The ins and outs of CV

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wolfganggold
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The ins and outs of CV

Post by wolfganggold »

Good morning, fellow Wigglers!
I took the Eurorack maxim "you can never have too many VCAs" to heart and bought an Intellijel Quad VCA (see my signature for my current setup, which also includes an Arturia Keystep 37)). Something about it that I find interesting and maybe a bit frustrating is that most of the CV jacks on my modules (including the ones on the Quad VCA) are CV IN. I guess I was really hoping to be able to route more stuff to the VCA.
Currently I'm patching the output from my Behringer LFO to the VCA and that is quite pleasing. But other than that, I'm not sure what I can plug into those jacks to get some sound-changing results.
I plan, in the near future, to buy another VCO. I think that will allow me to do some more things with the VCA. I also want to get another LFO type thing (probably Maths).
So maybe my problem is I don't have the right modules yet to do much with a VCA. Or maybe (and this is much more likely!) I just don't know how to hook the thing up effectively.
What are your thoughts?
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TYGTRFB
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Re: The ins and outs of CV

Post by TYGTRFB »

I think you'll benefit from more modulation sources. Also, FWIW, including the full image or your rack in your signature is kind of annoying. A link to the modulargrid page should suffice, right?
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wolfganggold
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Re: The ins and outs of CV

Post by wolfganggold »

Indeed! Change made! :D

I wonder if that maxim should be updated to say "You can never have too many VCAs and LFOs"?
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TumeniKnobs
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Re: The ins and outs of CV

Post by TumeniKnobs »

At first glance you have all the basic modules to replicate core functionality of a fixed architecture synth. Have you tried hooking your envelope out to the VCA cv in? That’ll get you control of the shape of the tones going into the VCA.

Try something like:
oscillator out to VCF in
VCF out to VCA in
Sequencer gate out to envelope gate in
Sequencer cv out to oscillator 1v/o in
Envelope out to vca cv in
Vca out to effects in
Effects out to Outs in

You do need more modulation sources imo. Instead on Maths I recommend Quadrax. You could use that to LFO the filter or other things.

Cheers!
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wolfganggold
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Re: The ins and outs of CV

Post by wolfganggold »

At first glance you have all the basic modules to replicate core functionality of a fixed architecture synth.
That is exactly what I've been going for here! I've tried to limit my modules that do multiple things with some exceptions to get a nice straightforward core rack.

When I get a work break, I'll try those suggestions and report back :)
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Re: The ins and outs of CV

Post by GuyaGuy »

wolfganggold wrote: Mon Jan 23, 2023 10:38 am Good morning, fellow Wigglers!
I took the Eurorack maxim "you can never have too many VCAs" to heart and bought an Intellijel Quad VCA (see my signature for my current setup, which also includes an Arturia Keystep 37)). Something about it that I find interesting and maybe a bit frustrating is that most of the CV jacks on my modules (including the ones on the Quad VCA) are CV IN. I guess I was really hoping to be able to route more stuff to the VCA.
Currently I'm patching the output from my Behringer LFO to the VCA and that is quite pleasing. But other than that, I'm not sure what I can plug into those jacks to get some sound-changing results.
I plan, in the near future, to buy another VCO. I think that will allow me to do some more things with the VCA. I also want to get another LFO type thing (probably Maths).
So maybe my problem is I don't have the right modules yet to do much with a VCA. Or maybe (and this is much more likely!) I just don't know how to hook the thing up effectively.
What are your thoughts?
If you want to route more stuff to the VCA you can use a DC-coupled (for CV) mixer. Luckily, your Quad VCA is a DC coupled mixer! So you could, for example, route Envelope 1 to In 1 and LFO to In 2. Taking Out 2 is now a mix of the Envelope and LFO so patch it to CV In on VCA3. Now patch your oscillator to In 3. Now both Env and LFO are affecting the VCA.

But now get fancier:
Env 1>In 1
Out 1>CV 2
LFO>In 2
Out2>CV 3
Osc>In 3

Now your Envelope is controlling how much the LFO effects the 3rd VCA that the Oscillator is running through. You are modulating the modulators, which is one of the main reasons why folks say "you can never have too many VCAs."
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wolfganggold
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Re: The ins and outs of CV

Post by wolfganggold »

Try something like:
oscillator out to VCF in
VCF out to VCA in
Sequencer gate out to envelope gate in
Sequencer cv out to oscillator 1v/o in
Envelope out to vca cv in
Vca out to effects in
Effects out to Outs in
When I do that, I get a droning note that never stops but when I play a key I get the same note that's being influenced by the envelope. I find I have to plug a cable from the second envelope out to the Level jack on the Brains to only get a properly controlled note. Could be useful!
But now get fancier:
Env 1>In 1
Out 1>CV 2
LFO>In 2
Out2>CV 3
Osc>In 3
Tried that too and I definitely start to see what makes this so powerful, even with my incomplete setup (will it EVER be complete??? :hmm: )

I will say that when I go through the VCA before hitting my effects (delay, reverb, phaser) it seems to give those units a more usable signal. Great stuff!
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Re: The ins and outs of CV

Post by TumeniKnobs »

wolfganggold wrote: Mon Jan 23, 2023 4:36 pm
Try something like:
oscillator out to VCF in
VCF out to VCA in
Sequencer gate out to envelope gate in
Sequencer cv out to oscillator 1v/o in
Envelope out to vca cv in
Vca out to effects in
Effects out to Outs in
When I do that, I get a droning note that never stops but when I play a key I get the same note that's being influenced by the envelope. I find I have to plug a cable from the second envelope out to the Level jack on the Brains to only get a properly controlled note. Could be useful!
Hmmm…. If that setup drones, it sounds like you have the Level knob turned up. On the Quad vca try the little CV knob to noon and the bigger level knob all the way CCW. That should cause the envelope to open and close the vca according to the ADSR settings. Cheers!
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Abyssinianloop
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Re: The ins and outs of CV

Post by Abyssinianloop »

I recommend thinking about VCAs as doors that you can open and close using control voltages. You can pass audio or control voltages through the doors, and control the opening and closing of the doors with various control voltages.

As suggested above, you generally want to keep your doors in the closed position (knob ccw) so that your control voltage opens and closes it.

Experiment with placing VCAs between everything in your patch.

And then try putting audio rate signals into the VCA cv input to open and close the doors so quickly that a whole new sound is produced.
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Re: The ins and outs of CV

Post by GuyaGuy »

wolfganggold wrote: Mon Jan 23, 2023 4:36 pm
Try something like:
oscillator out to VCF in
VCF out to VCA in
Sequencer gate out to envelope gate in
Sequencer cv out to oscillator 1v/o in
Envelope out to vca cv in
Vca out to effects in
Effects out to Outs in
When I do that, I get a droning note that never stops but when I play a key I get the same note that's being influenced by the envelope. I find I have to plug a cable from the second envelope out to the Level jack on the Brains to only get a properly controlled note. Could be useful!
Like @TumeniKnobs said, you must have the knob up...From what I recall this video does a good job explaining some of the principles discussed here. Might help to see it patched in realtime and follow along.

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Re: The ins and outs of CV

Post by MrV63 »

wolfganggold wrote: Mon Jan 23, 2023 10:38 am I plan, in the near future, to buy another VCO. I think that will allow me to do some more things with the VCA. I also want to get another LFO type thing (probably Maths).
If you get another VCO make sure it can do LFO mode for more flexibility. Something like the Sputnik Variable Waveform Generator can make beautiful timbres and nice "complex" LFOs. Patch programmability is key especially in a smaller case.
vidret wrote: Sun Oct 09, 2022 4:03 pm My jams are better now, but my 4-step sequences were fire before :lol:
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Re: The ins and outs of CV

Post by wolfganggold »

My case is getting to the point where I have to start making decisions vis a vis space. I'm totally not averse to getting another 6U Rackbrute though! :D

I think my "final" case will probably have at least 3 VCOs that are as different from each other as possible.

I've watched that mylarmelodies video several times as well as many others of his. He's a great teacher!
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Re: The ins and outs of CV

Post by wolfganggold »

Like @TumeniKnobs said, you must have the knob up
Yep, that was the issue! I wanted to try all this earlier but stupid work intruded and they wanted me to, you know, like...DO stuff. hahah

Once I turned the level knobs down, things shaped up nicely.

I really like the analogy of thinking of VCAs as doors. How about this that I just thought of though: perhaps you could look at a VCA as a sort of audio vacuum tube or transistor. There's voltage that's wanting to go from one plate to the other and there's a control voltage that lets that happen or not. Cool!

Now that I actually HAVE a VCA, I'm going to re-watch (or rather re-re-re-watch) that mylarmelodies video and see if any new light bulbs go off above my head...
Experiment with placing VCAs between everything in your patch.
YES!!!

I love this stuff!!!
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Re: The ins and outs of CV

Post by KSS »

wolfganggold wrote: Tue Jan 24, 2023 4:43 pm How about this that I just thought of though: perhaps you could look at a VCA as a sort of audio vacuum tube or transistor. There's voltage that's wanting to go from one plate to the other and there's a control voltage that lets that happen or not. Cool!
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Re: The ins and outs of CV

Post by wolfganggold »

Adding, sometimes with amplification but more often not.
I think of all my modules so far, the VCA is by far the most counter-intuitive. I'm sure I'll look back a year from now and think myself rather quaint but right now it's a crazy concept!
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Re: The ins and outs of CV

Post by GuyaGuy »

wolfganggold wrote: Tue Jan 24, 2023 9:53 pm
Adding, sometimes with amplification but more often not.
I think of all my modules so far, the VCA is by far the most counter-intuitive. I'm sure I'll look back a year from now and think myself rather quaint but right now it's a crazy concept!
If you're familiar with hardwired synths and VSTs you can think about it being 2 things: 1) the VCA that is always closed (thus knob down on your module) until an envelope opens it and 2) the DEPTH/AMOUNT parameter. So on a digital synth if you an LFO to filter cutoff there's likely a virtual VCA there to control how much the LFO affects the filter cutoff. It can also just be a simple attenuator, but normally you can use another modulator like an envelope to control the DEPTH/AMOUNT. The way you do that in IRL (as opposed to ITB) is by way of a VCA! And in fact the two things I mentioned are actually the same thing! Because a DC-coupled VCA like yours doesn't care if audio or CV is passing through it. Its job is just to control the DEPTH/AMOUNT dynamically.
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Re: The ins and outs of CV

Post by Just another rookie »

wolfganggold wrote: Tue Jan 24, 2023 9:24 am My case is getting to the point where I have to start making decisions vis a vis space. I'm totally not averse to getting another 6U Rackbrute though! :D

I think my "final" case will probably have at least 3 VCOs that are as different from each other as possible.

I've watched that mylarmelodies video several times as well as many others of his. He's a great teacher!
Have a look at 2hp pluck. Technically not a vco but it is different, and tiny! Well worth every hp!

Doepfer max min and a Mult module.

If you break out of your case into a second the complex envelope again from Doepfer is a useful/flexible modulation module. It will pair well with any quad vca.
It will fit in your current set up.
You can use it in so many ways it’s impossible to list.

Pretty much anything can be “cv in”
Pretty much anything can be “vca in”
(you can modulate the modulations)
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Re: The ins and outs of CV

Post by PapaLazarou »

I've been using eurorack since 2017 and find VCAs largely useless...obviously everyone has different intentions with making music, just thought I'd weigh in.
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Re: The ins and outs of CV

Post by enzyme00 »

wolfganggold wrote: Tue Jan 24, 2023 9:53 pm
Adding, sometimes with amplification but more often not.
I think of all my modules so far, the VCA is by far the most counter-intuitive. I'm sure I'll look back a year from now and think myself rather quaint but right now it's a crazy concept!
I think part of the reason people find VCAs confusing or difficult to grok is foremost a result of inaccurate naming conventions on the part of the industry and community. For the most part, they should actually be called:

Voltage Controlled Attenuator

They are volume knobs that start at zero and instead of turning them up with your fingers, you turn them up with voltage.
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Re: The ins and outs of CV

Post by enzyme00 »

Also having one of these really helped me understand the concepts of modulating modulators and using multiple envelopes to shape a sounds various parameters over time. Knobs and Fancy features are over rated :sb:
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Re: The ins and outs of CV

Post by KSS »

enzyme00 wrote: Mon Jan 30, 2023 6:41 pm I think part of the reason people find VCAs confusing or difficult to grok is foremost a result of inaccurate naming conventions on the part of the industry and community. For the most part, they should actually be called:
Voltage Controlled Attenuator

They are volume knobs that start at zero and instead of turning them up with your fingers, you turn them up with voltage.
FTFY. Calling them volume knobs makes the same mistake!
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Chase magic sound, not magic parts.
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