Interesting examples of ring modulation?

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Interesting examples of ring modulation?

Post by RD9 » Thu Feb 24, 2011 10:40 pm

Trying to brush up on my ring mod skills and looking for interesting techniques to learn from. Maybe even popular ones that border on cliche. Can anyone think of any off the top of their heads? Audio samples or YouTube links would be appreciated. Ok if it's specific to a particular synth or effects pedal/unit, such as MS-20 or Moogerfooger, etc.

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Re: Interesting examples of ring modulation?

Post by meatballfulton » Thu Feb 24, 2011 11:05 pm

Most ring modulators run the carrier and modulator levels at 100%. A few hardwired synths like the Yamaha CS80 and the DSI Evolver let you mix in the modulator level so you can have the effect vary over time. It's also possible with modular synths by running the inputs through a mixer or attenuator before you plug into the ring mod. By varying levels of the two you can get continuous gradation in the sidebands that get generated.

Since true ring mod outputs only sum and difference of the carrier and modulator, mixing in the carrier osc with the ring mod output makes the sound more tonal.

If both inputs are the same frequency, the output is an octave above (the sum of 1+1 = 2, the difference cancels out because 1-1 = 0). Just like in FM, if you have the modulator set to a constant ratio compared to the carrier (easy on digital synths, difficult on analogs) you'll find certain ratios give tonal sounds while others are atonal.

The more harmonics present in the modulator (in order of increasing harmonics: sine, triangle, square, saw) the more complex the sidebands are, a sine modulator gives the gentlest sounds, saws the most complex and noisy.

On a modular synth , try using LFOs and EGs as the modulator for some unusual effects. For that matter, ring mod two EGs to create bizarre envelopes.
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Re: Interesting examples of ring modulation?

Post by Solderman » Fri Feb 25, 2011 12:21 am

I have lately been using my MF-102 with my patch-panel SEM. I didn't think to try the Modulator mix CV input, but MBF mentions it above. SEM sawtooth of VCO2 goes to the MF-102 Audio In. The pitch CV goes from a Mult to both the SEM and the MF-102's carrier frequency in, the latter after an attenuator, fine-tuned to track pitch exactly as the SEM does. I find this sounds better when the carrier is tuned to some fifth harmonic above the SEM's fundamental.
Any other intervals besides octaves and fifths for the carrier will not be in tune for all 12 steps, proving the sum and difference application of ring modulation, but then why pitch-track the carrier for this?
From there, you can take the CV to carrier frequency and modulate it in all manner of ways, from a subtle LFO, to an envelope whose sustain is in tune with the modulator, to a long portamento applied only to the carrier CV.

I did try sending one oscillator to the Carrier In to substitute the internal triangle in the MF-102, but I didn't find this as interesting, just harsh and aggressive. Too many harmonics in the carrier.
Last edited by Solderman on Fri Feb 25, 2011 12:33 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Interesting examples of ring modulation?

Post by GuyaGuy » Fri Feb 25, 2011 12:33 am

Every song by Broadcast and The United States of America ever.*



*Welll, pretty much.

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Re: Interesting examples of ring modulation?

Post by RD9 » Fri Feb 25, 2011 1:22 am

meatballfulton wrote:Most ring modulators run the carrier and modulator levels at 100%. A few hardwired synths like the Yamaha CS80 and the DSI Evolver let you mix in the modulator level so you can have the effect vary over time. It's also possible with modular synths by running the inputs through a mixer or attenuator before you plug into the ring mod. By varying levels of the two you can get continuous gradation in the sidebands that get generated.

Since true ring mod outputs only sum and difference of the carrier and modulator, mixing in the carrier osc with the ring mod output makes the sound more tonal.

If both inputs are the same frequency, the output is an octave above (the sum of 1+1 = 2, the difference cancels out because 1-1 = 0). Just like in FM, if you have the modulator set to a constant ratio compared to the carrier (easy on digital synths, difficult on analogs) you'll find certain ratios give tonal sounds while others are atonal.

The more harmonics present in the modulator (in order of increasing harmonics: sine, triangle, square, saw) the more complex the sidebands are, a sine modulator gives the gentlest sounds, saws the most complex and noisy.

On a modular synth , try using LFOs and EGs as the modulator for some unusual effects. For that matter, ring mod two EGs to create bizarre envelopes.
Mmm very interesting. Let's say I use a synth with limited or no ring modulation ability and I add in a Moogerfooger ring mod, is there a third device that I would need to experiment with ring modulation via EG? There's a way, right? I don't have a modular, but maybe there is a way to approach this modularly?

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Re: Interesting examples of ring modulation?

Post by mama. » Fri Feb 25, 2011 6:46 am

meatballfulton wrote: On a modular synth , try using LFOs and EGs as the modulator for some unusual effects. For that matter, ring mod two EGs to create bizarre envelopes.
wow that is a really good idea!




some examples you ask for(not sure if this will be what you were looking for at all but...)

roughly 2:00 mins in theres clearly a ring mod, possibly just some telephone dial tones



http://www.myspace.com/twelvecubicfeet/music twelve cubic feet (1982) track title "mary's got the bug" around 1:30 to 2:00 theres great rubber band sounding synth solo. might just be an LFO on a higher rate but thats basically ring modulation right? if you can download that "straight out of the fridge EP" enywhere i highly recommend it.

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Re: Interesting examples of ring modulation?

Post by mama. » Fri Feb 25, 2011 6:52 am

also ive noticed that you set a polyphonic synth to be ring modulated by a monophonic synth you can get some nice chords. say the monophonic is set to C, then on the poly you can play Cmajor(voiced CEG) and Fmajor(voiced CFA) it sound reminiscent of early stereolab albums. but there are more usable chords it gets real confusing because you cant count on the same scales in different octaves

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Re: Interesting examples of ring modulation?

Post by RD9 » Fri Feb 25, 2011 9:37 pm

Yeah, and it's interesting that even within a scale, there are only a few notes that sound pleasant with each other. There's a low threshold of listenability. From what I could tell, frequencies from 3 or 4 notes in the scale just did not sit well with the rest. Maybe this is a biproduct of an equal temperament system. I wonder if an alternative temperament system could result in more usable ring mod notes overall, in any given scale. Hm...

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Re: Interesting examples of ring modulation?

Post by meatballfulton » Fri Feb 25, 2011 10:05 pm

RD9 wrote:Yeah, and it's interesting that even within a scale, there are only a few notes that sound pleasant with each other.
Ring modulation is based on addition of frequencies.

The outputs are Fcarrier + Fmodulator and Fcarrier - Fmodulator.

If we consider A440 for both, we get 880 (440 + 440) and 0 (440-440). But what if we try 440 and 880 (two A notes an octave apart):

880 - 440 = 440...still an A

880 + 440 = 1320...it's an E!!!

And what about two A notes two octaves apart:

880 - 220 = 660...E (the fifth in the A major scale)
880 + 220 = 1100...C# (the third in the A major scale)

Fifths work OK too:

440 (A) + 660 (E) = 1100...C#
660 - 440 = 220...A

Thirds:

440 (A) + 550 (C#) = 990...B
550 - 440 = 110...A

Good luck getting your osc tuning dead on, though :?
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Re: Interesting examples of ring modulation?

Post by Automatic Gainsay » Fri Feb 25, 2011 10:29 pm

I've never been a big fan of ring modulation... it just seemed like a somewhat irritating noise to me... until the CS-50. Because of the extensive control of the effect (as Meatball mentioned), you can actually interact with it, shape it, and use it to suit your tastes. In the case of the CS polyphonics, it because a very expressive effect AS WELL AS a really gorgeous flavoring. In addition to that, you can "play" it by altering its controls... making it less of an effect and more of a functional synthesis component.
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Re: Interesting examples of ring modulation?

Post by RD9 » Fri Feb 25, 2011 11:30 pm

Yes, the somewhat straight math behind ring modulation kind of causes a problem since what we perceive as pleasurable is kind of in conflict with the mathematical unevenness of equal temperament.

The thing about ring mod which is the main reason I'm playing with it is because of the harshness of the MS-20 that I came across which I really liked. There was a certain grit to the sounds I was able to make out of its ring mod, but it also had some additional tones which made it sound interesting. It got me wondering whether there were more possibilities beyond the common ring mod sounds I was used to hearing.

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Re: Interesting examples of ring modulation?

Post by astroidmist » Sat Feb 26, 2011 12:03 am

I used to have a CZ-5000 and a CZ-101 and all my best sounds came from the built in ring mod. If I remember correctly you can get really good sounds by ringmodding two tones together where one of them is just shy of an octave lower or higher than the other, but not at 100% octave (detuned somewhat). It was great for pads in particular giving them a bowed string kind of sound.

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Re: Interesting examples of ring modulation?

Post by monolith » Sat Feb 26, 2011 12:04 am

I've been using a Korg SQ-10 to sequence the Moogerfooger ring mod's frequency and MS-20's LPF and HPF to get some really creepy vocal sounds. I patched a sequence the other day that sounded like it was saying 'ARP! Eat a Cookie!' :mrgreen:

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Re: Interesting examples of ring modulation?

Post by mama. » Sat Feb 26, 2011 9:55 am

astroidmist wrote:I used to have a CZ-5000 and a CZ-101 and all my best sounds came from the built in ring mod. If I remember correctly you can get really good sounds by ringmodding two tones together where one of them is just shy of an octave lower or higher than the other, but not at 100% octave (detuned somewhat). It was great for pads in particular giving them a bowed string kind of sound.
YES! thats true i do that all the time actually with cz5000, the best way i can sort of describe what I think you are describing (in terms of guitar effect pedals) is like instead of chorus, more like synchronized tremolo and phaser sounds. really beautiful.

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Re: Interesting examples of ring modulation?

Post by pflosi » Sat Feb 26, 2011 10:24 am

a very funny trick with the MS20, the poor man's duophony patch. it's not only useful with ring mod, but particularly funny with it:

KBD CV out -> S/H in
KBD trig out -> S/H clock
S/H out -> VCO2 CV in

with this patch, the second osc will always play the note you played before. E.g. if you play a G, and then a C, the second osc will play a G when you play the C and this gives you a fifth chord.

this is very nice with the ring mod engaged.

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