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next module advice
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Author next module advice
hi. i am looking for some next module advice. i would like to build modules that have panels and pcbs availible

so far i have built a motm 120 sub oct-multiplexer, cgs dual lfo, motm 800 eg, and the ian fritz all in eg.

i have on order from motm the 190 vca, 300 vco, 310 vco, and 490 filter.

and i have a midi-cv.

while i am waiting for the motm stuff to arrive i guess i am wondering what the next 2 modules would be good additions? another vco or vcf or vca? or a mixer or a noise?

i am new to the modular world. i have lots of experience with hardware and virtual synths but i am not sure what would make for a better and more workable modular.

Sort of a boring suggestion, but you'll definitely need a mixer. If you build the MOTM-830 Dual-Mode Mixer you'll have your mixing needs taken care of for awhile as you build up your system. There's also the Oakley Multimix, although the MOTM is more comprehensive and it might be nice to build it and forget about mixing needs for a bit rather than potentially need another Multimix down the road. Also, extremely boring but easy - a multiple. You can get a kit with panels from Bridechamber for a very reasonable price.

Beyond that, perhaps another few VCAs or another filter/effect, depending on which excites you more (I'm assuming the filter/effect). Oakley makes a triple VCA which has panels at Bridechamber and PCBs through Oakley - an easy build and will keep you from running out of VCAs for awhile. As for filters there's no shortage of choices from MOTM. Bridechamber has some amazing options as well, some with entirely outfitted kits to streamline the process. There are some audio samples on the site and many of the designs have audio samples scattered about the forums here and in the Electro-Music DIY section. The Bi'N'Tic filter/oscillator is a unique choice and will provide double duty as an interesting oscillator, and the Threeler is a very capable filter. The 5Pulser is a great waveshaper, which you may prefer over another filter depending on your tastes. All worth checking out and all worth keeping in mind for the future even if you decide to pursue a different module for now.
what tools you need is based on what you're trying to do. tell us a little about your music? or what you'd like to use your modular for?

John Nonjohn
If I were you, I'd probably get a MOTM 480 and another MOTM 300.

The 480 gives you two filter topologies to work with - Band Pass and Low Pass. I've found that sounds running through a Band Pass Filter mix well with each other (in multi-track, DAW, mixes). The 480 has a built-in mixer for your VCO's!

A second 300 allows you to do hard and soft sync with your other 300! There's a reason why all great synths have 2-3 VCO's per keypress! Even the Moog Prodigy lacked a noise source, and that's still a pretty good synth!
thanks for the input!!

i am definitely going to go with some kind of mixer and then try and decide on either a vco or filter. pondering the jurgen haible triple chorus.

seems like i have read a folks talking about how they can never have enough vca's but without having my system fully running yet i can't wrap my head around why.

what does a waveshaper do?

if you felt like listening you could could check out... ...solo stuff engineering band i helped start.

i am interested in dark paddy sounds and generally just interested in experimenting.

thanks for the input. its very appreciated. can't wait till the day i get to press a key and something happens!
John Nonjohn wrote:
The 480 has a built-in mixer for your VCO's!

just reread that. hmmm...
patchdub wrote:

seems like i have read a folks talking about how they can never have enough vca's but without having my system fully running yet i can't wrap my head around why.

Because you can automate various (or all!) portions of a patch, not just the final amplitude. So if I want to have a sound that gradually adds more higher partials I need to have another VCA and perhaps a second EG or I need to lag the first one, etc. I run the sawtooth into the audio portion and then route the VCA out to the mixer with the original (perhaps triangle) waveform.

Now I want to FM the filter with the VCO's sine, but only at the beginning of the sound, so I take the inverted envelope of the EG controlling that sawtooth, run it into another VCA coupled with the sine output and run that into FM in.

Now I want to add a little vibrato, so I take an LFO and run it into another VCA and have an EG or whatever control its amplitude (or 'depth') and the frequency of the LFO.

Now you have a lot of patch with one filter, one VCO, one LFO, perhaps a lag, one or two EGs, and four VCAs (or two MOTM-190s). As you can tell, you can go crazy with this stuff.
patchdub wrote:
thanks for the input!!
seems like i have read a folks talking about how they can never have enough vca's but without having my system fully running yet i can't wrap my head around why.

Ach_gott just illustrated a number of great examples, so I will just add to his own explanation.

There is certainly no shortage of things you can use VCAs for, but all are essentially controlling amplitude. One thing you will realize once you've gotten your system running is that this applies to far more than just the end output amplitude of a voice coupled with an envelope. For example, if you have an LFO you are using to modulate an oscillator's pitch for vibrato and the oscillator does not have a CV adjustment for 1V/oct (which most do not), you'll find that running the LFO into the 1V/oct input will make the oscillator pitch change to an enormous degree. In order to make the LFO cooperate with the minor modulation needed for subtle vibrato, you'll need to reduce the amplitude. This could also be done with an attenuator, although realistically people tend to have more VCAs than attenuators. An attenuator can only reduce amplitude and most often lacks CV control, whereas a VCA can both reduce and increase amplitude and often has accompanying CV control, thus making it a more economical use of space. I'm of the opinion that everyone could use attenuators, particularly since they are very cheap and easy to produce (and free up VCAs for more complex uses), but if space is an issue it makes sense to utilize VCAs instead for their multiple uses beyond attenuation.

Beyond that, you can utilize multiple VCAs to turn a single oscillator into an enormously complex voice. Using the various waveform outputs of most oscillators, coupled with multiples, mixers, modulation, and filters, you can pull a surprisingly complex signal out of an otherwise small system. Ach_gott's example illustrates this well - a small system coupled with a number of VCAs can vastly improve its capabilities.
If it was me, and keep in mind i change my mind several times a day on these types od secisions, I would add:

a MOTM-101 noise/sample&hold.

a MOTM-440 VCF. I don't have a MOTM-480 to compare to but the 440 is an A W E S O M E sounding filter and also has the 3 input mixing like the 480
ach_gott and nv, thank you for the great tutorial on vcas!!

john i was curious what you might say coz you have built such a dope system. the 440 is something i keep eyeing.

a vca is most certainly on my list as is a filter with some input mixing abilities.

i had been leaning towards a mixer and another vco but from what it sounds like there is alot you can get out of routing vcas and with a system as basic as mine the mixing i might need to do can be done with a filter.

how different is a lag from an eg?

The lag takes a CV and stretches it out a little whereas an EG has a set shape that it outputs the only variability being the length for which the note is held..

You can use a lag like an AR (attack-release) envelope. The nice thing about the MOTM-820, for example, is that you can use the inputs with voltage control (so, an LFO, for example) and the shape is variable or perhaps the time. An MOTM-800 is a static shape.

So in a small system that you're sequencing and have no, say, velocity controlled parameters, you can have some variation in the patch that's not periodic like an LFO.

But the typical lag usage is for a bit of portamento. I love that sound. Typing this out, I'm realizing that under-utilizing my 820s.
Thanks for the compliment, patchdub!

Hey, just FYI, there is a MOTM-820 lag and a MOTM-830 mixer on ebay right now but i think they end in 12 hours or so.
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