modular

All about my own modular synth, and some information on this kind of thing in general.

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At the Philly Synth Meet, December 2011.

Modules from many designers and manufacturers including Doepfer, Make Noise, Livewire, Intellijel, Tip Top, Bubblesound, Malekko, and 4ms. If you’re really interested in the details, I have it all on another page here.

This synth began as a small one-row Doepfer A100 Mini System which included two oscillators, a filter, two VCAs, two mixers, a simple LFO, a noise source, a ring modulator, and a MIDI interface so that the synth could be played with a keyboard or MIDI sequencer. I found this unit for sale on eBay in November 2009. There are some nice things one can do with a small system like this, but it’s a pretty standard synthesizer.

laboratory

Doepfer a100 mini

I bagen researching the small weird world of these modules. Many of the current manufacturers are small one-man shops and make some odd and wonderful variations on these standard synth modules. They aren’t something for which one walks into Guitar Center expecting to find.
Over a few months, I sold some of what I had and bought a few things that I wanted. These included a step-sequencer, different kinds of envelope generators and filters, and better oscillators.

This is how it looked in early February 2010.

my modular synthesizer, all growed up

my modular synthesizer, all growed up

The fact that it’s modular allows different and new modules to be switched in and out easily. There’s a very active (though small and esoteric) market for used modules, so it’s quite painless to try something out. If it doesn’t work for me, I can usually sell it for about what I paid for it (or about 75% of what it was bought for new). This is especially nice for someone like me, who is constantly rethinking what kind of things I like to and want to do with a synthesizer. As I find that I have less and less interest in using the computer with the instrument, for instance, I can add more sequencing and control modules. Now, as I’m learning to play guitar and would like to have the guitar interact with the synth, I can add a preamp and envelope follower. Normal sythesizers are static in their design, and even the most complex and well-designed ones hit limitations.

Here is some stuff I made.
Hear more of this on my Soundcloud page.

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