Skylab-200e starter

Discussing some incredible modules that don't quite fit into the other forum categories.

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gruvsyco
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Skylab-200e starter

Post by gruvsyco » Wed Apr 24, 2019 2:14 pm

With the recent news here about Mike, I've been thinking a lot about trying to take out a loan on for a small system. I've contemplated it a few times in the past year but now, I'm like "what are you waiting for, life is short".

So, for a concept of what to start with, I really love the skylab format and I know I want the a 223e. I took a look at modules used by some people that inspire me and have settled in on the idea of what I call the mini-Ciani. It's similar to her system (from what I can gather from pictures)... I have no interest in quad at the moment so I dropped that module. I replaced the MARF with a DARF, she has 2 sets of 282/291s so I dropped one set of those. I dropped the analog oscillator and the 210e which (to me) seems a little more performance oriented.

The resulting system looks a lot like this:

Image

I know there are a lot of personal preferences for module selection. I'm just curious if there are any choices made here that are just downright dumb.
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mritenburg
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Post by mritenburg » Wed Apr 24, 2019 4:07 pm

In a small system like this, you could swap out the 250e since you already have the 251e then add the 257e to get the slewing between stages, plus you get the voltage processors. And, that frees up another space so you can add something like the 285e.

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mutierend
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Post by mutierend » Wed Apr 24, 2019 5:18 pm

Suzanne's system is so dependent on the MARF and the two 2H9 modules from NLM.

I would drop the 250e and get the 256e (or 257e) and the 285e. The 256e/257e and 223e make an incredible pair. I use the 285e in almost every patch. It can add so much to even the simplest timbres from the 259e or 261e. I like to use the 259e in twisted mode into the 285e balanced modulator with some slow modulation of memskew.

The 210e might be overkill for that system, but it can be very useful for mixing. I believe Suzanne uses hers to mix audio before it goes into her 291r.

Also, start preparing yourself for wanting a bigger case.....

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Post by Fuzz » Wed Apr 24, 2019 6:02 pm

I don't know if you caught this recent interview with Suzanne but she goes into her struggles with tuning and the 200e, specifically the 250e and 251e (last 3 minutes of the video). An analog oscillator like the Studio H 258e might be useful if you're looking to play music that's in tune.

[video][/video]

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mutierend
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Post by mutierend » Wed Apr 24, 2019 7:15 pm

Fuzz wrote:An analog oscillator like the Studio H 258e might be useful if you're looking to play music that's in tune.
The 258e tracks pitch very well with CV input but it's still not as tight as what one may find in a eurorack oscillator. I don't know if that's a fault of the 258e or the 250e/251e.

The 261e and 258e track pitch very well over MIDI.

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Post by mathomas » Thu Apr 25, 2019 12:36 am

Any Skylab-sized config will have some difficult trade-offs, just as this one does. Yes, each of us would probably swap out this and that, but what you’ve put together here is more than usable. You’ll have a lot of fun with this. Good idea to put in the 267e over the 266e, in my opinion. The filters are groovy.

The 256e/257e are, as mentioned, REALLY useful with the 223e for tuning the responsiveness of the 223e touch controller, but lately I’ve been living without my 256e in the interest of swapping other stuff in, so that function is certainly not required.

So yeah, get it as configured, because no system is ever “dead”, and you’ll almost certainly change it a little over time, or keep modules on-deck to swap in for different purposes.

Happy patching!

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mutierend
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Post by mutierend » Thu Apr 25, 2019 11:40 am

mathomas wrote:lately I’ve been living without my 256e in the interest of swapping other stuff in, so that function is certainly not required.
BLASPHEMY! :deadbanana:

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Post by gruvsyco » Thu Apr 25, 2019 12:28 pm

I think I made a mistake in figuring out what all was in her system. It looks like what I thought was the 258 was a 291 (I think that's the right number)

The 250e seems like it would be far more fun and interactive to use. I'm going to have to put some more thought into it. I sincerely appreciate the input.

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Post by mutierend » Thu Apr 25, 2019 3:31 pm

gruvsyco wrote: The 250e seems like it would be far more fun and interactive to use. I'm going to have to put some more thought into it. I sincerely appreciate the input.
The 250e is a lot of fun. IMHO, don't get both the 251e and 250e. If you get the 250e, grab a 257e for the CV processing and slew. Just my 2 cents. :)

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Post by tmeade » Thu Apr 25, 2019 4:09 pm

Hi gruvsyco,
I am really interested in performable, non repetitive, melodic sequences as well and find Suzanne’s work to be very inspiring. If you haven’t already, make sure to check out the document she wrote for the NFA in the 70’s. It was included with her ‘74 live record and there is a link to it in a thread about that on this forum.

I understand your thinking behind wanting to have both sequencers in the system, using the 251e to feed the 250e and if you want to head in that direction then you will definitely want both. If you did want a 256/257 in there, you could loose one of the oscillators? I believe the 267e filters will oscillate if you need a tone but one 259e/261e has a lot of density. When doing melodic work, I tend to use each section independently. Pretty sure Suzanne does too (and you are correct, she has a 259e/261e combo.. not a 258 ((that is the filter you see))).

As for the tuning issues.... I loved hearing that story in the video above. In fact, I also brought my system over to Curtis st so that I could show Don the issue I was having with tuning. After seeing what I was trying to do, he told me that they could probably address it in firmware. There were improvements made but there are tons of different issues that make doing what Suzanne wants to do impossible. I think I can expand on what she said in this recent talk she did and to some of the comments in this thread in regards to the tuning issues that you will experience when trying to set this up.

The first thing you will realize is that the resolution on the CV scaling input of the oscillators is rather course. Set your 251e to output a two stage sequence at 0v and 1.2V and turn the CV in knob far right and I’d bet that you will not hear octaves. With a tuner, you can begin to scale down and with some very subtle finger movements... you can get it in tune. However, if you try that setting with 0V and 2.4V... or 3.6V... it starts to get very difficult to hit perfect octaves, much less hit the 3rds and 5ths between. Part of the issue here is that the output resolution of the sequencer isn’t as good at the bottom end. Depending on which one you have... you might get better results using 2.4V at the lowest and moving up from there. People have done it... I’ve gotten close enough.

Ok, so now you are in tune, and you have matched the other side of the 261e and saved a preset... Now plug the 250e into the oscillator CV in. You might expect that you can turn the quantizer on and set properly (western) scaled notes with a touch of a knob. This is what the 1.2v per octave system is all about, right? No. Not here. It does not work. I’ve tried and tried and I’m tbe end, gave up on the quantizer. I have also measured the CV outs and it is far off from 1.2v/oct... and again, it is slightly different as you go up the scale. Come to terms with that and then you have two different presets for using your oscillator with two different sequencers. Fair enough.

So now you move to the 259e and find that it will respond to you seq input voltages completely differently. Ugh. Getting it to track along side the 261e is... well, some claim to have done it. Not me. So the 259e is my timbre source and that’s cool because it is a complete timbre beast!

So now you want to play with sending those octaves from the 251e into the 250e and then the output from that into the 261e? Well, back to tuning you go. The scale seems to compress and you can’t find that perfect tune you had on either the 251e or 250e. It’s something else. So now you have another preset to handle this patch. Usually at this point it will help to make some fine tune adjustments from the 251e. Maybe you need 1.22v to make the octave and another smaller increment to hit the 5th.

At this point you can see exactly why Suzanne was saying what she did. It isn’t so easy to modify those initial pitches because hitting the perfect note will involve too much back and forth. Also, she mainly uses her 249 to transpose the external inputs and aside from the tuning issues here, the 250e does not have octave switches. It can jump from 0-2 or 2-4 but not 0-2.4 or 4.8. So I imagine that is her main reason for ditching the 250e.

In my system, I also use the 210e to route different configurations. That’s a whole new world of pain and jitter.

I hope this is helpful in giving you some idea of what you will have to do to approach Cianni style patches. It takes some serious setup time and is difficult to make additions and changes to. In the end, Don suggested that she do something else. Ha! I admit, that when I listen to And get inspired by a Mort record or a Todd video.. I find a wealth of pleasure and bliss on the system. However.. there is still something cool about setting up the 200e.

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Post by misa » Thu Apr 25, 2019 5:20 pm

Thank you so much for your insights into the tuning details of the buchla!
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Buy it now: "Heart Murmur" 10" vinyl on Bandcamp (solo Buchla 200e, no overdubs, recorded live in Berlin) out now everywhere!

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Post by mathomas » Thu Apr 25, 2019 10:13 pm

mutierend wrote:
mathomas wrote:lately I’ve been living without my 256e in the interest of swapping other stuff in, so that function is certainly not required.
BLASPHEMY! :deadbanana:
My favorite mode! :miley:

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Post by mathomas » Thu Apr 25, 2019 10:36 pm

My simple minded approach when “tuning” my Buchla is not to compose with any trust in displayed voltage values. I generally don’t use the quantizing mode of the 250e (though I do occasionally foolishly send it through my 2OC for “quantizing” — I’ve learned not to expect too much because scaling on the oscillators’ CV input is tricky and unreliable as has been mentioned). So I basically tune every note value by ear. All the modules can deal with this approach to mostly my satisfaction.

It shouldn’t have to be that way, but it seems to be the case, so I just kind of let the system lead me (for the most part), rather than trying to make it do what is logical to me based on my Eurorack experience.

YMMV

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Post by mathomas » Thu Apr 25, 2019 10:38 pm

Quick add — you might consider a Studio.H 258e instead of the 261e. I’d be happy with two of them.

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Post by askthedust » Fri Apr 26, 2019 8:09 am

mathomas wrote:Quick add — you might consider a Studio.H 258e instead of the 261e. I’d be happy with two of them.
This.
If you want to play in tune without midi and use e capabilities, (which is my case, I use a 251 and a 218) this is the only way to go.

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Post by gruvsyco » Fri Apr 26, 2019 10:30 am

How available is the Studio.H 258? Is this something I would have to scour the used market for?

@tmeade thank you very much for the informative write up.

Does anyone know how well the SAModular cases work with the 200e features? I've started thinking about their 2x6u case. I do really like the Skylab case though. It also takes away from getting everything all in one and the discount associated with that.

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Post by Count Zero Interrupt » Fri Apr 26, 2019 9:46 pm

Fuzz wrote:I don't know if you caught this recent interview with Suzanne but she goes into her struggles with tuning and the 200e, specifically the 250e and 251e (last 3 minutes of the video). An analog oscillator like the Studio H 258e might be useful if you're looking to play music that's in tune.

[video][/video]
Why can’t you tune each step with the 250e in key with a tuner? I usually program with the scale I’m using and save it.

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Post by mathomas » Wed May 01, 2019 8:11 pm

gruvsyco wrote:How available is the Studio.H 258? Is this something I would have to scour the used market for?

@tmeade thank you very much for the informative write up.

Does anyone know how well the SAModular cases work with the 200e features? I've started thinking about their 2x6u case. I do really like the Skylab case though. It also takes away from getting everything all in one and the discount associated with that.
I believe the 258e is still available from Doug Clauder: dougcl of studiohsoftware dot com

I don’t know yet, personally, how well 200e and SAModular cases work together, but they better work well because I bought an 18U that is currently taking forever to get here from Germany. Not the vendor’s fault. Seemingly stuck in the post in Germany for god knows what reason.

Do note that the Skylab folds (fairly) nicely when patched, and has the nice bag once it’s folded. I may hold onto the Skylab case for playing out, and keep the 18U in the “studio”. I hope, though, to find a way to let the 18U travel with at least audio patching done.

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Post by gruvsyco » Wed May 01, 2019 9:47 pm

mathomas wrote: I believe the 258e is still available from Doug Clauder: dougcl of studiohsoftware dot com

I don’t know yet, personally, how well 200e and SAModular cases work together, but they better work well because I bought an 18U that is currently taking forever to get here from Germany. Not the vendor’s fault. Seemingly stuck in the post in Germany for god knows what reason.

Do note that the Skylab folds (fairly) nicely when patched, and has the nice bag once it’s folded. I may hold onto the Skylab case for playing out, and keep the 18U in the “studio”. I hope, though, to find a way to let the 18U travel with at least audio patching done.
I dug around and found his contact info on here. He was very quick to respond. He has 4 modules available to purchase... they all show on modulargrid with current prices.

I totally love that Skylab case... the portability, everything. I’m not a play out live kinda person but I do frequently move my gear in and out of play position on my desk.

Again, I appreciate all the insight and please keep making Buchla videos :)

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mathomas
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Post by mathomas » Wed May 01, 2019 10:03 pm

gruvsyco wrote: Again, I appreciate all the insight and please keep making Buchla videos :)
Can’t stop me ;-). I’m also post quite often on Instagram, in case you didn’t know:

http://www.instagram.com/mathomas62

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Post by Kent » Thu May 02, 2019 1:01 am

Keep in mind that the 223e has the very fun and playable arpeggiator. The arpeggiator allows for 3 additional arbitrary transpositions via the blue button.

I’ve not had problems with scaling 2 x 261e oscillators. I play them duophonically.

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Post by dougcl » Sat May 04, 2019 1:26 pm

Count Zero Interrupt wrote: Why can’t you tune each step with the 250e in key with a tuner? I usually program with the scale I’m using and save it.
Maybe she is using the quantizer and/or sending the same CV to more than one oscillator?

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Post by gruvsyco » Sat Nov 23, 2019 4:32 pm

I thought I'd revisit this thread since I received my Skylab today. I went with a standard Skylab. Noisebug had it in stock and I recently inherited some money. Seemed like a good time to dive in.

Going to have to immerse myself in some videos, a couple of the modules not initially intuitive.

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Post by phonkmeister » Sat Nov 23, 2019 6:05 pm

It is an awesome system. Have a nice trip!

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