Monday, June 26, 2006


Hello all,

Over 100 visitors to this blog since June 13 when the counter was added to my blog. That's almost 53 a week!
The fact that this blog is not yet 2 months old, and is picking up more traffic is encouraging.
Thank you for reading and visiting, and keeps me motivated to continue this blog.
Pls leave a comment on any of the articles if there is something you'd like to read about, or even have something for me that's worth mentioning on this blog.
It of course has to relate to MOTM modulars.

Saturday, June 24, 2006

Module Spotlight : MOTM 310

Only 1U wide, but still very capable. For those with little space, or a tighter budget, give this one a thought, it can be used to sync a MOTM 300, but is also pretty good as a standalone oscillator, for a portable system.

The MOTM-310 is a smaller, less-featured version of the MOTM-300 UltraVCO, but with the same great stability and tracking. The main use of the MOTM-310 is in conjunction with a MOTM-300. The MOTM-310 is great for driving a SYNC into a MOTM-300, or as the 2nd/3rd VCOs in a ‘voice’. It’s also the perfect sawtooth-driving VCO for a Blacet/Wiard MiniWave. The SHAPE control is a manual cross-fade between the SAW wave and the PULSE wave. Without a PWM input voltage, the PULSE is a 50% duty-cycle squarewave. The PWM input is a voltage of –5V to +5V (unattenuated) to alter the duty cycle from 0% to 100%. This input can be driven at audio frequencies, unlike other modulars. This will generate wonderful sidebands of harmonic energy, useful for “brash” or “buzzy” timbres. When driven with a –5V to +5V control voltage the range of the VCO is from 0.01Hz to over 25Khz. The module does not compromise performance in any way with the MOTM-300. It will track over 10 octaves within 0.5%, and the long-term temperature drift (after a 15 minute warm-up) is less than 0.5Hz per day. Your patches remain session-to-session, and the timbre of the system (VCOs and VCFs) are repeatable. This does not mean the MOTM-300/310 sounds “digital” or “cold”, but rather in a studio recording environment, you are not frustrated with drifting pitches and timbres. You can always add randomness to your patches, but you can’t take it out!

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Patch Cables

Stooge Industries earlier last week announced its closure, and sell out of inventory.
I thought I'd give it a go and try to see if I could get a few translucent patch cables before they close down.
So thats what I've done, ordered a few colors of these high quality cables, to complement my MOTM.
Also on order is the MOTM 390 lfo kit I described earlier this week, to continue expanding the synth.

My god it is true, building your own instrument is addictive! (In a good way!)

Monday, June 19, 2006

MOTM module announcement

From Paul Schreiber:

Existing "pre-orders" for the following:


are being removed from the system. As you all know, these have been 'on the
books' for several years. The reality is, due to increases in component cost,
postage, labor and the RoHS laws I cannot ship these at the original prices. FAQ
below. In most cases, the credit card info has changed, people have moved, etc.
It's just too much to deal with.

Q: Does this mean these projects are cancelled??!?
A: No.

Q: When will you have these ready to go?
A: I have no idea. Circumstances have drastically changed over the last 18

Q: What about the Cloud Generator?
A: Front panels are in-house. I have bought tools both for myself and a
consultant that has agreed to assist me. If things go well, I can have
prototypes by Christmas (for people to test). This is assembled only (SMT
technology). The new price will be under $500.

Q: What abut the uSeq?
A: I have many of the parts and the front panels in house. The CPU is being
changed from a 8-bit to a 32-bit ARM. This means a new software rewrite. I can
have hardware by the end of the year but software is an issue.

Q: What about the fixed filter bank?
A: The design is done, and 1 prototype exists. There were only 27 pre-orders. I
am no longer convinced this is a viable business decision. I will revisit the
concept in the Spring of 2007. Price increases in the pots and knobs alone will
increase the price $75 over the original. The panel costs, at this low volume
will be higher.

Q: What about other modules mentioned in the past: VC ADSR, the VC Pulse
Divider, the Envelope Follower, the Triple Pre-Amp, etc?
A: All of these are scheduled for production. I believe there is enough interest
to justify tooling them. The VC Divider will ship first, followed by the VC

I'm sure there are folks that will be upset over this, but again: if you want me
to continue MOTM, I *HAVE TO MAKE MONEY*. This is A HOBBY, I don't have 4 free
employees, I'm not single living in my parent's basement, I'm not content to do
this for $4000/yr pre-tax profit. I *want* to keep going, but is has to be on
*my* terms (shrug).

Paul S.

Sunday, June 18, 2006

Stooge industries

From Stooge industries:

Stooge Industries is closing its (figurative) doors.

Given the well known troubles we have faced recently, and my decision
to simplify my life for awhile, this seems like the best solution.

We will sell the current inventory of brackets, flat rails, and patch
cables from the website. Once those are gone, that's it!

Please order what you need from

Thanks to everyone who has ever been a customer, or just sent
encouraging words to us.

This is sad news, and I guess I had my cables just in time, they will be missed.

Saturday, June 17, 2006

About LFO's

MOTM 390:

The MOTM 390 is a dual LFO module, in a 1U width, also called the micromodule series.
It is the smaller brother of the 320, which has a wider frequency range (up to 2800Hz!!) , and this therefore makes the 390 less useful as a VCO should you wish to do so, but this doesn't mean it's a standard LFO.
The 390 has a nice range (Up to 200Hz on the voltage controlled LFO), and several waveforms available, so that it can be used for what a LFO is designed to do, MODULATE!
It is also cheaper, it sets you back only $139,- for the kit.
LFO 2 is voltage controlled, while LFO 1 has controls on the front panel.
The voltage control can be used to control the frequency of the LFO, or in other words the speed of the modulation.Here is just one example on how you could use it:
It can for example be controlled by an envelope from a MOTM 800 ADSR, or other. Feed the modulation to the cut off frequency of a filter(set to low pass, and appropriate resonance setting), and you get some seriously weird filter sweeps. You could then create a helicopter noise (feeding noise into the audio input of the filter) that kind of revs the engine rpm.
Doing it manually by using LFO 1instead, puts you in control of the rpm :-)

This LFO module is the next purchase for me. I was first thinking about getting the 320, but budget restrictions (I'm still recovering from the 650 purchase :-) ) and knowing that I currently do not have a lot of space for my modular, made me choose this one.
There is another LFO that could also be considered, as it has the same format, and it's the 380. This one has no voltage control, but has 4 independent waveform outputs (al fixed level, but independent rate set by front panel controls) which can be used independently, or up to sum of all 4, creating some strange summation shapes options.
Even though this module has a wider variety of shapes, it has a smaller range (up to 35Hz), and no voltage control, which I wanted to have for my first LFO. No doubt that the 380 will be added later.

So what lies ahead for the future of my modular? I'm not sure in which order, but some modules that are definitely included are: 101 (noise, for that helicopter above) , 310 (second VCO), 910 (multiple), and the brilliant sounding 440 filter. (check out the demo patches on the synth tech site, it is great! )
What's that, no ladder filter (Moog type)? Well perhaps at some point, but I have plenty other synths that mimic this, and my objective is to "add" to my available sonic palette.
For that matter Synthesis Technology is bound to have some interesting and exciting module releases in the future. Stay tuned!

Thursday, June 15, 2006

MOTM 650 update

My MOTM 650 still isn't here, but there is a good reason for it.

As it turns out the manufacturer of the LCD displays that are used on the MOTM 650, has changed the specs of the displays somewhat sneaky. Paul Schreiber (synth tech) was unpleasantly surprised by this, and now has to modify the circuit board (and some resistors need changing) a little, to get it all working.
As it is a module that uses SMD (surface mount design/technology) it is not that easy as a pcb that uses traditional components.
My module is therefore not ready , along with several other customers orders I presume.
Anyway, this explains the wait, and also shows that Synthesis Technology is not to blame, and reputable as ever.
I wanted to pass this on to all (potential) MOTM interested people out there, incase you followed this blog, and started to doubt Synth tech.

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

Sounds from a starter MOTM

Recently, a question was posted by another MOTM user on the Yahoo MOTM users group, that was planning (and buying) the following modules to start his synth with. Another user (Richard Brewster) who has a large modular, decided to demonstrate what can be done with just these modules, links to his sounds are below, and also how they were made.

As this list of modules closely matches mine in planned starter modules (I have a different filter, and still need to order the 101 , 910 and 390 modules) , I thought it was fitting to post this demonstration on this page too.
300 VCO
440 VCF
101 Noise / S+H
190 VCA
390 uLFO
800 EG (I suggest getting two)
910 Mult

Below is Richard's explanation on the patches plus the relevant links.

This uses the 190 Ring Modulator with the 300 VCO sine wave and the 440
as a sine wave oscillator. Half way through some pink noise is mixed in.

small glorp RM

This one also uses the 440 as an oscillator, but for dynamic linear FM
modulation of the 300. One VCA is used for the dynamic FM and the other
VCA is used for volume.

small glorp FM

The third patch uses the 440 as a filter and also uses Pulse Width
Modulation on the 300. The output goes in parallel through the two
VCAs, each controlled by an 800 EG. This is why you want two EGs. I
had no trouble using both EGs and both LFOs in these patches. It was a
little harder to find a place for both VCAs. This recording starts out
in mono, and at the 20-second mark I kicked in the Lexicon MPX-1 digital
post processor to add the "Classic Detune" effect. You can see how it
creates a lively stereo field but does not alter the essence of the
sound. The first two recordings also used the detune processing.

small glorp PWM on VCF

some patches needed multiples (the MOTM 910 is such a module) to split signals, but can also be done with Radio Schack Y adapters when you do not have the 910 , or another patchbay yet.

Richard Brewster's synth can be admired at Richard Brewster's MOTM .


Monday, June 12, 2006

Still waiting....

Hi everyone.

I had hoped by now to be able to report about the delivery of my MOTM 650.
However, it still isn't here, and I am kind of sad that it isn't. As I don't own any pre midi synth, I am relying on this module to be able to play musically with the few modules I have so far.
I am not dissapointed with SynthTech however, it is a small company, and Paul is running it in his own free time, so delays can happen. Also in the case of a brand new module, initial demand is high, and I think the 650 has been on the 'shipping soon' list for a while.
As this blog is about my experiences with MOTM, however I thought that also this should be mentioned, for those of you considering starting your own DYI project. Delays can and will happen at some point, and all I can tell you is, if you are not the patient type, don't do it, I've ordered my MOTM 650 back in March, when it was announced to be in production and shipping, it is now nearly mid june......still waiting.... but still happy!

Monday, June 05, 2006

MOTM kits for EU

Good news for kit builders in the EU.

Synthesis Technology has just announced that a replacement solder that is RoHS compliant has been found.
This means that both assembled modules as kits can be sold and shipped to the EU. The only downfall is that kits will be approx $5,- more expensive for the EU than their US counterparts (who do not yet have this RoHS requierment).
This cost is due to the higher cost of RoHS compliancy. I think it's a small price to pay for getting 'green' synth, and not having to find solder independently. Just a little strange that the US is not following the EU in these strict requierments, as the EU usually follows the US in for example car emmision standards etc... But I guess for now, the US MOTM fans can save $5,- on every kit, which pays for a few patch cables or so. :-)

Saturday, June 03, 2006

MOTM-650 4-Channel MIDI-CV converter

I've been talking about the 650 midi /cv module in many previous posts, and I am still awaiting my own to be delivered.
(have been told on wednesday that it may ship on Friday, which was yesterday so who knows, I'll have it next week?)
For those of you who haven't yet visited the SynthTech website, or not recently, here are the specs and a picture from the shipping version as of this moment, taken from the synthtech site.
Note the different pushbuttons as compared with the prototype visible in the downloadable catalog on the synthtech site.

MOTM-650 4-Channel MIDI-CV converter
$499 assembled & tested
The MOTM-650 is a 2U wide, full-featured 4-channel MIDI-CV converter. Features include:

Voice allocations settable as four 1 voice, two 2 voice, or one 4 voice group - each voice group separately addressable via MIDI
Voice assignment modes on a per voice configuration: Poly 1, Poly 1 steal, Poly 2, Poly 2 steal, Unison, Solo Unison, Solo, Solo Rotate.
Dual arpeggiators, each arpeggiator assignable to any active voice group - one arpeggiator per voice group
Arpeggiator clock sources - MIDI IN Clock, internal clock (60-238BPM weighted), or external
Arpeggiator clock divisors /4, /3, /2, /1.5, 1X, 1.5X, 2X and 4X the clock rate
Arpeggiator note order as up, down, up/down, and down/up
Arpeggiator modes are normal, ordered, ping pong, and random
Portamento - per voice group configurable as constant rate or constant time
Each voice group is independently configurable
Firmware updateable via MIDI (Windows and Mac OS 9 update utilities provided)
All MOTM-650 options settable via MIDI CCs or MIDI System Exclusive commands as well as the front panel user interface
MOTM-650 Settings and state are remembered across power cycles
Patch storage for MOTM-650 settings (up to 32) - recallable via MIDI patch change command
Microtuning per MIDI spec
Pitch bend adjustable from +/- 0 to 24 to be added to note CV on all voices
Each of 4 AUX outputs assignable to pitch bend, channel aftertouch, or any MIDI CC.
Velocity jack on each voice can be configured to be velocity or a trigger - providing a 5ms pulse when the voice is retriggered
LEDs to monitor MIDI IN activity, internal/external/MIDI clock, and voice gate operation
8X2 LCD with variable backlight and 4 buttons for the user interface
External clock in jack
Transmits MIDI clock if set to external or internal clock
The MOTM-650 packs all these features into a 2U wide module, using the latest SMT data converters, low-drift op amps and precision voltage references. Most MIDI-CV converters use 12-bit DACs: the MOTM-650 uses a true 16-bit DAC, and an octal 10-bit DAC for the Velocity/Aux outputs. No other MIDI-CV converter has as many features in a small space.

There will be an optional firmware upgrade that adds additional features such as MIDI-sync'd LFOS and the ability to chain units. This will be a low-cost (<$50) upgrade. Firmware upgrades to fix bugs are FREE OF CHARGE (none planned..heh).

NOTE: This module requires a MOTM-950 or other source of +5V, 575ma power