What Kind Of Modular Am I Looking For?

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Naive Teen Idol
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What Kind Of Modular Am I Looking For?

Post by Naive Teen Idol » Sun Apr 27, 2008 4:13 pm

I've increasingly been interested in analog modular synthesis -- not just the sounds you can produce--you can get about 75-80% of the way there with good VA's and a little knowledge about analog synthesis--but how the sound creation and sequencing processes in analog modulars become virtually indistinguishable from one another. Today, I listen to folks like Tomita and Patrick Gleeson and marvel at how they could create those complex compositions with cascading, asymmetrical sequences and wonder why so few people make them today.

To be clear -- I'm not looking for something to make acid house with but rather something that helps me approach the way I write in a different way.

So, what do folks suggest I get here? The Synthesizers.com starter package that allows me to start small and build out? Or something more along the lines of a fully built Doepfer A100 system? Or am I really looking for some kind of flexible analog sequencer like the MAQ16/3?

Let's say right now that I'm looking somewhere between $1,500 and $3K...

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Post by Stab Frenzy » Sun Apr 27, 2008 4:28 pm

I think what you really want to start off with is an Evolver.

16 step sequencer, 4 oscs, 4 LFOs, 3 Envs, 3 delay taps, heaps of modulation options, sounds like exactly what you want, for a lot less money. Unless you want the form factor of a modular it's the one to go for.

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Post by guitarsandsynths » Sun Apr 27, 2008 4:33 pm

Hi!
I went with the dotcom. Best bang for the buck. Amazing quality, sound and(very important) unmatched technical support. The entry system is a great way to start, but I couln't wait that long. I paid all the stallments at once. I also had it pretty much filled-up with modules.Then I ordered another one with a sequencer set. So, both cabs are pretty filled-up and the tab was just above 4gs. Beyond that you're free to expand with more exotic modules from other brands.
And just so you know, I do a lot o research, I am very patient, and I almost never buy new gear. All the gear I have was purchase at bargain price, or it was an up-trade. But I simply could not wait for the DOTCOM!!!
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Post by seamonkey » Sun Apr 27, 2008 4:39 pm

I personally prefer the synthesizers.com sound and will soon begin building a porta 22 system.
I've done quite a bit of research before coming to this decision and besides the sound difference between the manufacturers one must consider what type of modules you'd like to add in the future.
Do you want 1/4 " cables or 1/8", do you want a eurorack because it's smaller?
I love the look of the synthesizers.com stuff, the knobs and everything look solidly built but most of all I like the sound it produces. I've listened to demo's from all the manufacturer's and FOR ME it's the sound I like.

So it comes down to sound production
type of modules available
size
compatibility with other manufacturers
etc
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Post by clubbedtodeath » Sun Apr 27, 2008 4:50 pm

Stab Frenzy wrote:I think what you really want to start off with is an Evolver.

16 step sequencer, 4 oscs, 4 LFOs, 3 Envs, 3 delay taps, heaps of modulation options, sounds like exactly what you want, for a lot less money. Unless you want the form factor of a modular it's the one to go for.
100% agreement with the esteemed Mr Frenzy here.

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Post by droolmaster0 » Sun Apr 27, 2008 4:53 pm

guitarsandsynths wrote:Hi!
I went with the dotcom. Best bang for the buck. Amazing quality, sound and(very important) unmatched technical support. The entry system is a great way to start, but I couln't wait that long. I paid all the stallments at once. I also had it pretty much filled-up with modules.Then I ordered another one with a sequencer set. So, both cabs are pretty filled-up and the tab was just above 4gs. Beyond that you're free to expand with more exotic modules from other brands.
And just so you know, I do a lot o research, I am very patient, and I almost never buy new gear. All the gear I have was purchase at bargain price, or it was an up-trade. But I simply could not wait for the DOTCOM!!!
I think that you made a good choice. If you're interested in modular synthesis, there's really nothing better than to start out with a 'real' one, though obviously you can also learn from the good virtual ones, say the nord modular series, and vaz modular. I've never used the dotcom, but I've heard them in person, and they sound awfully good. The one rap on them that I've heard is that they ultimately might not be as flexible as some others, but you can always expand out into other stuff at some point. (personally, I'm absolutely thrilled with my modcan stuff right now, and I'd imagine that the modcan b and the dotcom would play together). And that dotcom sequencer looks awfully nice. I've thought about getting one of those, even though I don't have a dotcom system.

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Post by droolmaster0 » Sun Apr 27, 2008 4:55 pm

I like the Evolvers, and they have excellent mod routings, but I don't think that the experience is very much like using a real modular. I think that if you're interested in a modular system, and you can afford to start one, you should go for it.

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Post by pix » Sun Apr 27, 2008 7:06 pm

if you're not after the analog sound then your best bet is a nord modular G2.

You can store patches (and work on them later) and and you can have multiple ones in a given patch (you're going to need lots of sequencers, logic modules, quantizers, etc). To have this flexibility in hardware you'd need a room full of modules (and a matching bank account). Another advantage is that the G2 is an excellent midi workstation and you can send any "cv" as a CC# into the midi world, and vice versa, so if you already have the sounds you like you can use them in your compositions.

Check out the G2 community at the www.electro-music.com forums

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Re: What Kind Of Modular Am I Looking For?

Post by tunedLow » Sun Apr 27, 2008 7:19 pm

Naive Teen Idol wrote:I've increasingly been interested in analog modular synthesis -- not just the sounds you can produce--you can get about 75-80% of the way there with good VA's and a little knowledge about analog synthesis--but how the sound creation and sequencing processes in analog modulars become virtually indistinguishable from one another. Today, I listen to folks like Tomita and Patrick Gleeson and marvel at how they could create those complex compositions with cascading, asymmetrical sequences and wonder why so few people make them today.

To be clear -- I'm not looking for something to make acid house with but rather something that helps me approach the way I write in a different way.

So, what do folks suggest I get here? The Synthesizers.com starter package that allows me to start small and build out? Or something more along the lines of a fully built Doepfer A100 system? Or am I really looking for some kind of flexible analog sequencer like the MAQ16/3?

Let's say right now that I'm looking somewhere between $1,500 and $3K...

From that description I think it sounds like you're looking for sequencing techniques rather than modulars themselves. In which case perhaps some gnarly sequencer would work for you.

As far as bang for the buck, the dot com system is at $1440usd, depending on which builders modules you pick, you can do the same thing with eurorack gear provided you go with a diy case. For that reason perhaps the dot com is a better value. But I ended up filling out my dot com case and spent about $1875 total on it.

I guess at bottom some of the eurorack stuff may be a bit more expensive, but not by that much. I sold my dot com to go eurorack and think it was a good decision. I loved the size, big knobs and jacks of the dot com at first, but eventually got tired of it and room became an issue. I read reviews about the doepfer stuff being flimsy and found that not to be true at all. Overall I like the flexibility eurorack gives better than dot com.

And then when it comes to sound I'd say the plan b oscillators or as good as any, and there's a wide range of filters from various builders to choose from.

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Re: What Kind Of Modular Am I Looking For?

Post by Cybananna » Mon Apr 28, 2008 2:19 am

Naive Teen Idol wrote:you can get about 75-80% of the way there with good VA's and a little knowledge about analog synthesis
Hopefully this is helpful. I completely disagree with this comment. In my experience i've found this to be anything but true. The flexibility of modulars are amazing. nothing like them. Something that might take a few minutes to patch on a modular may be impossible or take weeks to do on a VA.

If I misunderstood and you meant modular software or something like the G2, that may be true, but not just any good VA. Including the Virus and waldorf. yes, I have used these extensively.

However, The evolver the only non-modular (including some patchable semi-modular) that comes close to a real modular.

I also recommend something from the evolver series. They are wonderful and easy to program. Even the desktop. They can make very modular sounds. Yes, a lot of synths can make modular sounding sounds, but when you really get into the flexibility of a modular there's just nothing like it. Unless you really need the complete flexibility of a modular, you will do better with an evolver.

If I understand what you mean by getting about 75-80% of the way there with good VA, the evolver will get you there.

I'm not trying to discourage you about modulars, but you may get more than you think with an evolver and save a ton of money. I was completely wrong about modulars. When I got mine, I thought it wouldn't do much more than my Voyager. I was very wrong. Now, I don't even really want to use it for something my voyager or a VA can do. I'll use it for stuff only a modular can do.

good luck!

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Re: What Kind Of Modular Am I Looking For?

Post by meatballfulton » Mon Apr 28, 2008 1:53 pm

Cybananna wrote:Unless you really need the complete flexibility of a modular, you will do better with an evolver.
I agree.

Since sequencing seems to be an important feature for you, you really can't lose...$500 for a desktop Evolver is cheaper than any analog sequencer module and comes with a monosynth attached!

Since the Evolver has presets you can duplicate the same patch in multiple locations, each with a different 16-step sequence. This lets you easily create very long step sequences (spread across multiple programs) and even "jam" with the sequencer much as you would with a groovebox.

Having owned both a dotcom system and an Evolver I can tell you that you have to spend a lot more money on the dotcom to come close to what the Evolver can do...plus the Evolver can do things the dotcom will never be able to do.
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Post by consumed » Mon Apr 28, 2008 10:04 pm

i, too, did a lot of research when i started out.
and i built a 24U dotcom system.
then i expanded into blacet, wiard, metalbox. then modcan and motm. then doepfer/planb/livewire.
then i picked up a desktop evolver.

end of story: i sold off the dotcom modules.
they are great. but you will need a lot of them (comparatively) to get the same functionality as modules in other formats.

btw, the evolver STAYS. it is not as flexible as a modular, but still very flexible/powerful and an excellent value for money.
and it sounds absolutely ace.
if i were recommending any one synth to someone starting out today, the evolver would be it (probably one of the keyboard versions).

even with the more costly motm/modcan stuff, i am *very happy with my little euro rig.
euro has some excellent and desirable module selections.


************
so what do you imagine doing with a modular, if you owned one?
try to describe what you imagine, as specifically as you can.

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Post by Naive Teen Idol » Tue Apr 29, 2008 4:20 pm

Folks, thanks for all the advice.

The Desktop Evolver was, indeed, something I was looking at very closely a few weeks ago. My biggest concern about it was that most of the sounds I've heard made on it are pretty PPG-ish, likely b/c of the two digital oscillators. But, yes, I was very intrigued by the sequencing and programming possibilities. I've been hoping I can get one that's closer to the $300-400, but we'll see -- it's good to see so many people suggesting it here in comparison to a modular.

Ok, so what am I thinking of doing of doing with a modular? Good question. I have a pretty solid computer setup w/ Live 6, Reason, Reaktor and Arturia's CS-80V. I also have a UC-33e, which, frankly, doesn't really give you the kind of immediacy and hands-on control, say, a Novation Remote SL would.

A modular is attractive to me b/c of the fundamental connection between sound design and sequencing -- you can't really distinguish between the two processes. I've become really interested in recent months in not just the textures and patterns that folks in the 1970's and early 1980's came up with on modulars, but, as we've said here, how live sequence manipulation would become a big part of the composition process -- where you set up various triggers and patterns to coalesce into something quite sophisticated and detailed.

What I'm NOT interested in doing is the kind of thing that's all over YouTube -- setting up a sequence that you just kind of manipulate at the margins (filters, noise, etc.). Obviously, a lot of folks do that and that has its place -- but it's not something that interests me. Not that I want to spend years like Tomita trying to program classical-type pieces that might be better off done in a MIDI sequencer, but what I'm thinking about leans more in a through-composed direction than, say, acid house basslines.

Does that make sense?

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Post by consumed » Tue Apr 29, 2008 6:25 pm

Naive Teen Idol wrote:A modular is attractive to me b/c of the fundamental connection between sound design and sequencing -- you can't really distinguish between the two processes. I've become really interested in recent months in not just the textures and patterns that folks in the 1970's and early 1980's came up with on modulars, but, as we've said here, how live sequence manipulation would become a big part of the composition process -- where you set up various triggers and patterns to coalesce into something quite sophisticated and detailed.

What I'm NOT interested in doing is the kind of thing that's all over YouTube -- setting up a sequence that you just kind of manipulate at the margins (filters, noise, etc.). Obviously, a lot of folks do that and that has its place -- but it's not something that interests me. Not that I want to spend years like Tomita trying to program classical-type pieces that might be better off done in a MIDI sequencer, but what I'm thinking about leans more in a through-composed direction than, say, acid house basslines.

Does that make sense?
i think so. but i approach my music more as a hack/audio collage/textures, so maybe we're talking apples and oranges here. im also somewhat unfamiliar with more typical/historical use of modular synthesizers. so if you have something particular in mind you might point me toward a particular piece of music that i can listen to.

recently, i gravitate toward the semi-controlled chaos of occasional triggers, gates and CVs. dodging the obvious is much more interesting to me now than ever before. here is an example of how i like to 'write' lately.

http://www.twango.com/media/YouFeel.pub ... Feel.10066

this is a one-shot realtime recording. there is a 16-step sequence running underneath. does this make sense?

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Post by Belaya » Wed Apr 30, 2008 9:21 pm

here is an example of how i like to 'write' lately.

http://www.twango.com/media/YouFeel.pub ... Feel.10066

nice...

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