-20 as a sequenced bass or something. Anyway, playing modular polyphonically is a blast. I don't get why people advice against it. Using slightly different voices, you can create rich and varying chords.

I also like putting 4 voices through seperate vca's, but into 1 filter array.
It's great. You can get more organ type sounds this way, I love it.
kwaidan
If you ever get around to it, make sure to get envelopes with CV control. If you go with Intellijel, get the expanders; otherwise, check out Qu-Bit's quad envelope. That way you can get something like a Triatt that sends CV and mult the signal. This setup is an easy way to simultaneously control the shape of all four envelopes with a couple of knobs.

If ModCan ever resurrects itself, then you have another option.
JohnLRice
Here's my eurorack poly setup:
https://www.modulargrid.net/e/racks/view/527901

Here's a "corrected" image. I "think" this case is "done" lol but, I may flip the whole bottom row upside down again to make patching and use after patching a lot easier.:


And here's just the main voice detail:


Here's a picture of how I use my modified+combined mults to route gates to both EGs:

More info in this thread: https://www.muffwiggler.com/forum/viewtopic.php?p=2671680#2671680


This is a very powerful and versatile briefcase modular I think but . . . for what it costs I could have bought a pretty amazing poly-synth keyboard? hmmm..... hihi
microfauna
Maybe 4x SDS_VCOs (or even a future quad version:)
VCO/ADSR/VCA all in 3HP

http://www.muffwiggler.com/forum/viewtopic.php?t=179226&sid=cc4ea055cb d7c5b0f16e23567a52f54f
Josef_K
sasbom wrote:
I sort of have a 4 voice polyphonic set-up, but it isn't the most compact hahaha

I use the FH-1 from expert sleepers. The thing is highly configurable,
and you can even expand it's outputs and configure those as well.

I have 2,5 plus 1 voices available to me currently
2 pair ladik vco's going through the Eowave Fluctuations Magnetiques
separated in 2 sets of 2 multimode filters, a disting mk4 running
wavetables,
and finally a ladik U-202 connecting a cv gate pair to a ms20-mini.

I hope to get a dinsync sara and another VCO, then I'd be able to get 4 voices out of my modular alone and use the ms-20 as a sequenced bass or something. Anyway, playing modular polyphonically is a blast. I don't get why people advice against it. Using slightly different voices, you can create rich and varying chords.

I also like putting 4 voices through seperate vca's, but into 1 filter array.
It's great. You can get more organ type sounds this way, I love it.


Sounds nice, can we have some pictures or modulargrid links? grin Do you ever have issues when playing chords that the oscillators are not layered as you'd like? I mean since you have different voices, or can you configure the different gate/cv outputs to be like low/top priority as on a monosynth? I haven't looked into how to do this, so four identical voices seems by far the most pragmatic approach smile

kwaidan wrote:
If you ever get around to it, make sure to get envelopes with CV control. If you go with Intellijel, get the expanders; otherwise, check out Qu-Bit's quad envelope. That way you can get something like a Triatt that sends CV and mult the signal. This setup is an easy way to simultaneously control the shape of all four envelopes with a couple of knobs.

If ModCan ever resurrects itself, then you have another option.


Yeah I guess the expanders would be a logical next step, but it seems a bit much for the space restrictions I have in mind, though nothing is stopping me from adding another 160HP row I guess haha smile Qu-Bit are really popping up everywhere with interesting products, I'm surprised I haven't bought anything from them yet!
starthief
It's not compact, but the first thing I think of now when I think of a 4-voice polyphonic rack would be an E370.
kimu
Doepfer has a great line of quad modules, only quad filter is missing.
Otherwise you can go with 2x DPO, 2x maths or a combination of maths and function and 2x optomix or mix of optomix and middemix
sasbom
Josef_K wrote:

Sounds nice, can we have some pictures or modulargrid links? grin Do you ever have issues when playing chords that the oscillators are not layered as you'd like? I mean since you have different voices, or can you configure the different gate/cv outputs to be like low/top priority as on a monosynth? I haven't looked into how to do this, so four identical voices seems by far the most pragmatic approach smile


I'm sorry, my modulargrid needs to be updated :p I'm a bit embarrassed by it right now.
I can tell you however, that the FH-1 has some note priority features built in. It's highly configurable, and Os (the guy running the show) listens to feature requests!
The standard 3 polyphonic voice algorythms are (quoting the fh-1 manual)

Round robin (the default). Each voice is used in turn.

Lowest voice. The lowest-numbered available voice is used for each new note.
This means that if you start from no notes, the first note played will always be voice one, the second note voice two etc., so you can reliably for example hold a drone on voice one and play over it on a second voice.

Unison. All voices are always used, duplicating notes if less notes are played than there are voices. This is very much like for example the Korg MonoPoly's "Unison/Share" mode.

Also, you can disable voice stealing. I requested that feature because I found it extremely tedious playing 4 voices, accidently hitting a 5th key, and having the 1st note replaced with the
new one.

Low/Top note priority has not yet been requested but I think it's a bit weird. I can control the way the voices are laid out pretty well using Lowest voice with voice stealing off.
Also, you can set up splits, if you configure 2 internal polyphonic converters to end up on the same channel but on different note ranges!
I tend to put 1 voice on a seperate octave and the remaining 3 voices above that.

It requires some analysing of your playing style, but you can get a reeeaalllyy long way with the FH-1. That module has been the reason I was attracted to the modular experience.

Currently, the one bass note / 3 voices for chords has served me very well. I also sometimes put the whole ordeal on unison and get some thick sounds.

Sometimes though, voices switch around if you're not being careful. That mostly happens in a non-spit polyphonic mode when I try to play 1 bass note and a melody line above it.
It's a bit cumbersome then, but like I said, with some planning and configuration the FH-1 is truly worth your time.
Plus, sometimes I like having the voices switch around a bit. You might stumble upon some nice sonic variation you didn't knew existed.

That said,

take time tuning your oscillators pls and I'd reccomend not doing it by ear. Retune them if they are going through a filter.

As for filters, I'd recommend getting double multimode filters. They don't all have to be the same, that'd get pretty boring. You might as well just buy a polysynth then.

I got the eowave Fluctuations Magnetiques, which some find boring but the thing intrigues me. You can use it as a dual multimode filter pair as well,
(2x2) so it can handle 2 synth voices with each a Hp Lp pair, or Lp Hp pair, or Bp Lp pair, or Bp Bp pair, whatever, any combination.
Check it out, it's great.

I'm also going for a Dinsync Sara soon, that's also an interesting filter. I have to play around with it first though, and see what it's like.

If I didn't already have a ms-20, I'd suggest you go take a look at the filter thing Befaco makes, the BF-22.
kwaidan
At one point, I tried a pair of Dinsync Saras, but I wasn't happy with the results. For one, the side are apparently not matched. Plus, you need outside attenuators. Of course, if you are going to run one voice through it, then that's a different story.

I almost went with the Befacos, and actually, I still might get two of them. If you go DIY, they are quite affordable.

Yarns has round robin and low note/high note priority. It also has a three note mode.

In fact, Yarns even has an oscillator mode, so if you don't mind digital, you can kill to birds with one stone.
natureclubcassettes
just made this one to get at least three sequences going at once with multiple percussion parts too:

https://www.modulargrid.net/e/racks/view/533832

i've been enjoying using my 6u 84hp case in the living room and this is a fun way to have complex, polyrhythmic generative sequencing on multiple voices.
DruidTek
Here's my stripped down polyphonic performance-oriented skiff.

sasbom
::(( that just defeats the whole point hahaha
Glaf it works for you tho, I'd go crazy menu diving for 3 voices
DruidTek
There's surprisingly little menu diving actually, you just have to patch the appropriate jacks and write a new sequence.
Obviously it would be great to have separate knobs for everything, but the OP said "compact" lol
hyena
i think if i'd like to go that route (simple 4 voice poly) i'd try to cut costs down and make it all doepfer (except perhaps for the quadras which are really space-saving). also given the fact that doepfer vcos and filters rock!
Josef_K
sasbom wrote:
Josef_K wrote:

Sounds nice, can we have some pictures or modulargrid links? grin Do you ever have issues when playing chords that the oscillators are not layered as you'd like? I mean since you have different voices, or can you configure the different gate/cv outputs to be like low/top priority as on a monosynth? I haven't looked into how to do this, so four identical voices seems by far the most pragmatic approach smile


I'm sorry, my modulargrid needs to be updated :p I'm a bit embarrassed by it right now.
I can tell you however, that the FH-1 has some note priority features built in. It's highly configurable, and Os (the guy running the show) listens to feature requests!
The standard 3 polyphonic voice algorythms are (quoting the fh-1 manual)

Round robin (the default). Each voice is used in turn.

Lowest voice. The lowest-numbered available voice is used for each new note.
This means that if you start from no notes, the first note played will always be voice one, the second note voice two etc., so you can reliably for example hold a drone on voice one and play over it on a second voice.

Unison. All voices are always used, duplicating notes if less notes are played than there are voices. This is very much like for example the Korg MonoPoly's "Unison/Share" mode.

Also, you can disable voice stealing. I requested that feature because I found it extremely tedious playing 4 voices, accidently hitting a 5th key, and having the 1st note replaced with the
new one.

Low/Top note priority has not yet been requested but I think it's a bit weird. I can control the way the voices are laid out pretty well using Lowest voice with voice stealing off.
Also, you can set up splits, if you configure 2 internal polyphonic converters to end up on the same channel but on different note ranges!
I tend to put 1 voice on a seperate octave and the remaining 3 voices above that.

It requires some analysing of your playing style, but you can get a reeeaalllyy long way with the FH-1. That module has been the reason I was attracted to the modular experience.

Currently, the one bass note / 3 voices for chords has served me very well. I also sometimes put the whole ordeal on unison and get some thick sounds.

Sometimes though, voices switch around if you're not being careful. That mostly happens in a non-spit polyphonic mode when I try to play 1 bass note and a melody line above it.
It's a bit cumbersome then, but like I said, with some planning and configuration the FH-1 is truly worth your time.
Plus, sometimes I like having the voices switch around a bit. You might stumble upon some nice sonic variation you didn't knew existed.

That said,

take time tuning your oscillators pls and I'd reccomend not doing it by ear. Retune them if they are going through a filter.

As for filters, I'd recommend getting double multimode filters. They don't all have to be the same, that'd get pretty boring. You might as well just buy a polysynth then.

I got the eowave Fluctuations Magnetiques, which some find boring but the thing intrigues me. You can use it as a dual multimode filter pair as well,
(2x2) so it can handle 2 synth voices with each a Hp Lp pair, or Lp Hp pair, or Bp Lp pair, or Bp Bp pair, whatever, any combination.
Check it out, it's great.

I'm also going for a Dinsync Sara soon, that's also an interesting filter. I have to play around with it first though, and see what it's like.

If I didn't already have a ms-20, I'd suggest you go take a look at the filter thing Befaco makes, the BF-22.


Sounds like that FH-1 can do some advanced stuff for sure! I'm currently looking at the Vermona Quad midi interface though, as I might need a midi-interface soon anyway for my current modular (going straight from the CV/Gate of my Little Phatty at the moment). 4-voice polyphonic velocity CV (and something more per voice) seems tempting for Rhodes-ish sounds (velocity controlling the overdrive of my Veils or future Quad VCA would be awesome), and the price is not THAT much higher than the Befaco, unless I DIY which I probably won't...

Anyway, nice to see so many ideas and actual systems here, you guys have some great ideas. I'm personally not too keen on digital oscillators, I love my Tides because I (kinda) understand it, but even that I mostly bought for LFO duties, and I seem to have very little patience for learning more about digital synthesis smile As for Oscillators, I think only having FM control as with the Doepfer Quad etc is going to feel too limited, forcing one to buy twice (or go crazy with filters and effects). But maybe what I said about PWM is not entirely true, I wonder how a quadrature sine LFO slowly modulating the phase of four similar oscillators sounds, maybe it's cool...

If one doesn't go for the Qu-bit Tone (or wants more variation after that), I think going for some different Doepfer filters (always cheap second hand) would be cool, getting slightly varying tones out of each note when needed. The "Tone" seems kinda hard to beat price-wise though, at least new.
brandonlogic
Josef_K wrote:

blinosynth wrote:
nowadays u just need an OD er301
sampler though ...
but they are all so entusiastic about it
i wish i could afford it :(


Well that's quite different from a 4-voice modular polysynth, isn't it? smile I've never worked with samplers either so I'd be completely lost with one of those. Maybe someday I'll change my mind, who knows smile


the er301 is much more than just a sampler. It's different yes, but you could set up in a way to take care of all your oscillators, vcas, envelopes, mixers, lfo's etc, even filters in a polyphonic patch. im not suggesting this is a better idea than separate modules, just saying that the er301 + a midi to cv modules alone would be more than capable of doing this.
2disbetter
starthief wrote:
It's not compact, but the first thing I think of now when I think of a 4-voice polyphonic rack would be an E370.


I don't mean to take a dump on that parade, but since this is about a compact polyphonic rack, I just don't see how this is a viable option. For starters the e370 is digital, and takes up 56hp. While many might not fully understand the er-301 it is a e370 and so much more. If you are looking at the e370 and saying that is a super oscillator (which it is), then you should be looking at the ER-301 and say that it's also a super oscillator. The mechanism behind the two are identical. (Not the hardware or the specific algorithms. The way they both make noise however.) (Side note: Synthtech does have a cool wave editor program they just released, which is way cool. Kudos to them for that.)

And while it is popular to sample sounds and use those as oscillators on the ER-301 there are also several native oscillators modules within it as well, and the never ending possibility of infinitely more as the platform continues to be developed. The community has already contributed several new modules. Growth on it never seems to stop.

On top of this with how expensive the e370 is you are much better served with the ER-301. It can be used as an oscillator or oscillators (has 4 outs, but the number of sounds coming out of one out is only limited by cpu limits.) while also doing signal or sound modulation or some other random thing. (Mixing, effects, etc.)

The ONLY way the e370 makes sense is if you want a more clutter free interface and don't mind it taking up half or more of your compact rack. Still given all you get, that seems hardly worth a concern for just subjectively better interface.

But I'm weird like that, so your mileage may vary.

2d

Obligatory mention considering my zeal for it: The Percussa SSP is 60hp (and so way too large for your purposes, although like the er-301, you could have this, a VCA, and outs for a complete modular polyphonic synth) and is essentially an er-301 with more than 20 times the processing power and high quality DACs, etc. The value proposition of this module just can't be overstated. This 60 hp can do what a decent size modular can do, and then much more.
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