Below are all of the blog posts I’ve created for the Learning Modular site. The include instructional videos and articles on important concepts (such as getting started, managing clocks in your modular system, how the different types of FM work, etc.) as well as trade show reports and other writings of interest. To browse a specific category, click on one of the Blog Categories at right.

Modular NAMM 2018.2: Doepfer, Malekko, Vermona, and the “Quad” Trend

Modular NAMM 2018.2: Doepfer, Malekko, Vermona, and the “Quad” Trend

A few of those themes that emerged during this year’s NAMM show included CEM 3340-based VCOs (as there are now two sources for this classic, previously-unavailable chip), granular synthesis, semi-modulars, and multiple voices. I touched on that last one in the first installment, with 4ms’ Spherical Waveform Navigator being capable of 6-voice polyphony; in general, more companies are looking at configuring a modular to produce more than one sound at the same time – and we’ll look at a few of them here.

The Eurorack Expansion Project

The Eurorack Expansion Project

I created the original Learning Modular Synthesis course for those who were complete beginners to the world of modular synthesis. The next question became: How do I help users reach the next level? The answer is the Eurorack Expansion Project. The idea is you have a nice core system, and want to know how to intelligently expand it – particularly if you interested in a specific technique or are after a certain sound. I’m tackling this in two parts: an online course, and a weekly series – including a dedicated Patreon page for the hard-core users out there.

AJH Synth Ring SM: Ring Modulator Section (LMS Eurorack Expansion Preview)

AJH Synth Ring SM: Ring Modulator Section (LMS Eurorack Expansion Preview)

The AJH Synth Ring SM is three modules in one: a ring modulator based on an analog transistor core design, a sub bass generator that creates tones 1 and 2 octaves down, and a 5 input mixer based on the classic Moog CP-3 design. This mixer is used to combine the original inputs, ring modular, and sub bass sounds; you can override them by patching in alternate inputs. The bonus preview movie from the soon-to-be-released Eurorack Expansion course focuses on the ring modulator section, showing a few different applications as well as really focusing on the waveforms and harmonic spectra it creates so that you better understand how a ring modulator works:

Sputnik Modular: West Coast Random Source (LMS Eurorack Expansion Preview)

Sputnik Modular: West Coast Random Source (LMS Eurorack Expansion Preview)

The Sputnik Modular West Coast Random Source is a very capable Eurorack-format update on the classic Buchla Source of Uncertainty module. In this movie, I focus first on uses for those 1:2 switches, including using them to send alternating note-on gate or triggers to alternating drum sounds. Then I move on to showing the sample and hold itself, first with the typical “science fiction soundtrack” random pitch technique, and then for something more subtle such as randomly changing the pulse width.

Lifeforms Dynamic Impulse Filter: Processing Percussion (LMS Eurorack Expansion Preview)

Lifeforms Dynamic Impulse Filter: Processing Percussion (LMS Eurorack Expansion Preview)

A favorite “West Coast” module that synthesists of all tastes should check out is the LPG: the low-pass gate, which acts like a VCA but with a filter element that also dampens the high frequencies. A new “hybrid” application I’ve found LPGs to be useful for is to process the output of dedicated percussion modules. An LPG naturally damps both the amplitude and harmonics of the input to mold most sounds into a typical percussive shape, freeing you up to dial in the initial noise and harmonic mix you like without worrying about the original sound ringing out too long or taking up too much room frequency-wise in a mix.

Erica Dtech VCF: Exploring Instability (LMS Eurorack Expansion Preview)

Erica Dtech VCF: Exploring Instability (LMS Eurorack Expansion Preview)

You hear many users search for an “extreme” filter to add to their system, looking for one that is unstable when pushed, screams when provoked, and otherwise makes their instrument more aggressive, less predictable, and in general fun to play with (if you’re the type of person who likes to play with knives). Filters based on the Vladimir Kuzmin’s design in the Russian Polivoks synthesizer fit this description. My favorite variation of the classic Polivoks design in the Erica Dtech VCF, which extends the original design. In this video, I explore how to push the Dtech filter into unstable, aggressive territory

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