NAMM 2019: Korg Volca Modular – semimodulare Wunderkiste?

Korg Volca Modular West Coast SynthesizerKorg Volca Modular West Coast Synthesizer

Wir wussten zwar schon durch den Leak vom Volca Modular, aber nun haben wir die Gewissheit: Er kommt zur NAMM 2019. Der Name ist allerdings etwas überschwänglich gewählt, denn er ist eigentlich nur semimodular. Wie es klingt, erfahrt ihr hier.

Korg Volca Modular

Eigentlich passiert beim Modular, was alle wünschen, alle lieben, aber niemand gewagt hat, dass Korg das ausgerechnet in das Volca-Format stecken würde. Sie haben es aber getan. Wir berichteten dazu auch bereits. Was für Make Noise 0-coast und für Buchla und Co. üblich, landet in minimaler Form auch im Volca und lässt sich mit kleinen Käbelchen patchen. Das Prinzip wurde klar vom Anyware Tinysizer übernommen, er war deutlich der, der dieses Prinzip erstmals verwendet hat. Er enthält sogar eine Art Woggle-Bug, einer erweiterten Mehrfach-Sample & Hold Einheit, die von Grant Richter (Wiard) in die Welt gebracht wurde.  Es gibt zwei Lowpass-Gates und somit haben wir es mit Westküsten-Denkweise zu tun. Der Oszillator ist mit Wavefolding/Waveshaping ausgestattet, um obertonreiche Klänge zu generieren, auch Grant Richter hat damals das Borg-Filter, eine Kombination aus Buchla und Korg gemacht, was hier wohl auch hier teilweise mit drin steckt, allerdings gibt es keine Resonanz, so wie das bei LPGs üblich ist. Mehr Verarbeitung bekommt man über die logischen Verknüpfungen hin, die für Audio und Modulation tauglich sind.

Die Bedeutung dieser Volca ist wohl doch als hoch einzustufen und der Preis soll dennoch unter 199 Euro liegen. Die Beliebtheit des 0-Coast ist nach-wie-vor hoch und nun kann „jeder“ in diese Welt einsteigen, die bei Make Noise immerhin noch 529 Euro kostet. Korg hat inzwischen alles nachgeliefert, was man liefern kann – wie macht man die berühmten Buchla Bongos? Wie geht man damit um? Und was macht er wirklich genau? Richtig gut ist auch der Hall, denn zu Geräten dieser Bauart passt immer etwas Hall. Die Hüllkurve ist natürlich vom Typ AR. Das reicht aber auch und ist für diese Form auch genug. Der Sequencer hat 16 Steps und kann auch zufällig abspielen, was durchaus wichtig ist für Synthesizer dieser Art.

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Hands-on: Complex-1 puts West Coast-inspired modular in Reason

Propellerhead has unveiled a modular instrument add-on for Reason, Complex-1. It puts a patchable, West Coast-inspired synth inside the already patchable Reason environment – and it sounds fabulous.

Complex-1 is a monophonic modular synth delivered as a Rack Extension, available now. What you get is a selection of modules, with a combination of Buchla- and Moog-inspired synths, and some twists from Propellerhead. You can patch these right on the front panel – not the back panel as you normally would in Reason – and combine the results with your existing Reason rack. The ensemble is very West Coast-ish, as in Buchla-inspired, but also with some unique character of its own and modern twists and amenities you would expect now.

Propellerhead have also a lot of design decisions that allow you to easily patch anything to anything, which is great for happy mistakes and unusual sounds – for beginners or advanced users alike. The three oscillators each have ranges large enough to act as modulation sources, and to tune paraphonic setups if you so wish.

Prepare to get lost in this: the recent Quad Note Generator is a perfect pairing with Complex-1.

What’s inside:
Complex Osc This is the most directly Buchla-like module – subsonic to ultrasonic range, FM & AM, and lots of choices for shaping its dual oscillators.

Noise source, OSC 3 Noise sources including red, plus an additional oscillator (OSC 3) with a range large enough to double as a modulation source.

Comb delay If the Complex Osc didn’t get you, the comb delay should – you can use this for string models by tuning the delay with feedback, as well as all the usual comb delay business.

Filter Here’s the East Coast ingredient – a Moog-style ladder filter with drive, plus both high pass and low pass outputs you can use simultaneously.

Low Pass Gates Two LPGs (envelope + filter you can trigger) give you more West Coast-style options, including envelope follower functions.

Shaper Distortion, wavefolding, and whatnot.

More modules: LFO, ADSR envelope, output mixer, plus a really handy Mix unit, Lag, Scale & amp, Clock & LFO + Clock 2. There’s also a useful oscilloscope.

Sequencer plus Quant: You can easily use step sequencers from around Reason, but there’s also a step sequencer in Complex-1 itself, useful for storing integrated patches. Quant also lets you tune to a range of scales.

Function: A lot of the hidden power of Complex-1 is here – there’s a function module with various algorithms.

Yes, you can make complex patches with Complex-1.

The dual advantages of Complex-1: one, it’s an integrated instrument all its own, but two, it can live inside the existing Reason environment.

I’ve had my hands on Complex-1 since I visited Propellerhead HQ last week and walked through a late build last week. Full disclosure: I was not immediately convinced this was something I needed personally. The thing is, we’re spoiled for choice, and software lovers are budget-minded. So while a hundred bucks barely buys you one module in the hardware world, in software, it buys a heck of a lot. That’s the entry price for Softube Modular, for VCV Rack and a couple of nice add-ons, and for Cherry Audio’s Voltage Modular (at least at its current sale price, with a big bundle of extras).

Not to mention, Reason itself is a modular environment.

But there are a few things that make Complex-1 really special.

It’s a complete, integrated modular rig. This is important – VCV Rack, Softube Modular, Voltage Modular, and Reason itself are all fun because you can mix and match modules.

But it’s creatively inspiring to work with Complex-1 for the opposite reason. You have a fixed selection of modules, with some basic workflows already in mind. It immediately takes me back to the first vintage Buchla system I worked on for that reason. You still have expansive possibilities, but within something that feels like an instrument – modular patching, but not the added step of choosing which modules. The team at Propellerhead talked about their admiration for the Buchla Music Easel. This isn’t an emulation of that – Arturia have a nice Music Easel in software if that’s what you want – but rather takes that same feeling of focusing on a toolkit and provides a modern, Propellerhead-style take on the concept.

It sounds fantastic. This one’s hard to overstate, so it’s better to just go give the trial a spin. In terms of specs, Propellerhead points to their own DSP and 4X oversampling everywhere. In practice, it means even just a stupidly-simple patch with raw oscillators sounds gorgeous and lush. I love digital sounds and aliasing and so on, but… it’s nice to have this end of the spectrum, too. You get a weird, uncanny feeling of lying in bed with a laptop and some studio headphones and hearing your own music as if it’s a long-lost 1970s electronic classic. It’s almost too easy to sound good. Tell your friends you’ll see them in the spring because for now you want to spend some time along pretending you’re Laurie Spiegel.

It lives inside Reason. The other reality is, it’s really fun having this inside Reason, where you can combine your patches into Combinators and work with all the other pattern sequencers and effects and whatnot. You can also make elaborate polysynths by stacking instances of Complex-1.

There’s basic CV and audio interconnectivity with your rack. This may look meager at first, but I found this in addition to the Combinator opens a lot of possibilities, especially for playing live/improvising.

You get loads of presets, of course, which will appeal to those not wanting to get lost in patching. But I also welcome that Propellerhead included a set of basic templates as starting points for those who do want to explore.

Patching is also really easy, though I miss being able to re-patch from both sides of a cable as in a lot of software modulars. Better is the hide/unhide cables functionality, so you can make the patch cables disappear for easier control of the front panel. (Why don’t all software modulars have this feature, actually?)

You don’t get unlimited patchability between Complex-1 and the rest of Reason. For simplicity, you’re limited to note/MIDI input (from other devices as well as externally), basic CV input and output, and input to the sequencer. There’s also a very useful audio input. That may disappoint some people who wanted more options, though it still provides a lot of power.

Mostly I want to buy a really big touch display for Windows and use that. And with this kind of software out there, I may not be looking at hardware so much. I even expect to use this live.

Some sounds for you (while I work on sharing some of my own):

Complex-1 Rack Extension

Complex-1 in the shop

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Aemit – Ein besonderes Modular-System Post-Buchla

Aemit Modular System

Guy Drieghe ist ein kreativer Geist, der schon so etwas wie ein Urgestein der Synthesizer-Szene ist. Immer wieder gibt es interessante Hardware. Nun auch auch komplettes Modulsystem namens Aemit. Den Anfang machen ein EVC Filter, der wie ein Oberheim SEM auf Steroiden daher kommt und ein Variphase, ein Super-VCO/LFO.

Guy Drieghe?

Bekannt wurde er durch eine Art Zusatzkarte für Buchla. Aber schauen wir mal genauer bei Aemit. Es gibt inzwischen schon eine Reihe von Modulen und ein Gesamtkonzept für ein vollständiges System. Wie immer geht es hier um Details, sinnvolle und akkurate Steuerung und natürlich auch den Klang selbst.

Den Namen Guy Drieghe habe ich zum ersten Mal auf einem Cover von The Klinik gelesen, wer viel über die Belgische Elektro-Szene wissen will, sollte und kann ihn befragen.

Aemit Module

Aemit Module

Schaut man sich die Module an, findet man aufgeräumte und gut beschriftetes Design. Das EVC Filter ist von 6 bis 24 dB / Oktave fließend einstellbar und bringt Tief-, Hoch- und Bandpass getrennt regelbar sowie steuerbare Resonanz mit. Die Schaltung ist ein bisschen wie die des Oberheim SEM, jedoch massiv erweitert, weshalb sie auch bis 24 und nicht nur bis 12 dB / Oktave reicht. Die Steuerung kann auch oktavrein sein, deshalb findet man auch einen V/Oct-Eingang neben den beiden FM-Eingängen.

Ein anderes interessantes Modul ist Variphase, eine Art Super-VCO/LFO mit sehr genau einstellbarer Phasenlage, Modulation und Wahl von 7 Schwingungsformen. Deren Steuerung enthält AM, PM, lineare FM und natürlich V/Okt, damit ist das Modul absolut FM-tauglich und noch mehr PM-tauglich denn die Phasenlage ist komplett und genau steuerbar und hat mehrere Ausgänge für verschiedene Phasenlagen.

Wer gern sehr weit denkt und über das was analoge Synthesizer so können hinaus gehen möchte, wird mit dem Aemit sicher einen guten Weg an der Westküste finden. Post-Buchla!

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Buchla synth legacy secured, with new leadership, returning engineers

There’s renewed interest in his pioneering synthesis techniques. But now the future of Buchla’s hardware brand looks bright, too – under new management.

Don Buchla’s ground-breaking approach to electronic musical instruments has gotten a second lease on life, as a new generation has embraced making sound with modulars – and, for that matter, weird and experimental sounds generally. That’s meant that Don’s place not only in the history of hardware, but alongside the San Francisco Tape Music Center (and composers like Morton Subotnick and Pauline Oliveros) has found a growing audience.

Alongside that, the re-invigorated Buchla brand saw the re-launch of the Music Easel plus the debut of the new 252e Polyphonic Rhythm Generator.

It should have been Buchla’s return to glory. But it was marred by Don Buchla’s failing health, then financial troubles at Buchla Elecronic Musical Instruments, legal battles between Don Buchla and the new owners of the company he had founded, and finally the loss of Don Buchla himself.

There was no doubt Don Buchla’s legacy would live on – but would new Buchla instruments?

As of today, we have a much better picture for Buchla the brand. Buchla Electronic Musical Instruments (and the original Buchla & Associates) are no more. In its place, meet Buchla U.S.A.

On today’s nicely-binary January 11, Buchla U.S.A. LLC has announced it has purchased the former Buchla Electronic Musical Instruments and all its assets. The new company will be headquartered in Minneapolis, Minnesota, under the leadership of CEO Eric Fox. Fox is also owner of Foxtone Music, the US distributor for Buchla, Dreadbox, Polyend, and Black Market.

More good news: Buchla U.S.A. will bring back two Buchla protégées, engineer Joel Davel, who worked alongside Don for over twenty years, and Dave Reilly, who the company describes as “hand-picked” by Don to manufacture new hardware.

The legal address is in Minneapolis, but design and manufacturing will remain in the Bay Area. So don’t worry – you aren’t going to have to start referring to “upper midwest synthesis.” (Well, not to describe this, anyway.)

Now, you know CDM is not in the habit of quoting press releases very often, but this one also comes our way from Marc Doty, history guru, synthesist, and friend-of-the-site, who now has a coveted new “@buchla” email address. And in that press release, we get this charming quote from the new CEO:

“With such an amazing legacy I am really excited about telling the story of Don and working closely with Joel and Dave to develop new products in the spirit of Don… and even revisiting/reimagining some of his designs that never actually made it out into the wild!” said Buchla U.S.A. CEO Eric Fox, about this historic purchase. “I hope to involve as many of the artists and people that inspired Don as possible, moving forward. We owe it to him and the generations of new users to give them a sense of what he was all about.”

So got that? New products, plus vintage designs that never saw the light of day.

That sounds good.

After over half a century, it seems the Buchla story isn’t over yet.

Buchla fans may still be waiting for Buchlafest, but you get Maestro Morton Subotnick at Moogfest. Photo (CC-BY) Ethan Hein.

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Arturia add CMI, DX7, Clavinet – and Buchla Easel – in software

Arturia refreshed their mega-collection of synths and keyboard instruments, with new sought-after additions – including a recreation of the Buchla Easel.

Get ready for some numbers and letters here here. The resulting product is the Arturia V Collection 6. The ancient Roman in me apparently wants to read that as “5 collection 6” but, uh, yeah, that’s the letter “v” as in “virtual.”

And what you’re now up to is 21 separate products bundled as one. Inception-style, some of those products contain the other products, too. (If you just want the Buchla, sit tight – yes, you can get it separately.)

So, hat we’re talking about is this:

Synths: models of the Synclavier, Oberheim Matrix 12 and SEM, Roland Jupiter-8, ARP 2600, Dave Smith’s Sequential Prophet V and vector Prophet VS, Yamaha CS-80, a Minimoog, and a Moog modular. To that roster, you can now add a Yamaha DX7, Fairlight CMI, and a Buchla Music Easel.

Keys: Fender Rhodes Stage 73 (suitcase and stage alike), ARP Solina String Ensemble, Wurlitzer. And now there’s a Clavinet, too.

Organs: Hammond B-3, Farfisa, VOX Continental.

And some pianos. Various pianos – uprights and grands – plus other parameters via physical modeling are bundled into Piano V.

The bundle also includes Analog Lab, which pulls together presets and performance parameters for all the rest into a unified interface.

This isn’t all sampled soundware, either – well, if it were, it’d be impossibly huge. Instead, Arturia use physical modeling and electronics modeling techniques to produce emulations of the inner workings of all these instruments.

About those new instruments…

There’s no question the Clavinet and DX7 round out the offerings, making this a fairly complete selection of just about everything you can play with keys. (Okay, no harpsicords or pipe organs, so every relatively modern instrument.) And the Fairlight CMI, while resurrected as a nifty mobile app on iOS, is welcome, too. But because it’s been so rare, and because of the renaissance of interest in Don Buchla and so-called “West Coast” synthesis for sound design, the Buchla addition is obviously stealing the show.

Here’s a look at those additions:

The DX7 V promises to build on the great sound of the Yamaha original while addressing the thing that wasn’t so great about the DX7 – interface and performance functionality. So you get an improved interface, plus a new mod matrix, customizable envelopes, extra waveforms, a 2nd LFO, effects, sequencer, and arpeggiator, among other additions.

Funk fans get the Clavinet V, with control over new parameters via physical modeling (in parallel with the Arturia piano offering), and the addition of amp and effect combos.

Okay, but let’s get on to the two really exciting offerings (ahem, I’m biased):

The CMI V recreates the 1979 instrument that led the move to digital sampling and additive synthesis. And this might be the first Fairlight recreation that you’d want in a modern setup: you get 10 multitmbral, polyphonic slots, plus real-time waveform shaping, effects, and a sequencer. And Arturia have thrown us a curveball, too: to create your own wavetables, there’s a “Spectral” synth that scans and mixes bits of audio.

I’m really keen to play with this one – it sounds like what you’ll want to do is to go Back to the Future and limit yourself to making some entire tracks using just the Fairlight emulation. If you read my children’s TV round-up, maybe Steve Horelick and Reading Rainbow had you thinking of this already. Now you just need a PC with a stylus so you can imagine you’ve got a light pen.

The Buchla Easel goes further back to 1973. It’s arguably the most musical of Don Buchla’s wild instruments, bringing the best ideas from the modular into a single performance-oriented design. And here, it looks like we get a complete, authentic reproduction.

Everything that makes the Buchla approach unique is there. Think amplitude modulation and frequency modulation and the “complex” oscillator’s wave folding, gating that allows for unique tuned sounds, and sophisticated routing of modulation. It all adds up to granting the ability to make strange, new timbres, to seek out new performance life and new sound designs – to boldly go where only privileged experimentalists have gone before.

This video explains the whole “West Coast” synthesis notion (as opposed to Moog’s “East Coast” modular approach):

Arturia makes up for the fact that this is now an in-the-box software synth by opening up the worlds of modulation. So you get something called “gravity” which applies game physics to modulation, and other modulation sources (the curves of the “left hand,” for instance) to make all the organic changes happen inside software. It’s a new take on the Buchla, and not really like anything we’ve seen before. And it suggests this software may elevate beyond just faux replication onscreen, with a genuinely new hybrid.

My only regret: I would love to have this with touch controls, on iOS or Windows, to really complete the feeling. It’s odd seeing the images from Arturia with that interface locked on a PC screen. But I think of all the software instruments in 2017, this late addition could be near the top (alongside VCV Rack’s modular world, though more on that later).

But it’s big news – a last-minute change to upset the world of sound making in 2017.

Watch for our hands-on soon.

Intro price and more new features

Also new in this version: the Analog Lab software, which acts as a hub for all those instruments, parameters, and presets, now has been updated, as well. There’s a new browser, more controller keyboard integration, and other improvements.

Piano V has three new piano models (Japanese Grand, a Plucked Grand, and a Tack Upright), enhanced mic positioning, an improved EQ, a new stereo delay, and it’s own built-in compressor.

There are improvements throughout, Arturia say.

There’s also a lower intro price: new users get US$/€ 249 instead of 499, through January 10.

And that Buchla is 99 bucks if that’s really what you want out of this set.


V Collection

Buchla Easel V

The post Arturia add CMI, DX7, Clavinet – and Buchla Easel – in software appeared first on CDM Create Digital Music.

Watch as music luminaries revisit the first Buchla 100 modular

You can’t watch the Orville Brothers and Amelia Earhart go to your local airport. But you can watch music pioneers revisit the first Buchla 100 modular.

In a new clip from the Subotnick documentary, Morton Subotnick joins fellow San Francisco Tape Center founder and multi-disciplinary creator Ramon Sender. (I’ve heard Subotnick credit Pauline Oliveros with the Tape Center’s creation, too – Ramon Sender must have wanted her to be represented, as she appears on a t-shirt.)

That location was birthplace of a lot of what would happen in 60s electronic experimentalism – the anachronistic “tape” name little clue to the radical sounds to come. And one of those lasting accomplishments was Don Buchla’s Buchla 100 modular – the modular system that gave us what now is commonly called the “west coast” sound.

Here, we get to see that very first Buchla 100 modular system as it lives at Mills College.

They get to talk to a third major figure in American experimental music, Maggi Payne. (Payne’s Wikipedia entry gives some indication of how much she does, calling her an “American composer, flutist, video artist, recording engineer/editor, and historical remastering engineer who creates electroacoustic, instrumental, vocal works, and works involving visuals (video, dance, film, slides).” Got all that?)

Payne and Mills are now inseparable, which makes her instrumental in producing ripples in electronic music from that vital institution. She runs the music program, teaches composition and sound engineering and electronic music, and is co-director of Mills’ Center for Contemporary Music. You could think of few better caretakers for the Buchla 100.

The creators of the I Dream of Wires documentary are now doing a new documentary focusing on Subotnick, presently on IndieGogo. This clip does suggest it could be fun to watch.

Subotnick: Portrait of an Electronic Music Pioneer

It also makes me hungry for more work on the experimental scene – and there’s probably a lot more to say about Mills. (Don’t ask me; I was out on the East Coast!)

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Buchla cloned – Alles hätte gerne einen Buchla 100? Den Klassiker! Catalyst Audio macht es möglich.

Catalyst 100 Buchla Clone

Die Buchla Box 100 war das erste modulare und bekannte System von Buchla. Noch bekannter und beliebter ist sonst noch die alte Buchla Box 200. Nachdem die 200e-Baugruppen speziell, teuer und digital sind, interessieren sich auch einige für die Module aus den Sechzigern.

Buchla begann zu einer ähnlichen Zeit wie Bob Moog. Wenn man Marc Doty glauben schenken mag, kann man Mitte der Sechziger als den Start Buchlas betrachten, deren Vater er und Bob Moog den meisten einfällt. Dies ist heute auch so, weil die beiden für eine Philosophie stehen, die heute mit West-Coast (Buchla Serge) vs. East Coast (Moog und der Rest) bezeichnet werden. Aktuelle Module sind oft ein Produkt aus beiden Welten. Aber wieso nicht auch einmal die etwas weniger bekannte Seite probieren und verwenden können? Das fragte sich Audio Catalyst und bringt nun fünf Module aus dem klassischen 100er-System für alle auf den Markt. Die Schaltungen wurden nach seinen Worten weitgehend erhalten. Vermutlich gibt es einige Bauteile heute nicht mehr, deshalb wurde die selbstredend durch heutige Typen ersetzt.

Die Liste der Module sieht wie folgt aus:

Model 156 Control Voltage Processor
– Dies sind die „Treiber“ und Steuerinstanzen für die Oszillatoren. Das Konzept der Treiber verfolgte Moog übrigens ebenso und noch ziemlich lange mit der 904 und 912-Serie.

Model 158 Dual Sine-Sawtooth Generator – Dies ist der Oszillator-Bereich. Man muss sie auch noch eher klassischer verschalten, als man das später mit dem Haupt-Nebenoszillator-Konzept tut. Der Sinus lässt sich langsam in einen Sägezahn umformen. Deshalb bot und bietet sich an, eine FM zwischen den beiden Oszillatoren herzustellen, um weitere Obertöne zu erzeugen-

Model 106 6 Channel Mixer – Die Mischsektion

Model 180 Dual Attack Generator – Zwei Hüllkurven mit AD-Charakteristik.

Model 110 Quad Gate – Vier VCAs, keine Low-Pass-Gates.

Warum möchte man so etwas, vergleichsweise „Simples“? Weil es einen speziellen Klang hat.

Catalyst Audio bietet auch „normale“ Module wie etwa ein Modul (Time Zero) zur Zufallsbildung und zum Quantisieren. Außerdem gibt es den Sequencer des Roland SH101 als einfaches Modul mit dem schönen Namen SH-imple.