Into Modular Part 2: Control March 16, 2017 10:51

I started my modular with the TipTop Mantis Case and a set of 4 modules from Roland/Melekko. Each module is actually a dual design, this gave me two Oscillators, Filters, VCAs, Envelopes and one LFO.

Having two of everything allows for 2 voice polyphony or stereo operation, but the trade-off is the cramped control surface.

Noodling around on even a simple system like this is fun and all, but you'll only ever make drones and sound effects if you don't get some CV and Gate control over it, so next I got the Expert Sleepers ES-3 mkII and Silent way. 

Put simply, Silent way lets you send CV and Gate signals right from your DAW. The signals are generated by a plug-in, which in turn is controlled just like any other instrument in your DAW.

The outputs must be routed to your audio interface, and from there sent to your modular. It works like magic, no MIDI jitter, not timing issues, just magic. There is however, an obstacle to overcome because most audio-interfaces block DC signals and you need those DC signals to properly control your modular.

Expert Sleepers ES-3

One solution to this, if you have ADAT on your interface, is the ES-3 Mkii. This pipes 8 channels out of your DAW via ADAT and converts them to 8 analog outputs on the module. Silent way does much more than send out note and gate information, you can create shaped envelopes and LFO's, clocks and triggers and so on.  The end result is, I can now control my modular from my DAW with more precision and ease than any of my digital hardware, which is quite impressive.

Reason 9 March 16, 2017 08:57

Reason 9

Since 2015 I've been getting a lot of requests to provide sounds for Reason, either with Combi's or for some of the rack extensions available for it. For whatever reason I just never got around to it, despite intending to.  This year, 2017, I've decided It will happen.

I initially planned to make some sound banks for synths like Thor & Antidote, but it seems like people want Combi's more than anything, so It looks like I'll focus on that. I think the majority of presets will use combi's for some basic things like adding EQ, some effects or doing some stacking when necessary, but I'm not looking to make huge complex combi's, at least not to start with.

As for my concrete plans, it looks like I'll be doing a Subtractor based combinator bank first. Everyone has access to Subtractor and it has a lot of mileage in it.

Into Modular Part 1 November 08, 2016 15:11

Going Modular

I’ve finally taken my first step into modular synthesizers by buying my first Euro-rack case.  The Tiptop Mantis case will house and supply power to several modules, which I’m free to pick and choose. 

Since I have no modules yet, and no experience, I can't tell you much about the case apart from it looks quite nice and at the moment is extremely noisy. Any vibration on my desk causes it to rattle. It's the rails, and as soon as something is screwed in I expect it will be silent as holding the rails with my hand stops the rattling. I bought mine from Me Me Antenna

Tiptop Case

I’ve wanted to get into modular for quite some time now for a number of reasons. The main appeal for me is how I can pick out modules and create my own custom synthesizer.  I’m free to customize it’s sonic characteristics to my liking and to create a workflow that’s exactly suited to my interests. It’s going to be a long road and I had no hands on experience with Euro-rack, so this is all new territory for me.

Up till recently though the barrier for entry was just a bit high. There have been cheap cases around for a while, and with power too, but these were usually just one row 84hp. That space fills up quickly and then you need to buy another case. This is of course, just from my limited experience and knowledge. However when I saw the Tiptop audio Mantis case I knew the time was right.  Tiptop are respected for their power supplies and this case is 2 rows of 104hp, which could take me a good while to fill. 

I also really like it's flexibility, with it's 3 position "legs" it can lie flat on the desk, be tilted up on it's kick-stand, or stand upright. Which ever position you choose the legs remain in touch with the surface of the desk. They have pretty good grip on them so hopefully the case won't slide around as I'm patching, but time will tell.

Usually I’m the one being asked for opinions on software, it’s nice to be on the other side now where I have next to no idea what’s going to work for me in the long run. I’m tempted to just ask anyone and everyone what they think I should get, but I’ve decided I’m going to lean heavily towards my instincts.

From here of course I’ll need to pick out my next module, what oscillators and filters I’d like, modulation sources, effects and utilities, and what order should I buy things in. Oscillator choices range from simple analog VCO’s, to full FM synths to massively powerful digital monsters, so I've got some thinking ahead of me. 

Using I've been able to experiment with different long term plans. I've learned there's a trade off with space. Wider modules may be more densely packed, or they may just have more space for better ergonomics, but it doesn't take many wide modules before you've filled up your case. Modular grid also gives you a total of how much your modules would cost altogether. It's quite amazing how quickly it adds up, but at the same time when I look at any of my completed plans I can't think of anything else I've ever seen that offers anything like it. Digital Wavetables, Sequencing, analog VCO's & filters, proper FM, granular effects, and massive hands on control and direct patching, all in one small space.

One of my long term plan ideas:An example plan 

In the past I've often wondered why people didn't build polyphonic modulars. Is it possible? Is it prohibitively expensive? As far as I can tell it's doable, but I'll probably build monophonic first.

Here's an example of a polyphonic module, with 4 voices on each output
Flame Vox Polyphonic Module

If you're interested in getting into modular there are a number of decent youtube videos around now, but the Muffwiggler forum has been an invaluable resource to me.

Of course you can ask me anything you'd like on this blog and I'll help as I can, I'm quite new to this myself but it's always useful to work together!

Of course, I'll be posting helpful audio and video as soon as I have something to show!

Sound Depends on Context May 28, 2016 17:39

It’s quite easy to hear the same sound in two different contexts and conclude that they are not the same sound. The fact is, the same thing has happened to me. You hear something in a demo, you get the thing and then it doesn’t quite sound as good.

My review of the Moog sub37 May 19, 2016 18:52

Check out the review I wrote for Bedroom producers blog!

Free bank for NI Monark September 07, 2015 23:34

It's been missing from my website for a little while, but It's back!

Download AZS Monark Bank

Review of Carbon Electra (for bedroom producers blog) August 16, 2015 19:46

"Carbon is quite a capable synth, very streamlined and inviting to tweak. It gets a lot of things right in its workflow where some other synths fail. As far as sound goes, Carbon Electra has the kind of sonic richness that makes it sound like a wavetable synthesizer at times and it’s also one of those synths that distracts me endlessly from my initial programming plans."

Read the full review on bedroomproducersblog

My favourite Free (or inexpensive) Plugins July 17, 2015 19:29 4 Comments

ex3Many cheap or even free plugins are extremely good.  Occasionally a free plugin bests just about everything out there.  Such is the case with my first plugin on the list, the TDR Kotelnikov...

Review: Audient ID22 June 29, 2015 21:47

Audient is a British company, founded in 1997 who have a reputation in the pro-audio industry for their top flight analog consoles and their ASP008 Mic-pre racks (now updated to the ASP880). They have recently taken their expertise in high end audio and applied it to creating the new, relatively affordable at $699 & high quality audio interface the ID22.

Welcome to the new website! June 27, 2015 10:02

I've got an entirely new system going.  The transaction process should be smoother now, with no more dead links.  You can also create your own account to view your order history.  

Thank you all so much for your support!