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PAiA 9720K VCO?
MUFF WIGGLER Forum Index -> Fractional Rack Modules  
Author PAiA 9720K VCO?
parasitk
I never gave PAiA much attention for some reason. I'm curious though how that VCO sounds. I don't care much if it tracks perfectly over 20 octaves. I dig that it's a dual with an ASR EG built in. It's butt ugly, especially the knobs – but those are changeable!

Also the site says "The module requires a nominal 18V bipolar supply which need not be regulated." sooo does that mean will it not play nice with a Blacet PS500 without tinkering?

http://paia.com/proddetail.asp?prod=9720K&cat=12
e-grad
No, you can use it with a +/- 15V PSU. The manual will draw you to some minor resistor changes necessary.

I have actually build it as a mod source since it can be used as a dual VC-LFO with an additional LFO (= AR generator in cycle mode). It works great for this!

The build is straight forward, yet, their are lot's of flying wires! It will test your ability to concentrate.

As a VCO I like it as well. Soundwise it reminds a bit at my sold A110 VCO.
parasitk
Thanks! Do you have any clips? Is it a thick, meaty sound? Yeah I like that it can be a triple LFO as well.
e-grad
I'll try to do a clip at the weekend. "Thick" and "meaty" might spot on though I think of the VCO as rough and compact sounding. However, I'm not good in describing sounds.
DGTom
From the bits & pieces I've heard the 9720 it sounds great, totally differant to the Blacet VCO, I plan to build two for big drifty, detuned sounds which the Blacrets aren't great at.

The built in AR is a real draw card for me as well, 4 VCOs & 2 EG/LFOs in 6 frac spaces is a pretty good deal really!

The knobs are really crappy tho, but I kinda like the panel graphics help But, I have a real soft spot for cheesy stuff like that grin

You buy the electronics & hardware as seperate kits from PAiA, so if you want to make up your own panel / use differant knobs you can save like $30 by only buying the electronics / PCB kit.
parasitk
Yeah I might get the panel kit, since I'm in no position to make panels (yet), but I'd DEFINITELY change those fugly knobs!

I'm guessing the VCO on the VCA and VCF clips is this one - so yeah it seems to have a thick drifty sound. I'm hoping this is the case.
DGTom
I might photoshop some 1900H clones onto the panel & see how that looks hihi

I get the feeling that 'creaky' is a good way of describing the PAiAs, but for me thats a good thing!
eyehue
To briefly discuss the 9720 VCO:

I feel it's great abilities exist in it's VCLFO / ASR modulations and that is what I mainly use it for.

As a VCO it's range is limited compared to other VCOs, entirely in audible range. But, there are two VCOs on a single CV in if you like, on one module which also simultaneously affords the additional AR / LFO "Modulation" section. Plus, the top VCO is switchable by toggle to VCLFO.

It has portamento.

There are some quirky pre-set patches inherent to the design; as long as you are aware of them they can be very useful and save patch cables. Many are over-ridden with switchable jacks in the design.

Doesn't really sound like any other VCOs I can think of.

I have no personal info on tracking except to say I have read it can be real tricky to calibrate. Tracking octaves and cents is definitely not my deal with modulars, and if it is with you, don't buy a PAiA.

Real inexpensive and a great learning experience.


Now to rant RANT about my experience with / love for PAiA here:

OK, I am a PAiA user with utmost respect for the company. I have many reasons for my strong positive inclinations towards PAiA.

One reason I love PAiA is for the vast amount of electronics and synth knowledge gained from them. Building kits, reading manuals, interacting with their employees. My first hand-built synth was a PAiA Fatman and my first modular was a PAiA 9700.

Mine and friends' experiences document PAiA's top quality customer service to the DIY community. I know several who have learned and fixed their synth DIY errors while on the phone or emailing with PAiA / Scott Lee / John Simonton. PAiA set the standard for service to the synth DIY community and, unfortunately, I feel many fail to notice.

Another reason I love PAiA is that I was able to build and learn about analog modular synthesis on a firsthand basis while only earning a retail clerk salary. Affordability was a huge factor for me eight years ago when I entered the territory of synth diy.

This brings us to what could be conceived as the singular complaint against PAiA, the perceived "cheapness" of its sound or particular components. Well, with affordability there comes an element of cheapness, perhaps. However, since PAiA includes schematics with purchase, one can learn further and modify to suit needs. PAiA is fully supportive of the DIY community and will often link to sites with tested modifications. Hence, the learning element of building PAiA gear works hand in hand with it's affordability and ability to upgrade.

PAiA modules are so packed with functionality, one would be hard -pressed to find similar features in a comparably sized package.

As far as visual aesthetics are concerned, I associate the "look" with PAiA and like it for the aforementioned reasons. As a DIY supporter, the gear can easily be altered to suit aesthetics.

PAiA's innovative, affordable, compact fully modular DIY dream is what got me going. They invented frac which led me to Blacet (another awesome frac synth / synth DIY company), and more.

Oh, rumor has it PAiA will be unveiling new designs and a new approach in the very near future. I am definitely excited for this.
tragedybysyntax
Chris... I can make a panel forya bro! smile
parasitk
@eyehue: Thanks for sharing your experiences. I won't lie that I've always associated PAiA with "cheap", but listening to the sound clips of the modules I really liked the character of the VCO – I'm pleased to be wrong. As for calibration – I want it to basically be in tune, but I don't really need perfect tracking by any stretch.

@tragedybysyntax: Thanks man, we'll see. If I grab this thing I may use the PAiA panel (with new knobs). If not, we'll see.
wetterberg
does anyone know if the paia stuff can be jimmied into a +-12v system?
help
neandrewthal
parasitk wrote:
Yeah I might get the panel kit, since I'm in no position to make panels (yet), but I'd DEFINITELY change those fugly knobs!


Yes, let's keep the knob hate going Flamey

Sure, they can always be swapped, but we still have to look at pictures of other unfortunate systems. We need to let the manufacturers know we won't stand for this!, Next stop doepphalia then MOTM frac land.
parasitk
Hahaha, yeah I'm not fond of the MOTM Frac knobs either! hihi
D/A A/D
parasitk wrote:
Hahaha, yeah I'm not fond of the MOTM Frac knobs either! hihi


Me either!
krelnarb
I put mini big boy knobs on mine:



As mentioned, the pitch knobs don't have much range with out a CV into them, but with a CV the range is pretty wide. The filter is the same way; the fq knob is not that impressive but with a CV it "works like it should".

My only gripe is the jacks; they're too damn close together. Not a prob if all your cable plugs are slender, but some are a squeeze.

All in all the 9700 is a deal. Three EG/LFOs! I don't do the "Notes" thing so calibration isn't an issue for me. I like this (dual) VCO so much I'm building a second one. I'm running the 9700 system off the 12vac 1A wall wart it came with.

Mmmm, since all the panel stuff is flying wires you could make a panel that was more "Ergo" and still keep it in Frac format. There's a .fpd file for a MOTM style panel, but I like this form factor.

Cheers, Synths n' Beers
krelnarb
And the slotted mounting screws look all "Crystal Radio" to me.
parasitk
krelnarb wrote:
I put mini big boy knobs on mine:




That's more like it. In fact those are the knobs I was thinking of for that panel. Thanks for your input! I might end up doing one of these later this year.
Pulse Emitter
i love the PAiA 9720 VCO, raw and lively sound, drifty. the cheapness makes it great, not just for sound but for quantity! best deal out there. there are certainly some design quirks, but it just adds charm, such a cool company.

increasing the range is easy! change out 2 resistors, that's all. here's my mods for it: http://synthnoise.com/paia.htm

nice knob choice in that pic! changed out mine too, the stock ones are so radio shack...

eyehue wrote:
Oh, rumor has it PAiA will be unveiling new designs and a new approach in the very near future. I am definitely excited for this.


no shit!? do say more!
fracinfrucer
I'm still planning my rack and have been thinking of 1 Blacet and 1 Paia VCO (since that would actually give me 3 total, instead of only 2 VCOs with 2 Blacet modules- and I also thought it may give a wider sonic palet), but that looks like a lot of real estate. How wide is the panel? I can't seem to find it online, even on Paia's site, but it looks wider than the Blacet to me.
parasitk
I looks like it's 3 FU to me, based on krelnarb's pic (above) - which is great considering it's two VCOs and an EG!
fracinfrucer
Well, if it's 3, that makes up my mind!

And BTW, I can't believe what a difference that knob upgrade makes. Nice!
chinard
w00t SlayerBadger!

WOOT for PAiA love!!!

Guinness ftw! Guinness ftw!

I have 2 full 9700s racks and i have a love/hate relationship with them.
Dirty and quirky are definitely things i would use to describe the way it sounds.

The vco's are actually really nice utility vco's
They dont really pitch track as good as my other vco's but they are really 'crunchy' and sound awesome when FM'ed.
Also, having an LFO that responds to sync is always a good thing.

Actually the only module in the whole system that i would go as far as to say it 'sounds bad' would be the 3VCA/noise-source/mixer-panner/bal-modulator board. (then again part of that COULD be due to assembly mistakes on my part)

#1 favourite thing on the 9700's? the envelopes!
They sound awesome with a LPG, and they loop!!
valis
wetterberg wrote:
does anyone know if the paia stuff can be jimmied into a +-12v system?
help


I know this is kind of an old subject but I thought I'd chime in. I asked Scott Lee from Paia this question concerning my 9730 VCF and this is his reply. I'm sure he won't mind if I share it with you all

From Scott:
<b>
The 9700 series modules will work from 15v supplies without trouble, but this is the minimum since there are on-board 12v regulators and these need three volts more, into them. A 9730 would likely operate with 12v supplies connected at the nodes where the 12v regulators output (and with them removed), but for best results, the kit should be operated on 15 to 18 volt supplies with the separate signal (SG) and power (G) grounds as with the 9770 series supplies.</b>
theglyph
e-grad wrote:
The build is straight forward, yet, their are lot's of flying wires! It will test your ability to concentrate.


As I've been learning this weekend very frustrating
dkcg
krelnarb wrote:

My only gripe is the jacks; they're too damn close together. Not a prob if all your cable plugs are slender, but some are a squeeze.


I hated that about my Paia. If you use the all electronics cables, you kinda have to force them to fit next to each other. If I remember correctly (I sold it a while ago), it sounded ok, not bad, not great. But it was neat having an AR self-cycling envelope and 2 oscillators in one (but wide) module. When I looked at the waveforms when I was calibrating it, they ends had some trouble lining up, and the sinewave seemed kinda segmented. More like a smooth octogonal curve than a smooth curve. I remember the last patch I made on it while waiting for the guy to come pick it up, it sounded pretty good, and I almost started to have seller's remorse (some sentimental since it was my first real synth kit that I soldered up).

If you can find one cheap, kit or built, and have the frac space, it's definately usable as a secondary oscillator(s), but I wouldn't use them as my main oscillator, but I'm a little spoiled on oscillator choices in my system since then.

They're super helpful at successfully troubleshooting any problems in the build over at Paia too. Several long emails with lots of detail. Kinda nice since it's easier to fix if you put it together. smile
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