Thursday, March 10, 2016

In case you didn't see it...

eContact, an electronic music journal, has put out a new issue that is all about analog(ue) and modular synthesizers. The articles are pretty interesting looking - I just got the note, and haven't gone through them all yet - and I'm glad to see that modular systems are starting to get some academic notice.

So far, my favorite is an article by Andrew Duff called "Synths and Social Capital", which covers the social aspects of owning, trading and talking about synthesizers. Very interesting stuff, and very much aligns with my experiences.

Great stuff! Let's hope other institutions start taking modulars seriously!


Sunday, January 24, 2016

Turns out you can tune the damned thing!

Thanks to this Muff Wiggler thread:, and thanks to the fact that I'd bought a Snark SN-8 tuner for my classical/fusion guitar a couple of years ago, I decided to try making the necessary modification to have this be my new oscillator tuner. Took about 20 minutes (mostly spent putting together the Weller soldering iron and figuring out how I'd route the wire...), and I was golden.

How did I route the wire? I recently put a bunch of my tools in storage, so I didn't have a drill to make a mounting hole. Instead, after looking over the SN-8's one-sheet manual, I realized that I would never, ever, need to recalibrate or transpose the tuning of the device. So the hole for the calibration button was the perfect routing hole for my needs. Perfecto!

Oh, and it turns out the USB lamp plug I'm using on the Synthwerks Lamp-1 module is the perfect clamping point for the tuner. Wins all around!


Monday, January 18, 2016

Almost All...

I spent some time this afternoon rearranging a few things in the case, then decided to do a kind of massive patch using pretty much every module. In fact, all of them were used except for the Yarns, which waited patiently while a made a non-MIDI patch.

Cool little blippo sound, and I'm pretty happy with the current layout.


Wednesday, January 13, 2016

I Think I Made...

... a book. It's a freebie that is the beginning of a series I've been working on for a while. It's called "Modular Synthesizer Mastery Volume Zero: The Four Basic Patches". It covers the first four patches that everyone needs to know, and is free in exchange for your email.

Shoot a note to "" and I will (or, rather, some magical process will...) send you a copy. I'd appreciate your help in testing the book, giving me feedback and/or pointing out howlers. And cheers!!!


Friday, January 1, 2016

Happy Effing Holidays...

Damn, I hate wall wart power supplies for modular systems.

For some reason, my New Years Eve modular extravaganza was subverted by some gremlin wiping out all of the wall wart power supplies that I was using for my Pittsburgh-style cases. All dead in one day. Nothing else was affected, so I'm assuming some sort of craziness either in the distro boards or something else.

I ended up ordering a Tiptop Zeus board and Cincon power from Control Voltage just so I could have someone to blame in the future. Yeah, I'm that customer.


Wednesday, December 16, 2015

A New Secret Weapon?

A few weeks ago, I was in Denver chatting with William Mathewson - the man behind the WMD pedal and modular company. As part of the interview, I asked William what his favorite module design was, and he mentioned the Synchrodyne. I'd heard of it, but never tried one, so on the way out of his office I asked if I could take one for a test drive.


I've not yet come fully to grips with this module, but the concept is crazy: use a filter that needs a clocking mechanism, then put that clocking mechanism under the control of a VCO. Then also have a phase-locked loop built-in that can be used to influence (or even drive) the oscillator, with all of the accompanying drift and mis-locking. The result is something I'd never heard, which can vary from a bit-reduced blaster to a buzzing ripsaw. Use the PLL to track a sequence, and the whole thing gets wobbly - and in some ways alive!

Machines can amaze when they seem to have minds of their own. They can also make their makers proud. I understand why William is into this design - it is outright amazing.


Friday, December 11, 2015

Mini Key Attack!!!

While I was gone...

... it appears that minikeys have taken over my studio! In a surprise move - due mainly to the temporary $59 price - I picked up an Akai Key 25 device. This thing is sort of a Frankenstein mash-up of the Akai APC Mini and a cheap-o keyboard. But it's got a couple of things that I like that were left out of the Mini (the keyboard, obviously, but also transport play/pause and record buttons), and it is nice to have a Live keyboard easily at hand.

This is actually a bit of a disappointment with the mini keyboard for the JU-06. There is no way to turn off the local mode of that keyboard, meaning that any use of the keyboard will sound the synth engine of the JU-06. So that keyboard is useful when doing sound design on the 06, but is otherwise kind of useless in a MIDI-based system.

Obviously, there will still be some conflicts (mostly in my head) about using this vs. using the Push, but I'm sure I will cope. Talk about first-world problems...