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 Forum index » DIY Hardware and Software » Ken Stone designs - CGS
CGS vs MFOS
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nsiter



Joined: Mar 21, 2007
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Location: suomi

PostPosted: Thu Mar 22, 2007 12:24 am    Post subject: CGS vs MFOS Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

Hello.

I am new here. I introduce myself first then get to the subject.

My name is Nathan Siter. I am an american transplanted to Finland a little over 7 years ago. I am now just shy of 30 years old. I have been involved with music since my early teens, making electronic music since I was around 17 or 18, but more seriously since I turned 20 and discovered "techno". I have a smallish studio based around a windows PC running LOGIC and REAKTOR with an RME hdsp9652 (or whatever the numbers were I cant remember.) Most recently I have started down the PD road. I have a bit of hardware: KORG polysix, ROLAND jp8000, jv2080, R8mkII, an echoplex, various guitar stompboxes, 14channel mixer, and a Fender Jazzmaster. I have released one 12'' on Zhark Berlin and have a forth coming full length cd on the new "ambient" Belgian label PLAGUE RECORDINGS which is currently in Post production (mastering is 98percent finished).

I only recently started with electronics (my father is/was really into it with HAM radio and an electrical engineer for 40years), I am currently constructing a MFOS WSG. I have been wanting a modular synth for many years now, drooling over those "stories" of people getting old synths from basements and universities for next to nothing. Sadly those days are gone and the only way (at least at this point- I am still working on my masters of Architecture) to afford one will be to build one myself thanks to jacked up prices because of supply and demand and these "rich collectors" buying up EML, EMS, Moog, etc.

So I am researching possible PCB board supplier for DiY, hence why I am here. I have so far found names most everyone here is familar with: MOTM, dotcom, Oakley, Blacet, EFM, MFOS, CGS and Tellun. Perhaps I missed a few but anyways. I would like to go with the MOTM size as I like the ideas of bigger knobs and 1/4'' jacks. After a few years of knob twisting those tiny VSTi knobs with a mouse, I want something I can handle with the thick winter gloves needed to keep warm in the -30c winters here.

In choosing which PCBs to start with I have come down to two suppliers: either CGS or MFOS. EFM was on this list, but nothing against this TOMG as I havent dealt with him or know him: if he has had troubles in the past supplying to people, I can't risk the money at this time, regardless of the quality of his products, nor if it was directly his fault or not (I read he was very sick). Perhaps once I establish a few units and get a bit more cash flow (read when i graduate, my money will double or triple over night!) I can check out his EMS filters etc. Also Oakley and MoTM look to be the high end of the DIY but that brings high cost as well, best left to a bit later.

So back to the subject: CGS vs MFOS. I have read good stuff about both suppliers. honest, good documentation, good products, for someone on a budget, etc. CGS seems to be a bit cheaper than MFOS. For example his Utility LFO is 6usd while MFOS's is 14usd. Similar price ratio between the VCOs as well. I am basically looking for comparison based off of past experience from people who have built from BOTH suppliers. I am interested also in total cost comparison because even though resistors are nickel dime they start to add up and 20 or so usd difference in price over several units is a big difference at this point. Although if the higher total price is of better quality or has a better feature, then perhaps the price difference is worth it.

Thanks for your time and help in advance.

Nathan Siter
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Wild Zebra



Joined: Apr 28, 2005
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PostPosted: Thu Mar 22, 2007 7:11 am    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

First Hello. You've found the right place. I cannot comment on CGS, but I would like to get some stuff in the future very interesting circuits. MFOS is great. But, I think in the end you will find yourself wanting a combination of many designs. There are a lot out there. Start with a basic system. OSC, LFO, AR, VCA, Filter or try the Sound Lab. Believe me before you know it you'll have a list of stuff a mile long you want to do. Ha money, money is not a option. I don't have any money and I can't stop buying stuff. I have 5 modules that just need a PSU and I just bought my fourth guitar. What was I thinking.

your in trouble now!

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nsiter



Joined: Mar 21, 2007
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Location: suomi

PostPosted: Thu Mar 22, 2007 8:30 am    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

ok thanks. I did already know about the basic setup as I have done a bit of synthesis on reaktor and pd. Good that you mention the Sound Lab. That is my project number two before hitting the full on modular. I was hoping to get that pcb along with some modular pcbs from MFOS at the same time in order to cut down on shipping (a bit. every 5usd helps) (provided that I go with MFOS over CGS to start)
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fluxmonkey



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PostPosted: Thu Mar 22, 2007 10:36 am    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

both ray and ken put out great product, as well as being conscientious w/ ordering and support. They also seem like genuinely good folks, always a pleasure to deal with, which counts in my book. I have numerous modules from both (and more in the pipeline), and there’s absolutely no reason to limit yourself to one or the other.

Historically, MFOS has focused on th bread&butter modules needed for a basic system, and now has a full compliment of the core modules (LFO Noise VCO VCA VCF(x2) ADSR Sequencer Mixer)… and starting to get into the more specialized stuff like the new Phaser. Ken originally focused on some more original and/or unusual designs, but he’s been introducing more of the traditional modules (always with his own special twist)... he’s working on an envelope generator, whish will pretty much round out the complete list of basics. To my mind, there’s a “west coast” influence on Ken’s approach to synthesis, so you might see them as them as the Moog/Serge dyad of DIY.

With all that said, if you are just starting on DIY and you want to start w/ one, I think MFOS might be a better starting point. The modules are generally lower parts count, PCBs are more spacious, and the complexity a bit less. Ray goes into great detail on stuff like panel wiring and layouts, while Ken often presents building blocks in a more open ended way... lots of flexibility, but not as much hand-holding for beginners.

my $0.02

bbob
www.fluxmonkey.com
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nsiter



Joined: Mar 21, 2007
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PostPosted: Thu Mar 22, 2007 10:44 am    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

Cool. This is exactly what I am looking for. Thanks much.
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fonik



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PostPosted: Thu Mar 22, 2007 12:16 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

i have both CGS and MFOS based modules. and that's one point: not CGS vs MFOS but CGS & MFOS Wink
MFOS has all the standard modules with really great documentation. if you're looking for something _special_ than CGS is really a choice. ken stones designs are extraordinary and you will see circuits that you won't see anywhere else (B-n-Tic VCF/O, Wavemultiplier, Suboscillator...)

just my 2 pence

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goodrevdoc



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PostPosted: Thu Mar 22, 2007 3:15 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

welcome
to electro-music.com!
As far as the comparison goes, i have to agree. The MFOS stuff is probably easier to get started with, but once you have a few you'll want to round out with modules from everywhere. 2 more cents for the collection...
-justin
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Scott Stites
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PostPosted: Thu Mar 22, 2007 3:29 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

Quote:
not CGS vs MFOS but CGS & MFOS


Very good point, indeed! They play very well together, actually. I'd recommend getting a good base going with the MFOS and start frosting the cake with CGS (and more MFOS, too).

Of course, some Fonik stuff might work well. A resonator, for example. Now if Fonik would do a PCB for the baby seq, that would be awesome (check out the cool samples he did with that in the resonator thread).

Fonik, I think that would be a great board to do. A no-muss sequencer that delivers.

Cheers,
Scott
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nsiter



Joined: Mar 21, 2007
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PostPosted: Fri Mar 23, 2007 12:08 am    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

CGs and MFOS. ok point taken.

I really meant that I guess, as I plan to use modules from whatever supplier if it fits my needs.

I will do just this: start with MFOS and then do the cgs when the time comes. havent heard of fonik, will check them out as well.

can anyone suggest a good midi to cv gate? I saw one at elby designs, but once you tack together all the parts and separate kits, it gets to be pretty expensive, almost as much as a MOTM prebuilt..

ALSO what type of power supply should i look into? CGS seems to have one that is pretty reasonably priced and can be used for a bunch of different brands... but it is fairly new, therefore there are a few mistakes and prob not much documentation (as previously stated about CGS products)

thanks for all the help.
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fonik



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PostPosted: Fri Mar 23, 2007 12:22 am    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

nsiter wrote:
havent heard of fonik, will check them out as well.

Laughing
check _us_ out, hehe!
i'm just a DIYer as you are. no PCBs for sale (except the PS3100 PCB for this forum), just some PCB layouts i made for myself...

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nsiter



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PostPosted: Fri Mar 23, 2007 12:31 am    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

heh, oh FONIK. duh.
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softfin



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PostPosted: Fri Mar 23, 2007 2:43 am    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

I've built some CGS modules and have no bad words to say about them. They're cheap and reliable.
Additionally you can always do DIY projects on stripboard! I usually stripboard all simpler modules and use ready made boards (or etch boards myself) only for the more complex projects.
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Wild Zebra



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PostPosted: Fri Mar 23, 2007 8:01 am    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

Quote:
Now if Fonik would do a PCB for the baby seq, that would be awesome (check out the cool samples he did with that in the resonator thread).

Fonik, I think that would be a great board to do. A no-muss sequencer that delivers.

I second that emotion

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fonik



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PostPosted: Fri Mar 23, 2007 8:41 am    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

the baby10 is so simple, i saw no need for a PCB and mounted allmost everything to the panel, except the IC and ken stones gate2trigger circuit! Razz
but i will think about it...

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Scott Stites
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PostPosted: Fri Mar 23, 2007 9:08 am    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

I used one for years - they're effective and an easy circuit to build and comprehend. It would make an ideal starter for anybody just getting going with synths, yet be something they could use even when they went to a higher level sequencer.

Cheerios,
Scott
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Wild Zebra



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PostPosted: Fri Mar 23, 2007 10:23 am    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

Quote:
the baby10 is so simple, i saw no need for a PCB and mounted allmost everything to the panel, except the IC and ken stones gate2trigger circuit!
but i will think about it...


I feel you fonik. It was more of a "for the greater good", but you've already been knocking stuff out for the greater good. I wish I could have grabbed a resonator PCB, but I'm so far behind as it is. Things happen so fast around here it's hard to keep up Embarassed

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RF



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PostPosted: Fri Mar 23, 2007 12:40 pm    Post subject: CGS VS MFOS Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

Hi Guys
I've been lurking for a few months - Thanks for all the info Smile You all are an awesome source of knowledge.
FWIW, I think MFOS boards and circuits are awesome. First rate production on the boards and well documented circuits on his website.
Buy the parts in bulk when you start - cause he uses LOTS of the same parts from module to module.
I've breadboarded some of the simple circuits from CGS and other places and will probably buy some of the more involved ones eventually.

I can't resist uploading a pic of the work in progress....cause I get blank stares from my wife when she sees it and I need some strokes.

It's not the prettiest girl at the dance...but it's kept me off the streets the past 6 months.

Thanks again...
and Good Luck Nathan!

Bruce


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Scott Stites
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PostPosted: Fri Mar 23, 2007 12:54 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

Quote:
It's not the prettiest girl at the dance


Are you kidding? It's beautiful!

welcome

+1 on the blank stare experience. My wife does attempt to humor me, though, which is more than I can ask.

Best quote from my kid (while I was listening to TD): "Dad, that synthesizer sounds just like yours, only that one makes music."

Cheerio,
Scott
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ian-s



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PostPosted: Fri Mar 23, 2007 1:36 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

Scott Stites wrote:
Best quote from my kid (while I was listening to TD): "Dad, that synthesizer sounds just like yours, only that one makes music."


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fonik



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PostPosted: Fri Mar 23, 2007 2:15 pm    Post subject: Re: CGS VS MFOS Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

RF wrote:
It's not the prettiest girl at the dance...but it's kept me off the streets the past 6 months.
Shocked
hey, that's really nice. i suddenly have to think of the SIEMENS music laboratory from the 50ies. i like that kind of retro-futurism.

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doctorvague



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PostPosted: Sat Mar 24, 2007 4:09 am    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

Beautiful RF!
The Micromoog brings back memories too...
played one for years.
Phil
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creatorlars



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PostPosted: Thu May 15, 2008 7:52 am    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

I would definitely like to confirm everything everyone has said about CGS & MFOS... I'm about "half done" filling my first 36-space (moog/dotcom format) diy modular. I started out with drum modules, so I'm only just now starting to round out my selection of "traditional" modules. The MFOS boards are much easier to work with for beginners -- they are double-sided so that is why they are more expensive than the CGS boards. They're spaced out more and very easy to solder on. Out of the 5 MFOS modules I've built (1 VCO, 1 VCLFO, 2 ADSRs, 1 Phase Shifter) and 2 Soundlabs -- they ALL worked on first power up, no need for going back to fix bad solder joints, confusing wiring issues, etc. -- which, since I'm not an experienced builder, I usually have to do. Smile

As far as cost goes, for me most of that gets eaten up by panel/pots/knobs/jacks -- the difference in PCB prices is usually pretty negligent when compared to how much you save by using $0.50 knobs vs. $4.00 knobs or $1.00 pots vs. $7.00 pots. Smile

Also, while I've really wanted to build some of the CGS modules, most of them seem useful mainly after you have a partial system running already. I've built the Cynare and two CGS VCAs, and have several PCBs (Pulse Divider, Burst Generator, Analog Logic, etc) that I won't build until I have more basics covered.

Finished my MFOS Phase Shifter last night and I love it.
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creatorlars



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PostPosted: Thu May 15, 2008 8:03 am    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

Quote:
Best quote from my kid (while I was listening to TD): "Dad, that synthesizer sounds just like yours, only that one makes music."


Haha! My 3 year old always says: "Daddy, your music machine sounds broken."
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