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Modal Synthesis question
Old 7th July 2016
  #1
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🎧 5 years
Modal Synthesis question

Hi!

I was wondering if any of you guys know a non-modular hardware synth that can make sounds like this, the Mutable Instruments Elements:



Especially from about the 5.00 mark onwards.
I have managed to aproximate a little fraction of these sounds using a microKorg with its wavetable engine... but of course nowhere as clear and defined as what this module can do. I haven't been too lucky with my other synths... I also have IL Harmor but compared to how easy it is to twist the knobs in the video, it's quite a headache to program something that plastic.
I've also been looking at tons of videos but couldn't find anything, but perhaps I've been looking in the wrong direction.

Again, not looking for either software or modular stuff but a modern synth with keys or a desktop module. Also, can any analog gear do this? Does it have to be digital...?
Old 7th July 2016
  #2
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🎧 5 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by ergoton ➡️
Hi!

I was wondering if any of you guys know a non-modular hardware synth that can make sounds like this, the Mutable Instruments Elements:



Especially from about the 5.00 mark onwards.
I have managed to aproximate a little fraction of these sounds using a microKorg with its wavetable engine... but of course nowhere as clear and defined as what this module can do. I haven't been too lucky with my other synths... I also have IL Harmor but compared to how easy it is to twist the knobs in the video, it's quite a headache to program something that plastic.
I've also been looking at tons of videos but couldn't find anything, but perhaps I've been looking in the wrong direction.

Again, not looking for either software or modular stuff but a modern synth with keys or a desktop module. Also, can any analog gear do this? Does it have to be digital...?
I don't understand why you just wouldn't get a small modular setup to do this? You can get this module (which I have and I love by the way) and and a couple of other modules to control and process it for about the same price as a good fixed synth.

Here is an example of my setup when I first started; using that same module. I got this specifically because it was something I couldn't do with any of my other fixed synths (and I have a lot! From Moogs to Korgs to Roland and Clavia and Waldorfs, etc.) I built it as a live performance system...



So many people are so needlessly afraid of the whole modular thing... but if you are serious about synthesis and sound design, you probably should look into modular eventually, there's a whole world of things that can be done with it!
Old 7th July 2016
  #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ergoton ➡️
Again, not looking for either software
Software is where all the exciting physical modeling stuff is taking place, though - Applied Acoustics has a number of offerings for you, as has Reaktor.

Quote:
but a modern synth with keys or a desktop module.
Physical modeling was a mid-late 90s thing. Yamaha VL70m, Korg Z1, Korg Prophecy.

Quote:
Also, can any analog gear do this? Does it have to be digital...?
...yes? Read up a bit on physical modeling first. Delay lines and waveguides and all of that.
Old 7th July 2016
  #4
Deleted cda76ca
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Korg Z1 - great for physical modelling
Elektron Monomachine - very many possibilities
Yamaha EX5/7 can do some well weird stuff with the FDSP though it's less knobby than the previous two.

Going off the wall a minute, how about the newer Korg Wavedrum? It's percussion based, has loads of interesting algorithms and is great for exploring, not a great UI though but sound wise may be perfect
Old 8th July 2016
  #5
Deleted a31a9a9
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Quote:
Also, can any analog gear do this? Does it have to be digital...?
Roughly speaking, there are 3 approaches to physical modelling.

* Finite element methods. You solve continuum mechanics equations on a 3D model of the instrument. As if the instrument existed in a virtual world, and you simulated every single force, vibration, deformation happening in this virtual world. Very computationally expensive and completely out of reach of analog methods - unless you use the analog components to build a room-sized digital computer. Sculpture and Kaivo use a very rough version of this, limited to a 2D (or 1D?) simplification of the main resonating structure of the instrument.

* Modal synthesis. A few approximations and a mathematical trick allow you to describe the way your instrument responds to the player's actions by a network of bandpass filters and gains "tuned" to the properties of the instrument's shape and material (if the material rings a lot the filters are very resonant, if the material sounds "bright" the filters with the highest cutoff will have a higher gain, if the instrument is large the filters will have lower frequencies...). That's what Elements does and this needs many bandpass filters (about 60 in Elements), the more filters, the highest the quality. So if you want to do that with an analog system, you'll need many, many VCFs, and any single change of the material properties or note will require you to adjust the cutoff/resonance/gain of each of the filters. The filters would need extremely accurate tracking for the sound to be in tune. That would be doable in analog, but would be very expensive and totally impractical. This synthesis method is used in all the Applied Acoustics Systems products, and in the Wavedrum.

* Waveguides / Karplus Strong. The phenomena of propagation, absorption and reflection of waves in a string (or tube) are modelled by a delay, a filter, and feedback element. Cheap to do with digital systems. You can recreate that with analog building blocks (BBD delays, VCFs - people routinely patch that with modular systems) with the caveat that it'll be almost impossible to make it play in tune: not only you need a delay with a precise control of short delay times, but the VCF introduces a frequency dependent delay that needs to be compensated. This is the "mid-late 90s thing" Yoozer refers to.
Old 8th July 2016
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Reaktor , the primary modal module can have up to 20000 partials ( in fact these are band pass filters ) ,the insanely high number of filters/partials is just to make sure the module is future proof , when computers will actually be handle >10000 partials in real time

I made a simple ONe with 32 and 64 partials , separate,decay , tune , damp per partial
Here you go
modal 32 .1 | Reaktor User Library : Entry | Reaktor Community


Harmor does additive synthesis ,which is also verry suitable for modal synthesis ,but noise trough bandpass filters yields better results.

there's also a commercial reaktor enemble called prism
http://www.native-instruments.com/en...reaktor-prism/
It sounds great and only uses 512 partials
Listen to the demo tracks of prism

Oh yeah ,if you're planning on buildig your own stuff with the modal module , some experience is required since the module itself is quite a complex beast
Old 8th July 2016 | Show parent
  #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by xanderbeanz ➡️
Elektron Monomachine - very many possibilities
Sure , and I can create a convincing contrabass with a used rubber and a twig
Old 8th July 2016 | Show parent
  #8
Deleted cda76ca
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Quote:
Originally Posted by gentleclockdivid ➡️
Sure , and I can create a convincing contrabass with a used rubber and a twig
I can create a convincing argument that facepalming someone who is trying to help out another individual on a forums is a bit of a dick move.
Old 8th July 2016 | Show parent
  #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Deleted cda76ca ➡️
I can create a convincing argument that facepalming someone who is trying to help out another individual on a forums is a bit of a dick move.
...and you'd be wrong. giving incorrect advice that you can do x with z when there's not much chance of it would probably be considered more of a dick move.
Old 8th July 2016
  #10
Registered User
If I may suggest a different approach, mixing elements of AM, FM, and Subtractive synthesis can do a lot of those sorts of things using fewer components. So, for instance, two FM operators -> Filter -> FM operator can be quite expressive, and doing various combinations and variations on that theme can get all sorts of "Modal" synthesis sounds. The Kurzweil PC3 is great for this because a.) it's basically a digital modular, and b.) you can save/iterate and thus refine your model for whatever sound you're trying to create. Most sounds like this take between 1 and 7 "Layers" in the PC3, which is much more efficient than, say, a whole bunch of bandpass filters. If you throw aliasing into the equation you can get even more mileage for cheap. I've gone down this road primarily pursuing "real" instruments, but it has lots of potential far beyond anything that currently exists in the physical world.


Edit: Adding, combining this with samples is sort of a 21st century approach to "LA" synthesis.

Edit 2: Here's a video showing some of this stuff, tutorial-style:

Old 8th July 2016 | Show parent
  #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Deleted cda76ca ➡️
I can create a convincing argument that facepalming someone who is trying to help out another individual on a forums is a bit of a dick move.
Sorry , it was indeed a bit harsh of me
I apologize .
The monomachine is nice , yes , but you're strectching it a bit.
As far as I know , the monomachine has an interpolated delay line that can be used to do rudimentary karplus .
The delay can be tuned by parameter locking but it lacks an essential feature :
a damping parameter ( filter inside the feedback loop )for natural decays .
And even then , it would just be suited for plucklike sounds .
Tuned BP filters are the way to go
Old 9th July 2016
  #12
Registered User
Sure, you can make clangy sounds with an FM synth. Will it do what Elements does though? Does it allow modulation of parameters that don't really exist on any other instruments? Absolutely not.

Elements is way cool. Its so fun to use because it is unlike anything I've ever used, and makes sounds like I've never heard. Yes, its physical modelling, but I have a couple of physical modelling soft synths and they really don't have the same presence at all.

The cool part is that you don't need a whole lot of other stuff at all to use it. It will track 1v/oct but only with the Geometry knob at about 10 o'clock. Other than that it is rather atonal. Thats something I never dreamed I'd like at all. Running Elements through a Timefactor or Space is just friggin nuts.

I've sampled sounds which is fun too. I think with a few changes, specifically the tonality thing, it would make a glorious poly synth. You can get some great bowed/string type sounds which would sound great chorded up. Hence the sampling.

If you like it, you're not alone. There is an "Elements" thread over at Muff's that is nothing but whacky recordings with Elements alone as a sound source. Normally I don't dig on avant-garde kind of stuff, but I can listen to that stuff all day.

Just get a power source, rig up a small custom cut cardboard box (plenty of youtube vids on how to do it) and have a blast. Of course you'll need something to sequence it with, or a synth that puts out pitch and gate CV. Would be nice to have a modulation source or two also, so get a Disting and an LFO or VCO. Maybe get the little Korg sequencer or a Beatstep?

Don't be scared. I wish more people had the balls that Mutable Instruments has. So many completely unique things coming out. Its a shame he no longer makes discrete synths. Shrithi and Ambika are killer.

If you're married to the computer, as I am too despite tons of hardware, you can go Expert Sleepers. With an ES-3, my DAW piano roll spits out sample accurate pitch and gate CV, with six leftover jacks for LFO's, envelopes, sample and hold, whatever....it can do a lot. The great thing is all of the attenuators built into Elements. Its almost the perfect thing for a tiny setup.
Old 9th July 2016
  #13
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Nord Drum 2 (and 3 I imagine) do some of this, but the most sophisticated stuff is happening in software. Chromaphone and the other AAS stuff... Reaktor... Tremor. Oh, I forgot, M.Brane 1_1 does it too. Analog. But if that's what you want, just make yourself a small modular.
Old 9th July 2016
  #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ergoton ➡️
Again, not looking for either software or modular stuff but a modern synth with keys or a desktop module.
That's a shame tho, because a Nord Modular will do most of that. A NM G2 will do everything you hear in that video.
What you get is a stand alone box with keys (if right version) and control knobs. But it IS modular and you NEED software to program the patch. But you can then store it on the device and tweak the parameters of the patch (which is basically your new synthesizer) with the knobs.
Old 9th July 2016
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Deleted 5d9088b
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Waveguides and modal banks are just two different ways of describing a vibrating string (essentially a time-domain and frequency-domain representation).

The sound examples mentioned by the thread starter from 5.00 onwards can be obtained with any waveguide algorithm which features spectral dispersion (an allpass filter in the feedback loop). STR-1 engine on the Korg Kronos can do this easily.
Old 10th July 2016 | Show parent
  #16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by genshi ➡️
So many people are so needlessly afraid of the whole modular thing... but if you are serious about synthesis and sound design, you probably should look into modular eventually, there's a whole world of things that can be done with it!
On the contrary, I'm not afraid of the modular thing, it's just that that I know myself, once I enter that world my GAS will skyrocket!

I'm very impressed with what I hear from many examples of modular gear, and I feel that Mutable Instruments have nailed it with most of their modules. So I don't exclude it for the future, at all. My question was to find out more about gear that's available out there and that I don't know about yet. Also, where I live I have no opportunities to try out any gear, so maybe I'm afraid of investing in something that potentially is very specialized... once I travel somewhere and test it for myself I can make a better decision whether this stuff and approach is for me or not. It's an easier decision with something like an OB6, modular gear seems to be much more "out there".
Old 10th July 2016 | Show parent
  #17
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Yoozer ➡️
Software is where all the exciting physical modeling stuff is taking place, though - Applied Acoustics has a number of offerings for you, as has Reaktor.

Read up a bit on physical modeling first. Delay lines and waveguides and all of that.
I have worked with software for a while now, and of course it's very powerful. I just feel that it doesn't lend itself to tweaking so much, which is why I've decided to go the hardware route about a year and a half ago. Software just sounds ok from the start, which is also why you don't have to learn so much about how it works, you can go on composing and not even know which is VA and which is PD etc.

I've done some reading but I still have much to learn, so I was kinda looking for some confirmation to see what I have understood so far.
Old 10th July 2016 | Show parent
  #18
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Quote:
Originally Posted by monomer ➡️
That's a shame tho, because a Nord Modular will do most of that. A NM G2 will do everything you hear in that video.
What you get is a stand alone box with keys (if right version) and control knobs. But it IS modular and you NEED software to program the patch. But you can then store it on the device and tweak the parameters of the patch (which is basically your new synthesizer) with the knobs.
If your talking about the nord g1 , the delay can do some karplus , with some clever routing of the keyboard ttracking device to ---->delay mod amount + lp feeddback filter for damping ...
Then yes .
Same for the g2 , which has a dedicated noise/string oscilator/exciter module , but no complex filterbank .


But for modal synthesis , look elsewhere ...You need a filterbank ( not like the one the G1 ) with a LOT of steep filters , and the flexibility to modulate their attack,decay ,damping factor etc...

I hear you thinking : ' well it's a nord modular , we can make our own modal bank with the bp filters .'
Good luck with that .

The best solution is reaktor , really , al lot of people are overlooking the modal and sine bank ----->20000 partials or filters .;that is a lot
Old 10th July 2016
  #19
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Quote:
Originally Posted by xanderbeanz ➡️
Going off the wall a minute, how about the newer Korg Wavedrum? It's percussion based, has loads of interesting algorithms and is great for exploring, not a great UI though but sound wise may be perfect
Agreed. Sounds good but not quite the interface I'd be looking for.


Quote:
Originally Posted by pichenettes ➡️
Roughly speaking, there are 3 approaches to physical modelling.
That's the kind of conversation I was looking for! Thanks. Great to see the information put a little into perspective.

Quote:
Originally Posted by gentleclockdivid ➡️
Reaktor , the primary modal module can have up to 20000 partials

Harmor does additive synthesis ,which is also verry suitable for modal synthesis ,but noise trough bandpass filters yields better results.

there's also a commercial reaktor enemble called prism
Komplete : Synths : Reaktor Prism | Products
I have only started messing with Reaktor very recently. I have MikroPrism, the free small version of Prism with limited possibilities just to see what that stuff sounds like (obviously nothing like the Elements) and to learn what this kind of synthesis can do. Vast possibilities, but...


Quote:
Originally Posted by EDGEK8D ➡️
Sure, you can make clangy sounds with an FM synth. Will it do what Elements does though? Does it allow modulation of parameters that don't really exist on any other instruments? Absolutely not.
... this is what I suspected. Which isn't necessary a bad thing in and of itself, any instrument, hard or soft, should have its own character, but the resulting quality of the sounds should be comparable. And in this sense, the demos of Elements have blown me away.
Also, I can do pretty incredible stuff with Harmor (which I have paid for), but I have to process it externally much more to make it sound "real", to make it pop out so to speak, than I have to with my Moog Sub 37 for example (completely different categories, but again, quality and feel of the result is what I mean). And it takes a while until you get there. During which I could be, like, making music. That's why I said I'd prefer hardware to software, and especially in the style of Elements, with knobs and no menu-diving.
Heck, if Elements is unique as such at the moment, I'll bite someday and go modular. Just making sure I'm not missing anything.

Quote:
Originally Posted by zerocrossing ➡️
Nord Drum 2 (and 3 I imagine) do some of this, but the most sophisticated stuff is happening in software. Chromaphone and the other AAS stuff... Reaktor... Tremor. Oh, I forgot, M.Brane 1_1 does it too. Analog. But if that's what you want, just make yourself a small modular.
I have to admit I looked at AAS Chromaphone and liked it, soundwise as well as the UI approach. Reaktor Prism, Harmor... they can all sound very cool.. just don't seem as plastic or "3D", to my ears at least. The M.Brane suffers from the same syndrome as the microKorg - too few knobs But I liked its sound, too.


Thanks again to everybody who has answered so far!
Old 10th July 2016 | Show parent
  #20
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Tim Kleinert ➡️
Waveguides and modal banks are just two different ways of describing a vibrating string (essentially a time-domain and frequency-domain representation).

The sound examples mentioned by the thread starter from 5.00 onwards can be obtained with any waveguide algorithm which features spectral dispersion (an allpass filter in the feedback loop). STR-1 engine on the Korg Kronos can do this easily.
I have more reading to do, it seems ...
Old 10th July 2016 | Show parent
  #21
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Quote:
Originally Posted by gentleclockdivid ➡️
But for modal synthesis , look elsewhere ...You need a filterbank ( not like the one the G1 ) with a LOT of steep filters , and the flexibility to modulate their attack,decay ,damping factor etc...

I hear you thinking : ' well it's a nord modular , we can make our own modal bank with the bp filters .'
Good luck with that .
For pure modal synthesis (as in, carefully construct a spectrum from a enveloped filterbank while stroking your beard) then yes, sure.
But on the nord the options of modifying the feedback path of a karplus stong model are enourmous and many of them are far more interesting then stroking your beard and thinking 'Hmm.. Maybe i need a little more 472Hz..'
How about several differently tuned and interacting waveguides with selectable cross-injection points and stereo (or even quad) output taps? Etc. Etc.. Etc...
Old 10th July 2016 | Show parent
  #22
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ergoton ➡️
I have to admit I looked at AAS Chromaphone and liked it, soundwise as well as the UI approach. Reaktor Prism, Harmor... they can all sound very cool.. just don't seem as plastic or "3D", to my ears at least.
Yeah, I can't say they're as good as the Elements but I do think they're very good. I think what you miss about the Elements is that it can very easily become part of a bigger ecology. Reaktor can too... I've not tried any physical modeling blocks out yet. That would be fun. I did think that while the Nord Drum sounded great, I was able to get most of what I was using it for with software. I think if you bought a rack that could house Elements and a few other modules or maybe a semi-modular like the Mother 32, you'd have quite a synth there and you wouldn't really need to be upgrading it much.
Old 10th July 2016
  #23
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ergoton ➡️
On the contrary, I'm not afraid of the modular thing, it's just that that I know myself, once I enter that world my GAS will skyrocket!

I'm very impressed with what I hear from many examples of modular gear, and I feel that Mutable Instruments have nailed it with most of their modules. So I don't exclude it for the future, at all. My question was to find out more about gear that's available out there and that I don't know about yet. Also, where I live I have no opportunities to try out any gear, so maybe I'm afraid of investing in something that potentially is very specialized... once I travel somewhere and test it for myself I can make a better decision whether this stuff and approach is for me or not. It's an easier decision with something like an OB6, modular gear seems to be much more "out there".
So, you're not afraid of modular, but you admit to having no self-control?

Seriously though, if you want the sound of Elements, you should get Elements, simple as that. Despite all the "suggestions" people have thrown out, I haven't found any other synth/drum machine that can do quite all that the Mutable Instruments Elements can do (again, see the video I posted and try to find any other hardware synth that can do that!)

It's not that hard to just build a small modular setup and stop at that. By saying that "once you enter the world of Modular, your GAS will skyrocket" well isn't the same true of just synths in general? Sounds like you are already "gassing" for something other than what you already have in software...

Modular is just another type of hardware synth, the difference being, it's more flexible so you can expand down the road when you are ready... where as with fixed synths, you think you only need "that one great big synth that will do it all" but you will eventually get another big fixed synth that can do it all, then another, and another... and that's way more expensive than buying a bunch of little modules. So actually, over time, Modular will SAVE you money, and give you a wider sonic palette!

Quote:
Originally Posted by ergoton ➡️
Quote:
Originally Posted by pichenettes ➡️
Roughly speaking, there are 3 approaches to physical modelling.
That's the kind of conversation I was looking for! Thanks. Great to see the information put a little into perspective.
Incidentally, just in case you didn't know... that person that gave you such great information, pichenettes, is none other than the founder of Mutable Instruments and creator of Elements... and he is brilliant at what he does.
Old 10th July 2016 | Show parent
  #24
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Quote:
Originally Posted by genshi ➡️
Incidentally, just in case you didn't know... that person that gave you such great information, pichenettes, is none other than the founder of Mutable Instruments and creator of Elements... and he is brilliant at what he does.
no fooling, and super helpful on forums.
Old 10th July 2016 | Show parent
  #25
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Quote:
Originally Posted by pichenettes ➡️
Roughly speaking, there are 3 approaches to physical modelling.

* Finite element methods. You solve continuum mechanics equations on a 3D model of the instrument. As if the instrument existed in a virtual world, and you simulated every single force, vibration, deformation happening in this virtual world. Very computationally expensive and completely out of reach of analog methods - unless you use the analog components to build a room-sized digital computer. Sculpture and Kaivo use a very rough version of this, limited to a 2D (or 1D?) simplification of the main resonating structure of the instrument.

* Modal synthesis. A few approximations and a mathematical trick allow you to describe the way your instrument responds to the player's actions by a network of bandpass filters and gains "tuned" to the properties of the instrument's shape and material (if the material rings a lot the filters are very resonant, if the material sounds "bright" the filters with the highest cutoff will have a higher gain, if the instrument is large the filters will have lower frequencies...). That's what Elements does and this needs many bandpass filters (about 60 in Elements), the more filters, the highest the quality. So if you want to do that with an analog system, you'll need many, many VCFs, and any single change of the material properties or note will require you to adjust the cutoff/resonance/gain of each of the filters. The filters would need extremely accurate tracking for the sound to be in tune. That would be doable in analog, but would be very expensive and totally impractical. This synthesis method is used in all the Applied Acoustics Systems products, and in the Wavedrum.

* Waveguides / Karplus Strong. The phenomena of propagation, absorption and reflection of waves in a string (or tube) are modelled by a delay, a filter, and feedback element. Cheap to do with digital systems. You can recreate that with analog building blocks (BBD delays, VCFs - people routinely patch that with modular systems) with the caveat that it'll be almost impossible to make it play in tune: not only you need a delay with a precise control of short delay times, but the VCF introduces a frequency dependent delay that needs to be compensated. This is the "mid-late 90s thing" Yoozer refers to.
CCRMA lists six unless you are combining Ruiz-Strings with Cardis-Anima and Mosiac processes
https://ccrma.stanford.edu/~jos/kna/...echniques.html
Old 11th July 2016 | Show parent
  #26
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Quote:
Originally Posted by genshi ➡️
Incidentally, just in case you didn't know... that person that gave you such great information, pichenettes, is none other than the founder of Mutable Instruments and creator of Elements... and he is brilliant at what he does.
Really! No, I didn't know that. Awesome!


I honestly consider getting one of these, but like I've said before, I will have to try one first. The next store that might have one is about 8 hrs away, so on some occasion it's going to happen.

I'd have two little questions about modular though (no experience at all, sorry),
1. are they all monophonic and 2. could I control the Elements using the CV outs from my Minibrute, for example? It has Gate and Pitch out. I see the Elements has Gate in... and Midi is out of the question, I gather.

Sorry for those noob questions, I'm more knowledgeable about subtractive, traditional keyboard synths and the musical side more than the tech side, but even though this side of synthesis is new to me it's great fun to explore.
Old 11th July 2016 | Show parent
  #27
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ergoton ➡️
1. are they all monophonic
Every "voice" needs its own set of CV and Gate signals. A modular oscillator will accept an incoming CV signal; an envelope will accept an incoming Gate signal.

Here's a very basic example that involves 3 modules; an oscillator, a VCA and an envelope.

You connect the CV from your controller to the CV of the oscillator, and the Gate from the controller to the Gate input on the envelope. You connect the audio output of the oscillator to the audio input of the VCA, and the VCA output to your mixer/speakers.

Now you have a very simple monophonic synthesizer. If you add a second oscillator module, you need yet another module - a mixer. Both outputs of the oscillator go into the mixer, the mixer output goes in the VCA, and the rest is still as described in the first paragraph.

This gives you a very simple two-oscillator synthesizer. It's still monophonic as you'd understand it from a traditional perspective. If you wanted to make it truly polyphonic, you basically need to duplicate that entire set of modules for as many times as you want to have voices. So if you have a Prophet 5, you need 5 x 2 oscillator modules, 5 x 1 filter modules, 5 x 2 envelope modules, 5 LFOs and a bunch of mixers and multiples. This gets expensive fast.

The trick is that the modular oscillator does not care where the CV comes from. You could say - "I want a monophonic 2-osc/voice synth", or you could say "I want 2 1-osc/voice synths" (and your limit would be in the number of VCAs and envelopes because the gate signal supplies the articulation). So the challenge is in "how can I orchestrate my music" - because it's more like composing for 5 instruments than composing for a 5-voice polyphonic synth.

Of course, nothing stops you from multitracking.

Quote:
2. could I control the Elements using the CV outs from my Minibrute, for example? It has Gate and Pitch out. I see the Elements has Gate in... and Midi is out of the question, I gather.
CV/Gate is the default language for modular.

However, the Elements alone is not likely to be enough by itself, but I'll leave that to others to tell you what stuff you need.

Last edited by Yoozer; 11th July 2016 at 12:34 PM..
Old 11th July 2016 | Show parent
  #28
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🎧 10 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by genshi ➡️
So, you're not afraid of modular, but you admit to having no self-control?

Seriously though, if you want the sound of Elements, you should get Elements, simple as that. Despite all the "suggestions" people have thrown out, I haven't found any other synth/drum machine that can do quite all that the Mutable Instruments Elements can do (again, see the video I posted and try to find any other hardware synth that can do that!)

It's not that hard to just build a small modular setup and stop at that. By saying that "once you enter the world of Modular, your GAS will skyrocket" well isn't the same true of just synths in general? Sounds like you are already "gassing" for something other than what you already have in software...

Modular is just another type of hardware synth, the difference being, it's more flexible so you can expand down the road when you are ready... where as with fixed synths, you think you only need "that one great big synth that will do it all" but you will eventually get another big fixed synth that can do it all, then another, and another... and that's way more expensive than buying a bunch of little modules. So actually, over time, Modular will SAVE you money, and give you a wider sonic palette.
Wise advice. You can't afford not to!

One thing I'll add, as a devil's advocate (Now that needs an emoji), is that modular has a non monetary cost that isn't spoken of that much. Time. I'm just dipping my toes in the kiddy pool of modular (System 1m/Mother 32) and I do already see that the format begs for experimentation in a way that fixed synths do not. Different than software modular too, in the sense that at least after I'm done building a patch in Reaktor I can make a bunch of snapshots for it and return to them. At that point it becomes no different than any other software synth. I personally want to revisit sounds all the time. I kind of feel that "curating" the instruments in a piece is a big part of the process, and with modular, one of the instruments tends to be tabla rasa or something other than what you want next. Think of it like decorating your new home, but one of your paintings is an Etch-a-Sketch and it always gets shaken blank by the movers so you just don't have to think where you're going to put it, you have to remake what it was showing if you want that again. (You may not) So, for me, that helps put the "breaks" on how large I'm going to let this get, if I let it get any larger. I probably will, or at least make it different than it currently is. I don't foresee myself letting it get too out of hand though, G.A.S. or not. The ability to work nimbly and fast is too important to me to let it get out of hand. The main benefit to me, and I think the OP as well, is in the fact that I made a synth that no manufacturer would have made me.
Old 11th July 2016 | Show parent
  #29
Registered User
 
🎧 5 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by zerocrossing ➡️
Wise advice. You can't afford not to!

One thing I'll add, as a devil's advocate (Now that needs an emoji), is that modular has a non monetary cost that isn't spoken of that much. Time. I'm just dipping my toes in the kiddy pool of modular (System 1m/Mother 32) and I do already see that the format begs for experimentation in a way that fixed synths do not. Different than software modular too, in the sense that at least after I'm done building a patch in Reaktor I can make a bunch of snapshots for it and return to them. At that point it becomes no different than any other software synth. I personally want to revisit sounds all the time. I kind of feel that "curating" the instruments in a piece is a big part of the process, and with modular, one of the instruments tends to be tabla rasa or something other than what you want next. Think of it like decorating your new home, but one of your paintings is an Etch-a-Sketch and it always gets shaken blank by the movers so you just don't have to think where you're going to put it, you have to remake what it was showing if you want that again. (You may not) So, for me, that helps put the "breaks" on how large I'm going to let this get, if I let it get any larger. I probably will, or at least make it different than it currently is. I don't foresee myself letting it get too out of hand though, G.A.S. or not. The ability to work nimbly and fast is too important to me to let it get out of hand. The main benefit to me, and I think the OP as well, is in the fact that I made a synth that no manufacturer would have made me.
good point, there's often more time involved, and there are some patches that are almost impossible to reproduce. on the other hand, you can set up a patch with variations that you can recall. The other day I wanted to figure out what kind of sounds I could get out of am, so I set up two oscillators and a vca, went through the frequency differences that sound musical (unisson, octave, octave + fifth, 2 octaves...), tried different wave forms, sync, and fm (all of this is a thousand times easier with an oscilloscope). If you note down the sweet spots you can often find them again the next time around. repeat it again and you start to have a little am sound palette.
an advantage with modular is the sound you get using triangle-core or through-zero oscillators. I know that you have lots of experience with software synths. are there any that can sound like a rubicon or a verbos complex oscillator? I'd love to try them if so.
Old 11th July 2016 | Show parent
  #30
Registered User
 
🎧 5 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by Yoozer ➡️
<snip>


CV/Gate is the default language for modular.

However, the Elements alone is not likely to be enough by itself, but I'll leave that to others to tell you what stuff you need.
There are other tricks to get several voices... if you've seen my Youtube videos, I have a small (but powerful) two row system that can have multiple voices going... and I only have one VCA... I know the mantra is "you can never have too many VCAs" but, what if you want droning parts? Or what if you have a full voice module that doesn't require additional VCAs?

Incidentally, for the OP, if he wants the Elements, that would be pretty much all he needs as it does have it's own internal VCA as well as Reverb! And besides being able to "Bow" "Blow" and "Strike" there are hidden synth modes in Elements, as in most Mutable Instruments modules. (Also, their Braids module by the way also has a built-in VCA that you can turn on or off.)

In my case, I use their Warps module as a VCA, even though it's technically not a dedicated VCA module (it's a Crossfading/Wavefolding/Ring Modulating/Bit Comparator/Vocoder that happens to also act as a VCA. And with the alternative firmware loaded... )

Quote:
Originally Posted by zerocrossing ➡️
Wise advice. You can't afford not to!

One thing I'll add, as a devil's advocate (Now that needs an emoji), is that modular has a non monetary cost that isn't spoken of that much. Time. I'm just dipping my toes in the kiddy pool of modular (System 1m/Mother 32) and I do already see that the format begs for experimentation in a way that fixed synths do not. Different than software modular too, in the sense that at least after I'm done building a patch in Reaktor I can make a bunch of snapshots for it and return to them. At that point it becomes no different than any other software synth. I personally want to revisit sounds all the time. I kind of feel that "curating" the instruments in a piece is a big part of the process, and with modular, one of the instruments tends to be tabla rasa or something other than what you want next. Think of it like decorating your new home, but one of your paintings is an Etch-a-Sketch and it always gets shaken blank by the movers so you just don't have to think where you're going to put it, you have to remake what it was showing if you want that again. (You may not) So, for me, that helps put the "breaks" on how large I'm going to let this get, if I let it get any larger. I probably will, or at least make it different than it currently is. I don't foresee myself letting it get too out of hand though, G.A.S. or not. The ability to work nimbly and fast is too important to me to let it get out of hand. The main benefit to me, and I think the OP as well, is in the fact that I made a synth that no manufacturer would have made me.
I agree that it can be a "Time" thing a bit, but as with fixed synths, as long as you learn your instrument, there shouldn't be an issue. Most people today using fixed synths or software rely way too much on presets. I was fortunate enough to start on this stuff before preset synths were available (back in the 1970s with the Arp Odyssey, Korg MS-20, etc.) so if you just learn "synthesis" and what the knobs do on your particular synth, you should be able to create or recall any sound you like... same with modular. It takes me about 5 minutes to come up with a patch that I want. Seriously.

Also, modular is like Zen... as Buddhism states "nothing is permanent" and "live in the moment". So it is comforting to start with a clean slate each time and create something new and fresh... because, why retread what you've already done before?


Quote:
Originally Posted by ergoton ➡️
Really! No, I didn't know that. Awesome!


I honestly consider getting one of these, but like I've said before, I will have to try one first. The next store that might have one is about 8 hrs away, so on some occasion it's going to happen.

I'd have two little questions about modular though (no experience at all, sorry),
1. are they all monophonic and 2. could I control the Elements using the CV outs from my Minibrute, for example? It has Gate and Pitch out. I see the Elements has Gate in... and Midi is out of the question, I gather.

Sorry for those noob questions, I'm more knowledgeable about subtractive, traditional keyboard synths and the musical side more than the tech side, but even though this side of synthesis is new to me it's great fun to explore.
Don't be sorry, these are good valid questions!

1. Yes and no. That is a tricky one. Yoozer pretty much explained it well, but there are exceptions/tricks/grey areas. But for the most part, yes, Monophonic, but with multiple voices happening (depending of course on how much you expand.)

2. Absolutely! I perform every month live with a bunch of modular guys and gals, and a lot of them use either their Minibrutes or Microbrutes to interact with their modular system!

Also, one of the best utilities out there that I highly recommend, is the Korg SQ-1 sequencer. It's only $99 new and you could use it to sequence your Minibrute, any MIDI synths, your modular stuff... I have two of them!

And MIDI is not out of the question... there are many MIDI to CV modules out there. When I worked for Synthrotek, they had a good simple MIDI/CV module that I tested and works really well. With it, you could sequence your modules from your DAW, or use a MIDI keyboard to control CV parameters on your module.

And with that, I will leave you with a couple of videos for inspiration... not my best work, but hopefully you'll be able to hear what all can be done with a fairly small setup (and as you'll see, I don't do "bleeps and bloops" nor do I do techno.)





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