Wednesday, September 26, 2007

MOTM System of the Week Part 3

This week's system is owned by Gregory from Copenhagen, Denmark. He writes:
I´m doing sounddesign and mixing for TV and Film; Feature, documentaries and commercials.
I´ve had a lot of synths during the years, but around 2000 I threw away all the old midi stuff and concentrated on softsynths.
But I kept my old Korg Mono/Poly (bought second hand in the mid eightties). The sound coming out of this beast, and the joy of tweeking real knobs, did that I couldn´t sell it.
Then someone borrowed me a Doepfer Regelwerk and the combination of a CV/Gate sequencer and the Mono/Poly was great, so I decided to get some more modular.
Wanting something better and bigger than the Doepfer line, I ended up on the MOTM website. And in 2005 I got my first MOTM filters to add to the Mono/Poly.
And when I first fired up the MOTM 440 there was no doubt. This was the best sounding LoPass I´d ever heard.
Later I added a row of dotcom to my synth and now (sept 2007) it consists of MOTM, Dotcom, Modcan, Doepfer, CGS and some DIY. The Mono/Poly is heavily modded with acces to the internal parts through the patchbay. DIY and CGS is hidden in the cabinet with I/O through the patchbay.

He send me some good pictures, and here are two of them.


6000 visitors, so here is a video to celebrate :-)

This is a video of NAMM 2006, in which Paul Schreiber introduces the 650 midi CV, and the fracrack modules. Also another prototype module is visible, the MOTM sequencer, which is still under development. It will probably be finalised after the cloudgenerator, as I know that the sequencer is being moved to a different processor, compared to the original. It will mean that the new sequencer may be loads more powerful than the prototype, and that's a good thing. :-)
I posted this video on Youtube, because the original source doesn't seem to be existing anymore. If you find the original, let me know, and I'll add the link.


Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Synth of Doom cabinet for sale

One of Stooge Moe's Synth of Doom cabinets is up for sale, due to downsizing his synth plans. It comes complete with a powerful Power One , powersupply, and mounting rails for MOTM 'standard' modules. Price is $1200,- plus shipping.
Picture here, contact him on his site (see my links column, Synth of Doom), for details on the cabinet etc, or e-mail him via: Stooge Moe.


Monday, September 24, 2007

Picture time

Last week or so, I promised to post a picture of the MOTM-120 sub mux that I won through E-bay.

Well , here it is , happily patched , and comfortably seated in my synth. Oh yes, that empty space is to be filled up with a MOTM-910 cascade multiple. Find more info about that handy little unit here: MOTM-910.


Playing around with the MOTM -650 Midi CV

MOTM users "You Feel", published a few audiofiles on Twango, where they're experimenting with the capabilities of the MOTM -650 midi CV. Worth a listen.

demo 1.
demo 2.
demo 3.


Building a Robot, by the Robot makers

A golden oldie :-) Roger Pellegrini reminded me of this song and video, containing all sorts of modular synths, including MOTM, and some great patching techniques :-)



Friday, September 21, 2007

SEPT 29th, pacific northwest synth meeting

via Matrix
5th annual Pacific Northwest Synthesizer Meeting
"The 5th annual Pacific Northwest Synthesizer Meeting will be:

September 29th
10:00 AM to 3:00 PM

Renton Technical College
Building C, The Technology Resource Center Room 111 3000 NE 4th St Renton, WA 98056

in previous years , you could find the occasional MOTM system there too (see pic), so if you are in the area, I'd suggest to stop by :-) More details or info on previous years here.


Thursday, September 20, 2007

MOTM system of the week part 2.

This week , I am featuring the MOTM modular of Jim Gordon. You've seen his set up in action a few posts ago on the youtube video I posted. Here are the details of his synth, with a nice diagram of his racks. He writes: "The 4 spaces on the left rack are waiting for 2 more 300s. The 3 spaces on the right rack are uncomitted. Maybe for a Cloud Generator, maybe Cynthia's Zero Oscillator.

I use the MOTM for leads, basses, and lots of "post-production" filtering.

To my ears analog synths often have presence and depth lacking in digital gear. I think this is because analog synths have :

1. No anti-aliasing filters, no high frequency cut.
2. No digitized waveforms, a sine wave is a sine wave.
3. Phase coherency: upper harmonics arrive at the same time as the fundamental."

Remember: You can have your synth featured on this blog, it doesn't need to be big, or finished at all, it is great to see systems with different design approaches, ideas, and various stages of construction, and do not have to be exclusively containing MOTM, if it contains just one module, then that's okay. :-) Send your pics and stories to:


Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Last post today.

Let's finish today's blog posts with some music.
Here some music courtesy of Harry, from TwoFish, another MOTM user. Here is the track Radio Columbia . Be patient, it loads slow, but it's great, and yes that is the space shuttle Columbia talking with Houston mission control in the back ground :-)

Helpful advise from Robert Rich.

Creative ways of patching up new sounds on your MOTM (or other) modular synth.

Helpful advice from Robert Rich, starting with soft sync....

The best use I found for soft sync on the 300 is to add the essential non-linear element for chaos patches. The "talking chaos" patch, for example, has two 300s cross-modulating each other with sign waves, both set to approximately the same basic frequency. The sync buss is connected, and both are set to soft sync. That creates a complex interaction where the modules get stuck and unstuck. Wiggling one a tiny bit(with a low lagged sample&hold random voltage for example) will prevent them from getting locked into a pattern.

The trick of modulating VCO pulse width with a high frequency sine for example adds a great "fret buzz" sort of timbre to bass sounds. For timbral variation within patches, try audio-frequency modulating anything with something else. Sine waves often make the best sources for audio rate modulation, because there's already plenty of overtones resulting, so I frequently put a filter into full resonance for that purpose.

If you have two LFOs with FM input, try cross-modulating them for complex interactions. If you put that output into the VC-in on an oscillator, you'll open up a wide range of bleebly sounds, birds, wiggly bits, etc.

Split the output of a filter and process one half with other filters and VCAs before putting that signal back into an input on the same filter (either audio input or the FM input). The feedback loop will affect the resonance, and dynamic processing will make the interaction very complex.

For the above idea and for any other patch, add a time-domain digital effect - like echo, reverb, chorus, flanging, etc - to the inside of a patch. Use outboard effects as if they are modules in the system. This opens up an entire realm of options for feedback-type patches.

Rethink the standard use for a module. Did you know that a lag processor is a low pass filter? An envelope generator is a lag processor? An envelope can even be a waveshaper for low audio frequencies at its fastest settings. Likewise the 320 LFO makes a good audio-rate oscillator for bass sounds with very cool waveshaping features.

Two oscillators at their highest frequencies - above hearing - can cross-modulate each other to create difference tones you can hear. That's how a Theremin works, and radio. You can do it on MOTM oscillators.Try modulating a super-sonic VCO with an external audio signal. It's very odd. You can do the same with resonating filters.

Speaking of resonating filters, you can "ping" them when they are almost ringing by putting a sharp envelope blip into their audio input. It makes a very ghostly gamelan-like sound.

The idea behind all of these tips is to break the established paradigms and rethink the possible role of each module. Don't assume a patch has to go VCO-VCF-VCA.

I hope this helps a bit. - Robert Rich

Good news for my friend

Several months ago ( much closer to a year actually, on october 5th 2006...), I wrote about a music piece, entirely written and recorded with a Sequential circuits Pro One, by a good friend of mine. Turns out, this piece of music (in extended form) will be released in October as a track on the album Analogy, volume 3. It is track 12, called Probe One (original version here), by Studio 35D.
The concept of these albums is to contain music, made only on analog synths, no digital synths and samplers are allowed, only effects and recording may be done digitally. More information on this CD at this link. Official launch will be at the dutch E-live festival 2007 at the Auditorium Technical University Eindhoven, held on October 13th 2007. It is confirmed that among the guest musicians at this festival, will be Ian Boddy, who together with mark Schreeve, will perform as the act ARC.

Congrats to Studio 35D , and I'll be buying a copy.


New DIY PCB for your MOTM?

MOTM user, DIY designer and musician Jurgen Haible is in the process of designing a new PCB for a unique phaser, cloning the phasers used by the likes of Klaus Schultze, Tangerine Dream, and was responsible for the further definition of the 'Berlin School' sound.

You can find information about an earlier version of this phaser and this one at: Haible's Phaser
Sound samples are here, taken from his 2000 album Dark November:

fairly tame at first
Here it is opening up and the unique resonance is audible
More phaser fun

great stuff, and would be great to design a MOTM style frontpanel via front panel express, or Stooge panels (see link in my column on the right). I love the sound if this thing ;-)


Monday, September 17, 2007

Lot's of MOTM in this video, enjoy :-)

Just found out that this video can also be found on Matrix synth, he was one step ahead of me posting it, that's what you get if you are half asleep and having to put kids to bed first :-)


Saturday, September 15, 2007

Goodie box time.

Every so often, usually once a year, Synth Tech sells a goodie box with left over parts, etc. Excellent stuff for the DIY builder.

This year the following is on offer, straight from Paul:

This weekend is "fall cleanup" here in the MOTM lab. Offering the (in)famous MOTM Goodie Box, full of "one man's trash is another man's treasure". Known items include:

a) Roland ISA card LAPC-1 "Sound Canvas" card with (if I can find the floppies) a librarian/editor and lots of sounds/MIDI files. Including a decent Karn Evil 9 ditty. That I did like...errr...1986?

b) MOTM blank boards

c) SMT parts (resistors/caps/ICs) and other MOTM parts (usually left-over from building prototypes).

d) random CDs

e) AT&T digital answering machine

f) a Rabbit 2000 uP dev board (Z-80 variant) has Ethernet MAC/PHY.

g) random computer parts like video cards, CD-ROM drives, etc.

You know the drill: PayPal only, email your *bid* ($130 starting, bid *includes* FedEx Ground postage). Will ship next week. Please bid by Monday

Paul S. Send your bid to: Paul Schreiber

Friday, September 14, 2007

More about MOTM system of the week

Hello all,

Here is more info on the MOTM modular featured in an earlier post on my blog.

Dave gives us the following info on his synth.

On the lower left bottom a home brew 1u panel that I had used with some stereo equipment to get access to the ins and outs without going around and unplugging stuff. The top jacks are normalled to the bottom jacks and a pair of RCA jacks in the back to go to the equipment. Inserting a plug breaks the normal and connects the plug to the corresponding jack in the back. I am using it to fill the space and connect the synth to the Heathkit AA-15 amp on top of the synth.

Next up is a shelf of synthesizersdot com modules. From left to right:Q118 Instrument Interface Module, Q125 Signal Processor, Q123 Standards Module, Q106 Oscillator, Q113 Mixer, and a Q108 Amplifier. By the way, the whole thing is powered by a QPS1 power supply.

Above the dotcom modules is a multiple panel based on the MOTM cascaded multiple. The top and bottom rows are identical.. There are 20 jacks connected in series, with very 4th jack interrupting and isolating the jacks preceding it, like the MOTM 940, only longer. I set them apart at the same interval as the MOTM form factor and had 2 FPE 1u panels made. I do need to reinforce them, however. There is an identical multiple on the right side.

The top shelf is (left to right): MOTM 800 EG, MOTM 320 LFO, MOTM 300 VCO, MOTM 310 uVCO, MOTM 300 VCO, and another MOTM 310 uVCO. The blank space is reserved for the MOTM 890 uMixer when I get it.

In the right side bottom is a Middle Atlantic Products Inc rack mount power strip. It supplies AC power to the QPS1, The BK 1472 Oscilloscope, the Heathkit AA-15 amp, the BK Function Generator, and the PAIA 9700 Midi to CV Converter.

The nest shelf is the "control" shelf. The first module is a MOTM 101 Noise/Sample and Hold. Then a blank space, then a MOTM 820 VC Lag Processor, a MOTM 800 EG, and the PAIA MIDI to CV Converter. I put the 9700 in a Blacet to MOTM panel adapter.

The right side top shelf consists of a MOTM 420 VCF, A MOTM 800 EG, another MOTM 420 VCF. In the blank space I would like to put a 24db/oct Low Pass Filter based on the CEM 3320 chip. Next is a MOTM 800 EG, and 2 MOTM 190 uVCAs.

Hope this answers any questions anyone has. I not musically inclined ( my wife and daughter are). I became interested in electronic music after listening to Switched on Bach in 1969. Other things took priority over the next 30 years (military service, raising a family, etc). In 1998 I discovered the Internet and found a wealth of information on building synths. I always wanted an Aries 300 but could never afford it. When I found the Synthesis Technologies site I decided it was the way to go. thanks, Dave Abbey.


Thursday, September 13, 2007

MOTM 120 first experiment

My MOTM 120 suboctave multiplexer has just arrived in the post, and I quickly mounted it in my synth.
I've created a very quick patch to play around with it a little. It's nothing too shocking yet, and just highlights a basic use of the sub mux. I've created this downloadable file to demonstrate it: SUB MUX
A saw wave is processed through input A, and then through a MOTM 440 LP filter. On this filter a Tri and a Pulse wave are mixed in. During this small sample, these other waves are mixed out , and you can hear just the saw wave, and the sub octaves being mixed in. The MOTM 120 is also switched to the Cross mode, and a signal from an LFO is mixed in, briefly, before returning to normal operation, with the additional waves mixed back in.
It does demonstrate that this module can add some additional punch to the sound.


MOTM system of the Week part 1

Yes, that's right, a new feature of my blog. I've asked fellow MOTM users, to send me pics and info of their modulars, big or small, finished or not, to post on this blog for all to enjoy. Hopefully you do, and will send me your pics too.
To start things off, here is the modular of Dave Abbey. It is build in a flight case like housing, and contains not only MOTM but also some other compatible modules, and some patch bays. He didn't tell me what brand they are, but they appear to be , am I right Dave? Also like the oscilloscope on top, visualizing the sound. He comments that it is a work in progress, but hey, aren't all modulars? They never seem finished. Submit your MOTM modular pics and stories to Motmsynth, and put the word MOTM in the subject , otherwise my spam filter will trash it :-)


Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Analog Heaven and MOTM news

Paul Schreiber has the following to report on the AH meeting, and Synthesis Technology.

I will be back at work Tuesday, instead of the 20th as planned. I have a pile of stuff to ship out, including 900 and 950 power supplies. After I ship the power supplies, I will get to the remaining VCO kit orders, and back to asembled module shipping.

Nice to see everyone at the AH gathering on Sunday. I counted 11 MOTM customers :)

Thanks to Eric who drove out from AZ with the Cloud Generator prototype (that actually worked *all day* without a single glitch). The LiteEngine worked as well (except when I wrecked the serial cable, which Eric re-soldered). Hopefully the folks that listened got a good idea of what it "really sounds like". There are a few minor tweaks to the code (like the FINE tuning range) but the general concensus was it's 'sounds really cool'.

Lastly, thanks to Robert Rich for showing his MOTM setup and patching furiously all day.

Paul S.

I hope to be able to come to the AH next time too, we'll see how that works out :-)


MOTM behind the scenes

Hello all, here are some exclusive shots, thanks to fellow MOTM enthusiast Cyruss, and Paul Schreiber for allowing me to post these pictures here.
These are shots from Synthesis Technology, showing the MOTM 520 Cloud Generator prototype, on the "test bench". Once again: This is the prototype, not the final product! (update: This isn't at Synthesis Technology, but it is the prototype, brought by Paul to the AH gathering, as others pointed out. Still great to see how this module is developing :-) )


Analog Heaven meeting 2007

Pictures say more than words, the yearly analog synth meeting, called Analog Heaven has been held in the US. (Flickr via matrix)
Here one of the MOTM systems present.


Monday, September 10, 2007

MOTM 120 sub octave multiplexer

E bay can be great sometimes, I managed to win a bid for a MOTM 120 module, I always wanted one, and today I won a bid.
I paid a decent price for it, the module is in tip top condition, judging by the pictures. I'll show it to you when I receive it later this week.

For those of you that need a reminder, see picture for it's looks (yes this is the auctioned item I won), and a description from Synthtech's website.
And this is what it can do to a TB 303 for example...

The MOTM-120 is a Synthesis Technology exclusive design. Based on an article in Electronotes, we have updated, improved, and added features to create a truly unique module.

The MOTM-120 contains 2 4-stage sub-octave dividers, a digital mux, and 4 digital ring modulators. It operates in one of two modes, selected by the cleverly named MODE switch.

In the simplest operation (MODE is set to SUB), a single input is fed into the A IN jack. The signal passes through a level comparator, whose lower threshold is 80mv pk-pk. When the input exceeds this, a 4-bit binary counter is clocked with the input signal. This generates the lower 4 sub-octaves. These are then mixed by 4 individual pots along with the input signal. A switch selects either the original source mixed in, OR the "squared" version of the input.

The additional 4 sub-octaves (similar to pulling out lower octave drawbars on a Hammond) greatly fatten up the bottom end of any signal. Even a simple sine or triangle will punch through in the mix.

Lots of synths have a single sub-octave, but we give you FOUR!

But the real fun starts when you flip the MODE switch to CROSS. In this mode, 2 input signals are required. Each is divided into their respective 4 sub-octaves, then each sub-octave is ring modulated with each other! Since we are in the digital domain, it's easy to ring modulate (you'll have to buy one to see how we did it!). This results are simply awesome and bizarre. If A IN is audio, but B IN is from a LFO, what you hear is a 16-cycle patteren of the sub-octaves getting multiplexed in. As the B IN signal is raised into audio frequencies, the results are HUGE chordal timbres with lively beat frequencies. Electronotes used to describe this as Waveform Animation, and that's a pretty accurate description.

The MOTM-120 is a powerful addition to your studio. The wimpiest digital synth can be turned into a growling monster!

Traffic is up :-)

I'm liking this, I reported late July that I had reached 4000 visitors, now it's early september and I've passed the 5000 mark.
Thank you for visiting, let's see if I can keep coming up with interesting posts, and see if we can add another 1000 in a shorter time frame :-)


MOTM sequencer in the dark :-)

Here is Thomas White's sequencer, this time with the lights off :-)

fun stuff!


MOTM format sequencer

MOTM user Thomas White has just completed a MOTM format sequencer.
He reports:
I have completed my Ray Wilson design of his Music From Outer Space 16-step analog sequencer. There is more information about the concept up on which will be updated with completed images soon to replace the under construction ones there now. I am excited with the result of my work on this. Thanks to Ray for making this PCB available to all. There will be 8 videos on youtube. 3 are up now and the others are being uploaded as I write this...

video 1

This looks realy cool!

video 2

Here is how it gets mounted:

video 3

spinning LED's :-)


Thursday, September 06, 2007

MOTM and Marimba Lumina

Flickr member Max lord reports on his MOTM system, with a Buchla Marimba Lumina as a midi controller.

"This is the MOTM synthesizer that I play and the Buchla Marimba Lumina that I use as a midi controller for just about everything.

Huge props to Jeff Swanson for the amazing new cabinets.

Each cabinet is set up with its own power, and can function individually or together. The new MOTM midi to cv module allows the marimba to send note, trigger, velocity, and bar position for all four mallets. Each cabinet has two oscillators, a wave warper, a 480 CS-80 filter, and a complement of LFOs, EGs and VCAs.

Also, big props to Grant Richter at Wiard for the bizarre MOTM-format noise ring module. "

oh , I Just noticed that Matrix synth posted this as well, so sorry for the double post :-)


Monday, September 03, 2007

MOTM sequence with 1 VCO, 1VCF, 1VCA, and some knob noodling ;-)

Thought this time, I'd give you a bit of sound to enjoy.
This is my modular, just one VCO, 1 VCF (the 440), and a VCA, a few ADSR's and an LFO patched in strategically, and just a sequence, which is a little shaky, but hey, this was to demonstrate the synth, not to be some song ;-)
I was going to give you the sound in the new video format, that blogger now offers, but kept giving me an error, so instead, click on this link to download the demo. It's a zip file, but after unzipping, you'll get an MP3 file which is high quality. (size is 9.8MB unzipped)
It is also available on the downloads page (see MOTM sound samples link in the column to the right), but this is easier ;-)


More Cloud generator demo's with FM synthesis!

From Paul Schreiber came the following message:

Here are 2 more Cloud Generators showing features available with the
"Expander Module".


Both demos show how the internal parameters can be modified by the *ROTARY ENCODERS* in real time. So, each 'detect' is a set parameter, and as we are rotating through the sound 'jumps'. This *does not happen* with control voltages, there will be nice smooth transitions (no zippering).

OK, now that we got that out of the way:

Sine 2 operator FM!

SQR bandwidth mod

The first demo is a simpe 2-operator FM patch changing the modulation index (just like a DX-7). The second demo is a square 'cloud' that is having the bandwidth of the noise for the chous/spread being varied.

Currently, there are ~50 different parameters that are under user control. These can be saved as a general "patch". 6 parameters at a time are under the rotary encoders, in 9 'pages'.

Paul S.

Cool stuff again, this is going to be a great module! :-)


Saturday, September 01, 2007

Synthesis Technology, state of the Union address :-)

The following message comes directly from Paul Schreiber at Synthesis Technology, and should explain a lot to all existing, and new customers.


This is just a general message stating where I am and what is going to happen over the next 6 months. I hope I don't ramble too much :)

a) Due to my 'real job' travel schedule this summer and several personal crisis (my dad getting ill, a water pipe broke, tornado/hail destroyed my roof and now my mother-in-law is in hospital) I estimate I'm about 60 modules behind in my shipping.

b) I am starting my 'summer break' (?) starting tomorrow, and it will last until Sept 17th. Except for the 2006 Christmas break, I have worked on MOTM *every week* since. Wife has hit critical mass, so it's time to step back and catch my breath. I will still check email, but will *not ship* until after the break. I have some nice video games lined up, loaded on the HD and graphics drivers updated :) I will also fly out for the AH meeting in Oakland on the 9th. Robert Rich is bringing his touring system and I will have the Cloud Generator demonstrator. I also need to go general housekeeping on the lab/work space, it's pretty messy :) Hmmm...might be enough stuff for an infamous Goodie Box......

c) When I start back up, the MOTM-300 VCO kits are #1 priority. I also has several assembled VCOs to ship.

d) Several people have asked about their kits from last year that are not VCOs. These will ship in November. I have set that time aside for shipping all of remaining kits. And remember, Dec. 15th is the *last* day of the year for MOTM work, when I start up again on Jan. 15th.

e) The Frac VCO is 95% finished in pc layout (the last 8 trace connections are a *bitch*) and that will ship in late October.

f) Even though all of this 'back room' R&D is going on, I still feel shipping the existing orders is first and foremost. There may not be enough time to have a 'Christmas module' (was planning on the Pulse Divider) ready to go (not counting the Frac VCO). I have a feeling that my DDC travel will be more this fall because I have a new territory manager starting in 2 weeks and I will have to vist up in the Midwest states in Oct/Nov/Dec more that usual. So for now, it's:

1 - ship the existing backlog
2 - get Frac VCO out
3 - get Cloud Generator for late Jan/early Feb shipping after the break

g) Lastly, some possibly interesting 'business stuff'

Number of orders placed using the shopping cart (since Feb 2006): 735
Number of total modules *shipped* since the beginning (Feb 1998): 7857
Number of modules shipped in 2007: 132 (not counting MOTM 2.0 stuff)
Number shipped in 2006: 1057
Most popular: MOTM-800 EG
Least popular: MOTM-940 patch panel

Thanks to everyone that has been willing to wait for me the last 18 months.
Don't give up yet: I am getting closer and closer all the time to being 100% finished with all kits and assembled backlog. And then, the AudioEngine madness will begin :)

Paul S.


I guess this post is long enough now. :-)