Wednesday, 24 December 2008

Patch of the Day - And The Bells Rang Out

A festive Patch of the Day -

AFG FM'd, MMF-1 pinged, Super Jupiter XModded & Sunsyn plain old filtered, all sequenced by a P3.

Peace & prosperity to you all, Navs.

Sunday, 21 December 2008

Doepfer A-137-2 Wave Multiplier II Demo

A quick demo of Doepfer's A-137-2 Wave Multiplier II.

The module uses comparators to generate four phase-shifted copies of the incoming signal to provide a robust, multi-oscillator type sound. Think 'super-saw' without any of the phase cancellation issues usually associated with mixing multiple VCOs.

In the first example you'll first hear the source saw, then the A-137-2 and lastly three VCOs.

The next clip shows that the input level clearly plays a role in the resulting sound. At the beginning you can hear the comparators struggling to lock-on. I found the sound to be most pleasing around the '7' mark.

You can get some very nice effects if you have tempo-sync'd LFOs. In this example I used two S&H outputs of my Kenton Pro 2000 II.

This shows what happens when you feed the A-137-2 with a sine and then a triangle (it won't work with pulses). A nice buzzy sound, but not quite the same as mixing multiple sines or triangles.

And finally, a short demo of what two 'five-VCO' parts can sound like in the mix. Apologies to 808 State ...

Wednesday, 17 December 2008

Doepfer Banana Leads

Doepfer A-100C15, 15cm Patch Cable, ca. €2


Available from Doepfer or Schneidersbuero.

Monday, 15 December 2008

Trobetronic40 - DIY Noisemaker

Introducing the Trobetronic40 - my first DIY synth project, built for a mate's 40th birthday out of parts sourced from a knackered Korg PolySix, Thingamagoop box and various cheap components.

I'd been keen to get into a bit of soldering action since reading Nicolas Collins' excellent Handmade Electronic Music last year, but always found excuses (work, life, making music, the wife etc.) to put off my first project. The turning point came in November when I bought a Thingamagoop and realized the circuits it contained were pretty much exactly the ones Collins describes.

Bread-boarding the circuit took about 20 minutes, the soldering about five hours, housing it about an hour and finding the right screws for the PolySix switch about four days. It was fun, but this might be my first and last DIY project. Life's just too short for this kind of nonsense ...

Here's a short video of the Trobetronic40 in action and here's the schematic.

BTW there was a certain karmic quality to the build: the mate in question was also responsible for blowing-up the original P6 back in '95. Happy Birthday Mike and look after this one, OK?

Patch of the Day - Automation Uncertainty

Three VCOs running as External Instruments in Logic, random CCs & pitch information generated by a Sequentix P3 to various plug-in parameters.

Automation Uncertainty

The patch:
1) Livewire AFG linear FM'd by Cwejman MMF-1,
reverb depth modulation.
2) Cwejman VCO-2RM > Plan B M13,
delay time & level modulation.
3) Cwejman VCO-2RM > Doepfer A-105,
flanger feedback-level modulation.

Shame there aren't any decent, fully CV-able stereo effects in Euro format yet, as I'd far rather do this in the modular realm than faff around with assigning CCs. But in terms of flexibility and price, it's a good compromise for adding some modulation madness to your patches.

Friday, 5 December 2008

Richard Scott's IR Trio, COMA Berlin, 041208

What an unexpected treat! An improvised set featuring live percussion, double bass and a slab of electronics in the refined environment of Berlin's COMA gallery, all washed down with some free French plonk.
I love this city!

Richard Scott brewed up an electronic storm with his Buchla Lightning, Wiimotes and Mac running Steim's LiSa and JunXion. His analogue rig, consisting of Moogerfoogers, Blippoo Box, Chimera BC8 and Cracklebox, had a life of its own.

Gustavo Aguilar drove the show with his unique approach to percussion and Adam Linson provided the low-end with his double bass.

Richard said the trio would be preparing a CD for future release. In the meantime, for more on Richard's Infraredmusic check out his space and blog.

Monday, 1 December 2008

Worldtronics/ '7 Women No Cry' Video

Worldtronics Festival at the HdKdW, Berlin.

An update to this post: A video of the '7 Women No Cry' Worldtronics opening night event is now available at freshmilkTV.

Each of the seven acts played a short set that differed wildly in style from out-there kooky psychedelia to melancholic torch song. Despite the preponderance of macs, flutes and live looping, it was interesting to hear a female take on music technology.

The Sound of Lucrecia. Image: Felipe Cuartas

The Sound of Lucrecia stole the show with her presence and songs. If you want to hear more, go here for a free download of her 'Like Being Home' EP and, if you get the chance, see her live!

Cheapest Analogue Filters Money Can Buy ...

Stereo, -60 dB/Octave, €2.65 per four-pack.

... indispensable for protecting your ears against boring, loud music in bad venues ;)

Wednesday, 26 November 2008

Patch of the Day - The FM Ratio Stepper

Who says you can't do decent Linear FM in the analogue domain?

The FM Ratio Stepper

Today's patch was inspired by my GAS for a Modcan VCDO and William H's excellent FM tutorial.

The idea was cribbed from the lovely 'harmonics' VCDO demo, with William H's ratio to pitch conversion PDF proving invaluable.

I used two channels on my Kenton Pro 2000 II to provide the separate CV's which were fed to my Livewire AFG (carrier) and Cwejman MMF-1 (modulator).

Tuesday, 25 November 2008

Worldtronics Festival/ Richard Scott Live

Couple of electronic events to look out for if you're in or around Berlin during the next couple of weeks:

Tomorrow night (26.11) sees the opening of this year's Worldtronics festival at the Haus der Kulturen der Welt.

And Richard Scott will be improvising with his Buchla Lightning at the Coma on the 4th December.

No, that's not Richard in the title pic. It's Theremin player Dorit Chrysler who'll be taking part in '7 Women No Cry' along with seven other one-woman bands at the HKW on Wednesday night.

The Worldtronics Festival runs from the 26th to 30th November. You can find more info and the full line-up here. Info on Gudrun Gut's Monika Enterprise label and 4 Women No Cry compilation series is here.

But enough of the synth-babes, back to synth-hunk Richard Scott!

At his last gig in October his set-up included the Buchla, Wiimote and Rob Hordijk's Blippoo Box. I missed this post on Matrixsynth but was taken by it's sound when I met Richard playing his Blippoo at Schneidersbuero a couple of weeks ago. It looks and sounds great, so I hope it makes an appearance at the Coma in December!

Richard said he would be uploading some sounds soon, but in the meantime you can hear mono-poly's Blippoo Box noodles here and read more about Richard's Lightning and hear some of his compositions at his website.

Sunday, 23 November 2008

VICMOD Ensemble Live

via matrixsynth

Just up the road from my brother - wish I could go!

It's been snowing and absolutely fritter in Berlin for the last two days.

Lucky sods in Melbourne can look forward to clear blue skies and 27C on Tuesday ...

Patch of the Day - Hold Me Now

A simple on/ off 'Hold' patch inspired by ACA at the forum.

This patch allows you to hold a note and toggle it on and off. ACA's original Nord Modular patch was designed to allow him to use his ribbon controller as a modulation source during the sustain stage and was itself inspired by Scott Stites Softpot Ribbon Controller (1), (2).

Since I don't have a 'CV-Zauberstab', I came up with my own patch, figuring I could always apply modulation to a modulator (e.g. FM VCO, LFO etc.) via after touch or mod-wheel.

Here's the PDF.

Hold + Mod

Hold Me Now

Two nice aspects of this patch are the ability to end the hold period with a different note and quite simply the nature of toggling notes on and off means you might come up with riffs you wouldn't normally play.

Let me know if you've got any suggestions for improvements.

Happy Patching!

Saturday, 22 November 2008

Tiptop Audio Z3000 Test

As promised, here's the test (14MB).

And for instant gratification, here's a few examples:

Z3000 Sync + PWM + Exp. FM

Z3000 Audio to Sync

Can you guess the track?

AFG vs. VCO-6 test to follow next week ...

Tuesday, 18 November 2008

Oscillator Orgy!

What a week it's been. First I get my AFG back from Livewire, then I finally get my hands on a Cwejman VCO-6 and yesterday Tiptop Audio's Z3000 arrives at Schneidersbuero.
Oscillators. They're like buses...

There's been a lot of hype surrounding the Z3000, so I was keen to hear it for myself. I'll let the dust settle on my first impressions before posting the full test, but for starters here's an 'amuse-oreilles' :

Tiptop Audio Z3000 Demo

Apologies to Tiptop for the picture - I couldn't resist!

I'll also be posting an AFG vs VCO-6 clash-test. These two oscillators, while having completely different designs and concepts cover remarkably similar ground. Seems to me, that if you were currently in the market for a new high-end Eurorack oscillator, these would be the main contenders: at roughly the same price, both offer linear as well as exponential FM and some form of über-PWM.

This is what you can expect:

AFG vs VCO-6 Demo

One final teaser: I think I've cracked the secret to the AFG's Anti-Matter outputs. I'll post the full patch details, with sound examples and oscilloscope shots, along with the VCO test.

Till then, happy patching!

Sunday, 9 November 2008

Patch of the Day - The Polyphonic Modular

A quick demo of the Kenton Pro 2000 MkII's polyphonic mode.

The most obvious application would be to play chords, but why stop there? The beauty of the modular environment is that you can assign different waveforms, filters and envelope settings to each voice.

In today's patch I used 3 VCOs (panned hard left/ right and centre), a similar number of EGs, VCFs & VCAs and a touch of random modulation to add some movement to what would otherwise be a fairly static riff. The Kenton is in 'Regular Cycle' mode, which means it passes each new note on to the next VCO in the chain.

The clip starts off with a simple three-note chord progression. Three notes, three VCOs, so no movement yet. Each voice plays the same note it was originally assigned. After four bars I introduce a simple bass sequence which forces the Kenton to start distributing the notes among the available voices. Four bars later, I add another simple riff and we're in full swing. Another four bars later I introduce a random CV which is patched via a sequential switch to the three EGs: one gets some attack CV, the other two some random decay. I used a tad too much, but at least that way the effect is clearly audible. Last four bars are the full riff straight.

Friday, 7 November 2008

Neulant van Exel Klangformer 6HE case

Need a road-worthy case for your Eurorack modular?

Then check out the Neulant van Exel Klangformer:

Pricey, but ruff 'n' tuff!

From the product page at Schneidersbuero:

"If you like to go swim with your modular after the gig or if you just do not like to become nervous of getting it sweatty or dirty or just too hot or too cold this is the safe box. Lookalike a better Hilty including wonderful lamps stable made .. this is the prototye.. so they can make it for you in black if you want or with other extras, just ask, please."

... in need of a little copy-editing, but you get the picture ;)

More info from Schneidersbuero.

Wednesday, 5 November 2008

Patch of the Day - The Random Multiplexer

First Patch of the Day of the new blog features Doepfer's A-152 voltage addressed T&H/ switch and A-149-1 Source of Uncertainty:

Three detuned VCOs play the same sequence. The Multiplexer, or switch, randomly dictates which VCO sounds when.

In the first example I'm distributing the gate signal to trigger three short envelopes. First I manually switch between the VCOs so you can hear them in isolation, then I patch in the 2n output of the A-149-1 to randomise the address, then I patch the QRV output to the gate-generating LFO's CV input to randomise the tempo.

In the second take the multiplexer is distributing it's own digital triggers. As above, first you'll hear me manually switching between the VCOs, then applying the random elements. In this instance I've triggered long decay envelopes for a nice fading effect.

Mixing courtesy of Cwejman's VCA-4MX & VCA-2P. The VCOs aren't tuned to exact intervals and the sequence itself is un-quantized, so sorry for the dissonance!

Random Multiplexer 1

Random Multiplexer 2

Sunday, 2 November 2008

Coldcut vs TV Sheriff ''Revolution '08"

With just a couple of days 'till the US election, a little bit of politics and music. If you haven't already seen it, check out this gem from Coldcut & TV Sheriff:

via the Ninja Tune mailing list:


Dancefloor hooligans Coldcut join forces with America's leading audio-visual vigilante TV Sheriff to bring you an election vivisection...Revolution '08.

A drum+bass powered all-out AV assault on an American media machine now in psychotic overdrive for the Presidential election. A 10000-frame crash edit comedy celebration of the blatant corruption, warmongering, florid insanity and plain good old smelly bullshit that characterises the cultural landscape of the world's most confused country. 21st century satire is alive and well.


Watch the video here
For more info go here

Download iPod video here.

Saturday, 1 November 2008

Welcome to Navs Modular Lab!

Welcome to navs.modular.lab, a resource for Euro format module reviews and samples.

Over the past year, I've tested more than 20 different VCOs, VCFs, VCAs, Modulators and Manglers and posted the results over at the Canecutters website. I'll be moving the tests from their old home during the next couple of weeks and adding some new ones. You can look forward to Plan B's Model 10 Polyphonic Envelope, Doepfer's Source of Uncertainty and some lovely examples of the Livewire AFG's FM capabilites.

This site will also be home to Patch of the Day, my modular patch diary which has just celebrated its first birthday.

But to kick things off, I've got some demos of Bleep Lab's Thingamagoop which I bought here in Berlin at General Robots - a great shop full of things you didn't know you needed.

Not exactly modular, but fun nonetheless!

Thingamagoop Rises

Thingamagoop Flies

Thingamagoop Modulates

Thingamagoop did his thing through Cwejman's MMF-1 filter and a Roland Space Echo. On track 3 I ran him through an envelope follower and took the signal to stimulate a pair of ring modulating VCOs (Cwejman's VCO-2RM).

Hope you enjoy the sounds & site and look forward to your comments!