My kid brother is turning fifty! Pls help me with his present.

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Hovmod
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My kid brother is turning fifty! Pls help me with his present.

Post by Hovmod »

Every now and then, my brother seeks my opinion on some synthesizer he has seen on the local used gear market. He has yet to buy one, and I'm pretty sure that one of the reasons is that he doesn't really know what they (can) do. He might be worried about spending money and then not spending the time it deserves, or maybe it's as simple as not being able to explain to his wife why they need a Microbrute or a Minilogue or whatever with a straight face. For whatever reason, he hasn't yet bought one, and I think it's time to make up his mind for him. :party:

At the end of this month, he turns fifty, and I am making him a synthesizer.

All through the pandemic, I have accumulated modular gear, thinking that I'll sell some of it soon, just wait, I'm not done tweaking my system, might need a 2hp CLK or one of these VCAs some day.
So I sat down and started planning a birthday synth.
I have a case from Moog, a 104hp affair with wooden sides that I have disliked since day one because it's too shallow for the Doepfer modules I planned to put in it. I dug it out, and promptly stepped into the very same puddle: if the module is deeper than an after dinner mint, it doesn't fit. So I put together a little something with only shallow modules and played around a bit. Failure. It wasn't fun. It wouldn't have inspired him at all. I was able to make a comprehensive shitload of weird sounds and noises, but I highly doubt that my brother enjoys "Modular Music", and, frankly, I'm fundamentally unable to make a good case for why he should. :sstorm:

So I abandoned the Moog case, took one of my 19" Tiptop frames, ordered a shallow 3U Peli case in case of success, and started a fresh project. What does he like? What does he know? What is he capable of learning? Is it possible to make a versatile and inspiring 84hp synthesizer for a noob who is also (almost) a boomer?
As it turns out, I believe it is. Not without putting some modules in there that I know I will miss, but I think I have done it.

Some of the points I had on my list of things to consider:
-It should be as self contained as possible, he should be able to play it without having to go shopping.
-It should be straightforward to hook up a MIDI keyboard and play it like what "normal people" think a synthesizer is.
-It needs enough modulation and patch points to be a versatile (and again, self contained) drone machine.
-Features should be transparently explainable within a classic East Coast synthesizer concept. VCO-VCF-VCA, ADSR, LFO, Gates, 1V/O, that kind of thing. I'll certainly cheer if he develops a taste for LPGs and wavefolders, but, you know, baby steps.
Last but not least, it should be 'complete'. I'm not trying to get him started on some "journey" of spending and frustration and divorce and bankruptcy.

One more thing: it should not be (or seem to be) just a bunch of leftovers, so sacrificing active modules from my own system is on the table.

This is what I came up with.
modulargrid_1794320.jpeg
It has two oscillators, one analog and one digital, with a healthy choice in waveforms and modulation i/o.
There's a MIDI interface (no USB, that's one thing he might have to buy himself), there's a versatile and very nice filter.
There are envelopes and LFOs, a mixer, a clock, even a little trigger sequencer for when he discovers that Peaks can play drums.
The mixer, 2hp Trim, and Rosie opens for several possible audio paths, and (with some creativity) the dual ADSR and Peaks provides loads of modulation.
Rosie and the Chronoblob are there to seal the deal: delay makes everything better, and he can plug in a pair of headphones for instant gratification.
I played with it for hours last night and had a blast. I could bring only this to a gig and not make an ass of myself. Or at least not be able to blame the gear if I did.

What do you think, fellow kids, is it a synth? Is it a birthday present? Any last minute changes you can think of before I wrap it and ship it to my (voluntarily) exiled brother?

I'm pretty excited, tbh. I'm going to record some sounds and take pictures, make a quick start guide of sorts. Maybe I'll let you hear some of it. :goo: :goo:
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SkyWriter
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Re: My kid brother is turning fifty! Pls help me with his present.

Post by SkyWriter »

Pick something you like in case he doesn't get into it.

I thought my kid would like synths; they all ended up back in my studio.

Still, it's a nice idea. Good for you thinking of your brother :0)
...[H]ere on Gilligan's Island!

tune in next week when the Professor builds a modular out of a coconut! and Gilligan makes a little boy cry!
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starthief
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Re: My kid brother is turning fifty! Pls help me with his present.

Post by starthief »

Peaks wouldn't be my choice of modulation source, but this is still an awesome birthday gift.

(I turned 50 recently and got a retro sci-fi art book I was nostalgic for, an Isao Tomita CD, the Southern Reach trilogy boxed set, and a laptop stand... not a bad haul but it's not a synth :D)
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Addam
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Re: My kid brother is turning fifty! Pls help me with his present.

Post by Addam »

Awesome post! If possible I'd consider swapping the Clk for a 2hp lfo as that can still be used as a clock source or as a more complete modulation source when a clock isn't needed.
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Hovmod
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Re: My kid brother is turning fifty! Pls help me with his present.

Post by Hovmod »

I didn't make any changes, partly because I don't have a 2hp lfo or a good alternative for Peaks, but also partly because as I was playing with it, trying to make a rough user manual of sorts, I realised it is deceptively cool! This little thing is more powerful than it looks!
I put it in a box from G4M and shipped it the other day. Now I'm writing and editing the manual and choosing which sounds to send him.

In Norwegian the word for "original sin" is "arvesynd", which translates as "inherited sin". Since the words for "Synth" and "sin" sound alike, the OBVIOUS name for this very cool synth comprised of stuff I had in my possession and that I am handing over to him together with a moral obligation to change his behaviour in response to previously unwanted and unnecessary information is the "ARVESYNTH". Tip your waitress.

For some reason I didn't take a picture, so all I have for you is the MG screen shot at the top and this one of the rack from the G4M site. The case has a zippered fabric pocket on the inside of the rear lid, perfect for wall wart and cables.
Screenshot 2022-01-14 at 13.49.49.png
As I said above, my brother has shown some interest in synthesizers. He plays a decent guitar. I believe he has a cheapo MIDI keyboard somewhere, and if not he can certainly afford to invest in a Keystep or something. There is reason to believe it will be well received - I feel pretty good about this - but I will still have a bit of a knot in my stomach for a couple of weeks.
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electricfence
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Re: My kid brother is turning fifty! Pls help me with his present.

Post by electricfence »

That’s an awesome gift, and certainly an awesome name for the synth. Well done!
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KSS
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Re: My kid brother is turning fifty! Pls help me with his present.

Post by KSS »

:tu: Great name! Nice enclosure too.
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