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A modular synth or a Buchla Music Easel?

Posted: Fri Feb 21, 2014 4:16 am
by Kevinloy
Greetings everyone,

I'm currently looking to expand my synth palette (currently consisting of a Novation K-Station, and though they're not actually synths, Moog Ring Mod and LFO moogerfoogers) for serious electronic compositions, and I'm not sure whether I should look into building a modular system or go with a Buchla Music Easel (since their modular systems are way out of my current price range).

For starters, I've been reading things like the most recent thread on synthesizer.com units, as well as looking into things like the Make Noise Phonogene module (which is actually what first interested me in building a modular, since I was looking to see what sort of modern, non-DAW equivalents to things like the Eltro Information Rate Changer existed, since I doubt I'll find an original), and I like a lot of what I'm seeing. Modular synthesis appears to offers the most flexibility in terms of sound discovery.

...but in reading about Buchla systems this past weekend, I found out about the Music Easel, and upon discovering that it had been reissued, listened to some samples...and was quite impressed. Obviously, I won't be able to use a Phonogene module with it, and I'm not exactly enamored with the Fisher-Price-on-acid design scheme of it, but it seems to be pretty powerful despite its small stature.

So my question is, would it be more advisable to spend (perhaps even less) money on building a good modular system, or spend 4k on the Buchla?

Thanks

Re: A modular synth or a Buchla Music Easel?

Posted: Fri Feb 21, 2014 5:35 am
by Stab Frenzy
First of all I don't think you'll get terribly good advice from this forum, as there aren't that many people who have a modular system here. There are a few of us though so you'll get something, check out Muffwiggler for better advice on modular systems though.

Well the Easel is a small modular system, it's just that all the modules are contained on one panel. Like a Serge system. So you're comparing one particular modular system with other modular systems.

I personally have a Eurorack system, although if the Easel was out when I first went modular I might have gone with that instead. I like the ability to mix and match between manufacturers to get exactly what I want, but as a consequence my system never really feels finished and isn't completely cohesive.

Seeing as you like the Phonogene you should consider the Makenoise Shared System, I reckon it might be exactly what you're after. It's a lot like the Easel but has the phonogene, the sequencer is different, you have fewer touchplates and a delay instead of a reverb, but it's a great system. Cheaper than an Easel as well.

Re: A modular synth or a Buchla Music Easel?

Posted: Fri Feb 21, 2014 6:47 am
by cgren72
Stab Frenzy wrote:First of all I don't think you'll get terribly good advice from this forum, as there aren't that many people who have a modular system here. There are a few of us though so you'll get something, check out Muffwiggler for better advice on modular systems though.

Well the Easel is a small modular system, it's just that all the modules are contained on one panel. Like a Serge system. So you're comparing one particular modular system with other modular systems.

I personally have a Eurorack system, although if the Easel was out when I first went modular I might have gone with that instead. I like the ability to mix and match between manufacturers to get exactly what I want, but as a consequence my system never really feels finished and isn't completely cohesive.

Seeing as you like the Phonogene you should consider the Makenoise Shared System, I reckon it might be exactly what you're after. It's a lot like the Easel but has the phonogene, the sequencer is different, you have fewer touchplates and a delay instead of a reverb, but it's a great system. Cheaper than an Easel as well.
Good words of advice, as so often, from Stabs. I also recommend Muffs. It is basically a whole forum dedicated to modular.
If it were between the Mn Shared System and the Easel, I would go for the shared system. It would allow for expansion, if you had a larger or additional case. I would only get the shared system if you could find one used though (they pop up on muff's for sale thread from time to time). Much of the fun for many modular users seems to be building their racks, so it might be worth it to start from scratch. I would

Before you do anything, head on over to Muffs.

Off topic but something to consider if you are into electronics: I am selling off the rest of my eurorack and bulding a semi-DIY modular from CGS pcbs http://www.cgs.synth.net/ You can build some great stuff with a little stress, and a lot of time.

Re: A modular synth or a Buchla Music Easel?

Posted: Fri Feb 21, 2014 11:32 am
by muhammed

Re: A modular synth or a Buchla Music Easel?

Posted: Fri Feb 21, 2014 10:25 pm
by Kevinloy
Thank you very much for the responses! After researching things a bit more, I'm thinking that I like the idea of having a system that I can customize with whatever modules I like over the Music Easel. I'll definitely have to check out Muffwiggler, as Stab Frenzy recommended, and research the Verbos modules that Muhammed mentioned.

Thanks again

Re: A modular synth or a Buchla Music Easel?

Posted: Fri Jun 13, 2014 9:00 pm
by hfinn
Or just get both like me :)

Re: A modular synth or a Buchla Music Easel?

Posted: Sat Jun 14, 2014 8:19 am
by pflosi
There are a couple more "sampler" type Euro modules worth checking out if you're into that: Mung0 g0, Addac 111, Qubit Nebulae, Harvestman Tyme Sefari come to mind...

And be prepared to say goodbye to all spare cash :thumbright:

Cheers!

Re: A modular synth or a Buchla Music Easel?

Posted: Fri Jan 16, 2015 11:56 am
by Jimkost2015
The forthcoming Macbeth Elements looks interesting....

http://www.analoguehaven.com/macbethstu ... nthesizer/

Re: A modular synth or a Buchla Music Easel?

Posted: Fri Jan 16, 2015 4:06 pm
by pricklyrobot
Also worth noting, there's a good second-hand market for Euro stuff. So, it's easy to swap out/try new modules without necessarily spending/losing too much money.

The Muffwiggler forum has been having a bunch of technical issues in the last few weeks, but keep checking back there. Definitely the place for all things modular, Euro or otherwise.

Re: A modular synth or a Buchla Music Easel?

Posted: Fri Jan 16, 2015 4:47 pm
by silikon
The Music Easel is one of those devices that's deceptively simple looking. There's certainly plenty of options there, and the density of function is certainly there. The MN Shared System, like Stab mentioned, nets you a really versatile system - as well as the wallet crushing possibility of integrating different euro modules.

You're likely going to spend 4k on either option (or close to it), so it comes down to what you're looking to do, and how you want to do it. The MN Shared System draws alot of design influence from Buchla, Wiard, Serge, as well as their own innovations.

You can also look into smaller systems just to test the waters before diving headlong. (Pittsburgh Modular, etc)

There are endless amounts of euro modules out there, and some overlap the functionality of many buchla modules (or are a very close facsimile). The upshot to the easel or a 'single manufacturer' modular is the fact that you have some uniformity across modules making things a tad bit easier to manage.

My personal tastes vary widely, and I can say that modular is like a huge vast ocean of uncharted territory -- as long as you're willing to understand that it's not always as 'quick' or 'immediate' as a standard fixed-architecture synth. If you enjoy exploring, really any modular system will get you there.

Also, if you're so inclined, it's not unheard of to mix formats.

If Muffs ever resurrects from the dead (it's currently *still having problems as of this writing), you'll have much more from which to draw upon. I'd also tell you that if you decide either way, the market is such that if you didn't like the Easel or Shared System (or whatever modular you decide upon) you'll be able to recoup most of your cash and dump it into a different system because the market is quite fluid at this point.

Good luck...

Re: A modular synth or a Buchla Music Easel?

Posted: Fri Jan 16, 2015 6:52 pm
by ryryoftokyo
There's always the MU approach. I have a modular system consisting of parts from Synthesizers.com, Moon Modular, and STG Soundlabs. There's also other manufacturers such as Club of the Knobs, SSL, Oakley, MOS-Lab, and so on. Don't know if space is an issue, though. With modular, start small. Make a baby system, then expand from there.

Re: A modular synth or a Buchla Music Easel?

Posted: Sun Jan 18, 2015 8:48 pm
by wiss
Buchla then build a small( :lol: ) .com/moon system.

Re: A modular synth or a Buchla Music Easel?

Posted: Mon Jan 19, 2015 9:49 am
by Kevinloy
Wow, I just happened to log in today while looking for something, and I was pleasantly surprised to find that people have offered further thoughts on my post.

Thanks again for all of the feedback.

Needless to say, I'm still mulling over the decision at this point (a year later).