Author Topic: The Modular Synthesizer Thread  (Read 104561 times)

Julio Di Benedetto

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Re: The Modular Synthesizer Thread
« Reply #140 on: August 14, 2016, 08:41:41 PM »
The VCS3 is still in production......over at muffwigglers one person said they joined the wait list in 2010 @#74. April of 2016 that person was @#11.

You got to really want one of these and have patience.
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doombient

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Re: The Modular Synthesizer Thread
« Reply #141 on: August 15, 2016, 05:23:50 AM »
[...] You got to really want one of these and have patience.

As much as I like the VCS-3 for what it does, there are better and more instantly available options around today.

More cost-effective, too.

Stephen
"Honour thy error as a hidden intention." (Brian Eno)

Scott M2

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Re: The Modular Synthesizer Thread
« Reply #142 on: August 15, 2016, 10:10:24 AM »
A Synthi AKS (VCS-3 in a case) was my second synth (bought from David Pritchard - "Noctural Earthworm Stew" - if that means anything to you). I really appreciated all the basic synth power in a small briefcase and I felt like a secret agent (with a case full of gadgetry) when taking it home on the bus from Toronto to Ottawa the first time. I think that nowdays you could cook up a similar small, shallow Eurorack system in a briefcase (though without the speakers).

It's one of the synths I regret selling years later because it is so self-contained. Besides the basic 3 VCOs, Noise, VCF, Envelope and VCAs, it also had a great ring modulator, spring reverb and powered stereo speakers plus the wacky keyboard/sequencer. If I still owned it, it would hang on a hook in my kitchen wall like art and I'd twiddle up strange sounds while waiting for water to boil and for listening while washing dishes. Could just grab it from the hook to take to a jam.

Its self-contained nature was also the reason I sold it. Everything was non-standard. The control voltages were not 1V/octave. The Trapezoid had a linear output instead of exponential (which I prefer most of the time). The sequencer could not be synced with other instruments. I really wished for octave switches on the VCOs when I was using with my rock band. I usually just set up one patch per set during breaks and my Minimoog did the heavy lifting, as it was fast to tweak. You can wire up pins to 1/4" jacks to interface with other gear but you have to be careful about scaling, polarities and such. (The built in meter was a huge help though, for understanding what's going on. I eventually built a meter into a Moog cabinet but it didn't have the nice zero volts at 12 o'clock response to observe voltages moving through both polarities.) When I needed money to buy my first proper half-track, it was the logical instrument to go because I couldn't get it to play along with my other voltage controlled synths without convoluted patches involving the patch bay in my Korg 3100 (which had some handy modules available).

I've recently bought a VCS-3 app for my iPad which sounds very good and adds more capabilities to the original but in a confusing fashion. I believe it will reward more time spent learning its new elements and configurations.

« Last Edit: August 16, 2016, 09:51:55 AM by Scott M2 »

Scott M2

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Re: The Modular Synthesizer Thread
« Reply #143 on: August 16, 2016, 09:23:45 AM »
Here's a recent interview with Peter Zinovieff (who designed the VCS-3). His history with electronic music reveals the VCS-3's "modular" roots as a wall of oscillators and such.



And another, kind of fun, interview:
https://www.theguardian.com/music/2015/oct/20/peter-zinovieff-ringo-ems-synths-interview
« Last Edit: August 16, 2016, 09:40:35 AM by Scott M2 »

Scott M2

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Re: The Modular Synthesizer Thread
« Reply #144 on: August 16, 2016, 10:14:00 AM »
Zinovieff has actually given his approval to the iVCS3 app for iPads.

He even wrote the preface to the manual, and in what seems typical Zinovieff style, after stating "Personally I cannot criticize it in any way." concludes with "To cast myself completely back to the 1960's I would like to see a couple of random voltage generators developed next year as an add-on module."  ;D   I would not be surprized to see Apesoft do just that as they're great app developers and do take the designs further with updates on a regular basis.

The app even has rather insanely detailed options such as 6 different spring reverb algorithms (with various cpu consumption) and 3 different ring modulator algorithms with a slider for "Ring Modulator Leakage"!

Here's a couple of reviews/overviews:

http://www.keyboardmag.com/gear/1183/apesoft-ivcs-reviewed-the-ems-putney-synth-on-your-ipad/52186

https://www.warpacademy.com/ivcs3/

doombient

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Re: The Modular Synthesizer Thread
« Reply #145 on: August 17, 2016, 04:29:19 AM »
According to Dave Cockerell, the abbreviation "VCS 3" stands for "Very Crappy Synthesiser, third attempt".

Stephen
"Honour thy error as a hidden intention." (Brian Eno)

Julio Di Benedetto

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Re: The Modular Synthesizer Thread
« Reply #146 on: August 17, 2016, 06:33:15 AM »
Thanks for the in depth look Scott at the VCS 3 and your personal history with Synthi AKS

Heres Mr Cortini performing with the Synthi AKS......and now we know the meaning of VCS3, I wonder what AKS stands for  ::)  ;D

« Last Edit: August 17, 2016, 07:08:12 AM by Julio Di Benedetto »
"Life is one big road, with lots of signs, so when you ride to the Roots, do not complicate your mind, ... "  Bob Marley

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Julio Di Benedetto

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Re: The Modular Synthesizer Thread
« Reply #147 on: August 17, 2016, 07:18:00 AM »
Here's a recent interview with Peter Zinovieff (who designed the VCS-3). His history with electronic music reveals the VCS-3's "modular" roots as a wall of oscillators and such.


Fascinating video.....interesting how younger musicians today and I say younger compared to Peter Zinovieff and Subotnik who totally embrace the computer and Daw, whereas these younger musicians, myself included tend to treat the computer and Daw as a multi track tape machine and performances are live with little post manipulation.  Many would prefer to record direct to tape if those machines were more readily available and some people still do.

A lot to think about!
"Life is one big road, with lots of signs, so when you ride to the Roots, do not complicate your mind, ... "  Bob Marley

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doombient

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Re: The Modular Synthesizer Thread
« Reply #148 on: August 17, 2016, 08:26:21 AM »
[...] and now we know the meaning of VCS3, I wonder what AKS stands for  ::)  ;D

A krappy sequencer.

Aye, kool shite.

Just an idea...

Stephen
"Honour thy error as a hidden intention." (Brian Eno)

Scott M2

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Re: The Modular Synthesizer Thread
« Reply #149 on: August 17, 2016, 09:28:03 AM »
[...] and now we know the meaning of VCS3, I wonder what AKS stands for  ::)  ;D

A krappy sequencer.

Aye, kool shite.

Just an idea...

Stephen

Good one!

Julio Di Benedetto

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Re: The Modular Synthesizer Thread
« Reply #150 on: August 17, 2016, 08:57:22 PM »
[...] and now we know the meaning of VCS3, I wonder what AKS stands for  ::)  ;D

A krappy sequencer.

Aye, kool shite.

Just an idea...

Stephen

Good one!

Trying to bring this thread back on focus and leaving EMS non virtues behind.....kind of funny but not really.

I thought we might gloat at Mr Cortini's Buchla Rig.....

"Life is one big road, with lots of signs, so when you ride to the Roots, do not complicate your mind, ... "  Bob Marley

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LNerell

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Re: The Modular Synthesizer Thread
« Reply #151 on: August 18, 2016, 12:06:14 PM »
I wonder what AKS stands for  ::)  ;D

The Synthesizer was the Synthi A, I guess A stood for the first model? You could order just the Synthi A if you liked, and most early models were just the A. The KS stood for Keyboard and Sequencer that they later designed that sat in the top lid. Here's a picture of an Synthi AKS:



I use to own two Synthi As with a cricklewood keyboard That I bought off of Richard Burmer (if you know who that is), here's a picture of a Synthi with that keyboard:



The cricklewood had an extra oscillator that you could use as an LFO. I use to hook both of them up together and make all kinds of strange noises. They weren't very good at playing melodic stuff as the voltages drifted too much, but they could make really cool sounds, most of the weird sounds on my first album were from the Synthis.  :D
« Last Edit: August 18, 2016, 12:25:10 PM by LNerell »
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Julio Di Benedetto

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Re: The Modular Synthesizer Thread
« Reply #152 on: August 18, 2016, 04:15:57 PM »
The layout of the Synthi is very appealing.....would love to have had the chance to play one.  I enjoy making music with synths or modules that make odd abstract sounds and then attempt to coax them into more musical compositions.

 
"Life is one big road, with lots of signs, so when you ride to the Roots, do not complicate your mind, ... "  Bob Marley

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modulator_esp

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Re: The Modular Synthesizer Thread
« Reply #153 on: August 18, 2016, 04:30:49 PM »
I've found the VCS3 is great for processing stuff, I particularly like running external synths through the ring mod -> filter -> spring reverb, using the oscillators as to modulate stuff (and each other), rather than as sound sources, can get pretty wild, but can also be musical too

doombient

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Re: The Modular Synthesizer Thread
« Reply #154 on: August 19, 2016, 01:10:31 AM »
[...]

Trying to bring this thread back on focus and leaving EMS non virtues behind.....kind of funny but not really.

I thought we might gloat at Mr Cortini's Buchla Rig.....



Cortini's Buchla stuff is among the few listenable (and enjoyable) Buchla performances on the net.

I sometimes can't help the feeling that most people seem to mistake the Buchla for an expensive whoopee cushion.

"There is nothing more satisfying than making a synthesiser sound like a fart." (Vince Clarke)

Nothing wrong with the EMS. Its price is just a bit out of proportion.

The first incarnation of the Synthi-A was to be called The Portabella.

Stephen
"Honour thy error as a hidden intention." (Brian Eno)

hdibrell

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Re: The Modular Synthesizer Thread
« Reply #155 on: August 19, 2016, 03:29:13 PM »
We had a Synthi AKS in our small electronic music studio at Trinity University back in the early to mid '70's.I loved playing with it. I never felt I was totally in control, but I came up with some great sounds on it. Often accidentally, but that was okay with me.
A computer once beat me at chess, but it was no match for me at kickboxing.

Julio Di Benedetto

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Re: The Modular Synthesizer Thread
« Reply #156 on: August 28, 2016, 08:51:21 PM »
Its been some two months since I stopped the Modular Musings thread as I wanted to get serious and make a "serious studio recording".....well its turning out being serious in the modular dominion is not very productive or a good way to work. Most of what I have produced is rubbish and I have come to realize why.....the modular synth, at least me with mine does not like being forced to do something or put another way, it will not bend to my will.  It is not so aggressive as it sounds but having composed ambient electronic music for 16 plus years I have never found myself in this position before where traditional synths and keyboards with black and white keys have always been willing to fashion music at will. This doesn't mean mistakes weren't made and bad music created but the instruments was not in the way, the problem was always me.

This is a temporary phase thats been a challenge and a lesson.....and with only 8 months into this modular adventure I really am still learning.

The APC 40 MK2 controller for Live 9 that I was excited to incorporate into my modular production was going really well until I did my first bounce from session to arrange.  The session part is so abstract that trying to get or control the bounce via the APC 40 was terrible.  I had thought its randomness might yield something unexpected but it did not.  Live Session view is really a creative canvas to work with but once it becomes audio in the arrange view it does not happen for me the way Logic does or any other traditional daw for controlling and manipulating audio.....but there is a work around called Soundflower from Cycling 74, the people that brought us Max and Max for Live.

I used Soundflower extensively in my last cd, Original Light as a bridge between Live 9 and Logic Pro.  A good deal of processing of the audio was done through Live using Max for Live plugins and was recorded straight into logic in one pass through Live using Soundflower.  This video will explain how this works....

 

Soundflower is up to 64 channels now so Logic really has become a multitrack and is an environment I am very comfortable to work with audio in. Its the best of both worlds and works with all Daws I believe in Mac OSX





 

 
« Last Edit: August 28, 2016, 08:59:34 PM by Julio Di Benedetto »
"Life is one big road, with lots of signs, so when you ride to the Roots, do not complicate your mind, ... "  Bob Marley

http://digitalvoices.bandcamp.com/
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ffcal

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Re: The Modular Synthesizer Thread
« Reply #157 on: August 29, 2016, 09:21:11 PM »
the modular synth, at least me with mine does not like being forced to do something or put another way, it will not bend to my will.

Hi Julio,

Maybe your modular output could be used in a different way.  I like to keep my unused material in a subdirectory as "odds and sods" material that might find its way into a future project if I want to depart from my existing musical palette.  I've been doing this for the past 15 years, and have found it an especially interesting way to work when I'm exploring new ways to process sounds.

Forrest

Julio Di Benedetto

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Re: The Modular Synthesizer Thread
« Reply #158 on: August 30, 2016, 03:17:12 AM »
Hi Forrest,

That is a very good idea.....the problem is me trying to write music, not really the machine. I have my lets compose a serious piece of music hat on and need to take it off and put on the experimental fun hat again.  Just build some sounds and have fun and record those structures for a future day.   That is the way to go.

Thanks for the direction Forrest!
"Life is one big road, with lots of signs, so when you ride to the Roots, do not complicate your mind, ... "  Bob Marley

http://digitalvoices.bandcamp.com/
http://databloem.com

Julio Di Benedetto

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Re: The Modular Synthesizer Thread
« Reply #159 on: September 12, 2016, 02:47:56 PM »


ALM/Busy Circuits.....Akemie's Castle is a four operator, 2 oscillator FM synth module that us new old stock yamaha chip set.  Details here...http://busycircuits.com/alm011/

Sending cv to the wave jack and into the multiplier jack does amazing things as it sort of scans the shapes as we have come to know from wavetable synth, its mot the same but has that effect.  The chord feature really works well. The module has some digital bite to it, in a good way that filtering smooths out beautifully if need be.

Heres a good demo....




"Life is one big road, with lots of signs, so when you ride to the Roots, do not complicate your mind, ... "  Bob Marley

http://digitalvoices.bandcamp.com/
http://databloem.com