Buchla Clone 259r

Buchla, Serge, Studio.h, Northern Light Modular, Keen Assoc., 1979, Vedic Scapes, etc. Usually expensive, often found sniffing corks.
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Post by monokinetic » Tue Apr 11, 2017 3:15 pm

Apologies for the slight necro.
The information in this thread is amazing, thanks so much for sharing it!
I'm just buying parts to start work on the 259r rev 1.0 PCB in my backlog and I'd like to ask about this:
Don T wrote: [EDIT] The "Standard" version is built with all 1% tolerance metal film resistors, whereas the "Vintage" version is built with 5% tolerance carbon film resistors, except where 1% resistors are called for in the schematic, RN55D and RN55C resistors occupy those spaces, just as they would have in the original.
The BOM on electricmusicstore shows a mix of 1% metal film and 5% carbon resistors. I was wondering if your "Vintage" build went according to that BOM, or if there were further resistor changes you implemented based on the schematics?

[EDIT] Having looked more closely I see that yes, it seems many more resistors were carbon. Is there any chance anyone has a list of which ones need to be metal vs carbon?

Thanks in advance

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Post by Don T » Tue Apr 11, 2017 8:31 pm

monokinetic wrote:Apologies for the slight necro.
The information in this thread is amazing, thanks so much for sharing it!
I'm just buying parts to start work on the 259r rev 1.0 PCB in my backlog and I'd like to ask about this:
Don T wrote: [EDIT] The "Standard" version is built with all 1% tolerance metal film resistors, whereas the "Vintage" version is built with 5% tolerance carbon film resistors, except where 1% resistors are called for in the schematic, RN55D and RN55C resistors occupy those spaces, just as they would have in the original.
The BOM on electricmusicstore shows a mix of 1% metal film and 5% carbon resistors. I was wondering if your "Vintage" build went according to that BOM, or if there were further resistor changes you implemented based on the schematics?

[EDIT] Having looked more closely I see that yes, it seems many more resistors were carbon. Is there any chance anyone has a list of which ones need to be metal vs carbon?

Thanks in advance
I went by the values in the BOM, but not the tolerances. For instance, if I saw a 6.8K resistor listed, I assumed it was originally 5%. If I saw a 6.81K resistor listed, I assumed it was an RN55D, 1% resistor. Any I weren't sure about (hard to tell with values like 10K) I referenced the original schematics.

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Post by Peake » Tue Apr 11, 2017 10:21 pm

I usually use carbon film except for the 1% components. The 259 docs show which resistors are 1%, go here and click file "259 0008".
This is not the place I'd imagined it to be.

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Post by monokinetic » Thu Apr 13, 2017 10:18 am

DonT, Peake,
thanks for the replies. That helps me continue with my epic ordering over Easter.

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Post by lucringeisen » Sat Dec 16, 2017 4:27 am

does anyone have a clue about where to find some CA3160 ?

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Post by lucringeisen » Sat Dec 16, 2017 4:31 am

Don T
Do you maybe know where we can find those ? (CA3160) thanks a lot in advance for any clue !

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Post by APETECHNOLOGY » Sat Dec 16, 2017 5:48 pm

lucringeisen wrote:Don T
Do you maybe know where we can find those ? (CA3160) thanks a lot in advance for any clue !
using these does not make a difference sonically, i tried them. sounds the same.

https://www.ebay.com/itm/CA3160S-IC-Ope ... SwoBtW32Vl

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Post by Don T » Mon Dec 18, 2017 11:14 pm

lucringeisen wrote:Don T
Do you maybe know where we can find those ? (CA3160) thanks a lot in advance for any clue !
I'm sorry, I have nothing for you from my original source, I cleaned out the bin of NOS CA3160 from ACK Radio about 6 months ago.

But, there's this, and I often get oddball things from these guys:

http://www.electronicsurplus.com/catalo ... 0&q=CA3160

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Post by kashmir » Tue Dec 19, 2017 1:00 am

Utsource has very low price of 3160, I ordered few based on someone mentioning them in one of the buchla threads, but didn´t tested them yet, maybe someone else used them and can confirm they are fine??

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Post by jimfowler » Fri May 11, 2018 2:04 pm

Can anybody comment on the usability of CA3160AE or CA3160S in lieu of CA3160? I have found a source for the former two pieces but can't find a datasheet stipulating the exact differences (and I'm not experienced enough to deduce it myself). According to Intersil's datasheet, the -A suffix signifies "The CA3160A offers superior input characteristics over those of the CA3160."

- Jim

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Post by SynthBaron » Fri May 11, 2018 4:09 pm

The "A" suffix seems to always mean a part that met the specifications better during testing. "S" is the metal can version of it. Both are technically superior to the "normal" part, but the "S" version has a better chance of being a vintage part (thus more desirable, IMHO).

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Post by jimfowler » Sun Jul 22, 2018 10:07 am

Here are a few scope videos of the timbre. I used LS3958 with middle-of-the-road Idss values, fwiw.






I tried with higher-value 3958 but once trimmed I could not tell any sonic difference (using ears AND scope). I used metal can 3160 instead of 3030 but didn't compare before/after...when possible I tried to stick with the parts called out on the original schematic. Maybe it doesn't matter but I'm pretty happy with the final product.

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Post by sleestack808 » Tue Oct 30, 2018 4:41 pm

So, over so much time, is there maybe a simplification of the parts that really make a difference? Theories, etc.. ?? Thanks

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Post by ModHiisi » Sat Sep 11, 2021 5:51 am

sleestack808 wrote:
Tue Oct 30, 2018 4:41 pm
So, over so much time, is there maybe a simplification of the parts that really make a difference? Theories, etc.. ?? Thanks
I'd be very interested to know as well. Thanks in advance for any info!
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Re: Buchla Clone 259r

Post by ArguZ » Sat Sep 11, 2021 7:45 am

Over so much time you can almost expect some degradation of the parts used and they drift even more apart.
At some point the old ones will stop working all together as the caps dried out completely and go off with a lost pop.
But by then the clones will sound closer to what some say the original sounded in 2004 at the last symposium.
Also, you can use all sorts of aging methods to whip modern components into vintage shape...
Soak em im oil or water, dry them in an oven , take a road trip to Texas and leave em on the back seat , run three times the power through em etc etc.
You'll get there eventually ...

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Re: Buchla Clone 259r

Post by ModHiisi » Sat Sep 11, 2021 8:03 am

ArguZ wrote:
Sat Sep 11, 2021 7:45 am
Over so much time you can almost expect some degradation of the parts used and they drift even more apart.
At some point the old ones will stop working all together as the caps dried out completely and go off with a lost pop.
But by then the clones will sound closer to what some say the original sounded in 2004 at the last symposium.
Also, you can use all sorts of aging methods to whip modern components into vintage shape...
Soak em im oil or water, dry them in an oven , take a road trip to Texas and leave em on the back seat , run three times the power through em etc etc.
You'll get there eventually ...
Bury them in the ground?

And why exactly Texas, would Lapland do?
Last edited by ModHiisi on Sat Sep 11, 2021 8:09 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Buchla Clone 259r

Post by ModHiisi » Sat Sep 11, 2021 8:04 am

Still interested to hear from people!
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Re: Buchla Clone 259r

Post by momo » Sun Sep 12, 2021 5:07 am

I'll bite, but not sure how interesting this info is to others since I suspect most people are quite content with their 259s. However this does give me a chance to thank the authors of this thread since I did find the comparison fascinating and insightful.

As the MEMS folk have said of late, in his schematics Don has indicated some tolerances, and in other areas, he assumes engineering know how. For me, this means that every iteration of a build, I learn something new via trial and error. An example of this are the numerous 2N3565. For example, unless Q3 and 4 are reasonably well matched for VBE, when you modulate the Mod OSC, it will jump a bit at the crossover point. It's audible. My Canadian 259 does that. My other one didn't till I tried some globe top vintage 2N3565s just for fun. I threw them in at random when I noticed the aforementioned. Matching VBE on the globe tops restored smooth modulating. I only noticed because I was looking for it; as I said at the opening line above, in practical use it is probably neither terribly perceptible, neither affecting of the module usability, so few would really care. It is also unknown to what degree the 259s emerging from B&A in the 70s did or didn't have such care lavished upon them during manufacture.

I will say this though - getting the timbre to sound right* is probably the hardest bit. As an example, and without any intention to call out a member to me the videos above by jimfowler, the Timbre does not sound right, especially at lower frequencies where the effect is most perceptible. A scope is helpful here, but only to a degree; the harmonics and the effect of the overtones are best percived by ear. *Here is where it goets tricky, because no two 259s sound alike, so what is 'correct' could be debated. But, and apologies if this sounds cryptic and annoying, what sounds 'wrong' seems easier to perceive.

Here is an example anyone with a 259 adhering to the original schematic can try. For experimental purposes, throw in a 1M trimmer into R210 instead of the stated 5K - adjust as required and listen for the audible difference (actuating the Timbre control) and watch your scope. Sounds different, not bad, just different, and not like a 259. Given the enormous number of resistors in a 259 and the sloppiness of vactrols, this experiment can hint at the 'butterfly effect' in the circuit.

The other thing I will say is that art and the persuit of it should not be perfection and I think that's why I've read articles by e.g. Mark Verbos talking about waveforms that look bad on a scope sounding good. So while I have only the utmost of admiration and respect for Dave Brown, who has helped me with 259 builds, some of the improvements from an engineering perspective can affect 'mojo', or have knock on effects down the line in other parts of the circuit. My other pet peeve is squarish sines. For me it shouldn't just be about a nice rounded peak and trough, but also a 'lazy s' inbetween them, rather than a sharp straight line. Writing about this now, when I have barely touched my system in two months, I can hardly muster the effort to type this, but when I'm knee deep in the schematics and a build, it is the most dear thing in the world to me - the little details, the little secrets. The huge effort that sometimes gets me nowhere, and other times yields different, not better results, but imparts knowledge.

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Re: Buchla Clone 259r

Post by jimfowler » Sun Sep 12, 2021 7:33 am

No offense taken. I would like to hear/see what you consider correct in regard to 259 timbre. Not at all in my defense but in the interest of potential improvement.
Last edited by jimfowler on Sun Sep 12, 2021 12:02 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Buchla Clone 259r

Post by ModHiisi » Sun Sep 12, 2021 8:42 am

momo wrote:
Sun Sep 12, 2021 5:07 am
I'll bite, but not sure how interesting this info is to others since I suspect most people are quite content with their 259s. However this does give me a chance to thank the authors of this thread since I did find the comparison fascinating and insightful.
Hey thanks very much for your thoroughly interesting and informative reply! yes, for surely this is pretty much as niche of an subject as they come... But! (and this gives me a chance to thank the people doing the comparisons as well, very fascinating and insightful indeed!). There ARE some obvious differences between those two modules, judging by the comparisons. Although, like you also noted, all the 259's I've heard (mostly from peoples demos, which of course, is a tricky context for doing comparisons, for various reasons..) have sounded somewhat different.
momo wrote:
Sun Sep 12, 2021 5:07 am
As the MEMS folk have said of late, in his schematics Don has indicated some tolerances, and in other areas, he assumes engineering know how. For me, this means that every iteration of a build, I learn something new via trial and error. An example of this are the numerous 2N3565. For example, unless Q3 and 4 are reasonably well matched for VBE, when you modulate the Mod OSC, it will jump a bit at the crossover point. It's audible. My Canadian 259 does that. My other one didn't till I tried some globe top vintage 2N3565s just for fun. I threw them in at random when I noticed the aforementioned. Matching VBE on the globe tops restored smooth modulating. I only noticed because I was looking for it; as I said at the opening line above, in practical use it is probably neither terribly perceptible, neither affecting of the module usability, so few would really care. It is also unknown to what degree the 259s emerging from B&A in the 70s did or didn't have such care lavished upon them during manufacture.
I should pay more attention to what MEMS are doing/saying.. But that's intriguing. My engineering know how is practically non existent. But I'm determined to learn what I need (an I have experienced help). But for now I'm just populating and soldering the boards (with indicators..). Re: the tip about matching the Q3 & 4, duly noted.
momo wrote:
Sun Sep 12, 2021 5:07 am
I will say this though - getting the timbre to sound right* is probably the hardest bit. As an example, and without any intention to call out a member to me the videos above by jimfowler, the Timbre does not sound right, especially at lower frequencies where the effect is most perceptible. A scope is helpful here, but only to a degree; the harmonics and the effect of the overtones are best percived by ear. *Here is where it goets tricky, because no two 259s sound alike, so what is 'correct' could be debated. But, and apologies if this sounds cryptic and annoying, what sounds 'wrong' seems easier to perceive.
I've learned that one's own ears are the most crucial audio test equipment. Scope can point to a direction, but the more subtle tweaks needed often have to be made based on first ear experience. But that's a sound(...) reminder nevertheless. And once again interesting and useful info! My approach to this will be following the suggested calibration etc. procedures and fine tweak by ear.
momo wrote:
Sun Sep 12, 2021 5:07 am
Here is an example anyone with a 259 adhering to the original schematic can try. For experimental purposes, throw in a 1M trimmer into R210 instead of the stated 5K - adjust as required and listen for the audible difference (actuating the Timbre control) and watch your scope. Sounds different, not bad, just different, and not like a 259. Given the enormous number of resistors in a 259 and the sloppiness of vactrols, this experiment can hint at the 'butterfly effect' in the circuit.
Will take a look at that too at some point.
momo wrote:
Sun Sep 12, 2021 5:07 am
The other thing I will say is that art and the persuit of it should not be perfection and I think that's why I've read articles by e.g. Mark Verbos talking about waveforms that look bad on a scope sounding good. So while I have only the utmost of admiration and respect for Dave Brown, who has helped me with 259 builds, some of the improvements from an engineering perspective can affect 'mojo', or have knock on effects down the line in other parts of the circuit. My other pet peeve is squarish sines. For me it shouldn't just be about a nice rounded peak and trough, but also a 'lazy s' inbetween them, rather than a sharp straight line. Writing about this now, when I have barely touched my system in two months, I can hardly muster the effort to type this, but when I'm knee deep in the schematics and a build, it is the most dear thing in the world to me - the little details, the little secrets. The huge effort that sometimes gets me nowhere, and other times yields different, not better results, but imparts knowledge.
Yeah I'm totally with you on that. My mission is pretty much what sounds good to my ears, (and 'dirty' often sounds more appealing to me than 'clean'. Whatever that means..). The audible differences are interesting in any case, in that what are they actually based on etc. And now that you mentioned some of Dave Brown's (who has done amazing work, by the way!) mods affecting the timbre in a certain way, I'm becoming somewhat apprehensive. Have to take a closer look at the them and their effects and if they're what I'm after.
Last edited by ModHiisi on Sun Sep 12, 2021 9:01 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Buchla Clone 259r

Post by ModHiisi » Sun Sep 12, 2021 8:57 am

In the end, I'm just stoked about a 259!
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Re: Buchla Clone 259r

Post by momo » Sun Sep 12, 2021 9:00 am

Thanks Jim for understanding the spirit in which I wrote. Firstly one of my 259's, like yours, has an unconventional fold with Timbre at full CW. That's the yellow channel in scope shot below, green (my Canadian 259):
D03A3997-258C-46CA-82F2-170100F2A1A0.jpeg
Just as a point of reference, the 'shootout' scope shot per this thread, and Rick's calibration image here: https://www.matrixsynth.com/2011/07/buc ... ation.html seem to confirm the max Timbre scope profile per green channel above is 'correct'. But my yellow channel 259 nowadays sounds probably better than the Canadian one, and the max Timbre goes further, so I discontinued trying to look into what's going on there.

Your videos IMG_4738 and 9 show asymmetrical folding; I don't think that is what happens on mine. Generally, on my 259s and Rewire's famous YT vid, the timbre of the 259 Timbre has some growl; it sounds like distortion, overdrive. It's difficult to explain in words, or even via videos because the overtones interact with the room :lol: I think getting our 259s in the same room would be the only way.

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Re: Buchla Clone 259r

Post by ModHiisi » Sun Sep 12, 2021 9:05 am

What about doing line in recordings of them with similar specs? Not that I'm trying to bug anyone in doing that, but just a thought.
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Re: Buchla Clone 259r

Post by Cablebasher » Sun Sep 12, 2021 4:04 pm

Great thread

Never spotted it before

I am about to build a boops 259 and will certainly try and hunt down the rare transistors.

Is there a list anywhere of which resistors should be 5% carbon and which 1% metal?

Or is it just a matter of checking the schematic?

Cheers

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Re: Buchla Clone 259r

Post by jimfowler » Sun Sep 12, 2021 4:28 pm

1% are so affordable now there’s no reason to use 5%.

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