Saturday, August 25, 2012

General Updates

As the title states, this is just a general update kinda thing, so if you're looking for something interesting, you may as well go to the first page of the Internet.

Firstly and certainly least important, the Monster Modular is completed! And by that, no, it does not mean I randomly found a place to place that $70K+ modular, bought it, and built it. What it does mean is that I have completed the layout of the MM:
It's kinda complex, I'm not going to go through it all, but basically it's a bunch of oscillators on the top left, Manglers and LFO stuff below that, Sequencers in red, CV stuff in Maroon, Filters in Yellow, etc until the far right stuff, which is all mastering and outputs. And yes, I do mean actual mastering: mixer, EQ, compressor, meters, etc. Pretty neat.

Secondarily, still with modulars, that Doepfer system has a new design, and it's something that's cheaper and, if I was thinking about it right, would have saved me a few hours of time. See, what I did know is that Doepfer had 'preset' setups, but I knew they did not have MIDI nor an external instrument input. But, last night I was thinking about it with a friend, and decided I can get their 1700 euro standard system with a 100 euro MIDI-CV converter, then just input any external audio to a mixer input and crank it up. Why I didn't think of that earlier, I don't know. But yeah, suddenly it's like 1800 euros instead of 2000, and still pretty fun and useful. And I can use Live direct to it via USB! Oh, and has a built-in mini-sequencer.
Random interjection; I did look into Paia for cheap modular action, but it sounds weak by itself, their main system is rather bland, and additional modules are kinda meh. Sorry Paia.

More importantly than just dreams are upcoming public tracks! I say public because there's more stuff to come (see below). So far in the works is a remix of Elmakay's "When I Look At You." So far it's not so awesome, but I hope it will be. Lots of re-sequencing. Also, I've got a couple house tracks which I'm not sure if they will be public or not. Lastly, there's a... thing, really. The file is Hard Aura, and it kinda is just that. Sounds awesome, though.

Promo tracks! Yes, these are the non-public tracks. I call them that because, when I think they are good, I will submit them to various producers/pseudo labels, like UKF, sublvl, and Monstercat. A little adventurous, yes, but if even one of them advertises any of my tracks, instant mass publicity, which means people will know me, which, well, if I can keep it up with tracks that people like, things could...
Gotta love using memes for serious purposes.

And finally, New YouTube stuff! Monday will be the first of a new channel setup. It will be a video explaining what it will be all about, but after that I'll have a weekly show on synthesis. I've yet to decide if it'll be a series kinda thing, like the Synthesis Chronicles, or if it'll just be random stuff. There will be other stuff, too, but all about music -- as I originally planned the channel to be for.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012


Yes, Doepfer, also known as the primary German makers of modular synthesizer cases and cheap modules. What do I have to do with them? Well, last night, as you may have noticed on my FB page, I went on Doepfer's website and built a small modular system. It's a total of 6U (2x3U) in a cheap wooden case. And here it is:

Now, what is this? Well, it's a basic 2-oscillator synth with a LOT of possibility. Some of it is not as useful, but... well, let's just run through it, left to right, top to bottom:

We first have an input. This is for processing any signal. It can also take that signal and 'export' gate and envelope CVs. Then you have two oscillators. You then see that thin module, which basically takes a signal in one input and spreads it across all the others. Then a 4-channel mixer for, well, mixing signals. Then LFO, ADSR, then a filter which is special because it has 4 12dB filters in one. Then another ADSR and what I'm using as a VCA, a headphone amp. It (I think, still not entirely sure) mixes two signals into one and outputs to two 1/4" outputs. (It may also be stereo, which would be even cooler)

Now, the bottom section. This is where all the real mangling and modulations are. The audio divider is basically a 5 octave subsynth, from the original to -4 octaves, mixable. Then you have two ringmods, then a waveshaper, which can either smooth or mangle waveforms. Then you have two switches, which using CVs can switch between the two inputs to the output. Next is a noise module, which produces noise, which also happens to be useful for creating random CVs. You then have a simple sequencer, neighbouring a clock divider which can split times fractionally, from 1/2 to 1/64.

Almost done :) That paragraph was getting long. So after that we have two trigger delays, which very simply delays when a trigger CV occurs. You then have two slew limiters, more commonly known as portamento. Then there are two quantizers (many of these modules are dual), which aligns signals according to a clock. It can do other neat stuffs that I don't know how they work yet, too. Finally, there's a manual gater (with a blank panel after that) which will allow me to trigger things manually instead of with a sequencer.

Now, this is all well and good, but there is other stuff I would want. Two mixers would be nice. Two multiples modules would probably be useful, and Doepfer also has a 6/12/18/24dB low pass filter, which would be cool for neat slopes in filter range and dynamics, and would allow other interesting filtering. But, I don't have that kind of room with only 6U. There is a 9U case as well, but if you get right down to it they also have a 6 foot tall, 38" wide case, and I also have that giant custom modular that costs like $56 grand I want to build.

So, why this, then? Well, for what it is, it is super nice, and I can make changes since I can't exactly afford the $2000 it would take to get the modules, the case, and cables. But, you know, when I can afford it, and if I don't have anything else I can spend it on, this would be a good investment (well, if you're me and far too much into synthesis to back out and also think that this is a better buy than saving for something more useful, like, say, a house. Yeah... maybe later).

Priorities are totally in line. Hey, a man can dream, can he not? At least I'm not looking to buy this just to have it sit around and look awesome. I even know what most of it does! haha

Friday, August 3, 2012

Using My Resources... (KereMAX)

So today I did something possibly stupid: I emailed Mr. Tom Oberheim regarding his incredible polyphonic triggering system used in older Two Voice and Four Voice models. Moreso, I asked him if he can help me out with adapting this idea to the KereMAX.

If you didn't know, what I want is a simple two-switch system (one of the few parts of this instrument that is not patchable) that controls how the oscillators are triggered. Here's how I want it to work:
If that makes no sense, let me explain:

So the first switch will make each keypress trigger the next oscillator in sequence. When you select this, the first keypress will trigger just he first oscillator, the next keypress will trigger the second, and so on. If you keep the keys depressed, the oscillators will keep playing despite what others are doing until the sequence comes back to that oscillator. In Unison mode, all four oscillators will trigger at once, thus each key will have four oscillators. Bi-Trigger mode allows for two oscillators to be triggered per keypress and works sequentially. This will be explained later.

The second switch determines which oscillators are triggered. This may be pointless since the original Oberheim used SEMs, which could have totally different timbres. In essence, what this would do on the KereMAX is create duophony, using two oscillators per voice (think normal 2-oscillator synth... or ARP 2600). How does this work sequentially?

The setting only dictates the first set of oscillators used. For example, in Bi-Trigger, 1-2 mode, the first and second oscillators will trigger at once and first. The next keypress will trigger the 3rd and 4th oscillators. the next keypress will go back to the first two oscillators. 3-4 mode is just the opposite, and 2-3 mode would have 1-4 trigger second.

This will allow for the planned max of 4 voice polyphony, and easy duophony and monophony. Bear in mind you can turn off (really mute) each oscillator, so in Unison you can have just two oscillators on and not worry about differing waveforms or anything, like a standard two-voice monosynth.

So, what does this have to do with the Oberheim stuff? Well, the Two-voice had a 2-position sequential or unison mode, with the sequentials starting either on the left or right voice. The 4 voice had a unison on-off, and a 1-3, 2-2, or 3-1 triggering system. That means that for 1-3 mode, one key would trigger just one SEM, the next trigger 3 SEMs. Same applies to other modes. Now you get it, eh?

I asked Mr. Oberheim himself because according to forums he tends to read and reply to emails, and why not ask the creator himself? I do (of course) have full schematics for both the Two- and Four-voice instruments, but separating the polyphony parts and then putting them together would be a nightmare... that I would probably thoroughly enjoy.