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noob question re: oscillators + multi-voice/poly/detune
MUFF WIGGLER Forum Index -> Modular Synth General Discussion  
Author noob question re: oscillators + multi-voice/poly/detune
hey guys,

just getting started with modular and was thinking about a few of the different things i'd like to achieve. i know i'd like to make a complete synth with at least 2-3 oscillators, as well as some nifty effects which seem unique to euro.

but where i get a bit confused is with the oscillators...

say i was going for a big fat detuned mono sound with at least two oscillators... do they need to be the exact same oscillators in that event in order to get a similar sonic character or is it okay to mix them? in other words, say i have a 2-osc detuned lead or slow pad/drone going... do the two osc's need to be the same for best results? i'm assuming this is the appeal of a dual-osc unit such as the dpo, x-series, furthrrr, etc.? i've got a minimoog and like the ability to do whatever i want with each oscillator, while at the same time retaining a somewhat uniform sound. but the idea of building one big fat mono voice with different oscillators is also sort of intriguing, i guess i'm just wondering how much variance this would yield.

also, to run a few different voices, does that require a separate vcf, vca, adsr, etc. for each one or can they all be shared, so long as their are individual oscillators? i'm talking individual voices that i'd sequence separately, not play as a chord or something.

lastly, sort of similar to the above question... if i wanted to go for an actual poly sound, what all would be necessary?

sorry if this is a really dumbed down way of asking this... i'm only just starting to get into this after lurking for a long time, though had to take a big break due to some family stuff, so am a bit rusty.
i should add, some of the oscillators i was looking at are:

as rs-95e
addac 701
cwejman vco-2rm
macbeth x-series dual osc
furthrrr generator
make noise sto x 2 or dpo
verbos complex osc

having a hard time deciding which ones have the sonic character i'd like best. i know the 701 would probably appeal to me most due to the moog similarity, but the 95e, macbeth and cwejman also have some appealing qualities. i played both a furthrrr and verbos in person last year, but can't remember much- would need to revisit them if the shop still has them.
This should be moved to the Eurorack forum.

I don't think it's important to match oscillators but keep in mind they might not track perfectly together (especially over a very large range-- if one is lower in the mix, maybe that's not such a problem). Different oscillators may be different voltage levels. The mod osc on some complex oscillators is unipolar.

If you have a voice that requires an oscillator, vcf, vca, and adsr, yes you need one of each.

I routinely use one oscillator for multiple simultaneous voices. The more you play, the more you'll learn about how to do this.

If what you want is multiple monosynth voices it's probably cheaper and easier buying multiple monosynths or overdubbing.
It sounds like your after a subtractive synth voice, so I would go with multiple single oscillators with a mixer. Ones that offer basic wave forms, FM, PWM, etc. They could be the same model or different, it's up to you.

Complex oscillators are traditionally meant to be used to modulate each other - one carrier or primary, one modulator. But they are not typically mixed in the way your talking about. You don't have to use it that way because there really are no rules, but that's the idea behind them. As luketeaford mentioned, the modulation osc on some complex oscillators is unipolar (such as the Verbos CO).

Complex oscillators also have a wavefolding or harmonics section. This where you modulate your timbres. In the type of patch you mentioned (vcf, vca, adsr), the vcf is where you modulate the timbres.

If you want a poly sound, I think a polyphonic keyboard might be a better way to go.
smitty.west, lots of good advice above. One thing to suggest is to look at the Studio Electronics Quadnic module. Four voices.. you can lock them or use separate V/O inputs. A variety of tonalities available. Good for chords but also when you want 2 or more voice lines to have similar sounds but different melodies. Nothing fancy, but inexpensive, a good sound and one of the few modules of this size with four voices. Have fun with your music.
I like the sound of different-brand oscillators tuned together but not sync’d. Oftentimes they will drift apart on their own. A very fast triangle LFO into the pulse width of one of them can add some fatness.
I often read a modular systems "idea" is not after achieving polyphony.
But if there are no rules, why not? I wonder if 3 or more VCOs, routed by a midi interface for lowest, highest and between note, are the same polyphony as from a normal poly-Keyboard-synth???

Why do I Need and VCF EGand VCA for each VCO seperately? Is there a way e.g. a multiple, to share one VCF, EG and VCA for all Oscillators?
NewSynthOnTheBlock wrote:
But if there are no rules, why not?

Because it will cost you an arm and a leg. For a real polyphonic synth you’ll need one VCO, one VCA, one VCF and two envelopes per voice. Normal polyphonic synths has at least four voices and often twice that.

Also, to set up a polyphonic patch without modules made for this purpose or some clever multing will mean that you’ll have to dial in the same values once per voice. And if you change one setting you’ll have to change it once per voice. Tons of work and a lot more expensive than a normal polyphonic synth.

But if you want to then go for it. The result might be cool.
You need to consider how you are going to play it - I have a synth which in theory I can have 4 identcal voices - however I don't have a keyboard that can play it - not sure if there are many CV keyboards that can do this - and if you go the midi route you need MIDI/CV converter which can work in poly mode.

Creating the synth side of it is easy - all you need is $
FWIW, related discussion here:

5U Polyphonic Patch Experiments (2018)

Take a look on YouTube for some analogue polysynth teardown videos to see what goes on inside them. It ain't simple. Dead Banana

It's not impossible in modular, it's just that's not what modular is good at. Right tool for the job and all that. thumbs up
I'm new to the world of modular too, and after looking into many of your same questions, I settled on a uBermuda and an STO. I specifically decided not to get two of the same oscillator, but to get two that offered interesting modulation and waveform options.

I've found I tend to use them in a "complex oscillator" configuration most of the time (that is, not two independent oscillators fed into a mixer, playing "in unison"; but one of them modulating the other, so I only take one waveform out).

The STO has both linear and exponential FM (I tend to use the linear for timbral interaction with the uBermuda and exponential with an LFO), as well as a sub-oscillator and sineshaper.

The uBermuda has external FM and a "self-mod" FM feedback loop.

They can also both sync off of each other.

I highly recommend two mismatched oscillators if only for that reason! If there's a very pricey and a very inexpensive oscillator you've been looking at, get both. Later you might decide you want a second expensive one, but until then, explore using them in tandem.
Is there a way e.g. a multiple, to share one VCF, EG and VCA for all Oscillators?

I use a quad vca and a dual envelope and two separate filters to handle two voicess. Split one env (multiple / stackable) out to handle the vca of each voice and split the other env out to be the filter env of each voice. Its limiting but i have a tiny rack.

Nexti want a multi lfo.. having 1x of each function is too expensive.
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