Friday, July 29, 2011

SiteTip IV : Doepfer Convergence Group on Soundcloud

If you are interested what kinds of sounds other Doepfer users make, or just want to be inspired, you can always go to the Doepfer Convergence Group on Soundcloud.
This site contains very interesting creative compositions made mainly on a Doepfer A-100 Analog Modular System.

The group is moderated by James Bragg (AKA HyperDust), a synthesizer player and producer from Bristol UK who has played in various bands since the early 1980's and who's musical styles have varied over the years from New Romantic, Rock, Rock/Dance, Trance and various electronica.

" I've been building up 2 suitcases of modules over the last 5 years. I love their immediacy but also their temporary nature.
There is a type of Japanese painting where you paint with water on a special stone. It can look beautiful but after a short time it dries and is gone forever. A Doepfer modular is a bit like that. I'll never get that sound again - you just have to live in the moment. Celebrate the now. We spend too much time worrying about the future, and regretting aspects of the past."

The group has 49 members, and 18 tracks already have been contributed by 10 different musicians.
Some of these are complete songs but it also includes long live-improvisations and weird soundscapes.

Definitely worth a listen, if you have some spare time... Here's a quick preview, just to give you an impression;

 biofeedback no.9 by cubistic microsonic 

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Quick Tip VI : Theremin Antenna

By accident i learned that the same kind of thing that i advised for the A-198 Ribbon Controller (to remove the USB-cable from the controller after use, read the post HERE ) counts for the A-178 Theremin Controller's antennas as well...

If you, like i, have your A-100 system placed upright , the weight of the antennas is just a little bit too much for the mini jack connector.
The permanent sideways pressure, caused by the weight of the antenna can cause loose contacts of the connector. If you have your module installed on a flat (tabletop-like) surface the plugged-in antenna cause less sideways pressure and you'll probably be safe.

Although Doepfer uses a new type of jack sockets since 2003 with stronger springs and so-called "curly rear contacts",  loose contacts can hardly be prevented.
But don't worry, if this problem occurs it is not a huge problem because most of the times you can fix them yourself by following the instructions that you can find HERE.

In my humble opinion it is just better to unplug your antenna from your A-178 module when you are not using the Theremin functions.
Better be safe than sorry...

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Timing Capacitors of the A-100 System

Okay... I did write a little about the Timing Capacitors of the A-100 modules in my latest post, but i found it so interesting that i thought i should do another short post about this.

Timing Capacitors of the A-118
If you want to modify a module yourself please read this document first: Timing capacitors of A-100 modules.
That document is intended for experienced A-100 users who want to modify the timing range of some modules (e.g. envelope generators, LFOs, slew limiters). 

To lengten the time or period the capacitor value has to be increased and vice versa. The capacitor value is proportional to the time or period (e.g. doubling the capacitor value even doubles the time or period, when the capacitor value is increased tenfold even the time or period increases tenfold). 
By request the time range of delay and/or length can be modified very easily by changing the value of a capacitor, e.g. 200 us...1 s or 20 us ... 100 ms or 2us ... 10ms. That way the module can be used also for audio applications.
If an electrolytic capacitor is used one has to pay attention to the polarity (minus and/or plus sign).

Timing Capacitors of the A-119
Although Doepfer has very clear pictures on their site on where to find the right capacitors i decided to make a library of my own as pictures with info for your comfort.
Here are two already, expect more in the coming next months.

Feel free to use and/or distribute... More promotion for the site is very much appreciated ;-)

The mods described will most likely void any warranty and, if not done carefully, can damage the circuit board, IC chips, and faceplates.

Monday, July 18, 2011

A-162 Dual Trigger Delay

The A-162 Dual Trigger Delay contains two separate delay circuits for trigger signals.
This module makes it possible to delay the onset of trigger pulses.
This is very useful in case you want the modulation to kick in a little after the initial start of a sound (modulation delay) or to create interesting echo-like effects.

Both trigger delays have two controls that can alter the onset time and duration of triggers, standard from 0 up to about ten seconds.
The time range of delay and/or length can be modified very easily by changing the value of a capacitor, e.g. 200 us...1 s or 20 us ... 100 ms or 2us ... 10ms.
That way the module can be used also for audio applications.

If you want to modify the module yourself please read this document: Timing capacitors of A-100 modules.

Locating the A-162 timing Capacitors C2 and C5

Timing capacitors:
C2 (delay time)
C5 (length)
Standard value: 10uF
Polarity: minus = left

Also check out THIS post from on how to modify a Doepfer A-162 Dual Trigger Delay for perfect filter pings.

The mods described will most likely void any warranty and, if not done carefully, can damage the circuit board, IC chips, and faceplates.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Doepfer Usergroup Poll: MS-02 Module?

A new Poll at the  official Doepfer Usergroep is about the idea of realizing an A-100 module with the possibillities of the 'classic' Korg MS-02 expander module.
This module was part of Korg's MS series of instruments, which also included the MS-20 Monophonic Synthesizer, the single oscillator MS-10, the keyboardless MS-50 module, and the SQ-10 sequencer. Additional devices included the MS-01 Foot Controller, MS-03 Signal Processor, MS-04 Modulation Pedal and VC-10 Vocoder.
( MS-02 user manual with detailed info online available HERE )

" In my search for a Korg MS-02 I haven't been successful so far. In building a great A-100 modular synth I was. This got me thinking: It would be great if Doepfer would add a module to the A-100 module list with the functionality of the Korg MS-02. I can imagine more people are interested. I sent the question to Dieter and he suggested to start a poll on this list. So here we go. "

O - I would be interested in a Korg MS-02 like module as long it's cheaper than 100 euro
O - I would be interested in a Korg MS-02 like module as long it's cheaper than 150 euro
O - I would be interested in a Korg MS-02 like module as long it's cheaper than 200 euro
O - I'm not interested in such a module

To vote, you can go to the Yahoo! Groups Poll HERE.

More info controlling a MS-20 / MS-10 with a Doepfer device HERE

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Most Wanted V - A-100TKB Touch Sensor Keyboard

Perhaps best known for their non-moving touch sensor keyboards were the Electric Dream Plant Wasp and Gnat ( and the Electronic Music Studios EMS Synthi A * ) synthesizers that were produced during the late seventies/ the early eighties.
Doepfer's Touch Sensor Keyboard was announced a loooong time ago.
There have been many prototypes of this , and there have been many suggestions and discussions, but still there is no final design or release-date in sight.

Prototype #1
The first prototype (2005?) was a sequencer + keyboard all-in-one version, that looked like the original Sherman Filterbank, but with a keyboard with metal plates in front of it.
For their second prototype (2007), Doepfer decided to drop the sequencer, to give the buyers the chance to buy their own sequencer ( if they needed one ). This prototype is still my favorite, with it's 25 metal keys... simple and plain.

Prototype #2
In the first two versions of the TKB the hum noise inducted by the sourrounding mains was used as working principle, but they found that this principle did not work perfect in all cases (changing mains intensity, different mains frequencies 50/60Hz, indoor/outdoor, problems with increasing humidity and some problems more).

The Latest prototype, shown at NAMM 2010, was equipped with 16 uniform metal plates. Here is where Doepfer went for another approach, now with capacitive sensing pads.
Still, this was a prototype, and i bet Doepfer got a lot of feedback, but probably not enough (or maybe even too much) to make a final production-model.

From the Doepfer site: 
" The number, shape and dimensions of the pads can be adjusted to the customers wishes but we will be able to manufacture only one or maybe two versions (e.g. one with a keyboard layout like version 1 and 2 and another with a non-keyboard layout like version 3).

Prototype #3
In any case it is planned to separate the control until (i.e. the potentiometers, sockets, LEDs and so on) from the touch section. The touch section could be like a module (i.e. assembled like a module to the frame) or a separate box with a cable that leads to the control module (or external control box for stand-alone applications).
As an option we think about a pressure sensor below the keys that measures the pressure applied to the metal plates. The touch keyboard will be probably equipped with outputs for Gate, CV1 (pitch), CV2 (pressure) and Midi.
Due to the nature of the keyboard velocity measurement is not possible and even the Midi output is monophonic only.
Suitable supports to mount the keyboard case into a 19" rack at different positions and angles are planned for the touch version of the keyboard (not possible for the normal version as the width is more than 19"). We also think about a DIY version of the TKB, i.e. only an electronics without the metal plates that can be used to connect any metal plates that have to be added by the user. "

More detailed info on the whole TKB project HERE

* Thanks Marc

Wednesday, July 06, 2011

Booktip IX - Analog Synthesis by Reinhart Schmitz

One of the smallest books in my whole BookTip section, but nevertheless a pretty informative one is this 128-page booklet by Reinhard Schmitz.

Analog Synthesis -The Newbie Guide to Synthesizers and Sound-Design  (also available in German) is full of basic info on how synthesis works. Very easy to read, and focused mainly on beginners this is a nice resource for all things synth...

In different chapters the main components of a (modular) synthesizer are explained, accompanied by simple  black/white pictures and graphs. 
The book is completed with an extensive glossary and a pretty nice 39-track audio-CD with audio-examples of the most important analog synthesizers of Moog, Oberheim, ARP and Sequential Circuits, to name but a few.

Some time ago Doepfer used to give this book (or the German version) away for free if you purchased a full Doepfer system. 
Getting it is better than buying it; for such a small book the price ( 36 USD ) is a bit too high IMHO...
Wizoo has quite an extensive collection of other English and German audio/ recording -books too.
You can find the other English books here

ISBN:  978-3-934903-01-2
Publication Date: 1999 by Wizoo Publishing GmbH
More info on this book HERE

Friday, July 01, 2011

Discontinued A-100 Modules

Good things come and good things go...
There are many different reasons for manufacturers to stop producing certain modules.
Sadly for some people, some components of a few Doepfer modules aren't available anymore.
Some of the special circuits ( or IC's) in the modules have become scarce, or not available at all ( like the original knobs ) , and that has been a reason for Doepfer to discontinue the production of some of these modules.

Another reason to stop producing certain modules is because they just don't or didn't sell... maybe just because they are not very useful (anymore) or they disappeared when newer modules appeared with (almost) the same function(s).

Soon a collector's item?
An overview ( updated February 2012 ) :

A-111 High End VCO  As the special circuit CEM3340 used in this module is no longer available the module has to be discontinued.
/ Sale while stocks last.

A-121 Multimode Filter As the special circuit CEM3320 used in this module is no longer available the module has to be discontinued soon.
/ Sale while stocks last (only 20 left in Januari 2012)
Doepfer recommends the A-106-6 XP VCF, that is based on the filter circuit of the Oberheim Xpander, as a replacement module.

...the A-101-9 Universal Vactrol Controller is the latest addition to the running out/ sale while stock lasts list... more info on this later

The A-111-5 Mini Synth Voice (and the Dark Energy) will also be discontinued because of CEM3394 chip running out... Stock is still available.
More info on this HERE

The following Doepfer modules are not available anymore:

A-123 24dB High Pass was discontinued at the time by poor sales, and the special circuit CEM3320 used in this module is no longer available.

...and another one...
A-126 Frequency Shifter Because the special circuit CEM3382 used in the internal quadrature VCO of the A-126 is no longer available Doepfer had stop the production of this module too.
But they are about to plan a succeeding model ( A-126-2 ) without internal VCO. The advantage of this solution is that even frequencies below 50Hz are available for special beat effects based of frequency shifting at low frequencies.

A-138x Mix Expander - Because of the poor inquiries the production of this module had been stopped too.

A-139 Headphone Amplifier, a 2-channel headphone amplifier with 2 audio inputs (3.5 mm jack sockets) and level controls, common loudness/master level control, 2 headphone outputs (stereo 1/4" jack sockets) - no longer available

A-177 External Foot Controller is now replaced by the A-177-2, a more economical replacement with a little less control (without LEDs and without scale controls), but with almost the same functions.

A-179 Light Controlled Voltage Source is also no longer available as the special circuit CEM3320 used in this module is no longer available. That is why this module also had to be discontinued.

A-191 MIDI-to-CV Interface / Shepard Generator no longer available

A-197 Analog Meter no longer available ( i personally never really expected an analog meter to be very useful, and i guess i wasn't the only one )

A-197-2 Oscilloscope kit no longer available -
I am still looking for an affordable oscilloscope though. I was thinking about something like a MFB VD-01 Videoscope, but sadly there's no budget at the moment...

Latest update: A-188-1Y BBD Module (256 stages) is also on sale while stocks last

Curious what chip is inside your synthesizer?
Check and