Synth design challenge

Discussions about anything analog, digital, MIDI, synth technology, techniques, theories and more.
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Synth design challenge

Post by CS_TBL » Tue Jul 22, 2008 1:10 pm

:shock:

How about this for a challenge in offtopic? :P

objective:

Make a synth layout. Assume a desktop or rack synth, to be note/PB/mod/etc.-controlled via MIDI. The layout however should form the synth model, so you can't do like a JV1010: a few buttons and program via MIDI.. :P

Rules:
  • 12 knobs, bumped for exact positions, may have LED positions like the Nord Lead 3
  • 4 buttons, controlling 4 on/off LEDs (the buttons them self don't stay in position). You may also use light emitting buttons, by the way.
  • Synthmodel (FM, analogue, VA, samples, PM etc.) is free to choose.
  • polyphony/multitimbrality is free to choose
  • A knob may only be 1 type of parameter, but you may have arrays of parameters to control, by for instance having another knob defining the array. So, for instance, knob 7 may only be a filter cutoff, but if you have more than 1 filter, you can use knob 7 to control the cutoff freqs of other filters as well, given you have an array knob to select the other filter of course. Simply put: just assume you're labeling this knob's function with ink.. :P
  • You may decorate your panel with colors, lines, text, tables etc.
  • You get a knob and a button for free: a volume knob and a power switch
  • You get a 3-digit LCD display for free, showing numbers 0..127 for your presets
  • You get an endless knob next to the LCD display for free to browse through your presets
  • You get two pushbuttons for free next to the LCD display to store a sound and to copy all parameters (to paste it for instance into another preset)
  • You get a 3-digit parameter LCD display for free to show knob positions (what it displays changes when you twist another knob), this is actually a bonus with regards to the possible NL3-style led-knobs you may already use. Sometimes you just need to see a value instead of an angle.
These last 5 elements are thus part of the general management and *not* of the synth model!

So, with 12 knobs and 4 buttons, let's see what you can make! The most advanced/flexible synth and/or the most usable design should eventually win (poll?)

Do note that apart from the mentioned rules, there are no rules, you may do a simple fixed synth, a modular (think of mod matrix!), anything. A knob or button may be LFO stuff, envelope stuff, oscillators, effects, you name it. As long as you keep the 5th rule in mind (knob/button type). You could for instance have knob 4 be a modulation source, and internally have a huge list of sources (more than you have controls for!). As long as knob 4 remains a mod.source, it's all ok.

Furthermore, assume any processing power you need. You want 64 voices? 16 part multitimbral? 8 DSPs? 128MB sample ROM? You get 'em, the trick is how to fit them into these 12 knobs and 4 buttons while still keeping a synth which doesn't require John Chowning to operate it!

Also note, imagine this would be a real synth, think of how you want to work with it. You can make it very complex, but would that be how you want it to work?

I've included a modest fixed-synth example (quick 'n dirty photoshop mock up), just to point out the idea a bit. The darker area are the 12 knobs and 4 buttons, the rest are the given standard controllers for volume, power and preset management.

Do note that my layout is just an example, yours may be completely different, with some knobs grouped on islands instead of just everything together in a 4x3 grid. Buttons could be placed everywhere and between knobs. Use your imagination!

Image
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Post by immigrantboy » Tue Jul 22, 2008 11:41 pm

Interesting. I've been doodling sketches of a desktop synth I sort of dream of making (and probably won't get around to). It has eight knobs, no external control options, and its analog. Maybe I'l scan and post those here later, assuming none of the above mentioned facts break the rules (i.e. not being midi-fied).
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Post by Zamise » Wed Jul 23, 2008 12:34 am

Image
<ZQS> [....<OII>.....soundcloud player v2.42.....................link]

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Post by audible » Wed Jul 23, 2008 5:14 am

3-VCO, 3-LFO drone box:

Image


Red knobs control the VCOs pitch. Their waveform is switchable via the three upper right buttons.

Blue knobs control the LFOs rate. They share the same waveform which is switchable via the lower right button.

Gray knobs control the FM amount between each pair of elements in the direction pointed by the arrows.

Like many feedback based configurations, it should sound nasty and unpredictable.
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Post by Jabberwalky » Wed Jul 23, 2008 7:15 am

Zamise wrote:boomarang
throw the synth over the crowd and watch it come back to you.

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Post by space6oy » Wed Jul 23, 2008 9:08 am

Jabberwalky wrote:
Zamise wrote:boomarang
throw the synth over the crowd and watch it come back to you.
or watch the crowd throw it back at you.

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Post by basssdude34 » Wed Jul 23, 2008 10:07 am

or watch them steal it....

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Post by Analogue Crazy » Wed Jul 23, 2008 11:43 am

Here is mine:

* 12 knobs for OSC1 Waveform, OSC2 Waveform, OSC Range, LFO1 Rate, Filter Cutoff Freq, Filter Res, Filter ENV Attack, Filter ENV Decay, Filter ENV Sustain, AMP ENV Attack, AMP ENV Decay, AMP ENV Sustain.

*4 on/off buttons for assigning parameters.

* Analogue (of course). :wink:

* 12 Voice Polyphony, 12 Part Multitimbral.

* The 12 knobs are assignable to any of 60 parameters via a matrix of push buttons.

* Dark Blue Pannel with Red text. Block diagram of voice archetecture printed on pannel.

* Master Volume knob and a Power on/off switch.

* 3 Digit LCD showing patch number and bank.

* Knob to browse through patches.

* 2 buttons to select Unison Mode and Portamento.

* 3 Digit LCD showing parameter values
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Post by CS_TBL » Wed Jul 23, 2008 11:59 am

audible: no preset knob? :D
(cool design tho!)
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Post by audible » Wed Jul 23, 2008 12:07 pm

CS_TBL wrote:audible: no preset knob?
Oops... Er, it's at the bottom of the synth. Within easy reach.

I've just implemented the Fraudible on the G2x and it sounds really nasty.
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Post by Yoozer » Wed Jul 23, 2008 8:23 pm

That's the problem with you analog people, you don't think digital ;).

I hope this design doesn't break too many rules...

Polyphony: 8 voices, monotimbral. Virtual analog, albeit that the morphing filter (from the Radias) should be possible in analog shape, too. Morphing oscillators (the Virus does this).

Osc 1 waveforms: tri, saw, pulse w/ variable pulsewidth, sine, self-sync (like on the Nord 3).

Osc 2 waveforms: tri, saw, square -> pulse, noise, DWGS, sine.

Filter: 3 lowpass models (so the first half of the knob controls the steepness of the filter), bandpass, highpass.

Effects: 2, serial (a reverb w/ room size, predelay, mix and color and a tape-delay sim w/ time, feedback, filtering and morphable filtertype).

If this ever ends up at someone's drawing table I demand serial 002, steel-shaft potmeters of industrial quality, pushbuttons that survive vandalism and a case made from thick, powder-coated steel, and I'm sure that given enough time and a nice, powerful DSP, it would actually be feasible to make this. It's not quite an Evolver but close in size (I realize I've made the 3 x 7 segment display rather ridiculously big).

Image

Close-up of the modulation "matrix":

Image

I've based this idea on my XP-30 which has 4 sliders. The idea is that of 4 envelope knobs 2 of 'm are used most of the time - attack and decay. If you don't like the dual functions of the envelope knobs, I could've called 'm Env 1 and Env 2 and let the modulation matrix do the describing.

The 4 buttons are lit and green and red are placed on each end to keep colorblindness into account. I would've liked to expand the chevron-theme a bit but I can't be bothered anymore ;).
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Post by BlackGnosis » Wed Jul 23, 2008 9:14 pm

Can It have sliders in places of knobs?
Image
Ashe37 wrote:I find it funny that you're a guitar pedal snob and yet don't own a single analog synth.

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Post by crufty » Wed Jul 23, 2008 9:25 pm

Hmm.. .Presenting the all analog OSCINATOR! simply put, it's either a one voice 16 oscillator synth (unison mode included) or a 5 voice 3osc + 1 voice @ 1osc guitar synth.

Too busy to photoshop, would lay out in trendy circle fashion, but here goes nothing.

Legend:
LCD - Lcd
o - button
X - knob (LCD)

Code: Select all

 ---------------------------------------
 LCD1        o4   |             o
           GtrMod |          Power
                  |
  X1        o1    |     X7     XF     
 Osc Sel   OscCpy |   Fltr     Vol
                  | 
                  |-----------------
   X2   X3        |     X8     X9
  Freq  PWM       |   Pole  Env Dec
                  |
   X4             |     X0    XA
  Shape           |    Res  Env Amn
                  |
   X5             |     XB      o2
  Level           |    Fltr    Fltr
                  |    Type    Cpy
   X6             |-------------------
  Sublevel        | 
  ----------------|   XF       LCD2
  THE         o3  |  Preset    oF  
  OSCINATOR  uni  |           Save  
 --------------------------------------  
Specs:
16 oscillators
Either 1 voice / 16 oscs or 5 voices w/3 osc each
100% discrete analog
Mono output (balaced)
Integrated power supply (hey, we're dreaming right?)
Key range: c1-c7
Midi: polyphonic at enabled. velocity responsive, mod wheel, vol, etc + each of 16 oscillators has each of its knobs controllable via nrpn midi control.

Functionality:

The buttons:
o4 GtrMod: Pressing this once causes it to light and go into Guitar Mode. In guitar mode, oscillators 1-3 are voice 1, 4-6 are voice 2, 7-9 voice 3, etc. In guitar mode, C6,D6,E6,F6,A6 strum voices 1-5. C1-A1, C2-A2 etc act as fret positions. After touch in the fret positions causes pitch bends to be issued to the voice in question. midi mod wheel controls sustain. Pressing different strum position keys in the duration of a single strum change the pitch of the current voice.

Pressing the strum voice key causes that voice to activate at the pitch held down by the fret position keys, like a guitar. After touch in the strum notes (C6-A6) cause that voice to mute. Note release in strum notes has no impact, sustain is fixed based on mod wheel. Velocity in the strum notes impacts sustain + volume, like a real guitar (harder = longer and louder). voice 16, not to be forgotten, is 1 osc and is only played at the high key range (C7) for that octave, tuned to C3.

so the idea is you 'strum' keys with the right hand, activating voices 1-5 at the pitches held down by the left hand. changing notes with the left hand is in effect portamento, as voices are only activated by strumming with the right hand across C6. not sure if this makes ANY sense at all. Sustain is not via keydown, but instead controlled via modwheel position,to make it easier to plunk notes.
note--should be very long sustains! maybe even infinite!

Pressing button again switches synth out of guitar mode, and causes it to respond to midi notes normally. Modwheel manipulates filter amount and after touch manipulates...hmm..resonance!

LCD1:
displays currently selected oscillator, or value of knob spinning; for brevity did not describe how each knob changes lcd1 display, just imagine that it does!

LCD2
Displays currently selected preset

oF Power - on/off! :)

o1 OscCpy
This button is used to copy an oscillator's setting from one osc to the current oscillator.
Pressing and holding this button causes this button to light and causes LCD1 to be prefixed with a C; spinning Osc Sel causes an oscillator to be selected. Releasing this button causes all settings of the osc selected to be copied to the current osc.

o2 FltrCopy
this button is used to copy a filter's setting from one osc to the current oscillator. Operates just like OscCopy, excepts copies only the filter

o3 Unison
Selecting this mode puts all the oscilllators in unison mode. Every oscillator is identical to the currently selected oscillator except detuned by the PWM amount. Thus manipulating the filter modifies the filter for all voices. switching oscillators simply changes the unison, so one patch is really 16 different unison settings! Wish there was a way to set how many voices to unison but thems the bricks. 16 it is! Talk about thick :)

Oscillator control knobs:
X1 oscillator select Select oscillator 1 - 16
X2 Frequency select (middle = 440 = A)
X3 PWM - pulse width modification of oscilattor shape (middle = 0)
X4 Shape (Tri - Saw - Sin - Squ - Pink Noise - White Noise)
X5 Level (volume of oscillator relative to master volume)
X6 Sub level (sub oscillator volume of course! :)

Filter control knobs:
Each oscillator has its own filter setting.
X8 Pole - From 1db to 48db, the filter pole
X0 Res - Filter resonance
X9 Envelope Decay per tb-303 specs
XA Envelope Amount per tb-303 specs
XB Fltr Type (lp cutoff, hp, band pass, notch, etc)

Main knobs:
X7: Filter amount
XF Volume - goes to 11

Presets:
XF - preset selection; rotating loads that preset into memory
LCD - 1-128
oF Save - press and spin xF to select preset position to save to. no need for copy button! :)

all oscillator mods are done in temp memory--so if not saved, they are simply lost when presets are changed.

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Post by CS_TBL » Wed Jul 23, 2008 10:07 pm

BlackGnosis wrote:Can It have sliders in places of knobs?
Basically yes, but why would you? The nature of a slider is that it's finite, knobs are (usually) infinite and offer thus more possibilities (or more detail, since the path of a knob can be infinitely larger than that of a slider).. but if you insist on limited sliders, then go ahead..
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Post by griffin avid » Wed Jul 23, 2008 11:08 pm

Mongoose Analogic Synth from Griffin Avid Systems
Image
4 Oscillators with choices for shape. Options for combination shapes and Super Saw.

Dials have multiple rings that rotate.

When silver Focus Dial is set to MOD and Routing Matrix becomes a circular wheel of Modulation choices. When a Ocs is chosen, the Routing Matrix feeds that OSC through the different filter options.

Right above the word filter are the patch effects. One press lights the preset bay and locks setting to Preset A and Preset B. This is useful for taking a snapshot of your work or morphing/transforming/combining/mutating presets. Each combination of button press controls what type of mangling system is used. I.E. Holding A while pressing B two times rapidly keeps the tone of Preset A and use B's settings.

Ships with software editor for patch storage and additional features including sysex dump.

Specs:

4 Voice Synth

CV In/Out

MIDI IN/Out

Headphone

Audio IN/Out Aux IN (usually headphone out re-routed here)

Can be controlled fully through MIDI.
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