Tuesday, February 28, 2012

CEM chips in Doepfer Modules

After the announcement of the discontinuation of the Dark Energy due to a lack of CEM3394 chips I started  making a basic inventory on what CEM chips were used in which Doepfer Module.

The A-111 VCO2 (discontinued) used one CEM3340
The list is still far from complete, also because there are still many Doepfer modules that i don't own, but i am hoping to be able to crowd-source the rest this way.

Feel free to help me complete the list by posting your findings in the comments or by mailing me your additional info, thank you all in advance.

 A123 High Pass Filter / A-179 Light Controlled Voltage Source:     CEM3320

A-111-1 High End VCO:     CEM3340

A-132-3 DVCA Dual Linear/Exponential VCA:     CEM3360

A-107 Morph. Filter:     CEM3379
A-124 Wasp Filter / A-106-6 XP Filter:     CEM3379
A-109 VC Signal Processor:     CEM3379
*Newer versions of the A-122 Low Pass Filter VCF3:     CEM3379

A-130 VCA (linear) / A-131 VCA (exp.) / A-134 VC Panning:     CEM3381
A-126 Frequency Shifter:     CEM3382

A-111-5 Mini Synthesizer Voice:     CEM3394
Dark Energy , Monophonic Synthesizer:     CEM3394

Sources and more info on what chip is inside your synthesizer:
http://synthtech.com/cems.html and http://www.synthtech.com/cem/cemdata.html

Note: Not only CEM chips are used in Doepfer modules, i am also working on a full inventory including Texas Instruments chips and as many others as possible. Feel free to contribute...
Thanks to contributors: George P. Macklin, Jakobsweb...

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Random Videos: HOX808

I really like the recent uploads from YouTube user HOX808 from Berlin, Germany.
Focussing on modular analog synths and with their minimalistic approach these video's are simply amazing.
I posted 2 video's below, but be sure to also check out the older uploads by this user.

The first video is a minimal drum sequence, made with only the Doepfer A-160 and 2 A-161 Sequencer/Dividers, TipTop 808 Bassdrum, Snare and Hats drum modules, a touch of (TB-)303, a few samples and some kind of delay.
Quite impressive with these minimum resources.
This does bring back an old wish of me for Doepfer to produce some drum-modules that sound (at least) as good as this though...

Video 1: The Thin Rebirth
-no description available

The second video also mainly seems to be about drums, but if you look a bit further, you notice that these are not drum-modules, but six (!) Doepfer A-112 8-Bit samplers in a row, and it looks/ sounds like the same TipTop drum-module were used.
Very original again, but what happened with the knobs?

Video 2: 6 x Doepfer A-112 8 Bit Sampler

" 6 x Doepfer A-112 8 Bit Sampler and Tiptop Audio BD SD,Flame Echometer, MFB STEP 64."

Uploaded by HOX808

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

CD-Tip VII : Lixiviation - Suzanne Ciani

My latest album-tip is a very recent one, released a little over a week ago.
This album, a compilation of older works from multiple grammy-winning composer/synthplayer and pioneer Suzanne Ciani gives us a nice overview of her electronic works from the years 1969-1985.

From the Finders Keepers Records blog:
" With a sonic portfolio that boasts commissions for the Xenon classic pinball machine, the sounds for the Meco Star Wars theme, the Atari TV commercials and the electronic sound effects in the original Stepford Wives film (amongst many others) the mutant electronic music CV of Suzanne Ciani is proof that in a 1970s commercial world of boys toys, monopolised by a male dominated media industry, a woman’s touch was the essential secret ingredient to successful sonic seduction. 
A classically trained musician with an MA in music composition this American Italian pianist was first introduced to the synthesizer via her connections in the art world when abstract Sculptor and collaborator Harold Paris introduced Suzanne to synthesizer designer Don Buchla who created the instrument that would come to define Ciani's synthetic sound (The Buchla Synthesiser). 
Cutting her teeth providing self-initiated electronic music projects for art galleries, experimental film directors, pop record producers and proto-video nasties Suzanne soon located to New York where she quickly became the first point of call for electronic music services in both the underground experimental fields and the commercial advertising worlds alike...

...Lixiviation complies and recontextualises both secret music and commercial experiments of Suzanne Ciani made for micro-cosmic time slots and never previously documented on vinyl or CD. 
This is the first sneak peek of the early Ciani metal music and non-pop that later went on see her nominated for multiple Grammy awards for her later achievements which brought synthesiser music to the new age movement."

The album contains 16 tracks, but only five of them are longer than 2 minutes, up to a track that lasts a little over 9 minutes.
Besides those nice longer tracks it includes some of her work for TV-spots like the famous Coca Cola 'Pop-and-Pour', music from a few Atari-spots and previously unreleased live bits like the wonderful 1975 Buchla live concert-track.
The longer tracks remind me of her 1982 'Seventh Wave' album that is still my favorite Ciani album.
The CD includes a booklet with an introduction by Andy Votel and track notes by Suzanne Ciani.
Overall it is a very nice compilation from this ' Diva of the Diode', a must-have for the collectors.
Check out an extensive CD-review at Pitchfork.

Here's a preview, a track from the CD called 'Liberator', that she made for an Atari TV spot.
  SUZANNE CIANI - LIBERATOR by Finders Keepers Records

Pubished by Finders Keepers Records. More info HERE
Catalog nr. FKR053CD/LP - total playing time: a little over 34 minutes (!)

Suzanne also recently (re)launched her Twitter account, follow her at @sevwave
or check her out on Facebook (with some awesome classic gear-pictures) or read her blog HERE

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Florian Schneider - Electronic Poem

Here's another classic from the web that caught my attention last month, and it has an interesting story behind it too...

The (audio-) recording in the video below originally comes from a KEYS-Magazine demo CD, Issue 04 / 1996.
This issue of the magazine had an extensive A-100 test (page 44-50) in it, with statements from Kraftwerk's Florian Schneider (and O. Lieb).
Kraftwerk had worked intensively with Doepfer in the mid- nineties, for example on the Doepfer Mogli 'Midi Output GLove Interface', the MAQ 16/3 sequencer, the Doepfer A-129 Vocoder and some other (custom and modification) -projects. (more on this next month)

Florian Schneider (from Kraftwerk) spoke this poem on the answering machine of Florian Anwander, who wrote for the German KEYS magazine at the time.
Anwander played the cassette of the answering machine back in a Fostex 280 multitrack deck and did the vocoder recording with a straight saw wave from a Roland JX3P synthesizer as a carrier-signal.
No voiced/unvoiced detector was used; instead of that he took the high frequencies of the original signal, that were later added to the output-signal.

A Yamaha 2020 compressor and a noise-gate from Ashley were also used in this audiorecording.

Florian Schneider (Kraftwerk)
and Dieter Doepfer *
" Analogsynthese mit system 
klanglich, optish angenehm
technisch, logisch, funktionell
prototypisch und speziell

modular und variabel
leicht, kompakt und transportabel
für ein musikabenteuer
A-100, nicht zu teuer
midi-kontrolle vom computer
A-100 to the future! "

-translated into English:
Analog synthesis system / sonically and optically pleasing / technical, logical, functional / prototypical and special / modular and variable / Light, compact and portable / for a musical adventure / A-100, not too expensive / midi control from the computer / A-100 to the Future!

Video: Enigmidia / Florian Schneider - Electronic Poem
" Doepfer Vocoder, Digital ComputerArt by Paulo R. C. Barros
Florian Schneider, from Kraftwerk, perform a recorded test-drive of a vocoder to the Doepfer electronic instruments."

Florian Schneider seemed to be very pleased with the A-100, on page 45 of the KEYS-issue he writes:
" Up to now, I only had the chance to play around for one day with the A-100, but I can already say that Doepfer has built something really special.
The system does sound very good and does offer everything I do expect from a modular system - and that at a really reasonable price.
For me it is also a plus that it has turned out smaller than other systems, like some may point out.
But the adjustors on a mixing desk are even closer together, and you can also take it with you easily and leave the expensive rarities at home.
The vocoder has turned out really nice; it does really sound good in comparison to other vocoders.
After building a multi-channel filter (a very important module, by the way), it was only a small step for Dieter Doepfer to combine this with VCA's and Envelope-followers. "

He also shared a tip;
" On a modular synth, you really learn how the sounds are made.
I can advise anyone to buy a simple oscilloscope with the modular system.
This was also my start, I was fascinated to see; "this is how the sound looks here and after the filter it looks like that...".
You can really see principles here which you can also find in the whole world. "

* The opening voice is Gia Stemmer, who did the moderation of the KEYS demo-CD.
More info on the Doepfer vocoder system HERE

* Picture from Doepfer.de

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Doepfer A-131 Demos by Raul Pena

Raul Pena (from http://raulsworldofsynths.com/) has released four more new demo-videos, this time involving the A-130/A-131 Voltage Controlled Amplifiers.

Video 1: Doepfer A-131 VCA Intro

" Introduction to the features of the Doepfer A131 EXP VCA.Short demonstration of Tremolo.Sound and Video by Raul Pena. "

Video 2: Processing CV with Doepfer A131 EXP VCA Part One
" Demonstration of Doepfer A131 EXP VCA for processing CV. From the manual "For audio signals, you would normally use the exponential VCA (A-131), and for control voltages, the linear VCA (A-130). It doesn't always have to be that way, though." "The old versions of A-130/131 (those with CEM3381/CEM3382) are not able to process slowly varying control voltages (AC coupled in/outputs). Sound and Video by Raul Pena. "

Monday, February 13, 2012

A-197 Analog Meter

Another A-100 module that was discontinued a few years ago is the  A-197 Analog Meter.

This simple module could be used to display DC or AC voltages by means of an illuminated moving coil meter with mirror scale.
The display range is 0...+10V (resp. -5V...+5V in the offset mode) and the module features 3 different measuring methods that can be selected with a toggle switch:

Picture via Matrixsynth
Full Wave Rectifier: This mode is normally used to display audio signals resp. AC voltages. The incoming signal is rectified and smoothed with a low pass filter.

Direct Mode: In this mode the incoming voltage is lead to the meter without additional electronic modification.
This mode is used to display positive DC voltages, e.g. ADSR (A-140/141/A142), MIDI-to-CV (A-190/191), positive random voltages (A-149-1), foot controller (A-177), Gate/Clock signals.

Offset Mode: In this mode +5V are added to incoming voltage before it reaches the meter.
Zero volt input correspond to the middle position of the display needle (i.e. +5V read out).
This mode can be used to display positive and negative voltages, like for example a slowly swinging LFO (A-145/146/147), A-148 Sample&Hold, bipolar Random Voltages (A-118), A-174 Joystick, A-178 Theremin, A-179 Light Controlled CV source.

The measuring input is available as a triple multiple so that the signal can be used in the system simultaneously.
An LED lights up if a negative voltage appears at the measurement input.

I don't own an A-197... The module seemed useless to me at first because of the lack of possibilities, and i was (and still am) thinking about buying an oscilloscope at some point.
Since this module is no longer available it will be hard to find one nowadays.

Friday, February 10, 2012

Random Video: Doepfer A-100 Manual Arpeggios

You might already know that the A-156 Dual Quantizer is one of my favorite modules, you can read more about that module and my modification HERE and on the Synovatron blog.
I recently found this video on YouTube, by someone who also seems to have fun with it.

Video: Doepfer A-100 Manual Arpeggios

" A patch on the Doepfer A-100, featuring the A-156 Quantizer "

Uploaded by JWolfMusic

Tuesday, February 07, 2012

Dark Energy II Announced

Well, it looks like Dieter Doepfer announced the discontinuation of the Dark Energy today.

In the Doepfer Usergroup he stated that " the Dark Energy will be discontinued as the CEM3394 chip is no longer available and the negotiations with the manufacturer (OnChip, the Curtis Electromusic successor) concerning a new productions series of the CEM3394 were not successful so far. 
We think about a redesign of the unit (Dark Energy II) but it will be another instrument with a different sound and features (e.g. probably a 12 dB multimode filter with lowpass, highpass, bandpass and notch (like the A-121 Multimode Filter- (they will probably use parts of the DIY Synth circuit (e.g. the multimode VCF) for the Dark Energy II design) - instead of the 24 dB lowpass)."

Dark Energy picture provided by Marc Weerts
from the band 87PM
Logically this would mean that the A-111-5 Mini Synth Voice will also be discontinued since it has the same circuitry inside.

The Dark Energy did have a unique sound, mainly because of the linear filter FM.
There is no A-100 VCF available that offers this feature and even the VCO and VCA are unique.
The VCO is close to the A-111, but there is no A-100 VCA module available with the combined linear/exponential response of the Dark Energy/A-111-5 VCA.

Personally i do not think Dark Energy II will be the best name for a module like this and that they should go for another name instead, since it will be a completely different instrument with a unique character.
Feel free to leave some name-suggestions below or on the PatchPierre Facebook page.

Doepfer probably still has a bunch of Dark Energy's and A-111-5 modules left in stock*, but if you really want one you should get one before they are gone...

* Update:
From Dieter Doepfer in the Doepfer Usergroup:
" ...we miscalculated the relation of the Dark Energy / A-111-5 sales. The A-111-5 stock will last much longer than the Dark Energy stock. I expect that the Dark Energy will be sold out in 2-3 months, but I suppose that the A-111-5 stock will last one year or even longer."
Update II:
" ~ 4000 Dark Energy's were made, and ~ 300 A-111-5 modules "

Dark Energy sound demo by MarcJX8P

Find other discontinued A-100 modules HERE (updated feb.2012)
Curious what chip is inside your synthesizer?

Monday, February 06, 2012

Quick Tip IX : Record Everything

Video's like these (by marihutten on a pretty big A-100 system) remind me to always record everything you can, on video or at least in audio.
If you only knew how often i regretted not recording that last jam, demo or interlude, it often turns out you miss the best things...
Or is that just my bad luck?
Other benefit is the ability to review your recording later, by yourself or by others... you might be surprised by the reactions from different listeners...
Or how about using snippets of your recordings in later projects?
Possibilities are endless, your limit is your imagination...

Video: Clock Divider and FM on Doepfer (11:23)

" My first try with the clock divider on the Doepfer. Too bad I forgot filming the third patch I that I created during that session that was an ADSR that went through an Audio Divider that went through the clock that later went through a morph filter. Sounded sick.
This one sounds kinda boring but I was trying something simple with 3 VCOs of triangle waves to see if I got the gist of the clock divider."

Uploaded by marihutten on 2/2/2012

Saturday, February 04, 2012

Quotes XI : Kraftwerk

"We are not entertainers, we are sound scientists."


Kling Klang Machine:
(also available as iPhone app)

- Kraftwerk recently launched their official Twitter account @Kraftwerk

Wednesday, February 01, 2012

The Eurorack Standard

Many early synthesizer modules had modules with height in integer inches: 11" (e.g., Roland 100), 10" (e.g., Wavemakers), 9" (e.g., Aries), 8" (e.g., ARP 2500), 7" (e.g., Polyfusion, Buchla, Serge), 6" (e.g., Emu) and had widths in 1/4" inch multiples.
More recently it has become more popular to follow the standard 19" Rack unit systems like the 6U (Wiard), 5U (8.75" e.g., Moog, Modcan), and 4U (e.g., Serge).
Two rack 3U unit systems in particular are notable: the Frac Rack system (e.g., Paia) and the similar Eurorack system.

Manufacturers using the Eurorack format include DoepferAnalogue Systems, and Cwejman in Europe, and Plan B, Livewire, and Harvestman in the USA.

The Eurorack format uses modules of 128.5mm (slightly over 5") height.
Horizontal width is measured in "horizontal pitch", where 1 HP = 5mm (slightly less than 0.2"); most manufacturers use a horizontal unit definition of either 1U = 4HP, or 1U = 6HP.
3.5mm phone jacks are used for interconnection of audio and voltage control.

The Eurorack format needs ±12V power (most other current formats use ±15V), in addition to +5V required by some modules.
Unfortunately, the power connections are not completely standardized yet; the format uses ribbon cables for power and a two-row ribbon cable connector containing either 10, 12, or 16 pins.
The 16-pin connector uses some of the extra pins to distribute control voltage and gate signals from a keyboard to the modules via a common case connection.

More info at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Modular_synthesizer,
http://electronicmusic.wikia.com/wiki/Eurorack, and
http://www.synthtopia.com/content/2009/01/31/eurorack-modular-synthesizers/ or http://www.modularplanner.co.uk/ for suggestions.