Thursday 21 March 2013
Modular synthesizers are great fun, but they also consume time. For me, the entire purpose with a modular synth is to do things that would be impossible on any of the other synths. If a normal synth can do it, the fun but cumbersome modular is a waste of time. The small Zebra modular have plenty of resources, but it was lacking a few things. It's lacking a trigger delay, and sometimes I'd like to delay the start of one envelope generator. It has X-or gate based ring modulation (built in the MFB OSC2), but I also have that in the MS-20, MFB Synth II and ARP Odyssey as well. Ring modulation that handles other waveforms than square would be nice. I thought 4 VCO's would remove the need for suboscillators. But suboscillators are in phase. It sounds different compared to using several VCO's. And if you have some suboscillators you can do very crude additive waveforms - like the weird Korg Poly-800 sawtoth that actually is squarewave's in different octave's with different amplitudes. None of the existing envelopes had voltage control of attack or decay, which I sometimes want. And waveshaping would be marvellously fun. My OB-12 has great folding, and it is one of the more fun functions on the Arturia Minibrute. I definitely wanted waveshaping. It was time for a sidecar. A Doepfer Mini case was selected to keep the project small. For waveshaping the new company Abstract Data's "Reactive Shaper ADE-10" was the way to go. Three flavours of separately controllable waveshaping in series. Doepfer's audio divider, and dual ring modulator works well and were very affordable. But then there was the envelope and trigger delay issues and only six HP to play with. (HP, Horizontal Pitch is the eurorack module width units, 1 HP = 5.08 mm or 1/5 inch). Actually I had bought the Doepfer dual trigger delay initially, but though occasionally important I don't use trigger delay that often. In most of the patches that module wouldn't be patched in. What a waste of space. And I really wanted voltage controlled attack. I then discovered the genious Make Noise "Function". An analogue computer based module that does virtually anything. For example VC controlled: AD and ASD envelopes, LFO, Trigger delay, slew generator, sample and hold etc etc. Everything with log, linear or exponential shape. Pure genious for the space limited modular. An intellijel multiple filled the remaining 2 HP. Now I'm finished. The Zebra modular with sidecar can do anything I want to do with a modular synth. Yes there are endless amounts of other great modules that would be so fun to have. This is the golden age of the analogue modular synthesizer, there have never existed so many good innovative modules as now. But I have what I need to make the sounds I can imagine, and the limited size makes it fairly fast to work with. Now... WHERE is the new music I have promised for so long? So incredibly delayed - but something interesting is cooking deep inside the laboratory.