Last night I went to Control in Williamsburg to see Richard Nicol from Pittsburgh Modular. There was a decent turnout including a few girls, a dog, beer, whiskey and Vince Clarke. There was a Q&A and then people took turns on the new Pitsburgh Modular Cell systems. I asked a few questions. I have some space about the size of a 8″ monitor speaker on my desk and I wanted to know if Richard was planning on making a 3 tier high Cell  case. The answer is yes and he plans to go to 4 high or maybe even higher. I also asked if he was planning any drum modules but he thinks that’s been covered by Tiptop so he’s not going to try at this time. Later in a one on one discussion I learned his main focus is keeping prices low. There’s really nothing wrong with that as his modules do sound great. After playing with the Cell systems myself I made myself over to Vince Clarke and had a nice 20 minute conversation with him. He’s a nice guy and like really into synths so I could talk for hours with him. I admit driving home I put on Yaz and then I realized I’ve now met every person who was ever in Depeche Mode (epic!). Thanks to Daren and Jonas (the store owners) for a fun evening. To see a full set of photos: click here
“All of the Pittsburgh modules are handmade with the look of 1950?s science fiction laboratory equipment using bold components and unique layouts to promote interaction and experimentation.” – Pittsburgh Modular
My favorite modular store Control is getting a visit from Pittsburgh Modular on Monday, February 18 from 6-8PM. I’m definitely going to this one. They recently released a very pretty line of new cases and several new affordable Eurorack modules.
“We are taking our NAMM setup on the road! Richard Nicol will be at Control in Brooklyn on Monday, February 18th between 6pm and 8pm to show off the latest Pittsburgh Modular gear. The full range of new systems, cases, and modules will be setup and ready to test drive. Stop by for free stickers, logo panels, and a module giveaway!” -pittsburghmodular.com
Richard Nicol’s Eurorack modular synth company Pittsburgh Modular has released some great stuff this year at NAMM. To start off there is Cell which is a very inexpensive complete synth voice. From there everything grows into multiple systems. Some 48HP some 90HP. The systems are well thought out such as the System 2 which focuses on sequencing and effects. What also has me really excited are the new cases which are inexpensive and look great with nice wood ends and can be built vertically. Every studio should have 90HP of Eurorack sitting in between their computer monitor and keyboard angled toward them!
“Two complete synthesizer product lines and a pair of desktop eurorack case and power supplies.” – pittsburghmodular.com
I decided to stay home this weekend. I stopped by Control in Williamsburg and picked up a new module for my Eurorack system. I bought a Toppobrillo Multifilter. You can hear it in the above videos filtering a Wiard Oscillator, Make Noise Echophon and a iPad Police Scanner. The clock and drums are from a Korg Rhythm 55. An Analog Solutions Telemark is providing some LFO modulated white noise snares and a Korg Monotribe is joining in with some resonant rides and a synth line. Both the Telemark and Monotribe are being pinged by an Intellijel uStep. There’s also an Intellijel uVCA and Pittsburgh Modular ASDR doing some utility work. There’s won’t end up as songs as sometimes it good to just play around.
“The so-called state-variable filter has a long history in electronic music- traditionally the most versatile voltage-controlled filter at any analog synthesist’s disposal. there were several classic design examples and variants produced throughout the heyday of analog synthesis, such as those implemented in the Oberheim SEM, the EDP Wasp, and the fabled,albeit lesser known filters such as the famous Serge filters and Arp 1047; the classic SVF configuration is simple and versatile- with several different filter responses available simultaneously ‘for free’ by nature of it’s design with no elaborate mixing schemes. traditionally there have been some considerations when designing a wide-range filter with variable Q using this topology, for instance, relative instability/ generally poor sound and behaviour at very high Q, many designs get around this by limiting the maximum Q available, among other things. those that are designed to allow for self-oscillation will often become unstable at the threshold and have inconsistencies initiating or mantaining oscillation across the entire audio range. The Toppobrillo Multifilter is a new/ traditional state-variable design based on a great modern quad VCA chip, the SSM2164. this, in part, helps make the Multiflter what it is, a clean, quiet, stable and very controllable filter at it’s core, without limiting its palette, well suited for processing anything you can run through it.” – toppobrillo.com
I had a great time at the Control Voltage Fair at the South Street Seaport yesterday. It was good to see that there are now 4 stores in the NYC area selling modular synthesizers! I spent the most time with Karl Ekdahl and his new Polygamist synth. I own his Moisterizer spring reverb unit and the new synth is wonderful. It’s also one of the coolest looking pieces of hardware I’ve ever seen. Mark Verbos had his car size vintage Buchla system there and did an hour live performance (eat that Deadmau5!). A good time and I hope these type of events keep happening because you really need hands on time with the modules to decide which ones you want in your own rack. You can see the full set of photos if you: click here
“The analog modular synthesizer is a type of synthesizer consisting of separate specialized modules connected by wires (patch cords) to create a so-called patch. There are three basic kinds of modules: source, processor and logic. The basic modular functions are as: signal, control, logic/timing. Outputs are an electric voltage.” – Wikipedia
A video demo of the wicked looking Pittsburgh Modular Foundation synthesizer I previously mentioned (link). There are great things happening in the Eurorack modular community. If your don’t already know and are interesting in these type of synths and modules be sure to spend time over at the Muffwiggler forums.
“The Foundation is a fully modular, eurorack, analog synthesizer. A patchable system styled after the great monosynths of the past with no hardwired signal path or fixed voice architecture to restrict creativity. Driven by two wide range analog oscillators the Foundation produces a huge, warm sound that can’t be matched by digital or VST synths. All of the elements of a classic voltage controlled synthesizer are available as an open, patchable, modern synth.” – pittsburghmodular
So yes there are a lot of new table top analog synths such as the new Arturia MiniBrute and Moog Minitaur. But what if have three times the cash in your pocket and 10 times the need to impress the hell out of your friends? Clearly the new Pittsburgh Modular Foundation should be on your short wish list. It’s a selection of Eurorack modular Modules in a Monorocket case. This selection gives you a solid synth at about a 10% discount. Pretty isn’t it?
“The Foundation is a fully modular, eurorack, analog synthesizer. A patchable system styled after the great monosynths of the past with no hardwired signal path or fixed voice architecture to restrict creativity. Driven by two wide range analog oscillators the Foundation produces a huge, warm sound that can’t be matched by digital or VST synths. All of the elements of a classic voltage controlled synthesizer are available as an open, patchable, modern synth.
The Foundation is a “complete voice”. It contains all the modules needed to produce a wide variety of complex sounds such as monster analog bass, cutting leads, evolving pads, and short percussive hits. All of which can be controlled directly using the Foundations’ 42 knobs and switches then played with any standard Midi controller. The Foundation is also fully compatable with Expert Sleepers Silent Way software plug-ins.” – Pittsburgh Modular
I’ve started to plan a modular synthesizer. I really like the Monorocket cases and I’ve picked out some modules to start with: Doepfer A-190-3 Midi to CV interface, Doepfer A-155 Analog Sequencer, Doepfer A-198 Ribbon Controller, Livewire Audio Frequency Generator (AFG), Harvestman Hertz Donut digital oscillator, Doepfer a-118 Noise Module, Livewire FrequenSteiner Filter, Doepfer A-140 Envelope Generator (two of them), Doepfer a-147 LFO, Pittsburgh Modular Analog Delay and a Doepfer a-199 Spring Reverb.
I have some questions: Do I need to know anything about powering these? If I got the Monorocket M9B could I just plug the above in and expect it to work? Is there a shop or meet up in the NYC are where I can try out some modules? What about my choices above? For example I picked two Doepfer A-140 Envelope Generators because I have two Oscillators. I assume I need them otherwise the Oscillators will just drone on. I know there are a lot of other exciting modules out there but any recommendations are welcome.
“Combining the signals generated by multiple modules into a common audio output allows a potentially infinite number of configurations, leading to a potentially infinite number of sounds.” – Wikipedia