Where to start with Serge

Discussing some incredible modules that don't quite fit into the other forum categories.

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cyberdine
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Where to start with Serge

Post by cyberdine » Sat Nov 16, 2019 12:16 pm

Hello

I'm fascinated by Serge systems. They look, to me, atomic. I imagine that patching is like building sound at a level that's more fundamental than with Buchla (or Eurorack, for that matter).

I'm also at somewhat of a loss as to where one would start with a Serge system. I'm interested in the idea of a small, self-contained system with some ability to sequence. Does anyone have a good suggestion for how to start?

I see this: http://randomsource.net/serge_panels which looks like it might fit the bill. Has anyone tried one? are there other places that I ought to look?

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Post by revtor » Sat Nov 16, 2019 12:29 pm

All depends on your cash flow.

Random source is great, I would definitely go for the 4u banana versus mini Jack if you want the real serge experience.

A couple slope generators a filter some type of sequencing maybe a Waveshaper, that will get you the core serge experience and you expand from there. SSG is another typical mysterious patchable building block serge module.

STS panels are top notch as well, can usually find some for sale if you snoop around.

Can’t go wrong, have fun.

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Post by wavecircle » Sat Nov 16, 2019 1:32 pm

If you are starting out try to pick up a couple of STS M-class like the creature and gator. RS is great, something like a mantra will take you far. If you have more of an idea of exactly what you want go to LoudestWarning for a completely custom system.
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/thezyg/ (lots of Serge)

[s]http://bit.ly/2Mekran[/s]

Ciat Lonbarde stuff from many moons ago: http://soundcloud.com/polska-kliknij-muzyka

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Post by luketeaford » Sat Nov 16, 2019 2:26 pm

I play an R*S eurorack serge system and love it-- but if you're exclusively interested in 4U, I'd probably get the Creature or similar configuration.

The SSG is probably my favorite (next to the VCM of course...). I agree with the others that it is versatile and mysterious (at least at first) which teaches you a lot about how to patch with Serge. It can create complex rhythm sequences, pitch sequences, drones, PWM, etc all on its own.

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cyberdine
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Post by cyberdine » Sat Nov 16, 2019 2:33 pm

Thanks guys. I'm based in the US (NYC) - if I bought a Mantra from the EU, anyone have any idea if I would end up paying import duty?

There's also this: https://reverb.com/item/29670909-random ... compatible -- does anyone reckon it's self contained enough to do interesting things on a standalone basis? It has no sequencer (I am mildly obsessed with sequencers) but it seems like sequences could be generated using the logic functions. Or something.

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Post by qwoned » Sat Nov 16, 2019 3:08 pm

cyberdine wrote:There's also this: https://reverb.com/item/29670909-random ... compatible -- does anyone reckon it's self contained enough to do interesting things on a standalone basis? It has no sequencer (I am mildly obsessed with sequencers) but it seems like sequences could be generated using the logic functions. Or something.
you'll want at least a filter and a vca. there's was a while where I only had an edelweiss, and there weren't any issues with audio generation, but any significant degree of timbral and amplitude modulation will be missed. sequences can be generated using the SSG to satisfying effect. also cross-modulating DUSGs yields very controllable and chaotic sequences with useful periodicities.

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Post by cyberdine » Sat Nov 16, 2019 3:23 pm

qwoned wrote: you'll want at least a filter and a vca. there's was a while where I only had an edelweiss, and there weren't any issues with audio generation, but any significant degree of timbral and amplitude modulation will be missed. sequences can be generated using the SSG to satisfying effect. also cross-modulating DUSGs yields very controllable and chaotic sequences with useful periodicities.
Thanks - so the Mantra has both SSG and one DUSG, plus another Dual Slopes. Seems like a better choice out of the box. What is the VCA on the Mantra panel - is it a case of using the filter as a VCA/LPG or will the gain on the on Xfader do the trick as well?

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Post by qwoned » Sat Nov 16, 2019 4:06 pm

XFader would work well, but also the slope generators. e.g. DUSG with the SEQ8 could yield voltage controllable envelopes suitable for VCA purposes. DUSG and SSG are crucial, for anything.

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Post by cyberdine » Sat Nov 16, 2019 4:56 pm

qwoned wrote:XFader would work well, but also the slope generators. e.g. DUSG with the SEQ8 could yield voltage controllable envelopes suitable for VCA purposes. DUSG and SSG are crucial, for anything.
Thanks - and in terms of oscillators, the DUDG and SSG both work well?

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Post by Biom » Sat Nov 16, 2019 6:44 pm

Start with an Animal. Nothing would get you there better. You'll use the panel a lot more than you ever expect. It would also be your last panel to sell in any circumstance.
Both RS and Loudest Warning are top options.

Collecting Serge module by module isn't a wise idea, though it might look like it is. You'll never know what next module to buy, as every single serge module looks totally confusing due to its "atomic" philosophy and "openness".
Starting with an Animal would bring a lot of understanding and appreciation and would make further decisions easier.

Dusg is a great vco, reseq is even more interesting, but if you're looking for a real instrument, you'll need a minimum of 2 dedicated oscillators. 4 is better.

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Post by qwoned » Sat Nov 16, 2019 6:47 pm

yeah, esp. DUSG is a good tri-osc with lpf and subharmonic capabilities. SSG can act as a great lfo, among many other things. but again, main things missing (imo, of course) from the Mantra are VCAs, logic/division, and the VCM. but maybe you could do an XL boat and add a couple extra modules that would satisfy these duties (e.g. DONKS + DIVIDE/COMP or VCM/RES EQ).

Animal is pretty great—wish I had that when I first started. LW could do that for you easy.

btw I still don't understand why R*S doesn't make an ACPR in 4U… smh

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Post by cyberdine » Sat Nov 16, 2019 8:15 pm

I have a Buchla system, so I’m wondering if I can sync the Serge by sending a pulse out from the Buchla. Or visa versa- anyone have any experience with that?

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Post by luchog » Sat Nov 16, 2019 10:27 pm

Biom wrote:Start with an Animal. Nothing would get you there better. You'll use the panel a lot more than you ever expect. It would also be your last panel to sell in any circumstance.
Both RS and Loudest Warning are top options.
Or better yet, the Animoo modified version with the RingMod.

If you don't have the cash for STS, and have a hard time finding an Animal/Animoo used (and they are very hard to find, people just don't like to turn loose of them), then a Random*Source La Bestia II is almost identical to the Animal, way cheaper, and a lot of the circuits have been updated by Serge himself.

The main difference is that the La Bestia II drops the Precision VCO utility oscillator and replaces it with a Variable Slope Filter. Either filter works great as an oscillator, and can take the place of the PCO, while adding a bit of flexibility. The version of the DUSG on the La Bestia II is also a little better than the version on the Animal.

Me personally, I managed to pick up a used Animate at a decent price, but those are even harder to find. Not as flexible as the Animal or La Bestia II; but it has the WAD, so...
Last edited by luchog on Sun Nov 17, 2019 5:02 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Post by MindMachine » Sat Nov 16, 2019 10:58 pm

I'll just add that if you don't have room for a full DUSG somewhere, then a DTG w/ Signal In mod on at least one side is a good space saver. I wish I had a Gate Button on my other side (I have a Bipolar Out).
FS: Pedals and Euro modules, Delta Labs, dotcom Q128 for 37.00
viewtopic.php?f=74&t=233636&p=3287718&h ... e#p3287718

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Post by mestlick » Sun Nov 17, 2019 12:36 am

cyberdine wrote:I have a Buchla system, so I’m wondering if I can sync the Serge by sending a pulse out from the Buchla. Or visa versa- anyone have any experience with that?
I have both. Buchla will trigger Serge stuff no problem. I also send CVs back and forth. I have 200r, not 200e stuff. There are issues with negative CVs into 200e breaking modules.

I used a 248r MARF with a LW animal-like panel for a while, it was a super cool combo.

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Post by Biom » Sun Nov 17, 2019 2:56 am

luchog wrote:The main difference is that the La Bestia II drops the Precision VCO utility oscillator and replaces it with a Variable Slope Filter. Either filter works great as an oscillator, and can take the place of the PCO, while adding a bit of flexibility. The version of the DUSG on the La Bestia II is also a little better than the version on the Animal.
Wise step indeed, but the LW 258 version seems even stronger in this respect.
Extra vca and a ring mod or a more extended dusg. And there is no need in an additional filter - the vco has everything covered. The waveshaping section there worth another long praise.

Then again, RS has a lot of flexibility with their 4x4 modules, which could lead to some really interesting, non-obvious combinations, which could easily be swapped with time.
The only thing that is still missing there (and I'm really wondering why) is the preamp detector. Among all the differences from buchla, this one is really strong - wide external processing possibilities, that made some people buy serge just for this particular task (with great success). This is also (and foremost) a synchronization with other instruments, which is more important than all these dusg iterations.
I guess, RS are a bit more engineers than composers, which left their version of an instrument more limited.

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Post by cyberdine » Sun Nov 17, 2019 11:37 am

Thank you so much everyone for your helpful comments. Love the community vibe here.

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Post by luchog » Sun Nov 17, 2019 4:53 pm

Biom wrote:
luchog wrote:The main difference is that the La Bestia II drops the Precision VCO utility oscillator and replaces it with a Variable Slope Filter. Either filter works great as an oscillator, and can take the place of the PCO, while adding a bit of flexibility. The version of the DUSG on the La Bestia II is also a little better than the version on the Animal.
Then again, RS has a lot of flexibility with their 4x4 modules, which could lead to some really interesting, non-obvious combinations, which could easily be swapped with time.
What I'm eventually planning with my Animate (which does have the Preamp Detector), is to go with the extended-width R*S XL boat, and add a couple of their 4x4 panels -- the Smooth and Stepped/Random panel, and either the Wave Multiplier/ResEQ or the Dual Filter VCFQ/VCFS panel, haven't decided which.

If I was going to go straight R*S with the La Bestia II, I'd definitely use the XL boat, and add their updated DUSG-XL, and TWS+/RingMod panels. That would be a pretty solid and flexible single-boat rig.

The only thing that is still missing there (and I'm really wondering why) is the preamp detector. Among all the differences from buchla, this one is really strong - wide external processing possibilities, that made some people buy serge just for this particular task (with great success). This is also (and foremost) a synchronization with other instruments, which is more important than all these dusg iterations.
Soon as I can scrape up the money, and can find one, I am definitely picking up an STS Soup Kitchen I panel. That in a XL boat with R*S DTG/ADSR and TWS+/RingMod would be a hell of an effects processor rig.

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Post by Biom » Sun Nov 17, 2019 6:18 pm

Wave Multiplier/ResEQ is like a DUSG-SSG combo, the serge core, no matter what music you play.
As for the Soup Kitchen, you already have the WAD (and the Preamp!), so I'd rather throw in the RS ResEQ and the Haible phaser. Would save you a lot of $.

But check out this:



Thanks, batchas for blowing our minds. Such videos are very refreshing. I think, this is what Serge Tcherepnin himself been trying to achieve with his creation and what actually defines his instrument.

The TWS is what makes me scratch my head still. I don't own it, but can't really understand its purpose on paper. To me (and that's, of course, very subjective) it is a bit overthought.
I can see its point in the pre-NTO (even more atomic) days, perhaps. I also came across people cascade modulate it to bring back the harmonics, but isn't that what the VCM is for?
Never heard acoustic instruments through it though - that's the demo I've been hunting for years! :eek:

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Post by beyourdog » Sun Nov 17, 2019 9:13 pm

Animal or Animoo as you have most of the basic and fun times in perpsectie...but I don't understand what you mean by:

"I imagine that patching is like building sound at a level that's more fundamental than with Buchla (or Eurorack, for that matter)."

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Post by cyberdine » Sun Nov 17, 2019 9:42 pm

beyourdog wrote:Animal or Animoo as you have most of the basic and fun times in perpsectie...but I don't understand what you mean by:

"I imagine that patching is like building sound at a level that's more fundamental than with Buchla (or Eurorack, for that matter)."
What I mean is that - as I understand it - Serge patching takes lower level functions that are combined in order to create things that you'd expect to find as standalone modules in Euro or Buchla. Eg, using the DUSG as a decent oscillator, not just as a CV function generator. (Yes, I know that you can use Maths as an oscillator, but it's not that great). Or the SSG appears to be an oscillator as well as an LFO and different types of random CV generator. Its a bit of a generalisation, I realise, as flexibility is the heart of modular synthesis. And to continue with my oscillator example, there appear to be dedicated Serge oscillators out there. But I'm interested in learning a more atomic approach, (If indeed that is what the Serge paradigm is about) and seeing if I like it.

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Post by Scories » Sun Nov 17, 2019 10:34 pm

I've been enjoying my STS Creature/Audio Interface over the last few years. Compared to the Animal, I have a DUSG rather than regular oscillators and a Res EQ rather than a Wave Multiplier, plus a CV VCA and a comparator. More building blocks than the Animal and an overall smoother tone (the Res EQ is a real treat, a super useful studio tool and it can also drone).

cycad73

Post by cycad73 » Sun Nov 17, 2019 10:37 pm

beyourdog wrote: Eg, using the DUSG as a decent oscillator, not just as a CV function generator.
It's "OK". the problem is the slew rate limitation to 5 kHz, which means even the saw waveform will have a rounded edge and sound a bit dull.

It is much better if you have the Negative/Positive slews. There you can get perfect saws and they sound as bright as normal oscillators. Of course you are still limited to the frequency being below 5 kHz. Or -- you can make a DSG by connecting a Negative to a Positive and using cycle feedback. But here you have two outputs, the normal asymmetric triangle wave (Negative slew output), but then also a very bright clipped saw (Positive slew out).

With the DSG if there were switches to disable positive and negative slewing, or a mod/redesign to raise the limit frequency to 200 kHz or something -- whatever the highest frequency of the PCO, etc. it would be a great audio oscillator. Right now it's good but not great. Serge was better with his original 1973 design.

cycad73

Post by cycad73 » Sun Nov 17, 2019 10:46 pm

Biom wrote: The TWS is what makes me scratch my head still. I don't own it, but can't really understand its purpose on paper. To me (and that's, of course, very subjective) it is a bit overthought.
I've never owned a TWS, but my understanding is it performs the sine-saw shaping from the early oscillators, given a normal sawtooth input.

On the 73 oscillators, neither sine or saw are accurate waveforms, but they are incredibly warm and musical sounding and this alone is reason to have them, to contrast with the more clinical/accurate NTO/PCO waves. [there's also a separate saw out that is accurate, and can be used when you want bright tones]

The shaping on the NTO tries to do too much, and is not nearly as musical. So if the TWS enables one to get back the early oscillator sound in a modern system, it would be well worth it for that alone.

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Post by Scories » Sun Nov 17, 2019 11:02 pm

cycad73 wrote:
beyourdog wrote: Eg, using the DUSG as a decent oscillator, not just as a CV function generator.
It's "OK". the problem is the slew rate limitation to 5 kHz, which means even the saw waveform will have a rounded edge and sound a bit dull.

It is much better if you have the Negative/Positive slews. There you can get perfect saws and they sound as bright as normal oscillators. Of course you are still limited to the frequency being below 5 kHz. Or -- you can make a DSG by connecting a Negative to a Positive and using cycle feedback. But here you have two outputs, the normal asymmetric triangle wave (Negative slew output), but then also a very bright clipped saw (Positive slew out).

With the DSG if there were switches to disable positive and negative slewing, or a mod/redesign to raise the limit frequency to 200 kHz or something -- whatever the highest frequency of the PCO, etc. it would be a great audio oscillator. Right now it's good but not great. Serge was better with his original 1973 design.
I don't know much what's really going on with the DUSG as oscillator, but it sounds like a self-filtered/waveshaped oscillator with a rubbery/reedy sound. Sounds pretty organic and un-synthy to my ears.

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