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Effects for modular synthesizers

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  • Effects for modular synthesizers

    It would really be a big mistake to get involved in modular synths anyway...


    From what I can tell:

    they're addictive

    they will make my brain explode with wiring schematics

    it might be the equivalent of wiring the crystal structure of a folded molecular helix

    i already have enough things that make things sound like other things

    they are wayyyyy out of my league with less than no money in my pocket

    i will officially be a crazy person: i think of modular synth people as the Trekkie Cosplay of music, the type who talk to you about their collection of figurines and their manuscript of Episode 232 they had signed by Uhura. Sorry.


    I kinda really want to know what the world of modular effects is all about. 

    Polivoks filters? Harvestman? WMD? Flame? So many tempting things...


    My big questions:

    How do you / can you have a system that runs exclusively effects? What would I need to get audio into the modular system? Any dangers / problems?

    What's up with powering them up? How does that work? EXPLAINITLIKEIMFIVE.

    What are the modules that offer the most complexities? The really bizarre ones? The necessities?


    Share pics and any links if you have them... Thanks in advance.


    I'll be twisting Uhura's knobs while I wait for a reply...








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  • #2


    Well, lets start by saying any good synth that accepts outside signals SHOULD have some builtin input protection. Diodes to the power rails? MOV's? Well, there may be other, less noisy ways to go. But that will vary from system to system.

    One of the first things you'll want to look at is, "what are the system power-rails?" It'll be in the system spec stating something like +/- 9 12 15 18 or even 24 volts.

    Hopefully, before the signal gets to deep into an input it wll encounter an AC coupling cap. This would block DC levels from the input, AND it prevents DC from getting back upstream to the driving stage. Note that, just like any other cap in the analog signal path, it will result in some filtering...but hey, much of the synth world is fiter-driven... get used to it. (Hopefully you're not one of those "dont mess with my toan" guys...cuz synths mess with toan, by default.

    You might consider an all-analogue buffer pedal right before the input to the synth... these tend to be pretty robustly designed...look for one with an internal +/- 9 volt supply and you should be pretty safe. If it has differential drivers for the output, so much the better.

    Then, when you choose your signal-in section of the modular synth, really dig into their specs and understand how they designed protection IN to their circuit.

    Consider getting a power conditioner (AC) and run your pedals' supplies AND the synths from it. This way, you can avoid nasty ground issues arising in old buildings, or in locale's where the code-inspector could be bribed...20+ years ago.

    Oh, fair warning: I do not own a modular synth, nor will I every likely do so. It's just not my thing. I just wanted to toss some general techie-knowledge out there to trigger the lazy ratbastards around here to give you some input.



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