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 Forum index » Instruments and Equipment » Modular Synthesis
Newbie to Modular; I need help...
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DE II and then get modules? Or begin my modular?
DE II, then add my modular around it.
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Ditch the DE, begin the modular.
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G8tr1522



Joined: Jun 01, 2012
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Location: Dothan, Alabama, USA

PostPosted: Fri Jun 01, 2012 11:21 pm    Post subject:  Newbie to Modular; I need help...
Subject description: I can't figure out where to begin my journey in modular synthesis...
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So I recently discovered that there's this beautiful idea named Modular Synthesis. I was immediately in love when I got the core concept of what it was. I would like my own modular synth, but it'd take me a while to purchase a pre-arranged rack. So i'm gonna build module by module. It seems much more fun and flexible that way anyways.

I figured out what modular synthesis was when deciding between getting the Doepfer Dark Energy and the Moog Slim Phatty. When I discovered you could easily expand the DE by adding these "modules" (the concept was completely foreign to me then), I decided that the DE would be my choice. So i researched more into what these "modules" were, and then when I figured out what modular synthesis was, I spent (over the past three days...) at least 14 hours just reading about modular synthesis and browsing through about 20 modules.

Point is, would it be a good idea to get the Dark Energy II and then base my modular synth off of that? I really like the USB implementation on the DE, and I haven't seen a module that has that. I figured that I'd get the DE, then get a second oscillator, a noise generator, and maybe a ring modulator, and then go from there. Or will the DE hold me back with it's limited CV outputs and inputs (or is it not even limited in that sense?), and should I just go ahead and start a modular from scratch?

I like how the DE is a complete analog synthesizer in itself and is pretty portable (independently), but it lacks the second oscillator. What i'm afraid of is that the DE will be slightly incompatible with the rest of the modules i'll buy, and it won't get used with the rest of my modular synth as much (it will make my modular synth, as a whole, more inflexible).

So the big question is, should I get the DE and expand from there with modules? Or should I just begin building my modular synth without one?
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G8tr1522



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PostPosted: Fri Jun 01, 2012 11:26 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

I also wanna just go ahead and apologize for any shortcomings in my knowledge in modular synthesis - I know i'll be saying dumb stuff right now.

Also, sorry if I posted in the wrong forum...if I did, tell me where to post this question correctly.

Thanks for the help everyone. Very Happy
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EdisonRex
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PostPosted: Sun Jun 03, 2012 5:37 am    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

welcome and you're in the right place.

No real reason why you can't start with the dark energy. That way you have something more than just a basic couple of modules and you can take your time learning and building.

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G8tr1522



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PostPosted: Sun Jun 03, 2012 10:15 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

Alright. That's was I was hoping for. Thanks!

Now's the next part, what modules should I get to compliment the DE II?
I'm guessing an oscillator and a noise generator to start things off.

Although, i'm picky with what I want my synthesizer's oscillators to do. I think an oscillator with a wavetable will be most useful. Or if I could get pulse-width-modulation for square AND triangle waves (and sine waves if there are such modules), I'd be satisfied as well. Really, i'm not completely familiar on how each input and output interacts with each other on a basic oscillator module...but i'll try to find one I like. Any help is GREATLY appreciated.

Also, I'm still really confused on how certain modules are incompatible with one another because of their voltage output and accepted voltage input. What will work with the DE II?

Also, have banana patch cables completely replaced multiples for good? Or do banana cables only work with certain equipment? (Should I just get banana cables, or do I still need to get multiples?)

Thanks for the help.

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EdisonRex
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PostPosted: Mon Jun 04, 2012 2:52 am    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

Hmm, so you're new, AND picky too? Laughing That's pretty normal, actually.

Wavetable oscillators are useful, but it's tough to say "more" useful. I don't have any wavetable oscillator modules myself although I can get plenty of wavetables from midi gear. I do have 17 VCOs though, counting them up.

There's plenty of reading material available on this site to help you understand VCO basics, but the main point is that the DE can do MIDI to CV conversion, and the control voltages is what modular is all about. VCOs can be thought of as voltage to frequency converters. The Dark Energy uses the standard 1V/Oct range which the majority of modules use. So I wouldn't worry about "incompatibilities" as such. It should be a good base to start with, especially if you're going Euro format (such as Doepfer). Yes, there are some modules that want 10V gates vs 5 volt gates, some want triggers with the gates, etc. Start out with gate only until you learn more.

Banana vs mini vs 1/4" is a matter of choice mostly governed by the predominance of modules which use that kind that you've chosen. "Replaced multiples for good?" I guess I never got that memo.

I don't think it's "superior" (it carries voltages like any other wire) but the stacking can be useful in large configurations. I just use multiples with my mini and 1/4" myself but again, it's a format choice. Note that the dark energy uses mini (1/8") jacks, and Euro and Frac formats use that too. Unless your equipment is set up to use banana jacks, don't go nuts buying cables you can't use.

You might want to read the Arp 2600 owner's manual (lately I've seen it on Guitarfool's site), it's arguably one of the best introductions to modular synthesis ever. That might help you understand a bit more.

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G8tr1522



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PostPosted: Mon Jun 04, 2012 5:30 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

Alright, thanks so much!!!

I guess i'll stick with a more standard oscillator, especially since this is so new to me.

I'll look around on this site to see if I can pick up more knowledge on this concept. And i'll definitely check out the Arp 2600 manual. It sounds like it's exactly what I've been needing.

Since banana cables don't seem too universal, I'll stick with multiples. But that gives me another question, are multiples only effective with modules that are the same manufacturer as the manufacturer of the multiple module? E.G., will a Doepfer multiples module only work with other Doepfer modules?

Thanks again EdisonRex, you've helped me out a LOT.

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Dougster



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PostPosted: Mon Jun 04, 2012 9:22 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

G8tr1522 wrote:
I guess i'll stick with a more standard oscillator, especially since this is so new to me.

Don't worry, just start anywhere. You will *always* want to add more modules! LOL!

Quote:
But that gives me another question, are multiples only effective with modules that are the same manufacturer as the manufacturer of the multiple module? E.G., will a Doepfer multiples module only work with other Doepfer modules?

There are some parameters that are common to many manufacturers. For example, lots of manufacturers use the 1V per octave standard for pitch control. Check to see what the control voltage range is on the modules you choose. As long as they all use the same control voltages, they'll be compatible.

Sorry that I haven't updated it in some time, but check out my old web page http://www.analognotes.com for some modular analog synth info...

I'm recovering from surgery, otherwise I'd give you a longer reply. Welcome to the addiction!

Regards,
Doug

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G8tr1522



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PostPosted: Sat Jun 09, 2012 9:35 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

Sorry for the delayed response. I've been doing so much research.

Anyways, I'll be sure that my voltage amounts match across each module. So far, I surprisingly don't have any questions about that. I'll also check out your "analognotes". But now, i'm covering the very basics of course.

And thanks so much for showing me that Arp 2600 manual EdisonRex. It refreshed a lot of lost knowledge on basic synthesis. It's very easy to understand too.

And i looked through every single eurorack-format module manufacturer that analoguehaven.com ( http://www.analoguehaven.com/what/ ) listed, and i decided on the Malekko Heavy Industry Oscillator ( http://www.analoguehaven.com/malekko/oscillator/ ).

My only question is that the Wiard Oscillator's "Phase" knob will act the same as PWM when using the "SQR 2" out, correct?

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G8tr1522



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PostPosted: Sun Jun 17, 2012 2:46 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

Apparently the Wiard Oscillator ( http://www.analoguehaven.com/malekko/oscillator/ ) doesn't have PWM. But according to this thread ( http://www.muffwiggler.com/forum/topic-58623.html&sid=4a27c97e11eb2ee1df6c039aba22e214 ) there's a way around it...I'm not sure what they mean exactly though...does anyone care to explain it better? Or should I just get a different oscillator?
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Blue Hell
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PostPosted: Sun Jun 17, 2012 3:00 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

The idea sketched at muffs is to invert one saw (apparently it has two) and mix it with the other (which is adding them up) and then change the relative phase of one to get PWM.

Invert and mix ... the attenueverter (speling?) should do the trick I guess, otherwise one or two opamps and some resistors.

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Mongo1



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PostPosted: Mon Jun 18, 2012 11:55 am    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

Hi - And Welcome to our addiction!

One thing I will tell you - Most people who are in your position tend to fall prey to a mistaken idea: That you can look at all of the module descriptions, and chart out a plan for the perfect modular. I see it here all the time.

Instead, I would suggest that you get your DE, and really work with it first. Get to know it inside out and understand it's strengths and weaknesses. You will almost certainly find yourself always wishing for a few things - maybe another LFO, or an extra VCA or another oscillator. You will also find yourself using the synth is certain ways. Maybe you like to imitate natural instruments, maybe you like recreating the Kraftwerk sound. It really doesn't matter. What does matter is that you find your voice, or at least develop a direction to travel in.

Once you do that, you can start searching for ways to accomplish it. If you try to shortcut that process you'll probably end up with a bunch of stuff in your rack that you really don't use very much.

This is a very expensive hobby, and its important to know what you really want to do before you waste money on stuff.

Just my opinion....

Gary
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G8tr1522



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PostPosted: Sat Jun 23, 2012 10:54 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

@Mongo1
I've really been twiddling with the DE. While I still have some ways to go with filter envelopes, the LFM and PWM, I'm pretty familiar already with how most of it works. I'd really like to get some detuned sounds but alas, the DE only has one oscillator. So buying (at least) another oscillator is something I will certainly need.

@Blue Hell
So will that give me PWM with a square wave? Or with a triangle wave? I'm not really sure what the knobs do...I initially thought they adjusted PW.

In that case, does anyone know an oscillator (or an LFO with a high range) that will allow you to adjust PW with a triangle wave?

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PostPosted: Sun Jun 24, 2012 4:39 am    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

G8tr1522 wrote:

@Blue Hell
So will that give me PWM with a square wave? Or with a triangle wave? I'm not really sure what the knobs do...I initially thought they adjusted PW.


Best to just try it on paper, just add up a saw and an inverted saw graphically and try it for a couple of phase differences, you'll see it then.

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G8tr1522



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PostPosted: Sun Jun 24, 2012 2:12 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

Hahah, alright. I was trying to do it in my head last night...with little success. I'll try that then.
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G8tr1522



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PostPosted: Mon Jun 25, 2012 1:58 am    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

Well, I decided to purchase the Tip Top Audio z3000mk2 oscillator. The "tuner" or whatever it is (I read the manual; I know what this one does) seems really handy for FM, and if I want extra harmonics, I can always add wavefolders, waveshapers, etc. in the future.

So now that i'll be getting a module, this just brings up more questions...
- Do individual modules require power? (how do you power modules?)
- Will I need a midi/gate converter?
- Is a rack absolutely necessary for getting a single module? I'll be working with the z3000mk2 for a while before I get another I think. If I can avoid spending the money on a rack, i'd rather do that. But they seem awfully fragile... (If I do get one, it'll most likely be the TTA Happy Ending Kit.)
- Would you guys recommend a mixer? They seem pretty useful. (If I do need one, I'll certainly be getting the happy ending kit.)

Tip Top Audio z3000mk2 Smart VCO:
http://www.analoguehaven.com/tiptopaudio/z3000mk2/

Tip Top Audio Happy Ending Kit:
http://www.analoguehaven.com/tiptopaudio/happyendingkit/

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G8tr1522



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PostPosted: Wed Jun 27, 2012 5:49 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

I've changed my mind. I really like the Analog Systems RS95-E VCO. Mostly because of the wavetable. Although, they're in Britain, so i'm not sure if there are specifications for buying that (i'm in the USA).

Also, I'm still wondering how I would process a separate VCO along with my Dark Energy. Any help is greatly appreciated.
Thanks.

Analogue Systems RS95-E VCO:
http://www.analoguesystems.co.uk/pdf/RS95-95E.indd.pdf

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G8tr1522



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PostPosted: Thu Jun 28, 2012 6:03 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

Alright, so I definitely need to power these things individually.... (still learning, hahah). I guess I need a case with a power supply already installed inside, so the Happy Ending Kit won't do. And I've been browsing through a lot of Analog Systems' modules since analoguehaven.com doesn't provide those. Apparently, ASys modules will short out in other manufacturer's power buses.

Should I try buying an old case off of eBay? Or should I try to build my own? What will I need to get as far as a power supply goes? (especially in regards to Analogue Systems modules). And I definitely only need one "shelf" of space. I'm only planning on buying about three more modules (at least for the time being).

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G8tr1522



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PostPosted: Sat Jun 30, 2012 6:28 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

Alright, so I must correct myself again. The Happy Ending Kit does come with a bus board. Guess I'll be getting that then. Which pretty much means that this thread is about settled.
Except for my final question.

Where can I find the specifications for the Happy Ending Kit? I can't seem to find an online manual or user's guide.

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rpocc



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PostPosted: Sat Jun 30, 2012 11:40 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

Quote:
Where can I find the specifications for the Happy Ending Kit? I can't seem to find an online manual or user's guide.


You don't really need them because this case should be compatible with Doepfer A-100 system (specs).
uZeus seems to be pretty good low-cost power supply.
It is nice offer for $149.

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G8tr1522



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PostPosted: Sun Jul 01, 2012 9:48 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

Alright. And I guess it should be compatible with nearly every other eurorack module?
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rpocc



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PostPosted: Mon Jul 02, 2012 1:45 am    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

Quote:
Alright. And I guess it should be compatible with nearly every other eurorack module?

Almost all eurorack modules have doepfer style bus socket, but there's few manufacturers using different connector style such as Analogue Solutions. You better check the manufacterer's website for bus information. You can also find some of various adapters.

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G8tr1522



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PostPosted: Mon Jul 02, 2012 11:41 am    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

Uh oh...I was planning on buying an A-Sys VCO...I better go find out then. Thanks!
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G8tr1522



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PostPosted: Mon Jul 02, 2012 11:46 am    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

Ohp, nevermind, I thought you said Analogue Systems. Not Analogue Solutions. Thanks again!
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PostPosted: Tue Jul 03, 2012 4:00 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

I'm joining this thread late. I suggest you download the free Nord Modular G2 demo software. It has a few limitations, but it really works great. You can use it to learn what the different modules do and how to patch them. In my opinion, the G2 is the best modular system ever made. At any rate, the G2 Demo is a great learning too. Many people here use it as an instrument.

Just my suggestion.

Second item on this page

http://www.nordkeyboards.com/main.asp?tm=Downloads&cldwn=Nord_Modular_G2&osdwn=osx

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G8tr1522



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PostPosted: Wed Jul 04, 2012 1:31 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

The G2! Yesss.
Honestly, if I could figure out how to get the full version (or just unlock the demo somehow), I would hold off on getting hardware synths for a while...
Do you know how to do that in any way?

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