Friday, September 30, 2011

Audio Demos of the Buchlidian Plague Bearer...

As promised here are some audio demos of my DIY phaser module I built into my Buchla 200e system. The Plague Bearer is an amazing little beast made by Flight Of Harmony who make a number of unique modular synth modules and they also sell very affordable kits. I used the PB barebones pack which could not have been easier to assemble (one reason I chose it as my first powered 200e DIY project!)

First up is a simple demo of a single basic sound - a pulse taken from an Eardrill Pendulum Ratchet 077 module. I chose this because it was the simplest sound in my 200e kit and I could also use some of the divisions from the 077 to trigger and modulate other things in the patch to make things a bit more interesting. The audio demo is tame by FoH standards but it gives you an idea of some of the cleaner qualities of the phaser.

Flight of Harmony Plague Bearer Vs Eardrill 077 - DAEDSound DIY Buchla 200e module by DAEDSound

It starts with the simple pulse out and some manual tweaking of the input and gain on the module. Eventually I start to use the modulation inputs and throw it into an envelope to get things cooking a *bit* more. You can hear a the phaser sweep it's highs and lows rather politely with an occasional more juicy moment or something with a bit more grit.

And now for something a bit more Synthy:

Flight of Harmony Plague Bearer Vs Buchla 200e - DAEDSound DIY Buchla 200e module by DAEDSound

This audio demo is a bit lower in volume but has it's more raw and peak moments. I'm using a simple waveform out of the 261e into the PB. There is some manual and CV tweaking including running the mod oscillator into one of the DIY attenuators I made on the module and manually tweaking and feeding that into the Gain CV input on the PB.

For those interested here is a bit more info on the module itself. I'll do a more involved post on the DIY nature of it and tapping into the 200e power buss board etc in a future post.

The layout of the module is very simple. The FoH Plague Bearer barebone pack comes with a preambled and soldered PCB and has the four main pots already attached.

The top of the module pictured here is that with knobs for (in order from left to right) :

Input level
Gain Level
High Freq
Low Frequencies

The jacks underneath (again from left to right) are:
Audio Input
Audio Output
High CV in
Low CV in
Red banana jack is Gain CV In

The bottom section contains two DIY attenuators with the black banana jack being the Input, the colored jack being the Output, and the knob in between adjusting the amount of attenuation. After experimenting a bit I chose to use a B500K pot and a B1Meg pot to get the most flexibility and mix things up a bit. Given the sensitivity of the Input and Gain knobs and Gain CV input these come in very handy.

So there you have it. A strong filterlike phaser freaknoisepiece mixing with some sophisticated 200e modules. I look forward to seeing how everyone plays nice once I get my 250e and 266e back from repair in a week or so and will have more posts and demos then.

For now, Phase out!

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Phase Me!

Super short post today just to mention I finally built my first powered DIY 200e format module. This is a Flight of Harmony Plague Bearer phaser with two additional homebrew attenuators.

Audio demos and more info to follow soon.

Swirl out!

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Wave, Hello!

While my Buchla 200e is still waiting patiently for it's repaired parts to be returned I thought I'd experiment a bit with some other manufacturer's modules that offer one thing the Buchla is well known for; Wavetable Synthesis.

I've been a huge fan of the sound of scanning wavetables since I first heard them on old industrial and pop records in the 80s. The PPG was world famous as used by Thomas Dolby among others. And Buchla came out with their cranky aliasing original 259 VCO waaaaay back in the late 60s and early 70s. Today you can get amazing wavetable synths from the Waldorf Microwave XT and even some virtual analog emulating synths like the magnificent Korg MS2000 have a Wavetable Oscillator in them. Not to mention VSTs, other software emulations, etc.

What once was the domain of binary hacked ROMS and freakish controlled voltage patchable modules can now be found on everything from Iphones apps to Atari and SID chip emulators.

But, as with most things software only, the spirit and soul of the machine tend to get a bit compromised when you take out... well, the machine! It's the interface of having LFOs and knobs and jacks run amok on a non-quanitized pinging, scraping wavetable that makes that raw digital-yet-organic connection synthheads so love. Enter the updated Wavetable Modular modules to the rescue.

My main modular system is in ModcanA format. As a result I have accumulated a few different versions of wavetable modules , each quite unique. Modcan currently offers two different modules the VDCO 58 and the Wiard/Blacet Miniwave. I also have one of their long discontinued original wavetable modules the 19A Wavetable oscillator. This has almost been one of my favorites due to it's "old school" musicality. It just sounds so smooth in it's own angular-digital way.

Both the Miniwave and the original 19A are carrier wavetable oscillators which require an external signal to drive them (usually a good solid Square wave does the trick). The VDCO is quite ingenious and actually offers more of a dynamic synthesizer all-in-one type module with frequency modulation being a bit part of it's operation as well as having a series of wavetables that modulate and affect the over all sound. It also , like the original Wiard Waveform City module of which the Miniwave descended, has it's own internal modulator (in the case of the 58a it's a form of sine wave).

OK what does all this mean? Well, for me, it's kind of the synthesis (sorry!) of man/machine/ and Sound (yes that has a capital "S". Analog modular oscillators by default have the means to be modulated and warps, but a wavetable oscillator, well, that is created to be warped and mutated. Tossing an LFO into one you can scan the various segments of sound and have a steady "note" sound like a highly programmed sequence (which, in a way, it is). Win frickin' WIN!

I used Wavetable synthesis extensively on my Baseline CD by Sweeping The Noise Floor. There are various modules floating in and about, the Waldorf and other Wavetable oriented synths, and more. Check out the link above for samples and you'll hear waveforms growing and creeping about throughout almost everything.

While down in the lab this afternoon I also whipped up a short demo of the above three modules sweeping, pinging, and all around wave tabling to give an idea of some of the mayhem that these offer. Quite different than the 259 or 259e but then again, that's the point, right?

This is certainly not a fully realized song but I couldn't resist getting a little arty and to me a wavetable just sounds good in some feedback controlled spring reverb. So, you get that.

Modular Synth Wavetable Demo by DAEDSound

Other modules used in this are a Cyndustries Programmer and MixSix, and a customized Doepfer Reverb module made into ModcanA format for me by the genius of MegaOhm Audio.

Scan on!

Tuesday, September 6, 2011


Just got back in town and am anxiously awaiting the return of my two 200e modules I sent in for repair last month. the 250e dip switches weren't working and the blue LED on the "A" section of the 266e was dead. I got emails from Karl and Don they were received and there was no additional charge for the repairs. Nice!

Here's a pic of the machine as it awaits it's repaired parts. Sad.

Fortunately all VCOs and other goodies are still 100% and there so I look forward to getting back in the groove when I get some downtime this week.

Hmm ... perhaps now would be a good time to try some DIY?