Thursday, December 11, 2008

Long time no post

I'm very sorry for my long absence from the blog here. I'm rather ashamed of it and it's due to little more than lack of time and laziness. Mostly laziness.

What small amount of free time I've had over the last couple months has been devoted to trying to finish up tracks for an upcoming EP/Full length and just general hanging around on the Muff forum. Unfortunately for the blog here, all of my modular-related ramblings and thoughts are getting dumped there and not here.

Time for a change.

To catch you up a bit, in the midst of working on these new tracks, I also got bit by the bug to start performing live again. I've never performed with a synth before, but played a lot of guitar with the bands I've been in over the years. I miss performing for people. So, with that in mind, I started looking at ways to achieve that again. Using a laptop and triggering loops was more or less out of the question. I don't want to look like I'm checking my email in front of everyone, and for the most part it's very uninteresting to the audience, in my opinion anyway. The next step was to work with the SP-404 and come up with different textured loops that I could layer, turning on and off, along with the MachineDrum. I got started with building up loops and it quickly became an aweful, and uninspiring chore. The "sets" that I came up with were not very fun either. The sounds were static and interacting with them was rather...well...uninspiring. At that point my thoughts turned to using a modular live, but clearly the monstercase would be very cumbersome to lug around (although fun to look at, if facing the audience) and of course, had no way to quickly switch patches. And I wanted some dynamic way that I could interact with it, both via some sort of sequencer (which could be handled by the MD + Kenton) as well as some sort of "touch controller".

Enter the Buchla 200e.

First, some history on my exposure to the 200e. It was the first modular system that I looked at when considering buying a modular system. I saw the booth at NAMM and it certainly was the most visually appealing system, and the fact that it folded up *and* had preset recall was like the greatest thing ever. Had the price at the time (and now) not seemed completely out of my range, I would have went for it. The other formats were much more economical.

The 200e satisfied many of the "live performance" criteria I had set for myself.
-Portable
-High functional density
-Ease of setting up patches (preset recall)
-Performance oriented interface (namely, the 222e touchplate)
-It looks fucking cool (ok, that wasn't a requirement, but it is a bonus)

After much toiling and going back and forth on pros/cons for what seemed like months, much of which went on in an epic thread on the Muff forum, I finally came to the decision that I was not going to invest in a Buchla. The main cons were:

-Sound. It doesn't sound bad, it's just not quite my thing...not for that price
-Price. It's not unobtainable, but it would be a significant investment.
-Having to give up Euro. Most of it anyway...part of the previous con.

There were other small negatives too. Audio and CV are different signal paths, some "quirky" behavior with certain features, not the end-all-be-all in flexibility. All of these were personal opinions though, and many of the reasons for these designs were quite valid - I'm not devaluing the system at all. It's just stuff that I did not particularly like and if I was going to make that kind of financial commitment, I had to like it.

Interestingly enough, I picked up a Monomachine MKII. I had begun to miss the MKI (which I had traded, along with my MD MKI, for an MD mkII) and felt I did not give the little guy a fair shake the first time around. I was right and I'm very much enjoying having the MnM back again.

However, a new "problem" arouse. As part of the research into the 200e, I was constantly comparing my current Euro system with the Buchla, in particular looking at what the Buchla could do and what my Euro could not (well, to be more clear, what it could not do as easily or achieve in a more streamlined manner). But what I took away was what I found to be shortcomings of my system, and to some degree, the Euro format/lineup.

Enter The Serge.

Stay Tuned.

7 comments:

VICMOD said...

owning a
euro system
serge
buchla 200e
ems synthi aks

The Buchla is amazing and I am adding vintage buchla vcos to my system. I understand what you mean by its sound and shortcomings, but i dont mind them.he preset is a clear winner though.

The Serge is IMHO the best modular ever made. having the banana jacks on everything just gives it so much more scope for sound design. It is the beast and there are so many M series modules to get. I just which it had headphone jack and spring reverb.

The EMS Synthi is also an amazing unique modular . I love its sound.I hear they will be reissued shortly after years of waiting

Euro system is great but its too easy to buy too much and not have it portable. I have just cut my system down fro 5 racks to 3 , would have preferred 1 or 2 racks for portability....

So I do believe either the EMS Synthi or Serge could be what you would love

Göran Sandström said...

One thing I think would be great as a euro-module would be like something like the patch-matrix with preset recall for eurorack, that would so open up a lot of possibilities for people who want to use their modulars live...

Jae said...

I always wonder why Buchla didn't create a new version of the Thunder. The 222e variant is one of the coolest things ever and I'd love to get one, but I fear how it might lead me into buchla world.

acro said...

Man...you just got the Monster case all fleshed out ...and now it's going to get sold for Serge funds.

That's how these things go, I guess.

felix said...

Hi All! Thanks for commenting!

@VICMOD - The patch-programmability of the Serge is what I'm finding most appealing and of course the banana jacks facilitate that. The "too easy to buy too much" aspect is beginning to run rampant with me on Euro. A Synthi or actually a Music Easel would be my ultimate, or at least, I always wanted one. The little hinting in your interview with Peter didn't help! ;)

@Göran - Yes, I'm surprised by that too. I tried to get an engineer friend of mine interested in making one, but it never got going. Having the controls of each module recall though is also a big aspect of the Buchla's functionality. That's not without some downsides as well, since the knobs are not motorized, you don't "see what you hear" after recalling a preset. I never did find out how the controls change when you modify a knob that has a different setting than the current preset recall...wether it just "jumps" immediately to the value you just set, or if it cleverly interpolates between the two.

@Jae - They might, they just updated the Lightning. But, updating the Thunder might detract from the 200e's appeal.

@acro - I know, and believe me, I feel a little stupid about this whole "Serge/Buchla" thing. I'm not normally a person who bounces around gear very much at all, wanting this and that. The modular world seems to have changed that. I wouldn't get rid of all of my Euro modules. In fact, my plan at this point would be to get one of the upcoming 9U Doepfer Portable cases and that would be my Euro rig. I haven't fully decided which Euro modules will be kept, other than nearly all of the Livewire stuff (Dual Bissell might not be necessary), most of the Harvestman line, and a few select modules from Doepfer,Plan B, and MakeNoise. The plan would also be to investigate the difficulty of converting those modules to banana jacks. Initially, I would still be using my Euro VCOs and filters. There's no way I think I could give up the sound of the AFG + Frequensteiner.

VICMOD said...

felix can you contact me ASAP
vicmod@internode.on.net

I have some exciting news for your dilema :-)

小小彬 said...

I love it! Very creative!That's actually really cool.
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