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February 2013

Posts from January 2013

NAMM Analog Synth Demos Inspire Me to Dig Deeper Into U-HE ACE Synthesizer

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Gear Lust

From the looks of the reports coming out of Winter NAMM analog & analog modeled hardware synths were once again all the rage at this year’s show. After watching a few videos, and getting some serious gear lust, I got inspired to reproduce what I was seeing and hearing using what I already own. Ok, it’s not exactly the same as buying a new piece of gear – but it’s more affordable – lol.

$85 Weapon of Choice

imageMy weapon of choice was U-HE ACE as it has a 2 OSC +  Sub Osc architecture similar to Sub Phatty. ACE is actually “pimped up”  ARP 2600 according to the manual

If you really want to compare ACE to a classic modular synth (or three), think of it as a pimped-up ARP 2600 using modules from a Roland SH-7 with (almost) the patching flexibility of an EMS VCS3 / Synthi A – but polyphonic. Just like the ARP 2600.

Added bonus, ACE  is $85, is semi-modular with  patch cables (watch this video “u-he ACE Tutorial: Patch Cables 101”) and is polyphonic. Like the Sub Phatty it has “slop” and beyond that has “crosstalk” and “osc cap failure”. It also has a built-in Scope which is just fantastic for getting visual feedback as you design sounds.

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On an Mission for Nasty Organic Analog

In the last few days, I created over 20 super organic patches. I focused patches with oscillators being detuned, phased,  detuned in hertz (to cause beating), PWM, all with organically controlled instability ACE doesn’t have the same filter overdrive, but you can coax some nasty distortion out of it by overdriving the filter and using the LFOs at audio rates.

ACE has something called a “Mapper” that allows you to add even more variability from note to note. In the example below, I patched the mapper to add some variability for the pitch of OSC 2 which creates a slightly different beating with each key press.

ace

New Sound Set?

I have some momentum going with this style of patch with ACE so perhaps I’ll push on and release a sound set. If you want to be notified if I release a sounds set join the Modulate This! newsletter.

Wrap-Up

In closing, I want to say I’m not hating on the Sub Phatty. If you want “that Moog sound” in hardware, the addition of OSC 2 and a Sub Osc  and distortion seems like it will be popular and fills a gap between the Slim Phatty and the Voyager. However, at only $85 bucks, ACE is worth a look if your need for similar features in a virtual synth.

Links

Mark Mosher
Synthesist, Composer, Perfomer
www.MarkMosherMusic.com


Winter NAMM 2013 Coverage Links

I wasn’t at Winter NAMM 2013 so I really appreciate all the great coverage from:

My personal favorite synth that was announced was the Prophet 12. Looks and sounds yummy. Here is a great video by Sonic State.

Mark Mosher
Synthesist, Composer, Performer
www.MarkMosherMusic.com


Sound Design Tip: Add Variability and Slop with U-HE Diva Synthesizer Trimmers

diva-trimmers

This month I’ve been focusing on writing presets from scratch with Diva. While I’ve had Diva for a  while I’m just now getting around to doing some proper programming from INIT. Diva has a reputation for crushing your CPU so it’s worth mentioning that 1.1 release uses up to 40% less CPU. The 1.1.1 update adds Mountain Lion support and some other bug fixes so make sure you update

One of my favorite parts of Diva is the “Timmers” panel. (P. 29 of the Manual)

This panel is the most ‘esoteric’ part of Diva – from the user’s point of view at least. As well as detuning voices (individual and/or stacked), a variable degree of slop can be applied to cutoff frequency, envelope times, pulse width and glide times.

Using Trimmer to Detune Voices

So lets walk through a simple example to get you going with Trimmers. In this example we’ll use the trimmers to detune voices.

1 – Load the template preset INIT Minipoly

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2 – Got to the Trimmers panel and set voices to 2.

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3 - Now with ever note press, Diva will round-robin between voice 1 & 2. The corresponding LED will light so you know which voice is sounding.

4 – Now turn the VCO1 Trimmer knobs for “VCO Voice Detune” in opposite directions detuning both voices up and down from center.

5 – Start playing notes and you’’ll hear the voices detuning with ever other key press.

More Ideas

Now that you know the basics here are some more ideas to try.

  • Use more voices to add more variability
  • Try stacking voices
  • Use the “Voice Map Modulator” as a modulation source
  • Walk through the factory patches with the “Trimmers” panel open to learn how these sound designers took advantage of these features
  • ….

Wrap Up

As you can see using voice allocation as a modulator with these trimmers can add both predictable and unpredictable results (especially when playing polyphonically). So add this to Diva's fantastic analog modelling and you get a very organic synth that can sound very cranky and interesting.

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Mark Mosher
Synthesist, Composer, Performer
Boulder, CO
www.MarkMosherMusic.com


Music Monday: Rick Reid "Moon Cheese and Other Delights" Featuring Theremin

The 2013 release, "Moon Cheese and Other Delights"

Rick Reid is an composer and performer of original and experimental electronic music and sound effects from Denver Colorado and a member of the Boulder Synthesizer Meetup. Rick is also a thereminist. He’s just released a new album called Cheese and Other Delights which is now available for streaming and mp3 download from most major on-line music retailers.

The album features several tracks Rick recorded between 2009 and 2012, including music commissioned for the web video series Lucha Libre: El Tecolote vs. the Body Thief from Dimension X, and for the world premiere production of the stage play Comfort in the Arms of the Damned.

Available at: Amazon.com - Amazon.es - Amazon.co.uk - Amazon.de - Amazon.fr - Amazon.co.jpeMusic.com - Google Play - iTunes - MySpace.com - Rhapsody.com - Zonga.ro.

Check out Rick’s web site here - http://www.rickreid.com/

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Mark Mosher
Synthesist, Composer, Performer
Boulder, CO
www.MarkMosherMusic.com


Pure and Broken Circuits 01 - Absynth Sound Design Experiment

Pure-broken-01

"Pure and Broken Circuits 01" is an Absynth sound design experiement. A sound design experiment showing the darker virtual analog modelling side of Absynth (no samples here) to illustrate Absynth's range beyond the typical motion pad :^) This piece is an improvisation using an original preset patched with two oscillator in single mode and two Filters with feedback. I'm using waveshaping feedback mode and modulating filters and resonance with envelopes which creates the sonic movement as the envelopes play out.


Kevin Kissinger Modular Set From Annual New Years Electro-Music Streaming Concert

I’ve had the pleasure of hanging out with Kevin Kissinger on four occasions at past Electro-Music events. He’s a great musician who plays synths, organ, and is known for his wonderful Theremin sets. Kevin is also into modular synthesizers and for this recent Electro-Music New Years live streaming concert he performed…

an improvised set on my modular synthesizer as part of the electro-music.com 10th annual New Years Eve streaming broadcast. This 7-minute video is a section of the set that could stand alone as a separate work.

 

Links:

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Mark Mosher
www.MarkMosherMusic.com