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Cool modulation options - looking for advice

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Jason Brock
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Cool modulation options - looking for advice

Post by Jason Brock »

This is sort of a "what have I missed" question, since I haven't kept up with the latest and greatest in Euro for a few years.
In the small system I'm putting together, let's say I have 56hp total remaining for modulation (oscillators, VCA, etc. already locked in)

My current plan for the modulation section is below. What would you do different? What's new that I should consider over these choices?

I do not really care for the "one knob, 100 functions" type of modules (Pam's, O_C, Disting).
Malekko Voltage Block is an interesting idea, though I had a hard time fitting it in, and the Muxlicer demos really caught my attention. And I don't really need pitch quantization.

Quadrax
Permutation
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Maths

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Raindeer
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Re: Cool modulation options - looking for advice

Post by Raindeer »

Couple of ideas:

Joranalogue Morph 4. Really nice and intuitive to use. Pretty big but it’s a great Quad VCA and scanning mixer too.

Dnipro Krait - opposite of the Morph. Small and flexible for three channels of LFOs, knob recorded or random modulation. Less intuitive to use but super-useful.
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sicknick
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Re: Cool modulation options - looking for advice

Post by sicknick »

Nonlinearcircuits Triple Sloth Chaos is surprisingly more useful than I thought possible. One of my all time favorite modulators.
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cbm
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Re: Cool modulation options - looking for advice

Post by cbm »

I'm sort of hooked on "gesture recorders" these days. I still have a couple dedicated LFOs in my system, but I mostly use things like Dnipro Krait, Erica Black Joystick 2, and Intellijel Planar 2.

Honorable mention to Xaoc Zadar, often used as a "funny" LFO.

===

Of your listed modules, the only one I use is Quadrax, which is super flexible, if a bit opaque in the modulation matrix department.

I'm not in the cult of Maths. I think there are better and/or smaller ways to skin that equation.
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dubonaire
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Re: Cool modulation options - looking for advice

Post by dubonaire »

Permutations is a great module but I think the Pause/Clock buttons which are only found on the 18 HP version to be extremely useful, for me necessary, and the VCA knob which is only on the 18 and 12 HP versions extremely useful too. You can have external VCA control on the 6 HP version. The Pause/Clock control enables you to line up a sequence with the rest of a patch. For me the 6 HP version lacks features that make Permutation great to use.

Quadrax a definite. My Quadra is in every patch.

I know you don’t want deep modules but Mob of Emus is so much bang for the buck. Once you get your head around it, it is super powerful and easy to use. Alternatively Abstract Data Octocontroller is modulation rich too.
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everythingcontinues
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Re: Cool modulation options - looking for advice

Post by everythingcontinues »

My favorite modulation sources:

Zadar - I pretty much only ever use it for LFOs, rarely for envelopes. Wild shapes, onboard attenuation, modulate-able and trigger-able.

Krait - Insanely useful; I found it extremely intuitive to use and was off to the races the moment I turned it on. I generally think of it as a super quick sequencer for anything non-pitch-related. That the channels can also be used for loop-able random and LFOs means that all three outputs on each of the two Kraits I have are always getting used.

Marbles - There's so much to it and so much info out there I won't go into a whole thing on it except to say that I rarely use it for pitch CV, just looped or random modulation with controls to steer (or suggest) it in different directions. I think it's so often cast as a random melody generator that it gets slightly overlooked as a more general CV (and gate) source.
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GuyaGuy
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Re: Cool modulation options - looking for advice

Post by GuyaGuy »

One thing to note on the Quadrax: It does have modes. It's not a huge learning curve, but it's not completely WYSIWYG either. Once I spent a couple of weeks getting to know it, it's easy to use. In fact, you may find that it covers a lot of what you have Maths in there for.
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Re: Cool modulation options - looking for advice

Post by grrrwaaa »

If you are set on Permutation, it can also work with any of the Turing Machine expanders. MTM has several of course, and After Later Audio has some mini versions of those, Grayscale does a few too, Worng added an interesting one recently, and Mystic Circuits has Leaves, which looks nice.

Muxlicer is pretty powerful too, sits interestingly between sequencer and switch, has a lot of patching flexibility including clock divisions and ratchets. It also has an expander (Mex).

Mux and Permutations sort of occupy the clock/sequence space, so it's good you balance that with ramps via Maths and Quadrax.

I'd be looking for the tools to combine them. Cv mixer, analog logic, comparator/s&h etc. I know Maths has a bit of that, but maybe not enough?
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Re: Cool modulation options - looking for advice

Post by thelowerrhythm »

I personally wouldn't have a general modulation solution absent a noise generator, a chaos module, or really both. They are key to breathing life into things (imo). It all depends on what you're after of course.
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Re: Cool modulation options - looking for advice

Post by natureclubcassettes »

your choices are fine. I'd add a couple of older modules that hopefully won't break the bank:

SSF Ultra Random Analog, for me the most comprehensive dedicated random module
original Quadra+Expander+Triatt (OG) as a more modular version of Maths (these have all been updated so should be easy to find on the cheap)
original Dixie II, for bipolar LFO (again, has been updated so should be cheaper)

As you can tell, I'm also not big on new and shiny modules, and have a soft spot for the OG Intellijel.

As for newer, Frap, Joranalogue and Xaoc have the most interesting options IMO. However, I don't have any personal experience with these.
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Re: Cool modulation options - looking for advice

Post by Wavtekt »

I think you need logic and chaos.

Kinks / Compare 2 / Sloth / Diode chaos / Hypster etc.

Something like a CV-able crossfader / switch is handy too.
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ariyo
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Re: Cool modulation options - looking for advice

Post by ariyo »

Maestro by Acid Rain Technology is awesome too. It’s a 6 channel clocked modulation controller.
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ProggyBoog
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Re: Cool modulation options - looking for advice

Post by ProggyBoog »

I'd consider adding a small dc-coupled mixer into this section of your rack. Multing a few modulation sources through a mixer can give you some modulation patterns you couldn't get otherwise. If you can fit in a matrix mixer, even better.
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Re: Cool modulation options - looking for advice

Post by etckla »

grrrwaaa wrote: Wed Jun 22, 2022 8:37 pm I'd be looking for the tools to combine them. Cv mixer, analog logic, comparator/s&h etc. I know Maths has a bit of that, but maybe not enough?
+1 Mystic Circuits Ana is incredibly good at this

Maths and Quadrax seem like 2 approaches to a similar problem. Obviously you get more independent envelopes with Quadrax, but it's less WYSIWYG

I had and couldn't get on with Muxlicer. The clock, inputs and controls never did what I wanted. It's hard to beat featurewise but you might get into a similar ballpark with Mystic Circuits Tree and Leaves?

Finally, see if you can snag a Mutable Instruments Tides 2. Really fantastic and unique modulation source.
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Re: Cool modulation options - looking for advice

Post by ee_ »

I think it's always well, well worth having something like a Mordax Data to go with complex modulation sources. They're not the cheapest, but the DATA has and continues to help so much in terms of really understanding what my modules' CV outputs are actually doing. Especially once you start intermixing CV signals to create more complex patterns. Not to mention it can also be used as a quad clock with mult/div, extra VCO, spectrum analyzer, and various other useful things. But just for the ability to clearly see your voltages in action, it is so endlessly helpful. I'd never part with mine and use it constantly.

Never owned a Quadrax but always have heard good things and it seems like it'd be a real workhorse if you don't mind a lot of buttons/modes. Maths obviously is solid with a strong reputation, I use mine a lot. I had a Muxlicer, and personally didn't get on with it that well. Not sure I could say exactly why, I vaguely remember not liking the way the clocking worked and just found I didn't enjoy using it nearly as much as I thought I would.

I think 4MS PEGs are always a solid option to consider, especially since you can often find them fairly cheap secondhand relative to their retail price. It's just easy to use and wrap your head around (at least all the basic functionality), fun, has a good UI, and can do a lot.

I like having ADSRs, personally. Lots of perfectly good options in that category.

On the weirder side, ADDAC has some really cool modulation units -- VC Rotator, Marble Physics, Complex Random Generator, Relabi, and more -- though they're a bit hard to come by at reasonable prices stateside, and can be a bit esoteric, with many of them lacking manuals.

As for the rest, I dunno what's in the non-modulation part of the rack exactly, but don't forget mults and CV mixers. Warna II by Xaoc is a favorite of mine, once you get how to use them they're really a pretty ingenious little utility combining buffered mults, dual polarizers, and a CV/audio mixer into a surprisingly simple 6HP unit.
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far
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Re: Cool modulation options - looking for advice

Post by far »

I got myself a matrix mixer last month and I'm not sure what took me so long to realise how cool this is and what I was after for many years.

The ability to mix cv is great for variations, whilst keeping a form of sync, also feedback patching

I also agree chaos is important, I use NLC Jerk off and Sloth, Zlob Diode chaos. I tend to mix these with the patch programmable 4ms Qplfo
Last edited by far on Thu Jun 23, 2022 8:41 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Cool modulation options - looking for advice

Post by xArtVandelayx »

I love Ochd for modulation!
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Re: Cool modulation options - looking for advice

Post by ManBearPig »

With Quadrax you’ll have to learn the CV matrix which uses colors and flashing lights to know where you are, but It’s not hard to learn and I’d say Maths has the steeper learning curve.

Consider a way to mix your modulation CV, like the 4MS signal mingler or the Tiptop Miso. Also, some phasers, VCA/attenuators, logic, sample and holds. A 4hp Ochd with 8 free running triangle LFOs is insane value…

The one I’m waiting for though is the hardware version of Vult’s Caudal
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Jason Brock
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Re: Cool modulation options - looking for advice

Post by Jason Brock »

Thanks for the suggestions. Zadar and Krait are two that I hadn't really looked at before, and they seem pretty cool.
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Re: Cool modulation options - looking for advice

Post by Foghorn »

I really like OCHD for modulation.
And Planar II makes it very easy to make small CV sequences and can glide(slew) between voltages
And speaking of sequences, CV sequencers like the Ladik S-143 (and S-142, S-141) are great little 4 step sequencers, with just 4 knobs to make the sequence
Also one of those small sequencers like Erica Pico SEQ are handy for quickly programmable sequences (read that modulation CV's)
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Jason Brock
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Re: Cool modulation options - looking for advice

Post by Jason Brock »

cbm wrote: Wed Jun 22, 2022 3:39 pm I'm sort of hooked on "gesture recorders" these days. I still have a couple dedicated LFOs in my system, but I mostly use things like Dnipro Krait, Erica Black Joystick 2, and Intellijel Planar 2.
Glad you mentioned Planar 2 because I didn't realize the new version could record. That kind of changes the game...and I hadn't considered it because I was only familiar with the original version.
far wrote: Thu Jun 23, 2022 2:03 am I got myself a matrix mixer last month and I'm not sure what took me so long to realise how cool this is and what I was after for many years.
Good point, and I'll definitely check into that type of thing too.
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cbm
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Re: Cool modulation options - looking for advice

Post by cbm »

Jason Brock wrote: Thu Jun 23, 2022 3:55 pm Glad you mentioned Planar 2 because I didn't realize the new version could record. That kind of changes the game...and I hadn't considered it because I was only familiar with the original version.
It has a really long record time, as well. I also really like how the gate can be based on joystick action or pressing the button.
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Re: Cool modulation options - looking for advice

Post by adamj »

+1 for Zadar, Marbles, and Planar 2.

I also recommend Mutable Instruments Stages. It was probably the hardest to learn of all my modules because there are so many things it can do, many not obvious, including envelopes, LFOs (clock syncable!), sequencing, CV delay, and S&H with optional slew limiting. Be sure to read the manual multiple times. I use it in every patch, and sometimes I think about getting a second Stages and chaining them, but I'm trying to maintain a "no module twice" approach for variety.

I really, really want a Quadrax. I pre-ordered it months ago and I'm still waiting. Hopefully it will come in the next few months. Don't neglect the Qx expander if that looks interesting. Seems perfect for Krell-like generative patches. I'm sure I will get a lot of use out of it when I finally get one.

I'll also give a shout-out to Xaoc Samara for manipulating your modulation CVs. The +/- 5V features make it easy to convert between unipolar and bipolar CVs. Plus you can invert, offset, mix, min/max, clamp, S&H, and switch between the inputs via CV (i.e. a switch / multiplexer), which will get you a lot more mileage out of your modulation generators.

What else... I like LFOs so I also have a Doepfer A-145-4 Compact Quad LFO. It is very basic and I imagine many would find it to be boring, but I get a lot of use out of it. A matrix mixer and/or wavefolder can make those basic LFOs much more interesting. Ochd would fill a similar need although the LFOs are not independent as I understand it (which is desirable in some cases, but not always IMO). If you have the space and money, I think a Xaoc Batumi is probably a great option for LFOs. I plan to get one some day.
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Re: Cool modulation options - looking for advice

Post by bronzebygold »

The most important new modulation source in my synth is definitely Joranalogue Orbit 3. I loved it so much I bought a second one pretty much immediately. I've had chaos and pseudo-chaos modules in my rack before. What makes Orbit 3 absolutely stand out is 3 things:
  • Voltage control over the "frequency" (or speed) of the chaos.
  • CV modulation of meaningful parameters
  • And sync...
Let's start with the last one. A sync on a chaos LFO means I can use chaos more or less like any other modulation source and still have it line up with events, clocks, whatever... There's variation in the exact trajectory of the voltage, which adds some interesting richness and natural "imperfection" within the LFO/modulation, but I still have the ability to control points of return.

CV control over meaningful parameters (i.e. changes you could easily notice in the trace on a scope) is also important because, while it may be chaotic, the point is that there are ways to shape the modulation within a stochastic range of possibilities.

And frequency of course is the most apparent feature of the Orbit 3, but it makes a huge difference. Audio-rate chaos is obviously completely different from something that takes 30 minutes to complete a cycle, and being able to CV the Orbit 3 through pretty much that whole range is amazing. Quite often I'm controlling the frequency of the Orbit 3 itself with random voltage from my SSF Ultra-Random-Analog, so random changes in frequency of chaos LFOs can even be synced to large structural changes in a composition.
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Re: Cool modulation options - looking for advice

Post by burdickjp »

56 / 14 = 4 Mutable Instruments Stages.
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