If I wanted to ease into the modular synth world...

Discussion of music production, audio, equipment and any related topics, either with or without Ableton Live
tranzfuse
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Re: If I wanted to ease into the modular synth world...

Post by tranzfuse » Mon Aug 30, 2010 2:56 am

[nis] wrote:
tranzfuse wrote: Then someone over at the muffwiggler forum pointed me to an actual module that Expert Sleepers have created called the ES-1. This module seems to allow for a safer, physical interface between the Ultralite and the modular synth (although I don't think necessary, since this type of module wasn't used in the video I described above). It seems that this module solves a problem of needing a DC coupled interface. I have no idea what that means.
Most audio interfaces will filter direct current (DC) and only pass alternating current (AC). Most CV signals are / consist of DC, e.g. a square wave from a LFO. That's why you need a DC-coupled audio interface. Unfortunately there are only a very few interfaces which have DC coupling. It's basically only MOTU's interfaces and 2 or 3 others.

Luckily the guys from Expert Sleepers have found a way to transform DC signals into AC (there's a plugin which "encodes" them), so that all normal soundcards pass them through. You do however need a special cable with some diodes and a capacitor to transform them back into DC. You could solder them yourself if this is not a problem for you. The ES-1 module does basically the same as the cable (8 of them): it converts the AC signals back into DC, so you can simply connect your soundcard with normal 1/4" cables.

Best,
Nico
Nico, I really appreciate your thorough explanations. I have a MOTU Ultralite mk3 hybrid. It seems that it has DC coupling (or is DC coupled). I am also inquiring over in the Silent Way subforum at muff wigglers and Os had this to say:

"If you have an Ultralite you don't *need* an ES-1, though it might still be useful.

Without an ES-1, you need what are generally called 'floating ring' cables - search on Muff's for plenty of references."

I feel like I'm going in circles a bit. If I don't need the ES-1 module, but I do need these 'floating ring' cables (can these be bought?), do I have any need for a MIDI/CV module? I definitely want to be able to interface between Ableton and the modular synth. I want to be able to capture audio in Live from the modular, but also trigger the modular with midi clips, and then also (I think) leverage the Silent Way plugins (LFO, etc).

Thanks again.
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Parametex
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Re: If I wanted to ease into the modular synth world...

Post by Parametex » Mon Aug 30, 2010 6:06 am

+1 for MATHS

Check the manual to grasp some of the many possibilities to use it ...

Silent way is the way to go also ...

2c

evon
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Re: If I wanted to ease into the modular synth world...

Post by evon » Mon Aug 30, 2010 8:27 pm

Amazing...do you guys make music?
fe real!

kabelton
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Re: If I wanted to ease into the modular synth world...

Post by kabelton » Mon Aug 30, 2010 8:43 pm

What is MATH? Never heard of it as modular audio program. Does anybody have a link? Google does not help me.

thx

Kodama
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Re: If I wanted to ease into the modular synth world...

Post by Kodama » Tue Aug 31, 2010 5:30 pm

^ Make Noise Maths is a hardware module for a euro rack standard modular synth. It is basically 2 attack/release envelopes with variable slopes and voltage control over the attack and release time + 2 invertable level controls (attenuators). The envelopes can self-cycle or be triggered, and go well into audio range (make sounds of their own). They also make great LFOs. There are a nice array of output options for all of the devices in the Maths. The best thing to do is to get one, then play with it and read the manual.


A few thoughts:

If you want a relatively inexpensive rack and don't want an ecorack, look for a used 6u or 9u Doepfer on Muff's. If you buy a bigger rack up front, choosing modules later will be a lot easier (you don't have to worry about getting the smallest LFO when you can just get the best). U stands for units and they are standard 19" rack sizes. Euro modules are 3u tall. HP is a measurement of the spacing of the screw holes in the euro racks to measure width. Most racks are 84hp wide per row.

The Polivoks is nice, but it is not the filter for everyone. The range is not too great and it only really shines when the resonance is cranked.

You might want to try silent way with your sound card first and make sure that's the way that you want to go. An alternative is the a190-2, which is really cheap & small.

I'm not sure what to tell you about an OSC. Don't pay more than like $110 for an a110. I personally have a Hertz Donut, which is 2 oscs with some nice noisy tricks up its sleeve.

I would either go for the Borg 2 or the 2040 as a first filter (or both!). They are great and have full range. The 2040 is smaller and has 2 built in dedicated VCAs (1 for audio in and 1 for modulation amount). It uses a very smooth analog filter that was used in lots of 80s synths. The Borg 2 is multimode (LP/HP, Notch, Low Pass Gate) and has a more slippery sound with a resonance that can scream. The Doepfer A124 is a nice squelchy filter that is small, cheap & multimode as well.
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tranzfuse
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Re: If I wanted to ease into the modular synth world...

Post by tranzfuse » Wed Sep 01, 2010 1:31 am

Kodama wrote:
A few thoughts:

If you want a relatively inexpensive rack and don't want an ecorack, look for a used 6u or 9u Doepfer on Muff's. If you buy a bigger rack up front, choosing modules later will be a lot easier (you don't have to worry about getting the smallest LFO when you can just get the best). U stands for units and they are standard 19" rack sizes. Euro modules are 3u tall. HP is a measurement of the spacing of the screw holes in the euro racks to measure width. Most racks are 84hp wide per row.
Thanks. I saw that AH is selling a used Doepfer 6u rack, the a-100g6 with nt12, for $398. I was considering that route.
Kodama wrote: The Polivoks is nice, but it is not the filter for everyone. The range is not too great and it only really shines when the resonance is cranked.

I'm not sure what to tell you about an OSC. Don't pay more than like $110 for an a110. I personally have a Hertz Donut, which is 2 oscs with some nice noisy tricks up its sleeve.

I would either go for the Borg 2 or the 2040 as a first filter (or both!). They are great and have full range. The 2040 is smaller and has 2 built in dedicated VCAs (1 for audio in and 1 for modulation amount). It uses a very smooth analog filter that was used in lots of 80s synths. The Borg 2 is multimode (LP/HP, Notch, Low Pass Gate) and has a more slippery sound with a resonance that can scream. The Doepfer A124 is a nice squelchy filter that is small, cheap & multimode as well.
OK, thanks for the tip on the other modules. One part of me wants to buy the really cool outlandish modules right away, but then the other (probably more sensible) part of me wants to buy some basic modules just to get a sense of what I am diving into before expanding or getting crazy. Perhaps a mix of both would make sense.
Kodama wrote: You might want to try silent way with your sound card first and make sure that's the way that you want to go. An alternative is the a190-2, which is really cheap & small.
Thanks again. The methods that allow me to interface between Ableton and a modular are becoming clearer, but still a bit fuzzy. It seems my options are using a utility plugin (Silent Way or Volta) or a MIDI/CV module, but I would have no need for both, right?

And as best as I can understand, since I have a MOTU audio interface (and it is DC coupled), I don't need the ES-1 module by Expert Sleepers (although apparently it could still prove useful), but if I don't use the ES-1 module, then it is recommended to use special floating ring cables (which cost around $100 for 8 of them) to connect the MOTU to modules.
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porfiry
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Re: If I wanted to ease into the modular synth world...

Post by porfiry » Wed Sep 01, 2010 3:28 am

If you're going to spend that much on a case, I'd skip the used Doepfer and start looking at a monorocket, personally. Plenty of people use the Doepfers and everything, but they're overpriced, and I do believe I've heard of power supply failures or some such. Even if it performs flawlessly, I wouldn't pay that for one with miles on it, knowing that a brand new Modular World case without the mults/attenuators is $340, and that the Monorocket Mission 6 is $350 and gives you an extra 8hp of space.

That $50-60 would get you another utility module or some more cables or something. :)

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Re: If I wanted to ease into the modular synth world...

Post by Johnisfaster » Wed Sep 01, 2010 3:33 am

porfiry wrote:If you're going to spend that much on a case, I'd skip the used Doepfer and start looking at a monorocket, personally. Plenty of people use the Doepfers and everything, but they're overpriced, and I do believe I've heard of power supply failures or some such. Even if it performs flawlessly, I wouldn't pay that for one with miles on it, knowing that a brand new Modular World case without the mults/attenuators is $340, and that the Monorocket Mission 6 is $350 and gives you an extra 8hp of space.

That $50-60 would get you another utility module or some more cables or something. :)
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tranzfuse
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Re: If I wanted to ease into the modular synth world...

Post by tranzfuse » Wed Sep 01, 2010 3:43 am

porfiry wrote:If you're going to spend that much on a case, I'd skip the used Doepfer and start looking at a monorocket, personally. Plenty of people use the Doepfers and everything, but they're overpriced, and I do believe I've heard of power supply failures or some such. Even if it performs flawlessly, I wouldn't pay that for one with miles on it, knowing that a brand new Modular World case without the mults/attenuators is $340, and that the Monorocket Mission 6 is $350 and gives you an extra 8hp of space.

That $50-60 would get you another utility module or some more cables or something. :)
The Mission 6 does seem awesome.

I actually just discovered the Analogue Solutions AS0084 case. It is 3u in size, costs $199, and generally available through AH it seems (I just emailed for availability). This might be the ticket. It doesn't have rack ears (which is perfect for me), and is stackable, so I could buy another down the road (if it comes to that) and stack'em up.

Pic can be seen at the bottom here: http://www.analoguehaven.com/analoguesolutions/modules/
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distaudio
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Re: If I wanted to ease into the modular synth world...

Post by distaudio » Wed Sep 01, 2010 4:42 am

All this talk of modulars made me go and buy a semi-modular Future Retro XS.

Transfuse, you just cost me $1000.

Should be getting it next week.

Then I will start up something in a eurorack and expand from there.

Was looking at the Dark Energy option, but ultimately it was too limiting in routing possibilities.

And the price was right on the XS.

tranzfuse
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Re: If I wanted to ease into the modular synth world...

Post by tranzfuse » Wed Sep 01, 2010 1:44 pm

distaudio wrote:All this talk of modulars made me go and buy a semi-modular Future Retro XS.
Congrats!
distaudio wrote:Transfuse, you just cost me $1000.
Heh, I know man, I had no idea what I was getting myself into. It's all in the name of creativity and expanding my horizons, so why not. I'm certainly learning more about synthesis, that is for sure. This will be my first piece of analog gear, so I'm pretty excited. Now I just have to make some decisions (and spend some money).
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Kodama
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Re: If I wanted to ease into the modular synth world...

Post by Kodama » Wed Sep 01, 2010 6:27 pm

I think that Asol case is just cheap plastic. I have seen some 9u Doepfer cases go for not much money on Muff's. Also, there won't be any Mission 6's for a while, the 9 is a decent value at $500 though.
GO VEGAN!!! - Macbook Air, Bass Station II, Some Korg shit, Live Suite, U-He, Audio Damage, Microtonic, Ohmicide, more soft stuffs, awesome controllers, euro rack modular synth,an awesome cat.

Kodama
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Re: If I wanted to ease into the modular synth world...

Post by Kodama » Wed Sep 01, 2010 6:31 pm

BTW - Beware Plan B stuff (they are basically out of business and have ripped many people off), synthcase (same story), and as I mentioned, I don't really trust MFB.

Also - beware that some modules (including ALL Analog Systems brand) use a different power scheme that normal Euro-rack modules. They can be integrated, but it takes a lil' information and planning!
GO VEGAN!!! - Macbook Air, Bass Station II, Some Korg shit, Live Suite, U-He, Audio Damage, Microtonic, Ohmicide, more soft stuffs, awesome controllers, euro rack modular synth,an awesome cat.

Kodama
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Re: If I wanted to ease into the modular synth world...

Post by Kodama » Wed Sep 01, 2010 6:33 pm

I have a Motu interface, and you do not have to use special cables with it. I'm still thinking of a midi to CV module, just because it's a pain to drag everything out, it gives you a little break out for your cables, and you can use it with midi hardware.
GO VEGAN!!! - Macbook Air, Bass Station II, Some Korg shit, Live Suite, U-He, Audio Damage, Microtonic, Ohmicide, more soft stuffs, awesome controllers, euro rack modular synth,an awesome cat.

ze2be
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Re: If I wanted to ease into the modular synth world...

Post by ze2be » Wed Sep 01, 2010 6:37 pm

.... I wish Live one day was completely modular... :roll: :)

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