Thursday 24 December 2009

Music Minute - Silent Night

An analogue carol for the festive season.

Featuring a Roland Super Jupiter, modular and EHX Poly Chorus and Stereo Memory Man w/ Hazarai.

Happy Holidays! Cheers, Navs.

Silent Night  by  navs

Monday 21 December 2009

Patch of the Day - Or What?

Ever wondered what else that OR socket on your Maths might be good for?

Today's Patch of the Day uses analogue logic to mix two sequences and then generate random pitch changes to an otherwise static sequence:

PotD - Or What ?  by  navs

In the first example, I manually adjusted the positive scaling of two sequences.

In the second take, I replaced one sequence with the stepped out of a Wogglebug. When the WB's output is higher than the sequence, a random note is added to the output.

If you've patched the ADSR example from the Maths manual, you might have realized that the OR output is a positive-CV-only maximum selector, similar to half of Doepfer's A-172 Maximum/ Minimum Selector. Unlike digital (binary) logic which only has two states, given a mix of CV sources, the highest voltage will be output in the form of a peak-CV contour. As you can hear in the example below, this is very different to mixing/ summing CVs:

(A-172. Two LFOs, summed mix, then max & min outputs)

Doepfer's Min/Max has the advantage of being able to process both positive and negative voltages and can be used to generate odd waveforms. See the product page and manual for more ideas.

Monday 14 December 2009

Forbidden Planet @ TU Studio this Thursday

If you're in Berlin this Thursday, the TU Studio is showing Forbidden Planet as a Christmas special EM Hören session. With music by Louis and Bebe Barron, it's sure to be a treat for all electronic music fans. Thanks to Penko for the tip-off!.

TU Studio address and directions here.

Wednesday 9 December 2009

Patch of the Day - Harmonyhertz

I twisted my knee and had to undergo an MRI scan this week. For those of you who haven't had the pleasure, this is what it sounds like:

Harmonyhertz-PotD  by  navs

Having entered the machine, you're given a pair of noise-canceling headphones. The classical music that is piped through these is supposed to calm and distract you from the grunts and buzzes generated by the scanner. Don't know which device was responsible, but the kick and hi-hat pattern was a bizarre counterpoint. Sort of like a Clockwork Orange warehouse party. Someone with a sense of humour at Siemens, the company that built the contraption, decided to call it 'Harmony'. The nurse told me that the larger unit is called 'Symphony'.


The patch features four voices: kick and hi-hat, ring modulated squarewaves, FM klunk and some 'ducked' classical music. Although I managed to use up nearly all of my patch cables, it was actually fairly straightforward.

Drums: MMF-1 sine wave kick, M12-filtered-noise hat. LFO provides rhythm, VCS provides gate delay for 'swing'.

Buzz: Wogglebug stepped out provides slow pitch changes for VCO-2RM. Two square waves, with a touch of XMod and manual pitch and PWM tweaking, are output from the ring modulator. Timing is generated by the burst out of the WB which is patched to a clock divider. The /8 gate signal triggers one Maths channel. An inverse /8 gate is fed to a second Maths EG so that the klunks are timed to occur after each buzz has sounded.

Klunk: M15 & AFG lin FM plus some pitch woggle and envelope thwapping from Maths and the mix out of an A-143-1. Maths' EOC used to trigger the Doepfer, klunk gated by M13 LPG.

Classical: Borg-filtered with a bit of FM from the combined buzz & klunk CVs. Vactrol speed in evidence as the CV takes a while to fade away from it's peak.

Ducking: this was achieved by sending the classical sample to the first channel of an A-134-2 VC Xfader, the audio mix of buzz and klunk to the second and applying the combined buzz and klunk CVs to the (asymmetrical) Xfader.

Hope you enjoyed the sounds and remember to look after yourselves!

This PotD dedicated with thanks to the docs and nurses.

Friday 4 December 2009

Talking Macbeth

A few impressions from Ken Macbeth's workshop at Schneiders Buero last night.

Ken showcased his new Euro-format modules & CV keyboard prototype, discussed the pros and cons of discrete vs. surface mount designs and left us sick with envy with the tale of how he 'liberated' an Arp 2600 & Synthi AKS from his local music college.

Thanks to Ken and Andreas for a memorable evening!

Monday 16 November 2009

SunSyn 2.0

I took my SunSyn to Jomox in Kreuzberg today for the 2.0 update. Like many users, I'm looking forward to the improvements but also concerned that some of the SunSyn's 'characteristic' (or should that be 'idiosyncratic'?) sound might be lost.

Jürgen reassured me that the sound will remain the same and was kind enough to show me some of the new features. Besides improvements to the arpeggiator and portamento functions, the RCOs have been completely overhauled and even allow FM. This sounded fantastic and greatly enhances the SunSyn's sonic palette.

This is the sound of my pre-update SunSyn, recorded for posterity:

Sunscape  by  navs

I hope to have my SunSyn back in two to three weeks - I'll let you how the upgraded synth sounds then.

Monday 9 November 2009

PotD - The Organ Grinder

Featuring the Plan B Model 23 Analog Shift Register.

The Organ Grinder plays his merry tune. All is well until monkey and Schnapps get the better of him:

PotD - The Organ Grinder  by  navs

In this patch the M23 was used to shift a quantized sequence to a pair of detuned VCOs, the 'both' input of a Bananalogue/ Serge VCS and the CV input of a VC-LFO. The sequence was transposed by the stepped output of a Wogglebug. A sequential switch was used to alternate between a 'regular' and voltage controlled clock. The switch was triggered by a comparator reading the output of a second random source.


UPDATE: Patch details

I tried to keep the patch description as simple as possible, but for those of you who want to try this here is a patch chart.

The A-147 VC-LFO acts as the master clock and feeds the SQ8, which sends a gate to the VCS (or Maths).

The envelope generated by the VCS is patched to the output VCA. In my patch I fed the two VCOs to a separate mixer (VCA-4MX) before the final VCA (VCA-2P), but for simplicity I've shown an A-131 in this chart.

The sequence generated by the SQ8 goes to an A-156 quantizer, the CV goes to the ASR and the trigger output of the A-156 clocks the ASR. From there, output one goes to VCO1, output 2 to VCO2, output 3 to the second input of an A-151 switch and the last output feeds the 'both' input of the VCS.

The random elements:

the 'step1' output of the SQ8 clocks the Wogglebug. In turn, its clock output steps the S&H/ noise.

The Wogglebug's stepped out feeds the transpose input of the quantizer. At the beginning of the patch I kept the randomness to about 9 o'clock, towards the end I swept it up manually and then back to zero.

The SH-NZ output feeds an A-119, which I've used as a comparator. Depending on the gain & threshold settings you can generate an amplitude-dependent gate. As the A-151 feeds the CV-in of the VC-LFO, the gate toggles the switch between 'regular' and VC-clock. As an alternative, you could use a VCA to alter the amount of VC-clock or, indeed, alter the CV amount manually. If you don't have a comparator or A-119, you could use the burst output of the Wogglebug. I sometimes find this too frenetic, so I send the burst gate to a clock divider to calm it down a bit!

Sunday 1 November 2009

navs.modular.lab is one today!

Breaking with tradition, there's no new gear in this first anniversary post. Instead of modules, I've got some literary inspiration for you and the environmental sounds that most of us try to eliminate or ignore.

Pictured above are some of the books I got for my birthday recently (life begins now, apparently) - interestingly, these gifts were all from women, bless 'em!

Allen Strange's 'Electronic Music' needs no introduction and Horowitz/ Hill's 'Art of Electronics' is considered by many to be a standard. Showing my ignorance, I hadn't heard of Daniel Levitin's 'This Is Your Brain On Music', but it has been a real eye and ear opener. All three are highly recommended.

In homage to B(if)tek's "sound of the b(if)tek studios" from their '2020' album, I've also recorded the sound of my own studio:

navsmodularlab_studiosound  by  navs

OK, so my studio isn't that loud. I cranked levels on the desk, turned the monitors up and limited the recording. The loudest pieces of equipment are the Space Echo (unsurprisingly) and the Sunsyn's cooling fan, which you can hear panting away at the end of the take. Time for that 2.0 update.

It's been a great year for modular synthesis with loads of exciting new kit and technology. I've tried to get my hands on as much gear as I could (thanks!) and feature it on the blog. I hope you've enjoyed the posts so far and that you'll continue to visit the site and leave your comments in the coming year.



Thursday 29 October 2009

PotD - a2z2a2z

An experiment in cross-modulation. I don't normally do the noise thing, but thought I'd share this clip as I know there are many of you who do. Hope you like it.

This patch started out as a bog-standard linear FM bell-sound patch. It was pretty but boring until I set up some cross modulation between the carrier and modulator.

The total module-count was six (2 VCOs, Maths, clock, sequencer and multiple), but what you're hearing is the the output of a single oscillator. As you can tell, minute changes can lead to unpredictable results!

Saturday 24 October 2009

Maths Test

This module needs little by way of introduction - shortly after it was announced, it sold out in the US and Europe. So what makes Make Noise's Maths so special that it prompted the largest used-envelope sell-off in Euro format history?

Have a listen for yourself:

Maths Test Taster  by  navs

Maths packs a pair of voltage controllable slope generators, much like the Bananalogue/ Serge VCS or Plan B Model 10, plus two channels of 'attenu-version'. It's this 'package' that is probably the key to its success. It's a compact, complete system. Most patch 'problems' can be solved without resorting to other modules and, like the Wogglebug, it's fun and inspiring.

In use, I found the envelopes clean and spike-free. Setting rise and fall times was far easier than on my VCS or Model 10. As the manual states, the contours have a dramatic effect on timing. Like the VCS, filtering audio is not one of its strengths but when used to slew CVs it is precise.

The only two things I missed were a single-shot trigger button and, more importantly, voltage control over the polarizers. The latter would, for example, allow VC contours and greatly enhance the mathematical possibilities!

You can download the full test here (13.5MB)

Update: here's a short clip demonstrating Math's slew/ portamento capabilities.

Wednesday 21 October 2009

Patch of the Day - Analog Heart, Digital Mind

Using Silent Way's CV Input & Osculator to control your DAW.

Ok, so you've managed to recover CVs from you modular. Now what?

Rather than just process and/ or replay those recorded CVs, how about using Logic's Transformer to convert and redirect the MIDI CCs generated by the pairing of SW's CV to OSC component and Osculator?

In today's patch I've siphoned Osculator's output and used a handful of Transformers to generate pitch & pan information for an electric piano virtual instrument and bypass & downsample parameter data for Logic's Bit Crusher plug-in.

PotD - Analog Heart, Digital Mind by navs

In the first section you can hear me manually adjusting a positive offset voltage from a Doepfer A-138 mixer, followed by a sequence from an A-Sol. SQ-8 plus manual offset and, finally, the stepped output of a Make Noise/ Wiard Wogglebug. In the latter example, I used automation to gradually increase in the bitcrusher's mix level to about 50%.

This is a lot of fun and yields unusual and sometimes unpredictable results. For example in the sequence excerpt, the CC to note conversion isn't always 'clean'. However, I'm sure it's nothing a little additional MIDI processing couldn't solve.

The biggest problem I encountered was the lack of 'note off' data and hanging notes when converting CCs to pitch. There are other ways of generating clean note information, for example using a Novation Bassstation Rack's built-in CV-MIDI converter or the Moon Modular 552, but If anyone has a Logic-based solution, I'd love to hear it!

Here are some screen-grabs of the Environment I used.

For those of you daunted by Logic's Environment, and in particular its Transformer modules, check out this great tutorial by Toby Pitman at audiotuts+.

Thanks to Scaff for providing the inspiration for this patch with his Moon Modular 552 demos!

Tuesday 6 October 2009

Silent Way CV Input - Digital Ghost Tracks

Ever wanted to record CVs to your DAW? Expert Sleeper's latest 'Silent Way' plug-in makes this possible.

'CV Input' brings Buchla and Subotnick's Ghost Tracks method into the digital age. The plug-in can handle bipolar CVs (LFOs etc.) and the 'recovered' CV can be output live or recorded for rearrangement or further processing.

To get the most out of 'CV Input' you'll need a DC-coupled Ring Modulator although for unipolar CVs (envelopes etc.) a standard linear VCA will do.

In beta testing, I tried a Doepfer A-133 VC Polarizer, Cwejman VCA-2P and the DC-coupled ring modulator in my VCO-2RM. The latter gave me the best, most accurate results. The A-133 is a good, cheap option but the lack of centre-indent on the manual offset pot made it tricky to zero the output precisely and meant the returned CV was asymmetrical. The VCA-2P was not as accurate because its 'linear' mode is in fact semi-logarithmic. Os at Expert Sleepers suggested that a calibration function to address these issues might be a possible future update.

So, does it work? The short answer is a resounding yes!

The caveat is that you might need to spend a few minutes setting up the plug-in for your system, but this is swift and painless. For example, you want to find the 'hottest' carrier level your audio interface can handle and balance that against the strength of the modulating CV to avoid clipping your VCA or RM. Then you will need to use the 'scale' knob to get a 1:1 match between 'original' and 'recovered' CV. Bear in mind that you might need a negative scale to counteract any anomalies in your system.

Here's a short clip featuring three tracks of one VCO following the same bipolar random CV. For each successive 'harmony' track I adjusted the decoder's scale.

Nice one Os - now all we need is a pitch to CV converter!

For more Silent Way tips and tricks read this post.

Sunday 4 October 2009

Patch of the Day - Hertzsounds2


Been having a lot of fun with The Harvestman's 'Hertz Donut' digital VCO since picking one up last week.

Today's PotD features five multi-tracked voices/ patches and showcases the HD's thru-zero linear FM, waveform discontinuity and tracking mode capabilities. No filters were used and I tried to keep the effects to a minimum to give you an idea of its raw sound.

Patch of the Day - Hertzsounds2  by  navs

Expect a full modular lab review including a comparison with another thru-ZerO FM heavyweight soon!

Wednesday 30 September 2009

Expert Sleepers Silent Way

Relax, it's in tune ...

I've been using Expert Sleeper's Silent Way to control my modular for the past two weeks. This is a flexible and fast-growing suite of plug-ins which generate control voltages. Like MOTU's Volta, it also features an oscillator calibration routine.

Getting your most troublesome VCOs to track perfectly is just one benefit of DAW-based CV generation. Here are some other ideas:

Gate Delay

Two voice patch, panned left (initial gate) and right (gate echo). Logic's Delay Designer was used to create three clean, tempo-sync'd taps. First you'll hear the four-note sequence 'dry', then with the gate echos triggering voice two. In both these instances, the initial gate steps the analogue sequencer. In the last two measures I used the echos to clock the sequencer.

Envelope Echo

Similar Idea, but using Silent Way to generate an envelope rather than a gate.

LFO Mash

Processed LFO to VCO pitch. First dry, then bit crushed, then quantized using Logic's Grooveshifter, then both.

Pitch Wah

Pitch CV slewed with Logic's Auto Filter. The filter was modulated by its own LFO. First unprocessed, then wah'd with a quarter note triangle, then burbled with a sixteenth note random/ S&H.

Thanks to Expert Sleeper Os for getting me thinking about processing CVs.

Sunday 13 September 2009

Patch of the Day - Long Way Down

Something gentle for a Sunday afternoon:

PotD_longwaydown  by  navs

Live, four-voice patch with manual tweaks.

Self-oscillating Cwejman MMF-1 dual-peak sine modulated by WB smooth out. A-Sol SH-NZ noise to Plan B Model 12 HPF, VCA VC'd by Doepfer A-147 VCLFO sine, itself VC'd by the output of a A-156 Quantizer. Ring Mod output of a VCO-2RM filtered by a Malekko/ Wiard Borg, envelope from Bananalogue/ Serge VCS VC'd by Woggle out. M15 VCO (linFM) gets WB stepped, gated by M10 envelope which is triggered by WB burst and VC'd by stepped out. M10 EOC to A-142 envelope which provides the voltage which is then quantized by the A-156.

Patches. They always start out simple, don't they ...

Saturday 12 September 2009

The all new Schneider's Laden - First Impressions

For those of you who couldn't attend the grand opening on Wednesday, here are a few pictures of the new Schneider's Laden. Located above the Kaiser's supermarket on the Kottbusser Tor in Berlin's Kreuzberg district, the new shop finally provides Andreas and the team with plenty of room to make some noise.

In contrast to the Klang-Keller on the Adalbertstrasse, the new premises are light and airy and offer enough space for a dedicated modular lab, main stage area, vinyl cutting room and offices.

Among the new kit (Macbeth VCO, Moonmodular sequencers, Monorocket case), the shop is also littered with vintage drum machines, synths and test equipment all of which are plugged in and ready to play.

If you're in town, drop in - you're in for a treat ...

... just don't drink the coffee.

Tuesday 8 September 2009

Navs & Penko Live @ Ex'n'Pop, Berlin. Saturday 22:00

I'll be performing live with Penko Stoitschev at the Ex'n'Pop this Saturday.

I'll be jamming on the modular while Penko plays some of his vast collection of field recordings, atmospheres and treated sounds.

Here's what you can expect:

Navs & Penko Live Teaser by navs

Hope to see you there!

Here are the details:

Magistrale 2009, Soundnacht
Sat. 12th September, 10 p.m.
Ex'n'Pop, Potsdamerstr. 157,
10783 Berlin-Schöneberg.

Sunday 6 September 2009

Cwejman Complex Transient Generator

If you checked the Cwejman site recently, you might have noticed the addition of a couple of new modules, for example the VCEQ-4 & CRV-24 crossover filter. I got to play with a prototype of the latter when Wowa visited Berlin last Summer and was very impressed with the sound and possibilites. However, the module that has me most excited is the CTG-VC Complex Transient Generator as it is the result of discussions I've had with Wowa since that meeting. The idea was to design a compact, flexible envelope generator capable of both ADSR and AD functions.

It offers variable slope shapes, is capable of looping the AD stages, has a hold stage for added punch and output attenuation/ polarization. The 'zero restart' option resets the envelope regardless of whether the release stage has been completed. The only option that doesn't seem to have made it through to the final design is a CV-All input, which would allow for a 'key follow' effect, although this could be attained by multing the pitch CV to the relevant VC-ins.

Availability & Price TBA.

CTG-VC product page & PDF.

Monday 31 August 2009

Doepfer A-134-2 VC Crossfader

Here's a quick look at - and a rather longer listen to - Doepfer's voltage controlled crossfader. This is my favorite sort of module: small, versatile and inspiring. The two VCAs accept either audio or CVs and can be configured via jumper to cross-fade either asymmetrically or symmetrically. A simple modification turns the A-134-2 into a 4-in 1-out two-dimensional x-fader.

Before I bought the A-134-2, I tried to patch my own crossfader using a Cwejman VCA-2P. While this worked to an extent, purpose-built modules tend to cut down the time spent cabling and yield quicker results. Within a couple of minutes with the Doepfer, I was up and running.


Doepfer A-134-2 VC Crossfader Demo by navs

1) Audio fade/ symmetrical. Two VCO sequences. LFO as modulator.
2) Audio fade/ asymmetrical. Ducking effect with envelope follower.
3) FM modulator fade/ asymmetrical.
4) FM modulator fade/ asymmetrical.
5) FM modulator fade/ asymmetrical.
6) CV fade/ symmetrical.


Provided you don't overload the VCA by applying too high a CF CV, the audio quality is good. I did notice a slight imbalance in one VCA when used asymmetrically (input one was not at unity at 0V, but rather needed about -0.5V), but I'm sure this can be calibrated. When used symmetrically and with 0V applied, inputs 1 & 2 are balanced at 50/50 rather than at full level. This might bother some users. I personally would prefer the option. Due to the nature of fading, I found the A-134-2 more useful for audio rather than CV sources, where I felt a sequential switch might be more appropriate.

Fading between audio sequences or FM sources are two obvious uses of the A-134-2. In conjunction with an envelope follower, it's also capable of sidechain/ ducking duties (the A-119's sluggish response adding to the severity of the effect!). I don't have a Wiard Boogie, but I could also imagine that, paired with a joystick, a modified A-134-2 would be great for dynamic vector-filtering.

Monday 24 August 2009

Navs live @ SIN Bar Berlin. Thursday, 21:00.

I'll be playing live this Thursday at Stranded in Neverland, Kreuzberg.

Decidedly old school and modular-free, I hope to have some fun jamming with a P3 sequencer, Korg ES-1 & EX800 and a Novation Bassstation.

Fingers crossed the old tech doesn't crap out on me!

First on the bill is one of my oldest friends, Mat, playing a selection of his songs.

If you're in town, come along.

The address is Schönleinstr. 6 10967 Berlin, U-Bhf Schönleinstrasse on the U8.

Friday 21 August 2009

More Hazarai! EHX SMMH Modification

Rechner7's modded EHX Stereo Memory Man with more Hazarai!

Following this thread at where ACA describes how he modded his Akai Headrush, I asked Rechner7 how he'd modified his SMMH and he kindly sent me these pictures, sound clips and details.


smmh-mod by rechner7.

trigger/gate A
trigger/gate B
trigger C


input C is always active and high-pass filtered to avoid a unintentional activation of the loop-mode. the high-pass is just a passive 1-pole high-pass with a cuttoff frequency at about 1-3Hz. a selective remoted looping can be done with A or B.
using the REC switch is equivalent to an enduring press of the tap button. this function is handy for long and pitchable delays in the loop-mode.

the function SELECT activates the additional trigger input A or B.
switching HP A/B to ON enables a high-pass filter. if the high-pass is active, A or B cannot release the loop function. bypassing the high-pass (HP A/B OFF) will activate the loop-mode if the gate length exceeds the threshold.

paragraph: Converting Gate to Switched Trigger (S-Trigger)
paragraph: 2. Basic circuits

You can download a zipped folder with more pictures, the text and audio examples here (6MB).

Thanks to Rechner7 for sharing this! If you want to attempt this simple but Hazarai-enhancing mod, beware: apparently the hardest part is freeing the PCB from the enclosure without breaking it. Neither I nor Rechner7 take any responsibility for your SMMH. Just so that's clear, OK? Happy Modding!

Monday 20 July 2009

Doepfer A-156 Dual Quantizer Demo

It's one of Doepfer's oldest modules and not something I really thought I needed. But, having spent a weekend playing with the A-156, I've got to ask myself 'Why the hell didn't I get one of these years ago?'.

Patch Notes:

1) SEQUENCE FROM ENVELOPE. Plan B Model 10 loops, envelope to A-156, End Out to Wogglebug clock. A-156 Trigger to VCS. Wogglebug stepped output to A-156 transpose, M10 VC-Timebase and VCS VC Fall.

2) GLISSANDO 1. Pitch CV slewed by VCS, then to A-156. Trigger out to A-143-1.

3) GLISSANDO 2. Kenton Pro 2000 II provides auto-portamento. CV to A-156.

4) RANDOM. Wogglebug woggle out to A-156, trigger to Borg filter in LPG mode.

5) KINETIC GATES. Pitch bend via MIDI joystick to A-156 (chromatic mode) and VCO. Trigger to Borg (LPG).

6) SEQUENCE. LFO to A-152 Voltage Addressed T&H/ Switch. Digital outs to mixer, four stage sequence to A-156. Trigger out multed to main envelope and A-160/ 1clock divider/ sequencer to fire kick, high hat & bass.

7) DUAL Q. LFO clock to Q1 & Q2 trigger inputs and A-160/ 1 CLK DIV/ SEQ. /2 > EG1, /16 > EG2.

All patches feature manual toggling of the A-156's mode switches and, maybe a bit too much, EHX SMMH delay.

While not as stable or versatile as my Kenton Pro 2000 II/ Sequentix P3 combo, the A-156's ability to generate sequences from LFOs, envelopes, joystick sweeps and random sources, coupled with the fact that it outputs a trigger on each quantization, makes this a very useful and musically inspiring module.

Friday 10 July 2009

Tiptop Audio Z2040 vs. Doepfer A-105

I've been a fan of SSM 24dB low pass filters since first playing with a mate's Korg MonoPoly in Brighton the late eighties. Years later in Berlin, I bought a second hand PolySix for 300 Deutsch Marks (around €150!) and this further cemented my affection for the SSM sound.

So, naturally, when it came to choosing a filter for my first modular system, Doepfer's A-105 was top of the list. As users of SSM - and indeed most 24dB - filters will tell you, the biggest drawback is the loss of volume and bass at high resonance levels. So when Tiptop Audio's Z2040 was announced, I was keen to hear how this problem had been addressed.

The following test showcases the Z2040, based on the SSM2040 filter chip, using Doepfer’s A-105 as a comparison. While the sound is similar, the Doepfer uses an SSM2044, which is not the same filter topology.

At medium gain and with no resonance, the filters are virtually indistinguishable. The real difference becomes apparent at higher resonance and gain settings, so that is what I have focussed on.

You can download the full test (12.4MB) here.

Here are a few tasters:

High Resonance, A-105, then Z2040 at 0dB, then at full resonance

While the resonance response of the two filters is similar at low gain levels, settings around 0dB and above have a marked effect on the Z2040. See the full test for more details.

Saturation, Z2040, then A-105

Three VCOs, medium resonance, high gain. The Z2040 displays real grunt while accenting harmonics, the A-105 sounds flat and distorted. Again, please see the full test for more details.

The Z2040 is well built and has a classy, creamy and warm sound. The gain stage saturates beautifully, adding rich harmonics without nasty clipping. Will it replace the A-105 in my system? No. I'd miss the 'squared-up', metallic, acid sound that the Doepfer filter is capable of. I guess they'll have to get used to being neighbours in my rack.

Thanks to SchneidersBuero for the loan of the Z2040 and Gur at Tiptop for taking the time to answer my questions.

Friday 26 June 2009

Navs Live @ 48 Stunden Neukölln

I'll be performing live as part of the 48 Stunden Neukölln arts festival in Berlin tomorrow. Here's a taste of what you can expect:

Weather permitting, I'll start patching at around 16:00 at Parzelle 20 in the 'Hand in Hand' Kleingarten Kolonie in the Rütli Strasse. Full address and details are here. Scroll down to the bottom of the page: I'll be on after the scary-looking bloke with the megaphone!

Look forward to seeing you!

EHX Stereo Memory Man w/ Hazarai Demo

A live patch showcasing the EHX SMMH's multi-tap mode:

This box is lots of fun and very easy to tweak on the fly. Ironically, probably better suited to modular musicians than guitarists: it's not the sort of device that you should just set and forget.

Sadly, it doesn't 'pitch' the delays when the time is adjusted and the tap-tempo function is a PITA (viz Loop Mode), but if you just go with the flow and twiddle the knobs, it's capable of some great sounds.

Liv (aged 6) rocks the microKORG XL

With a little help from her dad, fellow canecutter and main man nomsi:

Liv - Superstar!

She seems to be pretty handy with those Nanos too ;)

Lily Allen should be quaking in her Little Boots ...

Tuesday 16 June 2009

Borg, Boogie & the Thwap Test

I only went to Schneiders yesterday to pick up a second Doepfer mixer...

Enjoy the recordings.

Borg Low Pass. Starts in LPG mode, then manual tweaks.

Borg Modes. EG + Manual tweaks

Boogie Modes. EG + sequenced/ random CV of mix relationships (Cwejman VCA-4MX).

I also borrowed a Makenoise QMMG to run a quick 'Thwap' test.

For some, the gold standard in Euro is still the Plan B Model 13. Decide for yourself.

LPG Thwap Test. M13, Borg, QMMG.

VCO and envelope were multed to the three LPGs. The Borg, QMMG & M13 all use different vactrols with different response times, so I adjusted the modulation depth until I got a similar timbre. The M13 was used as the 'control' i.e. offset at zero, MD at full.

Thanks to Schneidersbuero for the loan of the modules.

Friday 12 June 2009

Music Minute - Tempophon

Second composition in the Music Minute series featuring Flight of Harmony's Plague Bearer and Tom Erbe's Soundhack Delay Trio.

The Soundhack delays generate some unique results. My favourite is the pitch delay which is modeled on the Tempophon or Springermaschine, which you might remember from this post on the TU Berlin Studio.

You can download the trio here:

Shorts - f(h) Plague Bearer & mfb DRM04

Two quick demos without much ado:

Flight of Harmony Plague Bearer

(processed signal first, then source material)

A little too idiosyncratic for my taste, but a good, cheap FSU module.

MFB DRM04 Kick Drum Module

This module is fully CV-able and is capable of a wide variety of sounds - the trigger sensitivity has a marked effect. The overdrive is great, if a little 90's. You can download the zipped folder (12MB) here.

Wednesday 20 May 2009

TU Berlin EM Hören on Myspace

Update to this post on Folkmar Hein and the TU studio via Michael Hoeldke:

The TU Berlin's Elektroakustische Musik listening session has a presence on Myspace:

Be sure to visit the page for regular updates on coming events.

Tomorrow is a public holiday in Berlin, so the next session is on Thursday May 28th at 18:00.

The address is the TU Studio (EN324) Elektrotechnik Neubau, Einsteinufer 17, 10587 Berlin. (S-Bahn Tiergarten or U-Bahn Ernst Reuter Platz).

Monday 18 May 2009

New Series - Navs' Music Minute

First track in a new series of 60 second compositions. These are tracks featuring multiple takes, a little editing and some effects. In short, anything I can't file under 'Patch of the Day'.

Edit: the SC Player didn't seem to be working at time of posting. If it's still not showing the waveform, just click on the 'Cat's Cradle' link above.

The main parts (random melody & resonant sweep) were generated by a Jomox SunSyn, the occasional bloops, klonks & spurts were generated by a live patch featuring a Livewire AFG, modulated by a Plan B Model 15 VCO. A Wogglebug generated pitch CVs, triggered a Model 10 EG and controlled its Time Base.

For the main part, I cross-modulated the SunSyn's VCOs and set LFO1 to generate a random pitch for one oscillator and played the 'melody' by hand. Proof, maybe, that the best source of randomness is the human touch.

Monday 11 May 2009

Patch of the Day - Take Six

Modular Bebop. It's going to be huge, trust me.

Various random patches generated by the Wogglebug, sampled and played back in Kontakt.