Friday, November 30, 2007

Polivoks Filter Arrives

This is actually a couple days late, but I haven't had the time/energy to get around to writing up a post. Yes a video demo is planned, but technically the Plan B M15 is in line before it so for now, don't hold your breath. I also want to try and wrap up the joystick controller before moving on to more demo videos. If I don't finish a project within a week or so of starting it, I have a habit of abandoning it. So here is the initial [text] review:

It sounds awesome! It's not as dirty as I thought it would be based on the description at Analogue Haven. I was expecting something different by the "self-oscillates with a dirty pulse" line. It sounds very similar to my SSM A-105 Doepfer LP filter, but a little edgier. The bandpass output is also pretty edgy, especially at high resonances. Overloading the filter (by using both inputs and turning them up all the way) sounds really cool too; a little more mean sounding that the Frequensteiner can be.

The bipolar attenuator for the one frequency CV input is a really nice touch. I wish the second input had one as well; it has no attenuator.

I did some FM of the filter while it was self-oscillating (no input) and I was very pleased. The Frequensteiner tends to saturate a bit when doing the same thing but the Polivoks stays nice and biting. I will enjoy using this as an extra sine wave source; something that I find the frequensteiner doesn't do as well. When you are really FM'ing the heck of it, it sounds really gritty and dirty, almost like noise (as in white, not "hiss")...very cool. One of my favorite sounds I have discovered so far is to listen to the LP out while the Polivoks is self-oscillating (no audio input) and patch the BP output into the non-attenuated freq CV in. The result is this saw-like sounding hybrid. I wish I had a scope so I could see what it looks like, but it sounds very interesting.

The one downside I have experienced is a personal one. The knobs, while very smooth and easy to turn, are a bit "wobbly". If anyone has a Dual Cyclotron, it's similar to the 3 selector pots which have a slight wobble to them. I've begun to get used to it, but it was a bit disappointing at first. I've noticed that no complaints have come from anyone on the harvestman list or back to Analogue Haven about this on the Polivoks or the Malgorithm so I think I'm being a bit overly anal; something that is not a rare occurrence. ;) I'm sure once I have a few more Harvestman modules in my collection, it won't stand out as much. It of course has no impact on the sound, just my OCD.

All in all, it's an awesome filter and definitely needs to be in your collection, especially if you like having many different filter flavors.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Modulars = crack (aka the Sawtooth Animator post)

Ok, so I now fully understand the modular addiction. I knew before that it was one of those "black hole" hobbies that will always have some new thing to buy or entail some never ending quest to have "the ultimate" setup. That's all well and good...but when you start rationalizing dipping into savings or not buying certainly family members christmas presents, that's an addiction my friends.
I should know better too...I have an addictive personality. I don't gamble, cause I know that would get me into trouble...I quit smoking several years back, which is still difficult to fend off urges, and I'm very careful about not drinking outside of social/recreational means. I guess I always rationalized "gear" as not being an addiction.

Then again, maybe I'm being over dramatic. It's just that there are all of sudden more things that I want than I can afford...and I have money, but it's the "don't touch this except for emergencies and save until you are old" money. And of course, I'm trying to rationalize new modules that I want as "emergencies".

The Cyndustries Sawtooth Animator is the newest item to the WANT BAD list. This comes in right after the Livewire AFG...I have wet dreams of what the two sound like together. Previously, this was only available in the Cyndustries usual Modcan A format and I had seriously contemplated starting a small satellite system in that format simply so I could have the Sawtooth Animator. Well, now it's coming to Eurorack and Frac formats!!! Muff and Matrix have already got the jump on it. You must check out the audio demos here.

Aside from making me extremely excited, it also makes me a tad bit depressed that I'll either have to wait to have it, or be poor for a while. Back-alley sexual favors for modules is most definitely out of the question.

Joystick Proto - very early

So this weekend I finally dragged my ass down to Radio Shack and picked up a few necessary parts (protoboard, alligator clips, voltage regulator, etc) to start working on my little joystick controller.

Because I'm an idiot, it took me about 2 hours to do what should have taken about 5 minutes. I didn't fully understand the whole two hemispheres of the protoboard and this caused me to burn up 2 LEDs (2 *overpriced* LEDs I might add) as well as not get the voltage regulator working. Once I finally understood that, I succeeded in almost burning up one of the axis pots of the joystick. See, I didn't (don't, actually) understand the whole "shit's gotta be goin back to ground" principle and I have ~5V just sitting there in the joystick's pot. :P

Anyway, by the end of the sitting, I had a working prototype which is what you see in the picture above. And I did had a few hours of fun hooking it up with the modular and I'm really excited about getting it done. In addition to the one joystick pictured, they'll be a second joystick (without it's retention springs removed) and a handful of trigger/gate buttons. This weekend I hope to find a nice enclosure and start soldering stuff together. Of course, I'll document the rest of the process as much as I can.

Friday, November 23, 2007

Sunday, November 18, 2007


So I'm the processes of trying to narrow down what modules that I will keep in a single Doepfer A100P suitcase as a "portable" system; the rest will go into a custom case which I am about to start working on.

I started this decision processed basing the results purely on space, but pretty soon that became too difficult and I figured it would be best to just start taking notes on what modules I use most when making patches. One of the more interesting patches I happened on was this one, which I named, ZombieThunder. It sounded like thunder and something I would have heard in a zombie movie soundtrack.

Of course, I took notes on what modules I used, but I didn't on exactly how they were patched...I'm describing it from memory here....

Plan B Model 15 sine is main sound source
Dalek Modulator sine wave was FM'ing the Plan B Model 15
Dalek Modulator other sine wave was FM'ing the FrequenSteiner (LP mode)
Plan B Model 24 stepped voltage (smoothed through Livewire Dual Bissell) was controlling pitch of Model 15
Plan B Model 24 smooth voltage was controlling the 2nd sine wave freq on the Dalek (the one FM'ing the filter).
Livewire Vulcan Max out was also modulating the Filter (although much more slowly).
Plan B Model 10 in LFO mode was opening up the main VCA.


Livewire Dalek Modulator Demo

This is a demo I have been looking forward too for a while. The Dalek is one of my fav modules because it is so useful, not only as a tone source, but as a modulation source; the latter I use the most frequently.

I tried to showcase it "on it's own" as much as possible since all the other video demos I have done so far have feature the Dalek in some shape or form. So without further's the Livewire Dalek Modulator.


Sunday, November 11, 2007

Trash Audio Studio Tour

After being sick last weekend and busy all week (and saturday with a mastering project) I finally got around to making a video tour for my upcoming Workspace and Environment interview on Trash_Audio. It was Surachai's idea to make a video and it came out better than I expected.

Rather than narrate this one, I thought I'd give you all a break from my voice and instead write a quick piece as the sound track. And, it made sense to use the stuff being shown in the video.


Thursday, November 08, 2007

The Wishlist

I don't think I've posted a "wishlist" yet. I know I've mentioned modules that were "in the pipe" for purchase, but that isn't quite the same here' goes:

1) Livewire Audio Frequency Generator (AFG! it here yet?! Is it here?!)
2) Plan B Model 9 Mixer/Atten. <- this is a rad module...simple and effective and multipurpose. And cheap!
3) The Harvestman 1973 Tyme Sefari <- I've been excited about this one for a while, but now that it's getting farther along, I can't wait. I might be more anxious to get this than the AFG.
4) Livewire Chaos Computer <- who knows when this thing will ship...but when it does, I want it.
5) Plan B Model 14 Voltage Processor <- So much more than just a mixer, this thing is a full on voltage tweaker; a must have if you have many modulation sources.
6) The Harvestman 1986 Zorlon Canon <- Another Harvestman that I'm getting more excited about as it nears shipping. The pitched noise sounds like it will be very cool, but I'm fantasizing about using the various gates to drive the Chaos Computer
7) Plan B Model 21 Milton Grande <- An evasive beast like the Chaos Computer, but this is the only sequencer that I've seen that really makes me want to get a sequencer. Once it's released and cash is plentiful, it will be mine.

I'll list the filters separate because I like having several different filters to choose from, but I don't want more filters as bad as some of the above modules. Maybe that's a good testament to how pleased I am with the Livewire Frequensteiner. ;)
1) Plan B Model 11 Evil Twin <- I love bandpass filters, but I tend to like to get filters which have more than one mode. Based on the sound demos though, this bad boy is the exception.
2) The Harvestman 1982 Polivoks VCF <- A fresh off the assembly line release and it's a brilliant idea; and it's a dead-on reproduction, even using Russian ICs and not US counterparts. It was also developed with the help of the Polivok's original designer. Based on what I've heard of the Polivoks, this thing is mean as hell. It also has simultaneous Lowpass and Bandpass outputs. Actually...this guy will probably bump the Model 11 out of the number one demos will be final judge.
3) Cwejman DMF-2 <- If my thirst for filters isn't quenched by both the Harvestman and the Model 11 (and the Metasonix TM-6 and the Frostwave Resonator) then I will have to pick this guy up. I've been told that the Cwejman's don't have the character that I usually go for in a filter, but a "matched" stereo set would be a little too much to pass up...I love stereo filtering.

Well, that's the list. For now anyway. I only hope the bank account can survive it all.