Thursday, June 28, 2007


This is how behind I am on updates; the FrequenSteiner actually showed up last Wednesday.

It's an AWESOME filter! The sound is very edgy and has a lot of presence to it. The bandpass and hipass filters in particular can have that nice rip-your-face-off tone to them. The lowpass is very meaty sounding; not moog-like. I can't quite explain the difference exactly, but I think this is going to sound absolutely bad ass with some PWM going into it. The input control doesn't drive as much as I thought it would, but then again, it might be the source signal I'm using. The Moog MF-102 is still dealing duties as the oscillator. I've incorporated the TM-1 after it to give some harmonics to the signal.

Speaking of the oscillator, I've decided to change my mind on getting 2 of the Livewire OSCs. I'm going to get one of the Plan B model 15s (as was my original intention before I learned about the Livewire) as well as the Livewire OSC whenever that gets released. This way I can have a oscillator sooner than later, and I have the two different tonal possibilities between the Livewire and PlanB.

In addition to being behind here, I'm still behind on video demos of all the new modules. I'd like to wait until I pickup the oscilloscope as I feel that will make the demos a lot better, particularly when showing off the min/max/sum/difference capabilities of the Vulcan Modulator as well as what goes on with Dual Cyclotron...something still don't understand myself.

Stay tuned.

Saturday, June 16, 2007

So, about that sequencer...

Ok, so I'll assume you're sitting down (as that is the position 99% of people are in when using the computer), but if you are that 1%, sit down. K, ready? ...

I don't want a sequencer.

Alright, now that the shock has hopefully worn off, I will explain. There are good reasons of course:

1) I've never really liked using a sequencer. Beginning with my first experiences with Reason (and it's pattern sequencer), then again with Reaktor and the Nord G2, I've always had, what I felt to be, poor results with the amount of time I've spent tweaking with them; in the end, I just wasn't pleased with the results I got from using a sequencer. The one exception might be the sequencer on the ARP 2600 (plug-in version; I've never had the pleasure of playing a real one). I did rather like the sound of it controlling the filter cutoff and having it start/stop on key press.

2) I don't like programming melody/lead/bass/etc lines with sequencers. While there are several small reasons for this, it all comes down to my preference to not use them for such a task. I would rather play the lick manually; I could certainly use the practice. This means I would simply be using the sequencer as a modulation source for something else (filter, PWM, etc). A bit overkill for the cost (and space used) of a sequencer. Especially when I have already have quite a few, and more complex, modulation sources. Plus, you can only do that kind of patch so many times before you get completely sick of it

3) I am more interested in controlling when an "event" occurs rather than what that event is (voltage). Yes sequencers do both of course, however, most of the features of sequencers are aimed at control of the "what" and not so much of the "when". For example, there are no modular sequencers that I found (especially for my chosen eurorack format) that have the ability to have different tempo/step divisions of sequencer's 'lines'. Take the Plan B Milton (the one I had my eyes on); it has 4 individual 'lines', however, there is no way to have one line clock at a quarter note, another at a 16th note, and another at 8th note triplets. This is probably my biggest gripe with get what I want out of one, would really require buying several.

4) The sequencer I want, the aforementioned Plan B Milton, is not available (despite info on the Plan B site saying it will be ready for sale by June 2006). This is probably the most trivial, although certainly most practical, of my reasons. The sequencer that I really want isn't even available, and there's no telling when it might be.

5) Space. This was included in part of #2, but it bears repeating. The eurorack cases are expensive and I have already filled up 2 of them. I want this system to be simple and portable since I plan to perform with it and want the most versatility in as small of a package as possible. The sequencer comes close to taking up half of one case...actually more like a 1/3 of one case...and that's space that I most definitely could use.

So, in summary:

I don't really like using sequencers, or at least, based on past experience, I don't care for them as much as most do. I also would only be using it for modulation since I do not like programming melodies with it. This reduces the amount that it would be used regularly, and it takes up a lot of space relative to other modules. Most importantly, however, it does not accomplish what I really want. As I discussed in number 3, I am really much more concerned about rhythmic placement of events (and my flexibility in this placement) than I am about what those events actually are. A sequencer would not necessarily give me this freedom since I basically get one single rhythmic pattern. Maybe if #3 did not exist, this might be a whole different situation altogether.

I do have a solution though. The Plan B model 28 Programmable Tap Clock is the exact module that I'm looking for, and is why I have been so excited about the module since it's announcement. This gives me exactly what I want; the ability to have simultaneous independent timing of events. One top of that, it even has the ability to have separate voltage control for accents and when they occur. This, combined with my current modulation sources (and VCAs), will give me that rhythmic sonic control that I'm looking for. Plus, the fact that this, combined with not getting a sequencer, will save so much space that I have room for other modules, which I passed on much earlier in my planning. I would even have space for a second model 28; I'm still contemplating that one though.

All in all, I'm very pleased with my decision. It's not like I would never get a sequencer, one day when the Milton (or some other one that take my fancy more) is released then I might, but for now, I'm not interested. :)

Begin with the comments!

Thursday, June 14, 2007

My favorite thing about modulars

My favorite thing about playing with modular synths, wether they are analog or virtual (Reaktor, Nord G2, etc), is when you are sitting there with a patch and you think...

"I wish I could do..."

And then moments later realize...

"Whoa, wait, I CAN do that!"

What a joyous feeling.

As much as I love the Voyager, I hadn't had those moments very often since it had become my main (and really only) synth. Now that the modular is shaping up, I've very glad it's back.

.:end sappiness:.

What I do need though, is an oscilloscope. Just patching into a sine wave tone to try and hear exactly what the voltage waveform looks like isn't cutting it anymore. I don't think I'll be able to figure out exactly what the Dual Cyclotron is doing without one. I'll be hunting eBay the next few weeks for a good deal. Thankfully, it looks like their are plenty.

Saturday, June 09, 2007


Like I said, I couldn't resist the AH 2 year anniversary sale. Unfortunately, there were some items out of stock by the time I placed my order (Plan B Poly Envs, Livewire FrequenSteiner, Doepfer 138c Mixer) but I got everything else. Not pictured is the second Doepfer A-100P case which I also picked up (their last one in stock apparently). I'll get youTube demos up as soon as I can, but probably won't start on them until next weekend at the earliest. I'm still getting used to all of them and have to catch up @ work after being away on vacation.

I will say that I am immediately impressed by the Livewire Vulcan Modulator, Dual Cyclotron, and the Dual Bissel Generator. The Dual Bissel Generator in particular with it's linear/exponential adjustments is very interesting. I haven't even started to mess with the various jumpers on the Vulcan...

I'm already fiending for an oscillator.

Oh yeah, and the blue LEDs on the Vulcan and Dual Cyclotron are way too bright. It really does hurt your eyes when you look at them like I have heard people mention. I'm going to try and see if my wife has some kind of translucent nail polish or something I can smear over it to diffuse the brightness. The scotch tape approach is too ghetto for me.