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Jut got my Animal - N00b Question
MUFF WIGGLER Forum Index -> Buchla, EMS & Serge Goto page 1, 2  Next [all]
Author Jut got my Animal - N00b Question
Madcap Labs
Hey, guys - my Animal just showed up - Rex had one in stock, so it was almost disconcerting how fast it arrived, not that I'm complaining :-) But here's the thing - I'm afraid to hook up the power supply, 'cause the plug from the power supply looks just like the plug from the Animal, and there aren't any distinctive markings on the distro board to show where I should or shouldn't plug things in. Can I just plug anything anywhere? I sent a note to Rex, but he might be enjoying a day off. If someone could knowledgeably chime in, that'd be awesome, and Corte Madera will be a slightly noisier place this afternoon - thanks!

Peace and love,

the distro board just splits it, so plug in anywhere! and post a pic... hyper
Madcap Labs
Hey, thanks, man! Cover me...I'm goin' in...
Hi Ed, Joe here. Sorry if this is a no-no question but how much did it cost you? Thanks in advance...

Ahhh, the Serge lust at it's finest. twisted twisted twisted

Pssst, hey you, where can I get some Serge? How much? applause

This link should give you a general idea. Expect a little more on the price.

chorus7 wrote:
Hi Ed, Joe here. Sorry if this is a no-no question but how much did it cost you? Thanks in advance...

bradleyallen wrote:
A couple of friends of mine happen to have suits made by the same bespoke Savile Row tailor. The funny thing is, we've never discussed with each other exactly how much they cost. I guess it's just not cricket... or uh, gator. The Serge experience feels somewhat like that to me.

So how much did that suit set you back? meh

If I thought there was anything even slightly arbitrary about the pricing of an Animal and accompanying PSU, for example, I would discuss the heck out of it with my friends, enemies, and acquaintances to make sure I got a good deal. As it is, I feel reasonably comfortable that chorus7 and I would get the say quote if we gave Rex a call, and a semi-accurate price list is available on the site mentioned above.

In the case of bespoke tailoring, there are so many variables in the pricing--textiles, any feature that requires man-hours, etc--that I would think a discussion of price would be utterly meaningless.

Actually, now that I've given it a second thought, you are totally right. In the one conversation I ever had with him, Rex himself said that he likes to "take care" of certain obvious individuals who have gone out of their way to be boosters of his products. It only makes sense that he should do so given that they are doing pretty much all the lifting in promoting his product line on the web--that's a barter for services rendered, as far as I'm concerned. But one example of arbitrary pricing does open up the door for others.

I would still expect that the fellow above paid a typical price for his gear, though. And speaking of the OP, kudos for your willpower, man. If I had a brand new Serge panel sitting around, waiting a day for sage advice before plugging it up would have driven me bonkers!

I'll shut up now, before I say anything else stupid . . .

Hi Ed, Joe here. Thanks for the info...The reason I ask is this would be the third Animal I've owned...Unfortunatly I had to sell the other ones but things have changed and I'd like to get one again...BUT price wise things have changed since my last order = )... ( I do check Egres but I knew the prices where old )...

My first one was 3500$ish with everything but that was around 2003-4...The second one I got second hand but still around 3200ish...

The shit news was I sold both of them for about 2500$ BUT they went to great homes which is good...

Now I have to decide if I want to get the Animal or a Creature + Sequencer A...

Again many thanks for sharing your info...

The "shop" prices on are looking pretty right-on less the 'new' psu's and packaging. The new small psu's (for single panels) Rex is having made for him are great!

The good news it that the system made now IMO are the best sounding/quality in the history of STS. The team Rex has working with him now are making great sounding systems with ridiculously short lead times. I have been lucky to spend time at the STS HQ twice this summer and Rex is really backing up all of his bullshit by building a really nice sounding box built in a really clean, organized + creative environment.

pics of Rex's shop???? pretty please!!! hyper hyper hyper hyper hyper hyper hyper hyper hyper hyper hyper hyper hyper hyper hyper hyper hyper hyper
b3nsf wrote:
pics of Rex's shop???? pretty please!!!

Program In Ethnographic Film Newsletter 1973, vol. 4, no. 3:12-14




(A paper originally presented at the 71st Annual Meeting of the American Anthropological Association, Toronto, 1972.)

The purpose of this paper is to explore the question-why do anthropologists take pictures? For many years the still camera has been a normal part of all archaeologists and most cultural anthropologists' field equipment. A conservative estimate would place the number of photographs taken by anthropologists in the millions.

If "taking pictures" is an anthropological activity, ;t would seem quite reasonable to expect to find a body of literature which demonstrates that anthropological picture-taking is scientifically justifiable. In other words, if anthropologists spend their time, money and energy taking pictures, they must do so because the unique qualities of this medium allow them to record, analyze and present some visual manifestation of culture which could not be dealt with in any other way, or which, at least, is dealt with better in this way.

Obviously, this is not the case. If we make a somewhat superficial dichotomy between anthropological findings which are the result of non-photographic means and those, at least, partially derived from still photography, we find that the latter's contribution has been confined largely to one area, non-verbal communication, and that most anthropologists simply use photographs to illustrate their books and lectures.

While it is not the purpose of this paper to exhaustively review the anthropological literature on photography (those interested should consult John Collier's Visual Anthropology (1968) and Oswalt Werner's MA thesis, Ethnographic Photography (1961)), it should be stated that Mead (1956), Byers (1964), Collier (1968), Werner (1961), Hall (1968), Birdwhistell (1972) and others have advocated a rather extensive #t of methodologies which revolve around still photography. While concentrating on non-verbal communication, these suggestions cover a wide range of potential anthropological applications. Their suggestions have seldom been followed by others and most of these advocates have themselves abandoned stills for the motion picture. We are therefore lead to the somewhat confusing conclusion that while the proven anthropological relevance of photography is extremely limited, anthropologists continue to take a lot of pictures.

Further examination of this question requires the introduction of two sets of assumptions which are basic to tints study. The first are concerned with the ethnography Of anthropology. All anthropologists belong to two cultures-a home culture (the culture we were born into) and a field culture (the one we acquired in graduate school). The terms home and field are not used here geographically but rather cognitively. Field should be regarded as a subset of the broader category, social science academician.

When the anthropologist is participating in the field culture he is performing behaviorally and cognitively in a manner which allows him to be both an anthropologist and to do anthropology. In other words, anthropologists share a #t of conventional signs which allow us to recognize each other. For example, we are native speakers of an anthropological written code which permits us to label an article in the American Anthropologist as anthropological and to distinguish it from an article in Playboy.

Accepting the idea that our behavior is as amenable to ethnographic analysis as anyone else's, we can now ask-does our field culture contain a set of rules for picture-taking which would differentiate that activity from picture-taking at home so that a formal definition of anthropological photography could be constructed?

The second assumption is that picture-taking, for our purposes, is best understood as a communication activity. The model to be used here has been previously suggested by Byers (1966), Worth (1969) and Chalfen (1970). When an anthropologist, or anyone else for that matter, takes a picture he follows a set of culturally specific conventions which determine the selection of subject matter and the treatment of that subject. In addition, the subject, if he is a member of a culture where pictures are normally taken, follows another set of "on camera" behaviors which shape his photographic presentation of self. Finally, the viewer follows a set of conventions which permit him to derive meaning from the picture. He attends to the picture as a symbolic form which was deliberately produced by the maker to communicate something, i.e., the viewer does not treat the picture as a mere substitute for reality.

Combining these two sets of ideas, the questions can now be rephrased. Anthropologists have a set of picture-taking conventions which are reflection of the visual communication system of their home culture. Do they have a second set of conventions which reflect their field culture and thus make picture-taking an anthropological activity?

The following statements are offered as an answer to this question and as an explanation of the present role of still photography in anthropology.

The visual communication system anthropologists learned at home largely governs their picture-taking activities in the field. The home system contains a variety of contextual subsets-one being vacation picture-taking. When an anthropologist takes pictures in the field he most closely resembles someone from his culture on vacation. (I feel that the analogy of fieldwork as vacation can be extended further than picture-taking but that is not the purpose of this paper.) While on vacation or in the field, the camera is taken everywhere. The experience is exotic and to be recorded visually so that it can be remembered and shared with others who were not. there. A good tourist attempts to get a complete photographic record; so does the fieldworker. The selection of subject matter for the anthropologist is not based on his particular research problem but rather on the dictum that, "A good photographic record is an essential part of every kind of anthropological field work." (Notes and Queries, p. 353.)

If asked, most anthropologists would separate themselves from the tourist photographer by saying that they have a scientific obligation to pictorially record any culture under study because that culture will undoubtedly undergo rapid change and they need to preserve this record for the future. This assumed responsibility and justification do. cause us to take some pictures that the average tourist would not.


page 13

However, I submit that the photographic coverage of a vacation or a field trip has virtually nothing to do with whether the photographer is an anthropologist or not but rather his level of photographic sophistication in his home culture. For example, one mark of sophistication is the idea of sequence. Amateurs tend to take a lot of isolated picture whereas the professional will in effect compose a photo essay by shooting a series of related pictures. Whether an anthropologist takes isolated pictures or sequences is not the result of his anthropological education but his level of photographic experience.

The majority of field photographs are only peripherally related to the maker's particular research problem and are seldom used as data for analysis or evidence for presentation. Instead the anthropologist, like the tourist, uses his pictures as illustrations of the experience. He methodically files his photographs away where the majority remain forever.

The only qualities which distinguish photographs taken by an anthropologist in the field from photographs taken by the same anthropologist on vacation is the exotic subject matter of most field photographs. Further, it is suggested that photographs taken by non-anthropologists of the same culture be indistinguishable.

Another subset of our visual communication system is professional photography-the particular aspect of that category of concern to us here are the so called documentary photographers, e.g., Diane Arbus, Walker Evans, Irving Penn, Elliot Elliofosen, etc. Some people have suggested that their work resembles that of the ethnographer. The term visual ethnography has been applied, for example, to the work of Ken Heyman and Edward Steichen in the same way that Tom Wolfe's essays have been called ethnographic. However, while most native speakers of anthropology would designate Wolfe's writings as being similar to ethnography but lacking in enough specific signs to qualify as ethnography, no such distinction could be made with the photographs of these documentary photographers, i.e., apart from the obvious fact that the photographs were made by a professional, anthropologists viewing them could not tell whether the maker was an anthropologist or not.

Not only are the anthropologists' picture-taking activities governed by their home system but we also inadvertently teach our informants to perform within that system as proper subjects. If this is the case, and it is also true that the developmental sequence for learning picture-taking as a culturally specific visual communication system begins with learning to be a good subject and watching others perform as makers, then vidistic research which involves giving cameras to people who have already been the subject of our photographs must consider the possibility that the pictures these people take will be more a reflection of our culture than theirs.

Finally, it is suggested that our reading of photographs is also governed by our home culture, i.e., with the possible exception of non-verbal researchers, anthropologists do not know how to derive anthropological information from pictures, but instead read photographs the way everybody else in our culture do - .

The camera is an identity badge for the fieldworker. The act of picture-taking helps to fulfill our image of a proper anthropologist. We take pictures in order to be good anthropologists and not very frequently to do anthropology. When we present ourselves publicly or in writing we perpetuate this image by including photographs in our lectures and books.

The above explanation was developed out of an informal pilot study. These preliminary findings have indicated that a larger sample is required and a more extensive and exhaustive analysis necessary. Let me briefly describe the methodology.

(1) Three types of anthropological literature were collected and examined: (a) descriptions of the uses of still photography from fieldwork texts, such as Notes and Queries; (b) written accounts of fieldwork where photography was mentioned, such as Frelich's Marginal Natives (1970); (c) examples of extensive use of photographs in anthropological writings such as Bateson and Mead's Balinese Character (1942). The results of the investigation can be summarized as follows: (1) it is generally agreed that all fieldworkers should take pictures; (2) it is technically difficult to take field pictures; and (3) with the exceptions noted earlier, no one discussed why they took pictures.

These conclusions lead me to design some ethnographic research on the anthropologist as picture-taker. My informants consist of a group of anthropologists selected on the following bases: (1) they have taken pictures in the field and during vacations; (2) the group must range in technical skill from inept amateurs whose involvement with photography is on the "snapshot with an instamatic" level to people who are on a professional level of technical skill and who see photography as a personally expressive and aesthetically pleasing activity(3) some, if not all, must have published their photographs and/or used them in lectures.

An interview has been developed which will provide the following information from each informant:

(1) The visual communication system under which they operate in the field and at home; i.e., when they take pictures, where, of what, what do they do with the pictures, and what are the criteria for judging the effectiveness of pictures, their own and others. The questions are designed to reconstruct as much as possible their picture-taking activities in the field and at home.

(2) A completed and published piece of their own research is examined with them to determine if they saw the problem as having any visual manifestations.

A sample of photographs from one field trip and one vacation is collected from each informant. The informant is questioned about the photographs as to its intended meaning and significance. These photographs are then subjected to a stylistic and content analysis in order to determine: (1) the similarities and differences between the field and vacation pictures, and (2) the fit or lack of fit between the field photographs and the research problem. The photographs selected by the informant for publication or other forms of public presentation are compared to other field photographs in order to determine what criteria were used in the selection process. The informants will also be asked to describe the basis for their decisions.

Next, the field photographs of all the informants will be examined to see if they share any features in common; i.e., an attempt will be made to define the genre, anthropological photography. One of the results of this research will be some discussion on the question of whether concepts like genre or tradition which have been applied to other visual forms, such as movies and paintings, can be applied in other than intuitive ways to still pictures.


page 14

Coders for the stylistic and content analysis will consist of two groups-one of anthropological graduate students and a second group of graduate students from non-social science disciplines. By using these two groups additional data will be gained concerning the question of whether or not anthropologists have a system which enables them to derive anthropological information from photographs.

Finally, a photographic book authored by an anthropologist such as Gardner and Heider's Gardens of War (1968) and a photo essay such as Irving Penn's Highland New Guinea pictures will be given to the same two groups of coders. they will be asked to select out the photographs taken by anthropologists and explain their criteria for selection.


At the present time still photography occupies a marginal place in anthropological inquiry. For most anthropologists it is more of a recreational activity like novel reading and letter writing than a scientific endeavor. Perhaps it has only limited applications. I don't think that we know enough Yet to say teat. Anthropologists, like others in our culture, suffer from a faddish attraction for new technology. Some have discarded the still camera for the motion picture camera and are now in the process of dropping that device for portable television. The changes have been rationalized on the basis that the new piece of equipment is a better recording tool. The fantasy underlying this attraction is that someday someone will invent a way to transport the field situation intact and complete back to our labs.

I don't believe that the problem is one of technology. It is one of conceptualization. If anthropologists design their research concentrating on visual manifestations of culture then visual recording devices become a necessity. If visual communication becomes both the research problem and the means of gaining the data to solve that problem then anthropologists will begin to see that they like other people use visual technology in a non-random ruleful manner, and that the conventions shape not only what they record but what they see. Knowing this, it then becomes incumbent on anthropologists who are interested in using still photography in their research to examine their own visual communication system to see if it is appropriate for their own research needs.


Bateson, Gregory, and Margaret Mead
1942 Balinese Character. New York Academy of Sciences, New York.

Birdwhistell, Ray
1972 Kinesics and Context University of Pennsylvania Press, Philadelphia.

Byers, Paul
1984 Still Photography in the Systematic Recording of Human Behavior. Human Organization 23:78414.

1966 Cameras Don't Take Pictures. The Columbia University Forum 9(1):27-31.

Chalfen, Richard
1970 Photographic Activities as Communication Activities. Unpublished mss.

Collier, John, Jr.
1968 Visual Anthropology. Holt, Rinehart, and Winston, New York.

Freilich, Morris, Editor
1970 Marginal Natives: Anthropologists at Work. Harper and Row, New York.

Gardner, Robert, and Karl Heider
1968 Gardens of War. Random House. New York.

Hall, Edward
1968 Proxemics. CurrentAnthropology 9(2-3):B3-108.

Mead, Margaret
1956 Some Uses of Still Photography in Culture and Personaiity Studies. Personal Character and Cultural Milieu, D. G. Harinc ledh Syracuse University Press, pp. 79-105.

Mead, Margaret, and Paul Byers
1968 The Small Conferenre: An Innovation in Communication, Mouton, The Hague.

Werner, Oswald
1961 Ethnographic Photography. MA thesis, Department of Anthropology. Syracuse University.

Worth, Sol
1969 The Development of a Semiotic of Film. Semiotica 1 (3):282-321.

Jay Ruby
Department of Anthropology
Temple University
Philadephia, Pennsylvania 19122
xart wrote:

The good news it that the system made now IMO are the best sounding/quality in the history of STS.

Uuugh, a 2009 Serge panel sounds 'better' than a 1999 one???
chrisso wrote:
xart wrote:

The good news it that the system made now IMO are the best sounding/quality in the history of STS.

Uuugh, a 2009 Serge panel sounds 'better' than a 1999 one???

hihi I will be the judge of that for myself. I have an Oakland panel that should be here in minutes and I have a new creature here, plus 3 other M modules on order. I will have some duplicate modules, like wave mult, resonant eq, preamp, quad osc, so I will be able to compare directly. I talked to Rex today and he said they did a lot of work on the circuits, grounding, etc. since Oakland. I do know that the new creature sounds beyond what my old 6 panel 1980's serge sounded like. I am curious to see how much improvement I notice over the Oakland panel. I will post my thoughts if I have any. love
chrisso wrote:

Uuugh, a 2009 Serge panel sounds 'better' than a 1999 one???


I feel that the team Rex has now building is by far the best he has ever had.
Hi SC!,

I, for one, eagerly look forward to hearing old vs. new files and reading your thoughts on this! This improvement is often stated about the STS serge but pictures posted of Serge interiors from then and now look *identical*? The "new" M-odule LED driver even looks to be the same LED driver PCB Serge designed years ago... Listening to posted files suggests the old and new sound the same too, but that's not a side-by-side comparison.
Based on your preliminary position excerpted below (how much *improvement* is already assumed?) I'd say beware Occam's razor. Heisenberg may also be considered?

Anyways, a side-by-side comparison, even though subjective?, is eagerly awaited! (perhaps some side-by-side identical patches with old Serge and new STS would take out at least some of the subjective-ness?)

Kind regards, Randal

SquidboatCommander wrote:
I will be the judge of that for myself. I have an Oakland panel that should be here in minutes and <snip> I do know that the new creature sounds beyond what my old 6 panel 1980's serge sounded like. I am curious to see how much improvement I notice over the Oakland panel. I will post my thoughts if I have any.
SquidboatCommander wrote:
I talked to Rex today and he said they did a lot of work on the circuits,

Funny, he was saying they were top class (military spec) back in the late 90's. The best you could buy, hence the expensive panel price.

I'd happily accept people refine their building techniques and source the best quality parts over time etc, but to hear an audible difference with so many variables, and on an analogue synth, and sound is so subjective anyway..... I'm just surprised at the claim they 'sound better'.
[quote="Randaleem"]Hi SC!,

Based on your preliminary position excerpted below (how much *improvement* is already assumed?) I'd say beware Occam's razor. Heisenberg may also be considered?

Yes, good point. I wil beware Occam's razor and not assume any improvement before I listen. Well, my new Oakland serge panel is now here, so off I go to patch away!
I think the main differences are components are matched by hand from a bag of 2000 identical resistors etc for exact tolerance, everything has trimmers for adjusting and the grounding has been improved for lower signal to noise ratio...

Rex does all kinds of things to refine the design, all the way down to the turning resistance of the lube in the pots, and brightness of the TKB's yellow LED's ...
Ahh well. Could be. love

I'll just add that the 'best' sounding recordings of my drums have been via a late 60's EMI TGI console, with old skool electronics/components, leading to colouration of the sound with some audible noise.
The drums sound huge and warm however.
I had a small serge system that was built (. . . I don't want to say the exact year... I don't want to throw anyone under the bus )... I was less than happy with the build quality. The system seemed to have developed issues (bleeding vca's...and other small but VERY annoying problems) I sold the system in 2004 and replaced it with an early 200e (square waves crashing against the sides of a petri dish super bongobox).

Fast forward to 2009....after spending some time with Rex and the "new" systems . . . I like that STS has been working on moving the instrument forward with the new designs . . .

IMO all Serge Systems may have used the same components for the last 20 years (regardless of the bullshit Rex may tell you about the neu STS Space-Age Technology hihi ) but as we know it all comes down to the people who built the thing. (see other threads on this forum to read about the people who REALLY build your synths.... hihi) The team STS has in place now has earned my confidence and trust. STS is back in the game in a big way.
Congrats on the Animal, Madcap!
I'd love to hear some sounds from you and Squidboat when you've emerged from the jungle. w00t
Madcap Labs
Hey, thanks! Sounds will be forthcoming - waiting on long bananas to go from the Format Jumbler to the Serge - then I can get my 1v/Oct on :-)
Some of the earlier Serge systems had quality problems. Were they largely kit built by students or something (I seem to remember)?
My system was built by Rex and a female employee, I can't remember her name, but she was legendary at the time and Rex was very keen to champion her as the only person he trusted with a soldering iron.
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