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Analogue Gear News # 9
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Per



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PostPosted: Mon Dec 18, 2006 4:23 pm    Post subject:  Analogue Gear News # 9 Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

Duelling oscillators



The model 15 Complex VCO is the Plan B http://www.ear-group.net/earhome.php version of the classic module that delivers all the ramp, square and triangle waves that we need for our electronic alchemy. It said to have a triangle core (instead of ramp wave core) and copies some aspects of the Buchla VCOs.
But how does the newbie compete with the veterans?
I made up a match with three types of VCOs I have in my own modular: The Analogue System RS-95, http://www.analoguesystems.co.uk/ the Doepfer http://www.doepfer.de A-110 standard VCO and the Doepfer A-111 High End VCO. The Metasonix vacuum tube VCO is a specie of its own, an can’t really be compared.
So, the competitor where tuned, and fed with equal sequencer CV and modulation signals. Here is the score from this VCO competition.

Basic sound: All three VCOs sound completely different. And as it is possible to guess, the cheapest one, the Doepfer standard VCO win the fewest points. It is a bread and butter VCO, but it has a harsh ramp and pulse wave. I find it one dimensional compared to the others. It needs a filtering to sound good. I find myself using the triangle most of the time, if I use it unfiltered.
The winner is, with no doubt, the Plan B VCO. It has a sort of warm and still a bit glittering sound, especially in the triangle wave. The harmonics in ramp and square wave is has less pregnant harmonics than in the other VCOs. I have used the original Buchla module, but can’t compare it now, so it is hard to say how close it comes. But it has a genuine and musical sound that doesn’t call for filtering.
The AS RS-95 also performs very well, with a round, warm and a bit muddy sound that is close to my vision of a classic analogue synthesiser sounds. The Doepfer High End VCO is smoother and more musical than its cheaper brother, but it lacks the warmth and personality of Plan B and AS.

FM Modulation: I used an audio sine wave to test the frequency modulation. Again, the Plan B shows its class. Increasing the amount of FM gives a big palette of rich and deep sounds from mellow to brute, without going into distortion or too metallic buzz. And maybe it is here the Buchla quality is shown. For the experimentalist, there are many sounds that can be found in this area.
The AS RS-95 reacts more violent on the FM, making harder and more distorted sounds. The same, but in much higher degree, happens in the Doepfer High End. It starts nice, but get soon into sharp and edgy harmonics and distortion.
The cheapest Doepfer make a walk over from start, as it has no linear FM input. Adding audio into the normal CV in makes it drift in frequency.

Versatility: There are points won for all of the more exclusive VCOs. Doepfer High End has both soft and hard sync, something that no other has. On the other hand, both Plan B and AS modules have morphing, from triangle to ramp, the Plan B also from ramp to square. Plan B has polarized inputs, which save the need for separate inverters.
Biggest downside for Plan B is the lack of an octave switch. I normally tune all VCOs before start patching, and then switch octave during patching. It can’t be done on this module.
On the other hand, it covers 13 octaves and can be swept from 1 Hz to 20 Khz, and that is hard to beat.
It must be said that the Doepfer standard VCO delivers most of every days need: Four wave forms, PWM, sync, octave switch and two CV inputs, one with attenuator.

Stability: Tuning the VCOs is not a big issue, until you have complex patches, with many CV sources involved. And going back to yesterdays patch, and then start tuning can be tricky. I have now 14 VCOs in my own system and it is quite difficult to tune them when they all are connected in a big patch. And here the Doepfer wins the competition. They are rock stable, even after turning on and off the system several times. That means for me that I use the Doepfer VCOs for melodic lines and the AS and plan B for effect sounds, long glissandos and that sort of sounds.

Bang for the bucks: At Analogue Haven, the prize for Plan B VCO is USD 289. The Doepfer A-110 is USD 160 and the A-111 is USD 290. Analogue Systems RS-95 list price from the UK manufactory is 95 pounds, equal to USD 179.
To me it is obvious that the AS RS-95 gives the most value for money in this contest, if it can b e bought for that money. But it is also obvious that the Plan B VCO outclasses it’s competitors in nearly all aspects.
But on the same time, two VCOs is always more fun than one. So for a limited budget, two Doepfer A-110 or Analogue Systems RS-95 is probably the best.

More from modular universe:

Doepfer is impressing in it’s never ending line of new modules. Their new Dynamic VCO is heavily delayed due to reconstruction of both electronics and the face plate. But there are other new things in the pipeline:
They are planning universal AD/DA unit with memory. A-143-9 is a multi functional unit for delay, waveshaping, bit crushing as well as sampling and flanging. It will handle both audio and CV, so it can also store and replay CV patterns, and does a job as a sequencer. Not for the analogue die hard guys, but to me it looks interesting. A fair guess though is that it will take some time of development before the software (that ugly world) is developed and it hits the market.
Doepfer are also planning a quadrature sine LFO, a rather basic cross father module and a four channel mixer expansion.
A bit odd is a panel with a hole for a Welleman oscilloscope with an LCD display. It is odd, because Doepfer will not sell the oscilloscope; it has to be bought elsewhere. I checked the retailers in Sweden where I live, and found no one selling that scope. With some energy, I can probably order it from Germany, but it feels like a module for their home market.
Besides, I prefer the old green cathode ray display, so I bought a 2nd hand instrument that glows nice in the dark.
All of this can be found on www.doepfer.de
Not on the site, but planned, is a gear called A-149-3, a smooth random voltage source in line with their other copies of the Buchla “Source of Uncertainty” module.
The Cwejman VM-1 voice module (tested in my last Modular Report) has got a rather positive review in the UK magazine Sound on Sound. But it can’t be read on the net yet unless you pay for it.
The Plan B Heisenberg Generator is now shipping. Hopefully, I’ll be back with a review in January.
And I am still waiting for the Cyndustries Zeroscillator I ordered in August. It is frustrating with such extreme delivery times. If you want one, buy it from Analogue Haven or somewhere else where they have them in stock.
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PostPosted: Mon Dec 18, 2006 5:51 pm    Post subject: Re: Analogue Gear News # 9 Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

Per wrote:
I am still waiting for the Cyndustries Zeroscillator I ordered in August. It is frustrating with such extreme delivery times. If you want one, buy it from Analogue Haven or somewhere else where they have them in stock.


What we need, instead of yet another 'oscillator', is something that now either equals or betters the Zerocsillator. This beast has become the new yardstick afaic.

I think the Blacet Miniwave is pretty cool despite being based on the old PPG wavetable ideas. But then I suppose, the Zero is nothing new either?! Shocked

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Per



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PostPosted: Mon Dec 18, 2006 7:56 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

I agree, the Blacet Miniwave is a nice thing, except for the fact that it needs an external VCO to run it. Livewire is coming with some kind of programmable waveform VCO, but it is hard to guess when it arrives. Their Chaos Computer was presentet nearly a year ago, but is still not in production.
I think all the talk about ZO is based on the boring retro view that rules among constructors. Modular community must be fed by new moduls, not copies of good ideas from the 60ies and 70ies.
Per
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PostPosted: Wed Dec 20, 2006 3:04 am    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

I wonder, how the Plan B oscillator compares to Cwejman?
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PostPosted: Wed Dec 20, 2006 5:29 am    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

After I read your mail, I did run a comparison between Plan B and Cwejman, using the same CV source, modulation source and so on. And with my ears, it is like this:
Sound: The Plan B has more harmonics in the wave forms, making more of a "right in the face" sound. In my opinion, it has the supreme sound on all waveforms compared to Cwejman. The Cwejman VCOs is more neutral, but still has a solid and warm body. One big plus is the three mixed waveforms between triangle and ramp, one minus is that the waveforms do not have separate outputs.
FM Modulation: In linear FM (that I use a lot) the Cwejman is superior to the Plan B. There is a lot of mellow and subtle FM sounds to be found it in the Cwejman. Still, Plan B is also a very good as a FM tool.
Versatility: Both lack an octave switch. The construction of Cwejman, with prepatched crossmodulation, hard sync and a high quality ring modulator, make it very easy an intuitive to make a lot of nice noise, strange sounds and screaming audio. It is fun. Plan B has morphing, and separate outs for all waveforms, that is a great advantage.
Using LFO for the pulse wide, Cwejman can be adjusted to accept a raw LFO signal. Plan B does not, it demands for damping of the LFO (ie a mixer) to prevent dropouts when modulation swings from small pulse to no pulse.
I can really say anything about stability, as I have not used the cwejman for so long time. But my impression is that it is highest possible quality from the steel front plate to the protective and shielding steel backplate.
Bang for the bucks: Well, the Cwejman is about twice the price of Plan B, but offers two VCOs and a ring modulator. The biggest downside for me is still that there are only one waveform out. I often use them for different purpose, as ramp for heavy filtered FX, the triangle for lead and the sinus for FM duty in another VCO. And that cant be done.
If I had to choose between two Plan B and one Cwejman 2RM, I would after long hesitation choose the two Plan B, for it´s all modular construction and multiple output.
On the other hand:
I have them both in my modular, and I can say that normally, after getting the bass line from the Cwejman VM-1 voice module, I make the main melody line or lead with the Cwejman 2RM.
Then comes Plan B, Doepfer and AS for FX and different smaller melody lines or rythm accents.
And maybe that say anything about how nice it is to work with the Cwejman gear.
Per Wikstrom
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PostPosted: Wed Dec 20, 2006 12:58 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

It is fascinating that there is so much sound quality variation between the various oscillators. Usability and stability is understandable, but on the surface, a sawtooth is a sawtooth. I would be interested to see/hear a short wav sample of each type recorded under identical conditions (or one wav file with a short segment of each oscillator). I would love to check my theory that a triangle core VCO produces a better sawtooth shape than a sawtooth core.
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PostPosted: Wed Dec 20, 2006 1:21 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

If I get enough time, I´ll make an mp 3 sith some samples. Strange thing is that on (my newly bought) oscilloscope, no difference is visible. Still, it is audiable. And even among VCOs from the same factory.
I once had a ROland system 100 (not the modular one, the semi modular with lots of green steel in the front).
Those VCOs sounded a lot better than the VCO of my small Roland SH-9. But they constantly drifted in frequency. So the soloution was to sync the system 100 VCOs to the SH-9 VCOm just to keep the system in tune.
And that was even gear from the same factory...
But I´ll se if I can get some time tomorrow for recording some samples.
Per
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PostPosted: Wed Dec 20, 2006 3:31 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

Here is seven VCOs with the same short sequence in an mp3 file. They are:
1. Clavia G2
2. Cwejman VCO 2 RM
3 Analogue Systems RS-95
4 Doepfer A-110
5. Doepfer A-111
6. Plan B Model 15
7. Metasonix TM-3
And yes, I did not have enogh energy to tune the Metasonix properly, but the sound is there. It is also locking on some CVs as they are out of the narrow 2 octave area where it can read the CV.
Listen and judge by yourself.
Per


ramp test.mp3
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PostPosted: Tue Aug 21, 2007 4:33 pm    Post subject: Re: Analogue Gear News # 9 Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

Neutral
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Per



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PostPosted: Wed Aug 22, 2007 3:52 am    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

Yes, the Mini Wave is pretty cool, but needs another VCO to drive it. I think the ZO is a great piece of gear, not for regular VCO use, but for FM sounds. In that area, nothing I use can beat it.
But I am waiting for the Doepfer Dynamic VCO to arrive. It does actually have a totally new approach to the VCO concept, with audio frequency mixing of different sound sources, a sort of complex AM. The sound samples sounds very promising, with waveforms that can change in really new and strange ways.
In a much smaller scale, dutch Rob Hordjik has developed a analogue two VCO module with through zero modulation that sounds like nothing else. But it is unknown if and when it will go into production.
Per
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PostPosted: Wed Aug 22, 2007 5:50 am    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

del
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Per



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PostPosted: Wed Aug 22, 2007 6:23 am    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

Well, maybe the Doepfer did pick or steal ideas from others, but the construction is still new for off the shelf modules.
I have no links to Robs module, but he showed it at the modular synth meeting in Belgium some weeks ago. It was still only a prototype, but it had a nice mellow and organic sound, far from the screaming overtones that can be made with the ZO.
And I still think the excitement around the ZO is because the lack of new sound solutions to the modular world. If a synthesis method is know from the 60ies in the academic world, it has not so much meaning to me until there is a hands on module that can produce sounds.
Per
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PostPosted: Wed Aug 22, 2007 8:08 am    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

[quote="Per"]Well, maybe the Doepfer did pick or steal ideas from others, but the construction is still new for off the shelf modules.

The construction yes but not the approach (and design) which was what
you suggested.

>And I still think the excitement around the ZO is because the lack of
>new sound solutions to the modular world.

I dont know your age but modular market was wived by the market
from about 1985 to 1996 or so to be **stone dead** in terms of sales,
so from a manufacturing and engineering standpoint it could be an idea to
keep that in mind when addressing peoples excitements over the ZO VCO.

If people are not aware of something new they cant possibly reflect
over it, it then turns out to be a sort of Schrodinger's Cat in a box
experiment.

>If a synthesis method is know
>from the 60ies in the academic world, it has not so much meaning to
>me until there is a hands on module that can produce sounds.

Well, you now have the analog ZO and its from the 80'es!! Wink

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PostPosted: Wed Aug 22, 2007 3:19 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

I do not have the same engagement as you have in the origins of theories and construction ideas, i am only interested in what I can buy and how to use it. But if you want to get deep in that thing, it is OK with me.
I used two Buchla systems that where available in Stockholm Sweden in the late 70ies and early 80ies, but really don´t understand what that has to do with the subject.
Per
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Nosferatu



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PostPosted: Wed Aug 22, 2007 5:42 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

Wierd! What has Buchla to do with it??

Well, whatever, but whats the point of doing a review if the facts,
technically or not, are plain inaccurate in some parts of the rewiev?
If not at least somewhat correct you could actually talk about anything really!

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PostPosted: Wed Aug 22, 2007 6:32 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

Nosferatu wrote:
>Anyone who has been reading s-diylist some (5-6)years back would
be well aware of the analog additive vco of Bjorn J, (BJ) fame.
Thats the origin. Also the Bergfotron complex VCO are also a mere
copy of the BJ design.(its all in the archives). The BJ design are far
more advanced then both Doepfers and the Bergfortron vco.


Interesting indeed. I might want to read more about that BJ design.

I see Per´s point here though. You gotta have the beef on the table in order to enjoy the beef, but then then DIY approach has become pretty vital for the development of modern modular synthesis so yes.. it´s cool to get more background info on the concepts and ideas out there.

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PostPosted: Fri Sep 14, 2007 8:11 am    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

Actually, i don't understand what Per and you are blabbering about!
If reading what Per says hes actually quite ignorant, and it could
even be rather offensive to all those engineers who design stuff to
whom we should be great full to.

Nosferatu are right ,he holds the valid point! I cant more then agree
whats the point to write an review if it contains errors and ignorance?
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PostPosted: Fri Sep 14, 2007 10:13 am    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

fareskirk wrote:
Actually, i don't understand what Per and you are blabbering about!
If reading what Per says hes actually quite ignorant, and it could
even be rather offensive to all those engineers who design stuff to
whom we should be great full to.

Nosferatu are right ,he holds the valid point! I cant more then agree
whats the point to write an review if it contains errors and ignorance?


Welcome!

Nice move!
Is that PC 130 over there? Laughing

Posted Image, might have been reduced in size. Click Image to view fullscreen.

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PostPosted: Fri Sep 14, 2007 1:28 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

Per wrote:
Here is seven VCOs with the same short sequence in an mp3 file.


Per, I'm getting a 404 on this. Could you kindly re-upload it? If at all possible, could you make it a .wav? MP3 is based on re-synthesis so -to me- it makes very little sense to compare OSC's through it.

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PostPosted: Fri Sep 14, 2007 1:58 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

You know, the first discussion of a through-zero VCO was actually in Electronotes, Volume 13, issue 129, and the article was written by Bernie himself. It is only right that credit be given to the original author.

I don't see what the argument is about "old ideas". Television dates back to the 1920s and the Von Neuman stored program computer architecture dates back to the 1940s. We still use those, and radio too. At least you listen to your digital music using an audio amp and speakers (late 1800s, early 1900s).

Musically, the violin made its debut as a bowed lyre back in about the 7th century AD. I believe people still play violins today!

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PostPosted: Fri Sep 14, 2007 2:13 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

EdisonRex wrote:
....and the Von Neuman stored program computer architecture dates back to the 1940s.


True but in this context I'd mention the work of Leibniz in the 17th century,
Quote:

Leibniz may have been the first computer scientist and information theorist. Early in life, he discovered the binary number system (base 2), which was later (and is now) used on most computers, then revisited that system throughout his career. (See Couturat, 1901: 473–78.) He anticipated Lagrangian interpolation and algorithmic information theory. His calculus ratiocinator anticipated aspects of the universal Turing machine. In 1934, Norbert Wiener claimed to have found in Leibniz's writings a mention of the concept of feedback, central to Wiener's later cybernetic theory.

In 1671, Leibniz began to invent a machine that could execute all four arithmetical operations, gradually improving it over a number of years. This 'Stepped Reckoner' attracted fair attention and was the basis of his election to the Royal Society in 1673. A number of such machines were made during his years in Hanover, by a craftsman working under Leibniz's supervision. It was not an unambiguous success because it did not fully mechanize the operation of carrying. Couturat (1901: 115) reported finding an unpublished note by Leibniz, dated 1674, describing a machine capable of performing some algebraic operations.

Leibniz was groping towards hardware and software concepts worked out much later by Charles Babbage and Ada Lovelace, 1830–45. In 1679, while mulling over his binary arithmetic, Leibniz imagined a machine in which binary numbers were represented by marbles, governed by a rudimentary sort of punched cards.[2] Modern electronic digital computers replace Leibniz's marbles moving by gravity with shift registers, voltage gradients, and pulses of electrons, but otherwise they run roughly as Leibniz envisioned in 1679. Davis (2000) discusses Leibniz's prophetic role in the emergence of calculating machines and of formal languages.

((http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gottfried_Leibniz)

There's very little new under the sun.... Now; hand's up who here wouldn't like a better computer?

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PostPosted: Fri Sep 14, 2007 2:40 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

arrow http://electro-music.com/forum/topic-20476.html

nothing new under the sun Very Happy

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PostPosted: Fri Sep 14, 2007 2:48 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

seraph wrote:
arrow http://electro-music.com/forum/topic-20476.html

nothing new under the sun Very Happy


Laughing that one made think as well about how (ir)relevant a historic detail is for the perception of the fun factor.

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PostPosted: Mon Sep 17, 2007 11:01 am    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

Quote:
Musically, the violin made its debut as a bowed lyre back in about the 7th century AD. I believe people still play violins today!


You kids with your new-fangled musical thing-a-ma-jigs. I'm old school.

I believe it was Thack Van Oog (of the upper Mesopotamic Oogs) that invented the first drum circa 20,000 BC.

Still doesn't stop me from appreciating a good modern day offering from Pearl or Ludwig, however.....

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PostPosted: Sun Mar 23, 2008 5:28 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

I'd really like to hear that MP3.... Anyone still have it?
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