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 Forum index » DIY Hardware and Software » MusicFromOuterSpace.com designs by Ray Wilson
Synth DIY Experimenter V.S. Sound Lab
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jukingeo



Joined: Oct 24, 2007
Posts: 161
Location: The dark side of the moon

PostPosted: Sun Apr 17, 2011 4:13 pm    Post subject: Synth DIY Experimenter V.S. Sound Lab Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

Hello all,

I know it has been a while since I been to the forums, but I do poke my head in from time to time to check how things are going here.

The last big event from my last visit was the Sound Lab Ultimate. While I was very much leaning towards that project, the recession intervened and I was kind of forced to set my sights on something smaller. But I ended up sitting on the fence too long and then just walked away.

Well, low and behold, I found something new on the MFOS site and this one caught my attention. It is the Synth DIY Experimenter's Board (or SDIY for short).

Basically, I am curious as to how this project would compare to the Sound Lab and that is basically what my subject title says: The SDIY v.s. Sound Lab.

Now basically I would like to have a synth that could work off a keyboard, but I am very much interested in the sound effects side of things as well. While I initially found the Sound Lab project very interesting, I found the lack of controls and patching ability as a drastic shortcoming for music purposes. Naturally this is where the Ultimate would take off (as I know the Ultimate's set up is very close to the MiniMoog's).

Now it seems that the SDIY has a bit more capabilities than the Sound Lab (if I am not mistaken), in that it has more sections (Two of LFO, VCF, and EG's as opposed to one on the Sound Lab).

Since the boards cost around the same, I am curious as to which would be the better project. Granted the SDIY has to be patched while the Sound Lab is mostly switched, but I think the patching might work out in the long run.

Now the one caveat I noticed is that the SDIY oscillator section says it isn't 1 octave per volt. So what system is it based on? How would I hook a keyboard up to it to keep it in tune?

Thank You,

Geo
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jordroid



Joined: Jan 17, 2010
Posts: 193
Location: ithaca, new york

PostPosted: Mon Apr 18, 2011 7:36 am    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

Howdee,

I think if you are ever going to want to play "in tune" music, the experimenters board isn't going to be the right project. As for "How would I hook a keyboard up to it to keep it in tune? ", i think the short answer is you wouldn't. It's a simple oscillator with none of the usual tricks for getting a VCO to play in tune. I think it's more of a drone/sound effect/scifi/funtime bleepy bloopy kind of VCO, still fun, but it would be much simpler to build a VCO designed with the 1v/oct standard in mind than try to get that one to play in tune.

If you are up for a challenge maybe a patched out mini synth would be a cool project, you could even add extra modules from the experimenters board, or you could build the experimenters board and then add stable VCOs to it, or if you know a modular approach is your thing you could just start building some modules and build your synth up over time.

There are kind of too many ways to go about it, but whatever you do it will probably sound great and be fun. I would say if you are particular about your instruments being in tune over a large range (i am) the mini synth VCOs may disappoint, and i've had a hard time getting even Ray's more deluxe VCOs in tune to my liking as well, but that's getting pretty nit picky. If you just want to get building and make some cool sounds then pretty much any of those projects will be a winner.

regards,

jordan Smile
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jukingeo



Joined: Oct 24, 2007
Posts: 161
Location: The dark side of the moon

PostPosted: Mon Apr 18, 2011 8:06 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

jordroid wrote:
Howdee,

I think if you are ever going to want to play "in tune" music, the experimenters board isn't going to be the right project. As for "How would I hook a keyboard up to it to keep it in tune? ", i think the short answer is you wouldn't. It's a simple oscillator with none of the usual tricks for getting a VCO to play in tune. I think it's more of a drone/sound effect/scifi/funtime bleepy bloopy kind of VCO, still fun, but it would be much simpler to build a VCO designed with the 1v/oct standard in mind than try to get that one to play in tune.


Ok, understood. So then the oscillator sections used in the original Sound Lab (Mini Synth it is now called) are more for musical purposes? I noticed that there is a 1v/octave mod for that synth.

Quote:

If you are up for a challenge maybe a patched out mini synth would be a cool project, you could even add extra modules from the experimenters board, or you could build the experimenters board and then add stable VCOs to it, or if you know a modular approach is your thing you could just start building some modules and build your synth up over time.


Yes, I did have a discussion a while back comparing the Sound Lab Ultimate with the original Sound Lab. There was suggestions of going with a patched out version of the Sound Lab Plus. It has come up several times to go with a built up modular, but here is the problem...that is expensive. I do have budget limitations and the biggest short coming to a sole modular system is that you need to buy and build several parts and then a case to house everything. Needless to say, it is a large time and money investment to start up and I wouldn't be able to produce a single note.

The complete synth packages that the Sound Lab, Synth DIY board, and the Ultimate offer is a complete synth in a box. Thus when I finish the project, I have something to show for it right off the bat. Now going modular from here would be a good way to go as when funds permit, I could expand on it.

Seeing that the S-DIY board was already set as a modular and has quite a few more features than the original Sound Lab did raise an eyebrow when I saw it. I figured I would finally have found my start up project. But it is a downer that the VCO's are not of the musical variant.

I know the Ultimate has musical VCO's, and I am still mostly leaning in that direction. While it is more affordable than a full modular, it is still somewhat expensive.

Quote:


There are kind of too many ways to go about it, but whatever you do it will probably sound great and be fun. I would say if you are particular about your instruments being in tune over a large range (i am) the mini synth VCOs may disappoint, and i've had a hard time getting even Ray's more deluxe VCOs in tune to my liking as well, but that's getting pretty nit picky.


Well, I do work with Ableton Live and Reason and it is kind of natural that my analog synth project would stay somewhat in tune for at least 3 octaves. If that is doable with using any of Ray's boards (and budget allowing) then I would go for it.

Quote:


If you just want to get building and make some cool sounds then pretty much any of those projects will be a winner.


I am interested in that too as I do run an annual haunt every year at my house and some of the sounds these boxes create are perfect for an upcoming space themed event. These boxes are just fodder for creating spacey and spooky sounds. So yeah, I am also interested in the synths just for making sounds outside of being musically correct.

As always it is a tough decision.

But I would say that for sound effects creation only, I would opt for the S-DIY board more than anything else. I could very well start there and then add musical VCO's later.

Thanx for the input.

Geo
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jordroid



Joined: Jan 17, 2010
Posts: 193
Location: ithaca, new york

PostPosted: Tue Apr 19, 2011 3:19 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

Yeah, i know what you mean, as a hobby it's cheaper than building your own race cars or collecting yachts, but it does add up pretty quickly.

The mini synth can easily do 3 in tune octaves, and you may be able to get 4 or 5 with care and luck. Ray's 1v/oct VCO, which is pretty much what the ultimate VCOs are, can do 4 1/2 to 6 octaves in tune. I couldn't get much more than 4 1/2 myself, but it seems like some people get a much larger range of in tunness out of them.

cheers Smile

jordan
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jukingeo



Joined: Oct 24, 2007
Posts: 161
Location: The dark side of the moon

PostPosted: Tue Apr 19, 2011 6:08 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

jordroid wrote:
Yeah, i know what you mean, as a hobby it's cheaper than building your own race cars or collecting yachts, but it does add up pretty quickly.


Well, keeping in the same vein, it is still cheaper than collecting vintage synths. A few of my favorites are the Minimoog, Arp Odyssey, Arp String Ensemble, Yamaha CS-80 and the Oberheim which are all pretty pricey pieces.

I was a big fan of analog synths in rock music back in the 80's. Pink Floyd, Rush, Styx, Van Halen. Pretty much they used one or another of the above mentioned synths.

Then there was the Blade Runner soundtrack...nuff said there.

Quote:

The mini synth can easily do 3 in tune octaves, and you may be able to get 4 or 5 with care and luck.


Ok, so the mini synth does have a better oscillator than the SDIY?

Quote:

Ray's 1v/oct VCO, which is pretty much what the ultimate VCOs are, can do 4 1/2 to 6 octaves in tune. I couldn't get much more than 4 1/2 myself, but it seems like some people get a much larger range of in tunness out of them.


I would say 4 octaves is good enough. One thing I wondered though...if you have a 3 octave keyboard and 'switch in' an octave range you want to work with, could you still 'tune in' to an effective playing range with a different set of octaves? Or pretty much it is a done deal that no matter the keyboards ranges range with the oscillator is, it will go out of tune on the extremes?

What I was wondering is if you could 'tune' in to the sweet spot for bass lines and such? Same would be true on the high end, but if I had my choice, I would prefer better tuning tracking from the bass to the midrange rather than the midrange to the high end.

If the Sound Lab (mini-synth) has more musical VCO's, I am curious if the SDIY board could be reworked to take that style of VCO. Then essentially I would have the best of both worlds and could use it for both music and sound effects.

I figured it would be a good introductory project until I get more funds together for something like the Ultimate.

Thanx,

Geo
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jukingeo



Joined: Oct 24, 2007
Posts: 161
Location: The dark side of the moon

PostPosted: Thu Jun 06, 2013 7:41 pm    Post subject: I sprung for the Synth DIY Experimenter Combo Pack Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

Hello All,

As you may have known, I have been sitting on the fence for many moons in regards to what I would like to do for a first MFOS project. After much weighing out and taking costs into consideration, I have FINALLY decided on the Synth DIY Experimenter Board.

The choice was based on flexibility vs cost. Sure a modular would have given the most flexibility, but I am just not ready to plonk down the heavy cost for such a venture. However, I did want to leave the door open should I want to go that route.

The WSG & Noise Toaster (other contenders) kind of lost out mainly due to the power supply difference. The Experimenter uses a standard bi-polar supply and once I get into modules it would fit right in. Not only will it fit in with the power supply, but all the patch points are already given, so there is no guesswork involved. The need to use patch cables will also 'prep' me for future modules.

Since it also has two of everything from the get go, I should be making some strange sounds right off the bat.

I did get the combo PCB package since I needed a bi-polar power supply anyway AND as a bonus I get the Sample & Hold. So that would give me quite a bit to do until I get money together to build a sequencer.

Anyway, that's the news...Jukingeo finally took the plunge!

Once again thanx all for the support and opinions.

Geo
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