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 Forum index » DIY Hardware and Software
Favourite VCO?
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somerset bob



Joined: Nov 25, 2013
Posts: 3
Location: somerset, uk

PostPosted: Mon Nov 25, 2013 1:02 pm    Post subject: Favourite VCO?
Subject description: interested in opinions
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Hi everyone,

I've started this thread because I was wondering what you folks opinions are on different VCO circuits. It's partly because I am thinking of building one myself.

I know that basically VCOs strive to create mathematically perfect waveforms, and therefore there should be hardly any difference between the sound of different VCOs, but I have read on a few forums that there is a definite sonic difference to different VCO designs. Surely things like waveshape at different frequencies, amplitude at different frequencies, small general differences in waveshape, can cause a difference in sound. I sometimes think that VCOs have been neglected somewhat in favour of VCFs, probably with a degree of good reason but I am intrigued by the different flavours of VCOs.

For instance, I have read that ARP Odyssey VCOs have a sharp, biting sound, whereas a Roland Jupiter 8 has VCOs that sound smooth and silky.

So, would be very interested to hear your opinions, about VCOs old & new, in 'hardwired' synths and modular systems, from the different manufacturers. Also would be interested in opinions r.e. the DIY sector, things like the ASM-1, MFOS VCO, etc.

Many thanks for any replies,

Bob.
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Luka



Joined: Jun 29, 2007
Posts: 1002
Location: Melb.

PostPosted: Tue Nov 26, 2013 1:48 am    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

you probably won't notice too much difference in raw waveforms. generally the difference is the feature set and what vco core they use. the vco core will effect what they sound like when modulated. also you may or may not want to pay attention to how well they track if you are going to play tonal music on them.

i have tried cgs vco, jh living vco and fritz' teezers. i ended up putting 3 teezers and living vcos in my rig. teezers have through zero fm and living vcos have linear detune.

i have some buchla 258 in the pcb bin which i am keen to try. they are triangle core which is mean to sound a lot different in fm.

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J3RK



Joined: Jun 05, 2006
Posts: 98
Location: Seattle

PostPosted: Tue Nov 26, 2013 11:43 am    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

I'm quite partial to OTA based triangle core VCOs. I make a few of these myself, Thomas Henry has a couple of really nice ones, and then there are others like the 258 clones (another one I do PCBs for actually) etc. They have a really nice sound, track well (assuming they have a high frequency feedback which unfortunately the 258 does not,) and the FM as Luka said has a really nice sound to it.

I also agree that Ian Fritz' Teezer is a very cool VCO I had two of these not so long ago. The only reason I don't now is that I'm very heavy on the VCOs at the moment. (since I've designed a handful lately)

Thomas Henry's 555VCO and VCO-1 are great places to get started. My 258 PCB is beginner-friendly as well. Some of my other ones are a bit more complicated, and I wouldn't recommend as a first build.

Ray Wilson of Music from Outer Space has some good starter designs too, though I haven't built them myself. (I've looked at the schematics though.)

If it's your first VCO build, I would tend to recommend the TH-555 PCB from Fonik. Both he and Thomas document things very clearly, the boards are laid out well, and they're quite nice all around.

Edit: One more cool one that I forgot to mention is Rene Schmitz' 4069 VCO. This one has been coming up a lot lately both here and over at Muff's. There's an active thread right now in this (DIY) forum about it, and the one here:http://www.muffwiggler.com/forum/topic-74730-0-1380.html by DavidH is pretty amazing. It's a relatively low parts-count VCO, and sounds pretty nice. There is a lot of information out there about it, and Rene has actually been visiting the thread here about it recently.
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sduck



Joined: Dec 16, 2007
Posts: 441
Location: Nashville
Audio files: 5

PostPosted: Tue Nov 26, 2013 7:22 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

I have a bunch of them. And yes, despite that they should put out similar stuff, there's a world of difference between them.

My long time favorite, and most used, is the MOTM 300. I have 3 of them. They are rock solid as far as reliable waves and tracking, and just sound great to my ears.

I have a pair of the J3RK 258 vcos - they are wild and crazy and unpredictable. The complete opposite of the 300s. Way too much fun.

Ian Fritz department:
I have either one or two Teezers, depending on if the flaky one is working at the moment - one of them has been a troubleshooting nightmare, the other one is great. They're a lot of fun if you're willing to spend the time to patch them up right, otherwise they're fairly boring.

I also have a Ian Fritz Double Dekka - this is a weird and wonderful thing, full of sounds that aren't like any other vco.

2 Synthesis Technology digital ones - the Morphing Terrarium is a sound designers dream machine - full of wonderful sounds, begging you to find even more modulations. The Cloud Generator is the ultimate SuperSaw - just huge sounding.

I have two new complex VCOs I'm still getting a feel for. The PT Audio Dual Digital Oscillator is full of complex sounds and modulation weirdness. The J3RK Dual Complex VCO is a complex VCO sandbox - full of utilities, and 2 really nice VCOs to throw at them.

I have a few more things that can be vcos, but that's enough for now
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somerset bob



Joined: Nov 25, 2013
Posts: 3
Location: somerset, uk

PostPosted: Wed Nov 27, 2013 3:19 pm    Post subject:   Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

Thanks a a lot for the replies.

I'm going to check out some of these VCOs you mention.
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JovianPyx



Joined: Nov 20, 2007
Posts: 1214
Location: West Red Spot, Jupiter
Audio files: 157

PostPosted: Thu Dec 05, 2013 10:42 am    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

I find adjectives like "phat" and "biting" to be rather meaningless when it comes to something like the sound of a VCO.

For me, a good VCO has several simultaneous and synchronized waveforms like sawtooth, triangle, sinewave and pulse or square, is low noise, is pitch stable with an accurate pitch to voltage relationship (i.e. it stays in tune across it's operating range) and maintains the shape and amplitude of it's output(s) regardless of frequency.

It should also be remembered that a VCO is rarely if ever used "straight", rather it is run through waveshapers, filters and effects before the sound hits your speakers. As such, you aren't hearing just the VCO.

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oculus



Joined: Oct 30, 2011
Posts: 29
Location: Iceland, Reykjavik

PostPosted: Sun Dec 08, 2013 8:34 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

I own the 3x rene 4069 this was my first vco. I like it for the rawness of it but mine doesnt track really well.
I also have the vco-1 which is quite basic but i added one extra waveform which is a combination of a sine and ramp and its one octave above its really nice to mixe it with another vco octave below.
I also have the vco 555 , its sounds better than the the vco-1 to me. Its really nice and the sync is cool on it

And then my favorite is the xr2206 its simple and sounds really good and has somehing really unique like the voltage controle between sine and saw2 octaves above i definitely recomend that one
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