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One Man's Quest for the Perfect Mono Synth

chysn

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Re: One Man's Quest for the Perfect Mono Synth
« Reply #200 on: October 16, 2016, 04:48:05 PM »
Steven Morris's suggestion of the Doepfer formant filter (in another topic) gave me the idea of tackling your quest from a eurorack perspective. So I reviewed your requirements, and came up with a rough draft. This is a slightly bigger system than my system, but the rack into which this goes is readily available, with power included.

https://www.modulargrid.net/e/racks/view/351495

The Dixie II oscillators are clean and accurate, and can also handle LFO duties. Two pretty basic envelope generators are here, and a Maths, which can work as another ASDR, or two AR EGs, or extra LFOs, or glide, or handle the delay for vibrato, and many other things. There are some mixers, a S&H (which can also produce your noise), a pair of Curtis filters for handling a stereo signal path, a ring modulator, an SEM filter, and a low pass gate, because you'd probably love it. It's a jumping-off point, of course. In real life, the best approach is to add a module or two at a time.
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Re: One Man's Quest for the Perfect Mono Synth
« Reply #201 on: October 16, 2016, 05:34:35 PM »
Interesting.  Did you come up with an approximate price for this behemoth?
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chysn

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Re: One Man's Quest for the Perfect Mono Synth
« Reply #202 on: October 16, 2016, 06:07:15 PM »
Interesting.  Did you come up with an approximate price for this behemoth?

Yeah, about $3300 for the modules. (Modular Grid shows a running total underneath the rack.) The price of the case and power for a 6U/84HP system is another $350-$500, but could be quite a bit less if you build one yourself.
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Re: One Man's Quest for the Perfect Mono Synth
« Reply #203 on: October 16, 2016, 06:21:19 PM »
I'm too impatient with instruments.  I'd get frustrated slowly buying and putting all the bits together.  I'm impatient even with the route I've taken.  But it does look appealing alright.  I've many times considered going the modular route, for obvious reasons.  Thanks for all the information, Chysn.
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Steven Morris

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Re: One Man's Quest for the Perfect Mono Synth
« Reply #204 on: November 07, 2016, 02:32:14 AM »
I'm too impatient with instruments.  I'd get frustrated slowly buying and putting all the bits together.  I'm impatient even with the route I've taken.  But it does look appealing alright.  I've many times considered going the modular route, for obvious reasons.  Thanks for all the information, Chysn.

If you have a store that stocks that kind of gear nearby it is possible to test out a whole system like that.

If anyone is interested, here's a link to a short example of a 'male choir' patch I made with three Dixie V2's going through an Intellijel uVCF, the Trautonium Formant Filter, and a short delay modulated to create a chorus effect... of course it's also going through an analog chorus pedal at the end of that chain as well! (lexicon reverb + spring reverb helps a lot to bring that kind of patch more to life):
https://www.instagram.com/p/BERw5NhQZDy/

At any rate, that is quite a cool system that Chysn has put together! I didn't know about that Erica Synths stereo mixer-- I'll have to look into that. Looks like one could also use that as a way to crossfade between two different sounds.

Lately, I've been thinking that I'd love to own a 9 (or even 12!) oscillator mono synth based on a Moog 3C that I could really evoke an ensemble effect with in a single pass of recording. With 12 oscillators + 4 sets of 2 filters (multimode + format), 4 BBD's, and all the necessary amps, LFO's, EG's, etc. I'm sure it'd cost a fortune, but it'd be my 'perfect mono synth' :P. Not to mention, once you have all of those modules you can get pretty heavy into additive synthesis and sound design stuff as well! Although I'm also toying with the idea of getting a P12 instead... but alas once I have the money for all of that I'm sure there will be different equipment to choose from!

Anyways, I hope you end up finding something that works for you~ it's hard to believe, but NAMM 2017 is coming up somewhat soon already! You never know, maybe there will be one more year of mono synths :)

chysn

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Re: One Man's Quest for the Perfect Mono Synth
« Reply #205 on: November 07, 2016, 04:51:39 AM »
If anyone is interested, here's a link to a short example of a 'male choir' patch I made with three Dixie V2's going through an Intellijel uVCF, the Trautonium Formant Filter, and a short delay modulated to create a chorus effect... of course it's also going through an analog chorus pedal at the end of that chain as well! (lexicon reverb + spring reverb helps a lot to bring that kind of patch more to life):

That's nice. I'll probably get a Dixie II next week. I'd imagine that most of that patch is supported by the Formant Filter, which is simply way too big for my system.

How do you like the uVCF? I was researching it on Muff Wiggler and saw that you had some tracking issues a few years ago. For a while I was considering going down to a single VCO and using the uVCF and wave folder as an auxiliary oscillator; but the tracking seems just short of what I'd want.

Quote
Lately, I've been thinking that I'd love to own a 9 (or even 12!) oscillator mono synth based on a Moog 3C that I could really evoke an ensemble effect with in a single pass of recording.

You may have seen last week that Aion just rounded out their Moog Modular clone lineup with the 904C, 902, 911, and 923. You could now build pretty much an entire Moog modular system with Aion eurorack modules, and their prices aren't too obscene. Six months ago, I would have been really tempted to do this, but I'm way more interested in Buchla than Moog these days.
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Steven Morris

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Re: One Man's Quest for the Perfect Mono Synth
« Reply #206 on: November 07, 2016, 06:59:44 PM »
Chysn,

Thanks for that info! I didn't realize that those Moog clone modules had come out or were even on the horizon-- I'll be checking them out for sure. They are a bit pricey, but it looks like they didn't cut any corners... the oscillator goes to 40k!! That's the kind of feature that I want in Eurorack modules. I also love that they chose to keep all of the notches around the pots-- this is something I'm constantly fighting with when I come up with patches. I'll write notes like "Filter Cutoff at 1:35"-- it's not the most accurate to say the least!

RE: Dixie II's for choir patches
I'm not sure that the Dixie II is even the best choice to be honest. I personally like it because they are extremely stable. That, however, means that I'm relying on random voltages to de-stable the oscillators to get them to sound more human like. They track really well though, which is good because it means that you don't have to keep retuning them when you switch registers (like going from Male to Female choir sounds and such).

As for the uVCF, I think that Intellijel is being generous when they say how well it tracks-- I had a Doepfer A-111-5 for a long time and the filter on that seemed to track just as well if not better in some cases. At that particular point in time, I had all of my equipment in a non-insulated room in a place with extreme weather (as in below freezing all the way to 95+ degrees with 90+% humidity). So in the winter months, I'd heat up the room with kerosine heaters and my equipment, so the temperature would swing from like 28F to 75F+. However, even now that I'm back in California, I still notice that I have to calibrate the filter quite often, which is not ideal. For some patches, I write down all of the parameters I've used. I guess it's not a big deal if it's a tiny bit.

At any rate, the Aion Filter/Noise, LPF, HPF, and Filter Coupler look amazing. While I've done a bit of research on the specs of the original Moog Filter Coupler, I guess I didn't realize the implications behind them (just seems like a waste of HP at first glance!). I suppose if cost wasn't an issue I'd go for those Aion filters, assuming they perform as advertised, over the uVCF.

As excited as I am about these Moog clones, it's not really something I can invest in right now-- maybe we can live vicariously through Sacred Synthesis though? I'm curious what his take is on these!

Re: One Man's Quest for the Perfect Mono Synth
« Reply #207 on: November 07, 2016, 08:17:15 PM »
Here I am!  I think the above patch was too complex.  Too many things going on, and the vibrato rate was far too slow.  I'd agree that the filter is of the essence in imitating a choir, but so, too, isn't the base waveform.  This is just a personal thing, but I prefer to use a waveform that emulates the sound, and then to set the filter accordingly.  The difference being that a standard lowpass filter in 2-pole mode does just fine.  Here's a sample of my choir patch on the Poly Evolver (In the first example, the patch enters at 1:18 and is used throughout.):

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gpWEOEIo0So
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xIN0sthfksg

« Last Edit: November 07, 2016, 08:23:43 PM by Sacred Synthesis »
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eXode

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Re: One Man's Quest for the Perfect Mono Synth
« Reply #208 on: November 08, 2016, 02:31:36 AM »
Sorry if this have been answered already, but the thread is quite long now:

Have you tried the Pro 2 on it's own? I know a lot of people swears by it for various reasons so I'm kind of curious if you'd actually need the other instruments. Of course I don't expect it to be the be all, end all of all synthesizers but if I were you I think I'd start with the Pro 2 first to see if the others are even "needed".

I don't know to what extend it has been discussed already but If I recall correctly the Pro 2 offers super saw and other super waveforms. I would say that the super saw has gotten a bad rap thanks to all those epic trance themes from the JP 8000, but when detuning is applied with afterthought it can give you very refined and beautiful tones, in my opinion. Might be worth investigating further. :)

Re: One Man's Quest for the Perfect Mono Synth
« Reply #209 on: November 08, 2016, 07:39:53 AM »
Please don't apologize for getting us back to the proper topic, which is monophonic synthesizers.  Thank you for doing so, Exode.  I was thinking about this late last night.

No, I haven't actually played a Pro 2.  I've only listened over and over to all the Pro 2 videos online and read many comments about it.  I can say this.  From reading several forums, it gets an unusual amount of positive and enthusiastic comments.  Many musicians really like the Pro 2.

If I were to get a Pro 2, it would be primarily as a mono synth.  Regarding my set up, two Poly Evolver Keyboards have my limited digital synthesis needs completely covered.  My Prophet '08s, together with the PEKs, have my polyphonic analog synthesis needs completely covered.  The Pro 2 has, in my opinion, the ideal voice architecture.  Nothing needs to be added to its feature (for my uses).  But a mono synth in my set up would have to meet two specific requirements: first, it would have to have a deep stereo field, and second, it would have to have a very strong analog character.  The Pro 2 doesn't excel at either of these requirements.

I do like the instrument.  In its own way, I think it sounds excellent.  But I would positively have to supplement it with a solidly analog module - a SEM, an Odyssey, or something else similar.  That's my only issue with the Pro 2 - it would have to be supplemented.

You make a good point about the supersaw.  And you're right in what you suggest: it does get under my skin; I hate the sound and its associations.  But perhaps tweaking and applying it in new ways could turn it into something sweet and melodious, so thanks for the suggestion. 

I'm always watching for new Pro 2 demonstrations, and perhaps one will convince me it's the way to go.  Otherwise, I don't see how I can try one firsthand unless I make a long trip to a music store, or order one to the house.
« Last Edit: November 08, 2016, 07:56:27 AM by Sacred Synthesis »
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Re: One Man's Quest for the Perfect Mono Synth
« Reply #210 on: November 08, 2016, 09:34:15 AM »
I do like the instrument.  In its own way, I think it sounds excellent.  But I would positively have to supplement it with a solidly analog module - a SEM, an Odyssey, or something else similar.  That's my only issue with the Pro 2 - it would have to be supplemented.

Wow - you plucked that right out of the sky - my thoughts exactly. The world looks like three-plus-octave keyboards right now, though, by choice of synth voice.
Sequential / DSI stuff: Prophet-6 Keyboard with Yorick Tech LFE, Prophet 12 Keyboard, Mono Evolver Keyboard, Split-Eight, Six-Trak, Prophet 2000

Re: One Man's Quest for the Perfect Mono Synth
« Reply #211 on: November 08, 2016, 09:46:13 AM »
I do like the instrument.  In its own way, I think it sounds excellent.  But I would positively have to supplement it with a solidly analog module - a SEM, an Odyssey, or something else similar.  That's my only issue with the Pro 2 - it would have to be supplemented.

Wow - you plucked that right out of the sky - my thoughts exactly. The world looks like three-plus-octave keyboards right now, though, by choice of synth voice.

Are you controlling your new SEM with the Pro 2?  How would you assess the Pro 2's analog character, as compared with the SEM?  I realize this really isn't a fair comparison, but I'm still curious.
« Last Edit: November 08, 2016, 10:33:13 AM by Sacred Synthesis »
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Re: One Man's Quest for the Perfect Mono Synth
« Reply #212 on: November 08, 2016, 01:01:51 PM »
Are you controlling your new SEM with the Pro 2?  How would you assess the Pro 2's analog character, as compared with the SEM?  I realize this really isn't a fair comparison, but I'm still curious.
Boy, would I like to find out! I've been traveling for work as of late, so it's on my list to patch the two together when I get back and to do some comparisons.

The SEM is fairly stable in terms of pitch, so it should be easy to make side-by-side comparisons without things getting out of hand.
Sequential / DSI stuff: Prophet-6 Keyboard with Yorick Tech LFE, Prophet 12 Keyboard, Mono Evolver Keyboard, Split-Eight, Six-Trak, Prophet 2000

eXode

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Re: One Man's Quest for the Perfect Mono Synth
« Reply #213 on: November 19, 2016, 01:20:15 AM »
You make a good point about the supersaw.  And you're right in what you suggest: it does get under my skin; I hate the sound and its associations.  But perhaps tweaking and applying it in new ways could turn it into something sweet and melodious, so thanks for the suggestion.

This is a software synthesizer obviously, but the main feature in this video is a single oscillator with 12 sawtooths (like a super-super saw) that is detuned and spread in the stereo field. Of course reverb was applied liberally, but perhaps it conveys what might be done with super saws and isn't epic trance. ;)

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4UHoxKm3rMs&feature=youtu.be&t=109

Re: One Man's Quest for the Perfect Mono Synth
« Reply #214 on: February 01, 2017, 06:36:27 AM »
Since my own quest led me right back to where I had first started - to the Prophet '08 - I'm hoping and expecting that the REV2 will be even an improvement on this find.  It remains to be seen how one instrument will sonically compare with the other, but the addition of effects, especially of reverb and delay, should move the REV2 into the first violin position.  In fact, if the REV2 were nothing more than a Prophet '08 with delay, I'd still go for it.  The inclusion of onboard effects means the elimination of whatever mess of boxes, wires, and the required outlets one has endured in order to add offboard effects.  This, to me, is a tremendous benefit and worth, in itself, the trouble replacing older instruments with newer.  So, it's possible that an eight-voice REV2 could make the ideal mono synth.

« Last Edit: February 01, 2017, 06:49:34 AM by Sacred Synthesis »
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Jason

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Re: One Man's Quest for the Perfect Mono Synth
« Reply #215 on: February 01, 2017, 07:40:24 AM »
It remains to be seen how one instrument will sonically compare with the other,

It sounds like a number of people are wondering about this, but it seems to me that the exact same Curtis chips should sound the same in a different instrument... just as the patches sound the same on my '08 and Tetra.

Wouldn't it be great if the Rev2 was able to clean up the clicking/pop of many of the mono patches?? While I use a lot of mono sounds, I almost never use more than 1 voice stacked because of the increase of the artifact when played high on the keyboard. Reducing that click would really make the Rev2 a beautiful monophonic synthesizer.
« Last Edit: February 01, 2017, 08:56:14 AM by Jason »

Re: One Man's Quest for the Perfect Mono Synth
« Reply #216 on: February 01, 2017, 08:07:01 AM »
Right.  Nor do I ever use Stack Mode in mono.  But honestly, I don't have a problem any longer with that clicking.  It's still there, but it's mild enough.  But you're right - the REV2 may entirely fix that issue.  There are so many reasons for Prophet '08 fans to be excited about the new instrument.  For one, soon there will be an explosion of great new demonstrations of that familiar sound.  New music, nearly the same instrument.  It's as if the Prophet '08 has been revived, rather than retired.
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Jason

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Re: One Man's Quest for the Perfect Mono Synth
« Reply #217 on: February 01, 2017, 10:07:42 AM »
Yes, it really is a beautiful thing. I bought my Prophet '08 less than a year and a half ago. At that point, I was feeling it was a little old... for a new synthesizer. Manufacturers frequently retire instruments after a much shorter time, and so we keyboard players are sometimes conditioned to want the most recent offerings. (Like many of you, I try to fight this illogical urge; I have no interest in updating my '57 Hammond, nor my guitars.) Still, I had never purchased such an old new instrument before, and yet it was the best option. When the Prophet 6, and later and OB-6, came out, the '08 was still the best option for me, and yet I felt a growing uneasiness as I wondered whether or not it would be retired. The more time I put into programming it, the more I didn't want there to be a completely new replacement that would take me back to square one with programming. (I know myself, and know that I would want the newest offering from DSI if they came out with a different successor to the '08.) What I really wanted was a second incarnation of the '08 with a few improved features, like an improved key-bed... and that is exactly what we got!

Re: One Man's Quest for the Perfect Mono Synth
« Reply #218 on: April 12, 2017, 02:02:02 PM »
Things have certainly evolved since this thread was started.  Today, one could buy a Minimoog Model D reissue and use it to MIDI control an ARP Odyssey Desktop.  This combination still wouldn't provide the ideal voice architecture I had first described, but in terms of classic analog tone and power...yikes!  It would make a magnificent combination.
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chysn

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Re: One Man's Quest for the Perfect Mono Synth
« Reply #219 on: April 12, 2017, 04:57:15 PM »
Le mieux est l'ennemi du bien, man.
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