In the search for the golden instrument, it is worthwhile to make comparisons, which go beyond the impression of hearing, when dealing with drastic questions or inconceivable and preconceived notions. After a first test, which brought clear insights, I decided to deepen these attempts.
Of course, it is a bit unjust, even the costs are hard to compare. Also the 15V of MOTM promise a better saturation behavior than the 12V Eurorack modules.
Nevertheless, the comparisons help - on the one hand in the distinction between the technical approaches of different manufacturers, on the other in the interpretation of the visualizations and the verification of their own auditory impressions.
The picture shows two 1: 1 comparisons. Above (blue) is a RM comparison - shown as waveforms. The upper waveform shows Eurorack, the lower MOTM. Below, in the green / violet part, are two White Noise modules, shown as Sonograms. The left half is Eurorack, the right is MOTM. Yellow is loud and violet is quiet. There are three "tones" (envelopes). Below are the low frequencies, above the high ones.
What can be seen in 1): Although the incoming frequencies for the ring modulation are identical, the waveforms are very different (as the sound is). It can be seen that the upper waveform strikes up and down - i. it clips. (Up and down is almost an all-through, straight, horizontal line, because the vertical lines are all cut off.) The lower waveform is very beautifully allotted. The waves do not strike and the superposition of the waves looks almost like 3D.
Albeit at 2), both models promise White Noise - White Noise is a uniform distribution of all frequencies - but it is clearly seen that the frequency distribution (green) over the entire range extends only in the right window, while mainly deep in the left window Frequencies. In fact, the very low frequencies are so loud that a yellow strip can be seen.
The modules tested and recorded in pairs get identical signals, i.e. an X frequency - in this case about 391 Hz from Plan B M15 - and a Y frequency, which runs from 3 Hz upwards through the whole spectrum, generated by the Intellijel Rubicon and turned by hand. I just wanted to hear (and see) the progression. The results were clear and helpful for me. I turned down the recording volume a bit for better visibility of the peaks.
Oakley Sound RM 4014
On the screenshots, the entire audio file can be seen in the upper, bright part. The lower part shows an enlarged section, which is marked above by the white frame. Left is Doepfer, right Oakley.
1.1 Image: carrier frequency range of 3 - 8 Hz
The vertical dimension (left) shows that the A-114 does not build up a level. When listening, you will notice that as soon as the level builds up (at about 20 sec.), the A-114 does not produce any low frequencies, although the Rubicon VCO starts in the LFO range. A high buzz or rasping can be heard, which remains constant.
The Oakley RM (right) is softer, rounder, more accurate and produces frequencies that we can perceive not only with the ears, but also physically, from the solar plexus downwards (approximately from sec. 24). Pretty much where the Doepfer starts the rasping fully.
1.2 Image: carrier frequency range of 3 - 8 Hz
Here you will notice that the A-114 waveform is much brighter and that the frequencies at the top and bottom are virtually a straight line. The brightness/density of the A-114 points to higher frequencies (about 200Hz) and the "straight" border lines above and below show the scrambling. Oakley shows a much better resolution or staggering of the frequencies. Where the Doepfer starts to scratch is the spot where Oakley produces clearly perceptible low tones: 40 - 110 Hz. The left waveform (A-114) is much too bright for these frequencies being generated by the Rubicon.
1.3 Image: carrier frequency range over 200 Hz
It can be seen even more clearly in the third screenshot. Here the Oakley is also brighter because both input frequencies are already above 200 Hz. This is (unfortunately) the main frequency range of the A-114 over the whole spectrum (also visible by the evenly bright waveform) - together with the rasping.
As a "sound" module the A-114 might be ok, if you like it - as a ring modulator it is completely unsatisfying.
The modules tested and recorded in pairs get identical signals, i.e. an X frequency - in this case about 391 Hz from a Plan B M15 - and a Y frequency, which runs from 3 Hz upwards through the whole spectrum, generated by the Intellijel Rubicon and manually rotated. I just wanted to hear (and see) the progression. The results were clear and helpful for me. I turned the recordings down a bit, for a better view of the edges (peaks).
The maximum volume in this example is -3.1 dB. Oscillators: Intellijel Rubicon and Plan B M15 - both sine, Plan B VCO at approx. 500 Hz), Rubicon from low to high through the entire spectrum.
Oakley Sound RM 4014
When listening, I notice that the differences are not as big as in the first example, but the Makenoise ModDemix has a somewhat hollow and more high frequency sound.
2.1 Image: carrier frequency range of 3 - 20 Hz
Even at first glance, it is noticeable that the waveforms are different: while rugby balls are shown upright on the left, there is a sequence on the right - top down top etc. - etc. can be seen. This shows the different technical implementation of the ring modulation in the two modules, which is already expressed in the name of Makenoise: AM/RM (emphasis on AM).
Counting the peaks, you'll find that the ModDemix has twice as many peaks (because it's not alternately up and down) - the reason why the sound impression is more high-pitched and sounds a bit hollow?
The Oakley RM 4014 (right): I think that a Ring Modulation, in my opinion, should look exactly like this.
2.2 Image: carrier frequency range of 40 - 110 Hz
The second picture shows that (in contrast to the Doepfer A-114) there is a stronger similarity of the waveforms of both ring modulators. The brighter waveform (left) shows that the ModDemix sounds a bit brighter/higher overall - the Oakley RM shows a more differentiated distribution/grading of the frequencies. The brightness also corresponds more to the frequencies (40-110 Hz).
2.3 Image: carrier frequency range over 300 Hz
The third screenshot deepens the impression. You can see that (left) the denser heights (the bright center area) and the larger empty areas above and below create a "harder" and somewhat blurred modulation pattern. Regularly single lines run out of the waves. Here too, Oakley creates a more multi-faceted waveform.
2.4 Image: carrier frequency range over 1000 Hz
Extreme modulations can be seen in the higher frequency range of the ModDemix. You can clearly see that things are a bit wild... The Oakley RM 4014 stays cool. In the next picture you can see again the basic difference of the waves. But what is more important is the much finer (and faster) reproduction of the transient response.
With the ModDemix, the bright start looks almost like a fade (rounded edges) - the Oakley's Attack is nice to see and much straighter. Even the first increase before is much more sculptural! After all, we can distinguish most instruments / sounds primarily by the first 20 to 40 milliseconds (beginning of the attack curve)!
After the revealing Ring Modulator comparisons, I was very interested in making the big difference between my Noise generators from Doepfer and Oakley visible in order to underline my listening impression.
The two modules are very different: While the Doepfer A-118 has two outputs for White and Colored Noise - the Colored Noise can be varied by two controls "blue" and "red", the Oakley has three Noise Outputs, "White" , "Pink" and "Infra Red". For the creation of Colored Noise, the Oakley Noise Generator has two CV-controllable 6dB filters (LP / HP). The Doepfer module, on the other hand, still offers a Random Generator, which can be adjusted by "Rate" and "Level".
For the comparison here, however, only the White and the Colored Noise of the two modules - that is, their central task. The third Noise Output of the Oakley module, "Infra-Red", I do not include. Infra-Red produces a deep "wom", which is suitable to control filters and similar.
While the A-118 is designed for manual operation (no CV inputs), designed as a useful component of a compact synthesizer that is manually operated, the Oakley module is more suitable for integration into more complex systems. This is, of course, still possible with the Doepfer, but it would need the additional CV-controllable filters. The practical "pocket knife" impression of the A-118 is reinforced by the small random generator (= integrated corkscrew). Especially when coloring, the Doepfer module is more directly (more intuitive?) than the Oakley module, which however brings a bit more gauge charm (in the positive sense!).
For a better understanding of the Colored Noise: "Red" means the low- and "Blue" the high frequencies.
Also in this comparison, the recordings are maximum -3.1 dB in order to be able to recognize possible distortions better.
Doepfer A-118 (In the picture: left half)
Oakley Modular Noise and Dual Filter (In the picture: right half)
When listening, it immediately becomes apparent that the A-118 sounds much lower. How can that be? White Noise is White Noise? After reading the Doepfer-site, I wasn't smarter, but in the manual is talked about the "Emphasis of the Low Frequencies" in the Random Generator - perhaps the reason for the deeper sound is the tuning of the two functions of the module. The White Noise of the A-118, however, corresponds rather to a Colored Noise.
Even without a key, the color distributions in the Sonogram are directly traceable. It is probably the only rethinking crunchpoint of the Doepfer module: the missing high frequencies - or the lack of sharpness of the White Noise - the A-118 will not lead to the goal. In itself, however, it is a good playable module - also very intuitive.
The White Noise of the Oakley Modular is the most perfect I've tested until today. See below for a comparison of 5 Noise Modules in a video.
A comment on "simple" modules. For me, as a "Max-ist" and owner of a "Source of Uncertainty Model 266", it has become clear that "simple random" becomes boring within a short period of time. After a while you can recognize the module because of it's "Random". This is too much musical interference. With Max, there is much more to be done. With the Buchla Model 266 it's the first time to work with fun and inspiration on a Random-Generator Module for a long time. If it is recognizable, then (still - after two years) for positive reasons.
The Doepfer module does not offer Pink Noise, but two potentiators that can mix (high) blue and (low) red colors. That's why it's called "Colored".
Doepfer A-118 (Due to the blue and red pots without sonogram)
Oakley Modular Noise and Dual Filter (see sonogram image)
Here too, the better defined heights of the Oakley strike. The Doepfer is versatile, but it rumbles with stronger red proportions. The Pink Noise Sonogram of the Oakley module again shows the good resolution and frequency graduation of the Oakley module. It corresponds to the Pink Noise. Interesting that it still shows more heights than the White Noise sonogram of the Doepfer module.... ;-)
6 x White Noise (Max/MSP, Oakley, Analogue Systems, Plan B, Doepfer, Wikipedia)
Two Aiff audio files (RS380 and Plan B M25) were sent to me. Since they were recorded with different setup and levels, they are not really comparable - but I found the axis alignment so interesting that I made a video of it.
In this video, a sonic aspect comes to light that bothered me at the Eurorack. It is that almost all modules exceed /overdrive and need Attenuation, that's Mixers or VCAs, to sound "good" / correct. If they get that, they are much better than I guessed!