Plug and Play

Analog oscillators and filters actually produce sounds, or create behaviors, while digital sounds are always reproductions of sounds or behaviors. While some stage-synth classics still exert a strong fascination on me, I am still devoting myself to the modular systems.

These offer a universal and open approach. They deepen and concretise the awareness of sound processes. A modular system offers all possibilities for the interpretation of existing electronic works. Circuits can be implemented and can now be interwoven with digital processes at any point.

WIth Modular synthesizers we distinguish between operating voltage and control voltage. While the operating voltage varies between 12-, 15- and 18V, the control voltage (CV) is 10V pp (peak to peak) and volt/octave (= 10 octaves) for most systems. Thus, different formats can be "patched" and form an instrument together - they only need different power supplies.

My Hybrid-Synthesizer Project

and some technical details
  • A hybrid (analogue and digital) instrument, as I'm looking for, requires analog modules with control voltage inputs for the control of the parameters. The CV voltages are to be generated and received by the computer.

    An overview of what "hybrid" means in this case and how, by what means, interfaces and devices I try to implement this. The key is the conversion of "Audio to CV" in the computer. From a stereo channel 40 channels CV can be extracted!

    The next picture shows some "digital modules" in Max/MSP.

    Quite a few hardware modules I had acquired to study and replace them possibly by something comparable (programmed in Max/MSP). However, there is a cost-cutting - e.g. A noise module can be replaced by software, but it can cost so little that an audio channel of the interface (for noise) plus a channel random CV (via audio-to-CV) would be much more expensive than the module. The price is, of course, not a decisive factor.

    The good thing about this enterprise is that it can be done with all module formats.


Analog Modular-Synthesizer

Buchla, MOTM und Eurorack

    The Eurorack format offers the largest module selection and the most favorable form of a modular synth. Due to the high circulation, there is also a lively used-market. Due to the large selection of modules and a single design chaos it is a rather "restless" format. For me the modules and controls are too small - but I still own some modules.

    Especially the simple transportability is, of course, a striking argument. This suitcase is only about 28 x 28 x 48 cm, 10 kg weight and it can be transported completely cabled - also in the aircraft. The modules are 3U large, the case is 19 inches.

    A more noble matter is the 5U MOTM format. Musical and technical maxims determine a consistent form, which seems strengthened by experience and analysis of the weaknesses of historical modular systems. MOTM modules are offered in (DIY) parts as well as ready built for operation. Above all, the high quality of the parts used is to be mentioned, which also leads to excellent audio quality. A considerably larger format in relation to the Eurorack, which also creates a completely different feel.

    My "main" format is now the Buchla 200 Series - the "Electric Music Box" of the 70s. In this format everything is something special - Banana plug, unipolar, 1.2V / oct - and most of the modules in my instrument are not from the 70s, but fresh clones.

    More about the modular formats:




Historic Stage-Synthesizer

As the synthesizers learned to run

    As luck would have it, the establishment of the synthesizers as an instrument fell precisely into my youth and the digitalization towards the end of my studies. As a pianist with an inclination to electronics, I was always exposed to the tension field of the developments, but had only a few instruments in focus - mostly they were initially unaffordable (1 $ was 3 to 4DM).

    Still, there were some synths (and samplers) I dealt with over the course of time. Some instruments and their control are closely related to the music I have made and some of the instruments I mourn a little, but I am still glad to use them no more today.

    Those who have left a deeper impression are: Minimoog Model D, EDP Wasp Deluxe, Yamaha TX816, Yamaha TG77 and the AKAI 1000 sampler - from the 70s to the 90s. Only the instruments of ARP I have left out - they have their own page on my site (see right).

    Read more


    The instruments from ARP take a special place in my life: my first two synthesizers were a Rhodes Chroma and the ARP 2600 - two real battleships that shaped me. From 2006-10, there was a second ARP wave in my life, because some ARP Odyssey and -Axxe models were the beginning of my hybrid synth project. Great instruments that are easy to maintain, easy to transport and also easy to expand.

    ARP built wonderful synthesizers, whose tonal variety, complexity (even technically) and the strong character still convince today. Especially in the last phase, I learned a lot about ARP, because I met Eric van Baaren (Saint Eric), who adapted the instruments to me superbly.

    Therfore the ARPs have an extra page with a lot of Odyssey.

    My ARP Archive