beginner modular synth buying question

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synthsynthsynth
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beginner modular synth buying question

Post by synthsynthsynth » Sun Nov 15, 2015 8:18 pm

This is probably a stupid question and has probably been asked before, but what all do you need to make a simple modular synth? Will just a sequencer, oscillator, and amplifier be enough, or will I need filters or anything else?
Thanks

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Re: beginner modular synth buying question

Post by Ashe37 » Sun Nov 15, 2015 8:22 pm

oscillator, filter, VCA, and envelopes.

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Re: beginner modular synth buying question

Post by AnalogKid » Sun Nov 15, 2015 11:53 pm

Take a look at this 5u size entry level system from Synthesizers.com. This is a system that includes all that you would need to get started, assuming that you have a keyboard with MIDI (with this system there is room to expand):

http://www.synthesizers.com/system-entry2.html

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Re: beginner modular synth buying question

Post by Stab Frenzy » Mon Nov 16, 2015 2:35 am

The minimum you need is just something to make noise, ie an oscillator. But then if you want to be able to change the pitch of it in an interesting way (rather than just turning the frequency knob) you need something like a sequencer or a midi/cv convertor. But then if you want it to do something more interesting than just drone you need to run it through something that can control the volume or spectrum like a VCA or filter (or a LPG which does both). But the beauty of modular isn't what you can do with the minimum, it's what you can do when you've got heaps of things modulating one another.

If you're just looking for a starting place that you can build on over time then I'd start with a sequencer or midi/CV interface, depending on how you want to play it, an oscillator, a filter, a VCA and an envelope. That's kind of your 'minimum'. If you just want a small system that you're not planning on expanding then I would be looking at a standalone patchable synth like the MS-20 Mini or the Moog Mother 32 instead of a modular system.

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Re: beginner modular synth buying question

Post by Jonusx » Mon Nov 16, 2015 1:28 pm

I was about to post this exact same question, "What's the minimum I need to get started?"

I would think just a power supply and an oscillator and a filter. I'm also interested in starting to build a system, but in small increments. Based on prices I've seen, it doesn't cost too much more than an MS-20 to get a modular thing at least started, and I'm sure it's more fun.

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Re: beginner modular synth buying question

Post by Stab Frenzy » Tue Nov 17, 2015 5:54 am

Jonusx wrote:I was about to post this exact same question, "What's the minimum I need to get started?"

I would think just a power supply and an oscillator and a filter. I'm also interested in starting to build a system, but in small increments. Based on prices I've seen, it doesn't cost too much more than an MS-20 to get a modular thing at least started, and I'm sure it's more fun.
That won't let you control the sound at all, it'll just give you a droning oscillator that you can filter. No pitch control, no dynamic control.

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Re: beginner modular synth buying question

Post by JeEA » Tue Dec 08, 2015 6:26 am

Or you can go digital for a fraction of the cost and by a nord modular synth

It had an enormous power and has approx 100 modules. Yes it is not analog, but perhaps a good place to start experiencing.

Just my tip if you have not thought about it. Only downside is the program runs on winxp, but can run on Mac with the prg wine.

Cheers

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Re: beginner modular synth buying question

Post by meatballfulton » Tue Dec 08, 2015 1:32 pm

If you are in the USA here's some things to look into:

pAiA 9700s kit $560

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Synthesizers.com Entry Level $155 a month for 11 months

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Pittsburgh Modular 10.1+ $899 (or without expansion space $799)

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Good luck!
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Re: beginner modular synth buying question

Post by Bitexion » Tue Dec 08, 2015 5:27 pm

The most expensive part of starting a new modular system is the rack casing with the power rails and power supply. Without that you can't power a single oscillator or filter.

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Re: beginner modular synth buying question

Post by tomorrowstops » Wed Dec 09, 2015 6:41 pm

I personally found the whole concept a little overwhelming and mostly unproductive. I spent a few months last year building and using a 22 space Dotcom system. It sounded great. However, it was expensive and left me wanting even more, which of course meant more $$. The functionality-value ratio is a little wacked. I think I spent around $2500 on just modules and power (I built my own cabinet) and it was still a pretty basic Minimoog 'plus' setup. I spent another $900 on a keyboard. And then I wanted a sequencer rig. Would have been another $1000 easy. And then? See, this is the problem. I spent way more time considering options then playing with the damn thing. I got rid of it all, and other than missing the purity of sound (really the only modern device that sounds as a synth should to my ears), I haven't thought of it again.

Not sure I like the idea of talking someone out of it, but I think my experience should at least be food for thought. Especially since someone made the comment of 'building a system in small increments' and it being 'more fun.' Whats fun is playing synths, not building them!

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Re: beginner modular synth buying question

Post by pflosi » Wed Dec 09, 2015 11:19 pm

Building the synth is definitely part of the fun of modular, and most likely you'll never really finish it anyways :thumbleft: It's a good idea to build it up slowly and get to know the modules well before moving on to the next ones.

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Re: beginner modular synth buying question

Post by Jonusx » Thu Jan 07, 2016 4:39 pm

Stab Frenzy wrote:That won't let you control the sound at all, it'll just give you a droning oscillator that you can filter. No pitch control, no dynamic control.
Well, sure

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Re: beginner modular synth buying question

Post by _seph » Thu Jan 07, 2016 7:21 pm

this is where I feel that software can be incredibly helpful. your computer or iPad has several great virtual modular options available and this will allow a person to get an idea of what they can expect when they they only have one Oscillator and one Filter, then what happens when you add a VCA and some Modulators, etc... of course it isn't as fun as wiggling cables and twisting knobs but it will let you know what you're in for and whether the modular way is right for you before you find yourself frustrated and sitting alone having sold your life for that next module.

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