Modular Synth Blog Catch-Up

I think that the last module I built was a CGS Wave Multiplier. This module creates interesting timbres by folding triangle waves over on themselves. It’s hard to describe what it actually does (particularly since I’m not sure that I really understand what it actually does) but the net effect is that it creates timbral changes that can sound like filter sweeps, pulse-width modulation, or ring modulation. It adds a lot of character to a simple triangle or pulse wave, so you can get fairly interesting signals from just a single oscillator. If you feed several audio-frequency signals into its various inputs, you can get some really wild noises.

The PC board also includes two smaller modules, a simpler wave folder and something called a Grinder. I expected the grinder to make distorted, fuzzy sounds, but it seems to be much tamer than that. It sort of sounds like a resonant filter. I’m not as taken with these two portions of the PC board as with the wave multiplier; in retrospect I’m not sure it was worth giving them the panel space. The folder is useful at times but I have yet to find a use for the grinder.

I also added a MOTM 480 filter and two more MOTM 800 envelope generators (for a total of six EGs). The 480 is really nice; it may be my new favorite filter, although it’s hard to not call the wondrous 440 my favorite. I do wish the 480 had an additional FM input, though.

Since then I’ve spent more time using the synthesizer than building it. My first commercial recording that I’ve used it on has now been released (“Terminal”, my track on komposi003; click the Music link at the top of this page for more info), although in the final mix I ended up using only a mid-range drone sort of sound from the modular.

In the past I’ve been somewhat dissatisfied with the 490 low-pass filter but lately my opinion has changed. I would find that its sound was somewhat harsh and maybe a little nasal. Recently I figured out that if I reduce the signal level going into the filter a bit, I get a much more pleasing tone from it. The manual does mention that it’s easy to clip the input stage but of course it’s been awhile since I opened the manual. Now that I understand this aspect of its behavior I’m quite happy with it. It does make me wish that it had the input attenuators that the non-“micro” MOTM filters offer. I think my system could use another simple mixer and some passive attenuators anyway, so those may be my next module projects. Scott Juskiw’s DIY projects (as well as modules from the smaller-format system vendors like Blacet) have pointed out to me that using smaller knobs would save a considerable amount of panel space for simpler modules like these.

As mentioned previously, I’ve finally restored my old synth-blog postings to this site. You can find them by clicking the DIY Synths link at the top of this page.

By adam

Go ahead, try to summarize yourself in a sentence or two.