Starthief's Eurorack adventure, 2016-???

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Re: Starthief's Eurorack adventure, 2016-???

Post by starthief » Sat Jul 18, 2020 7:33 pm

Mazzatron shipped fast! Here's the psuedo-patchbay sidecar I whipped up with some scrap wood:
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Cables to my audio interface are plugged in to the back panel, I just patch stuff into the front and it's all good. Since I only needed 6 inputs and don't really need it as a mult, I'm using the other 6 as storage for my LED jacklights for now.

(The jacklights honestly only see occasional use, since I've got the O'Tool+.)

Also, after taking this photo I realized I can turn the ES-3 upside down by replacing the expansion cable with a different one. So those right-angle TOSLink adapters now both point out of the way and my world is a little more rational (even if the numbers are now upside down :hihi:)

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Re: Starthief's Eurorack adventure, 2016-???

Post by starthief » Tue Jul 21, 2020 11:10 am

New plan! After the Pod 60 / Sweet 16 and E520 are in place, my priority will be to try out an Intellijel Shapeshifter.

Pretty early on in my modular journey, I saw the 2-line LCD and then mention of "presets" and it made me think of some desktop synths I didn't get along with, so I down any consideration of it. And then yesterday I watched some videos on it and was blown away. I feel like I'd better try it now and atone for my lapse :)

Shapeshifter is going to put several of my favorite modules on trial -- something I wouldn't do at this point if I didn't have the space to run all of them side by side. I expect there will be some consequences, because otherwise I've just jumped over the "too many VCOs" line again.

- E352: The feature set between these is different, with some overlap through different approaches. In theory, my preference leans toward Shapeshifter's feature set. This is most likely going to come down to a contest of sound: can the E52 produce sounds I love that the Shapeshifter can't approach?

- HD mk2: A module that has come, gone, and come back after trying other alternatives. I fully expect this particular battle will be about the feel and charm of the thing. Shapeshifter of course has vastly more features, but is it as fun and easy to work with?

- Akemie's Castle: The feature set overlap is minimal, so this is a more complex question. I love Castle -- mostly for its "shallow but wide" algorithms where I blend carriers via CV -- but its size and power consumption are always in the back of my mind. If Shapeshifter's chord drone game can keep up with Castle and it ends up replacing E352 or HD, then maybe it would make sense to go with something else here... Verbos HO? :mrgreen:

- Kermit: It's pretty safe I think -- in the unlikely case Shapeshifter can make that "dusty" sound I like so much (which would be awesome), Kermit is still a fairly compact, handy dual LFO.


After Shapeshifter, I'm still likely to go for the Waver, but less inclined toward Drezno/Jena since the wavetable lookup stuff will be covered. Of course, the whole face of my modular might be changed at that point so I don't see much advantage in trying to plan too far beyond that.

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Re: Starthief's Eurorack adventure, 2016-???

Post by SavageMessiah » Tue Jul 21, 2020 3:56 pm

Depending on what you like about E352, shapeshifter might not displace that one - you can't replace the wavetables without a ton of hassle, the stock wavetables don't really have any deliberate design to them (in terms of making smooth morphing), and the morphing seems more abrupt than in more specialized wavetable oscillators (I have a PH3 for that).

But good lord is shapeshifter a beast. I think you'll have fun with it. The only real negative to it is that you have to save a preset for state to be preserved. Fortunately it at least remembers the last preset you loaded so you can just make a scratch preset and save to that every time. After I did that enough times it just became muscle memory to do it. When I first got it I mostly just used it as a cord machine, but as my knowledge of synthesis grew it kept up - you really have to know things about FM, sync, etc to get the most of it. You seem super knowledgable so I think you'll have no problem using it to its fullest. I've had it for 2 years now and I still feel like I've barely touched it and yet it's still the source of a lot of my favorite sounds.

The quantization for the FM ratio is incredibly useful, as is the internal sync oscillator (that tracks pitch but is not affected by FM). Those, combined with the various sync modes means you have an enormous space of sane sounds. Ignore those and you have an infinite space of insane sounds :). I've also had fun with some self-patching - running Osc 2 through the wavefolder and then into mod a with that set to be combo 2. Then osc 1 can be FMd by osc 2 while simultaneously being ringmodded by the wavefolded version.

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Re: Starthief's Eurorack adventure, 2016-???

Post by starthief » Tue Jul 21, 2020 4:51 pm

SavageMessiah wrote:
Tue Jul 21, 2020 3:56 pm
the stock wavetables don't really have any deliberate design to them (in terms of making smooth morphing), and the morphing seems more abrupt than in more specialized wavetable oscillators (I have a PH3 for that).
Yeah, that could be a potential gotcha. I kind of feel like Kermit is that way, and I rarely do any shape modulation with it. I'll see how it goes :)

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Re: Starthief's Eurorack adventure, 2016-???

Post by SavageMessiah » Tue Jul 21, 2020 5:11 pm

I still do plenty of shape modulation though, you just have to approach it on its own terms. Small changes work well and it does seem to vary by wavetable. For instance the vocal banks have vowel and non-vowel sounds in the same banks so you can get some gross results but you just have to attentuate your modulation so that it stays in The Vowel Zone™ or whatever. On the other hand some of the other banks like the cello ones don't have such large changes between waves so you can go all over the place and be fine. It's a bit hard to morph with basic 1 because the 4 basic waveforms are doubled up to make it easier to select pure versions by hand (which I appreciate since I spend so much time just doing complex osc stuff with the basics). In conclusion, Shapeshifter is a land of contrasts.

I was watching the last of that 6 video tutorial series earlier today and realized that I've never really used the delay. Comb filters are cool and I keep forgetting that I have one already. Shapeshifter is definitely my desert island oscillator :)

EDIT: Also, if you buy a used one, make sure you update it to the latest firmware if it's old. The difference from 1 -> 2 is pretty amazing.

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Re: Starthief's Eurorack adventure, 2016-???

Post by starthief » Sun Jul 26, 2020 11:22 am

OK, I've had a few hours with the E520, getting to know it, trying different kinds of techniques and patches and seeing what I can make it do.

It's brilliant! Spectral Crusher alone is just about worth the price of admission. Some of the seemingly simpler algorithms have quite a lot of depth and utility. Some of the delays are unusual but very much worth taking the time to learn. The looper can be gorgeously lo-fi, and the Spectral Time Machine is a crazy bag of tricks.

The firmware feels like a 1.01 -- mostly very solid given how complex it is, but a couple of minor suggestions and nitpicks to offer.

I'm keeping Mimeophon for sure. I like its Karplus-Strongish behavior better, and its character is unique, and it can complement some of E520's effects. But I'll also be making some heavy use of E520's various delays too.

I'm not planning to let go of O'Tool+ either. Scope mode in E520 is really nice, but I expect it'll be busy doing other things in most patches, and I won't want to repatch to monitor something.


On my Via, I tried out META and OSC3. Wound up going for the faceplates. I feel like the envelope and "sequencer" modes in META aren't really my thing (I'd be more inclined toward Zadar if I wanted complex envelopes) but the oscillator and drum modes are good -- kind of like simplified Plaits. I am more inclined toward OSC3 for now though -- it can be a wicked chord machine, especially when also using its AM with S&H, and of course there's phase modulation to play with. I feel like I'm going to be switching it between SCANNER, SYNC3, META and OSC3 just every so often :)
Last edited by starthief on Sun Jul 26, 2020 11:42 am, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Starthief's Eurorack adventure, 2016-???

Post by Rex Coil 7 » Sun Jul 26, 2020 11:31 am

I've been eyeballing a number of wavetable modules for months (longer?). That is until the Hydrasynth was released. With everything the Hydrasynth is capable of I'm not sure wasting rack space on wavetable modules would be necessary (along with the necessary support modules such as LFOs, EGs, VCAs, etc..).

And poly aftertouch. And ribbon. And presets. And CV I/O. Yea, I'm going to really need to think this over.
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Re: Starthief's Eurorack adventure, 2016-???

Post by a773 » Sun Jul 26, 2020 1:18 pm

I'm a new shapeshifter user, but I'll just chime in to make sure you dive in before dismissing it.

It's an old school oscillator not a voice, meaning the presets will *not* work like a Roland keyboard by a long shot. Presets saves the menu settings, you still provide the knob settings and modulations.

I'm about two weeks in and totally in love! They just don't make modules like this anymore (that I tried at least), amazing and broad pallets of sounds, super clean design, super deep, needs a modular ecosystem to function. But just browsing presets will leave you underwhelmed and/or doubting if the module is even working correctly...

NB: I wouldn't bother replacing the wave tables, it's everything around them that makes the whole difference. In fact most of the time I'm just in 'basic 1' (sine, triangle, sqr and saw) on both oscillators, and super happy....

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Re: Starthief's Eurorack adventure, 2016-???

Post by Funky40 » Sun Jul 26, 2020 1:44 pm

starthief wrote:
Tue Jul 21, 2020 11:10 am
........, my priority will be to try out an Intellijel Shapeshifter.
the shapeshifter i had, had a BIG drawback, its imho kind of a dealbreaker.
I´m not shure where it stands today, but afaik was this not changed:

the drawback is the number of the waves in a bank: just 8 !
thats a stupid decission not coming from someone who would understand patching with wavetables.
But the much bigger drawback is the wave selection itself:
you really really want to have a clean sine wave, and ideally some inbetweens from sine to harsher ones, ---> within *each* wavebank.
ideally placed at CCW or CW.

why ? the Shapeshifter has FM and some more on Board nifty modulation stuff like PM iirc, ...
so all these possible modulations become *quite quickly* noisy or crappy sounding,
and you would want to turn to a sinewave ----> within ***each** wavebank !.....---> to unleash the fukll potential ofg these modulations,
without *allways* and immediately landing in noisy territory.

NOT delivering clean waves ( and maybe some inbetweens) in each bank was a HUGE drawback on my shapeshifter.
finally the selection of waves i could use was narrowed down to something like 3 or so, i think.
( but i had a early unit with even more drawbacks that were cludged then later in an update ( exactly the things i was ranting about early btw.....which gave me lots of unsympathie from the maker, so i had hard times to get answers any answers later on.
.....but look, they changed it, just not the wave selection and organisation as far i know )

if it has not changed, is the Shapeshifter just no competition, and you´d much better step up from the E352 to an E370,
which allows for so much more patchings, with its interconnectibility under the hood, versus your E352.
Entirely different things come into reach with the E370 vs. E352, looking and taking the E370 as ONE VCO, and not a quad.
its ONE complex VCO for me.


the shapeshifter as such would be immens ! it sounds superb.
But its own inbuilt drawback with the waveselection is like you´re sitting in a Ferrari but you have the hand-break on.
but i might stand corrected in case it was changed.

its really about the waveselection ! thats my whole point here


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Re: Starthief's Eurorack adventure, 2016-???

Post by a773 » Sun Jul 26, 2020 3:41 pm

We don't have to agree, I just don't share your feelings towards the shapeshifter, funky.

As I see it, fm works best with sines, more complex waveforms tend to get noisy very quickly. I think the key to appreciating the shapeshifter is a) don't use everything it can do at once and b) a little goes a long way....

But again you don't have to agree with me or try to convince me, I can live with not everyone liking what i like :-)

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Re: Starthief's Eurorack adventure, 2016-???

Post by starthief » Sun Jul 26, 2020 4:45 pm

I definitely do plan to take the Shapeshifter for a spin -- I've reached out to someone selling a used one. The Sweet 16 should arrive by Tuesday and give me the space for it.

...

If you look at E352's origins and history -- a merging of the E350 Morphing Terrarium with the E340 Cloud Generator -- and its feature set in general, it seems pretty clear that it's a wavetable oscillator first, with Cloud mode as a major selling point, and other features secondary. (TZFM was a Kickstarter stretch goal for the E370 which got ported to the E352 firmware after release.)

Shapeshifter is an upgrade to the Cyclebox -- which was kind of an odd beast, but it seems to me that its primary "thing" is the interaction of two oscillators. Certainly Shapeshifter's design seems heavily influenced by classic complex oscillators. Cyclebox's wavetable implementation was a bit primitive and secondary to the purpose of the module -- and while Shapeshifter upgraded that to some degree, it was still "complex oscillator that runs on wavetables."

On the Music Easel, the main oscillator can crossfade from sine to triangle or pulse; in Madrona Aalto, to a saw or square. I kind of feel that's what Shapeshifter is doing, except that it's a wavetable morph.

From another angle: it makes a lot of sense to me that if you're going to implement a digital oscillator to do phase modulation or TZFM, you might as well have wavetables instead of just a sine lookup. It's all just pointer offsets (...and some interpolation).

The way I use my E352, wavetable morphing is kind of a secondary axis to the main thing it's doing -- Cloud or phase modulation or 2op FM or wavefolding. It obviously goes beyond "sine or a saw?" but I think Shapeshifter has a lot of potential to step into that role.

All this said, I'm interested in Shapeshifter in its own right -- it's not that I'm not actively seeking an E352 replacement. I could find that the two of them complement each other extremely well, which would be great.

I think Shapeshifter is actually more likely to be a direct HDmk2 replacement... if, of course, it feels as friendly to use.

...

If anything, I am kind of looking to replace Akemie's Castle. It's almost like an irrational itch -- I like the module, and I have some favorite ways of working with it, and yet I keep feeling like it should go.

When I was a kid, I lived on Florida's gulf coast next to one of the most beautiful beaches in the state. And I hated going to the beach. Once I got there, and got into the water, I loved it and didn't want to leave. But sure enough, next week I wouldn't want to go and I couldn't explain why. It's kind of like that, I guess.

I am kind of jonesing for that Verbos Harmonic Oscillator though. Every time I hear it I really love its mojo. I could fit one in if I didn't have Akemie's Castle -- and I would even use it in quite a similar way. On Castle I tend toward the algorithm with 3 carriers, set them to different shapes and/or harmonics and play with the blends, but then it does also have FM on one of those. So it's kind of a dilemma.

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Re: Starthief's Eurorack adventure, 2016-???

Post by SavageMessiah » Sun Jul 26, 2020 5:01 pm

Yeah, shapeshifter is definitely not a wavetable oscillator in the usual sense. Complex oscillator that happens to use wavetables is spot on.

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Re: Starthief's Eurorack adventure, 2016-???

Post by Rex Coil 7 » Sun Jul 26, 2020 5:07 pm

a773 wrote:
Sun Jul 26, 2020 1:18 pm
.... It's an old school oscillator not a voice, meaning the presets will *not* work like a Roland keyboard by a long shot.
Well of course not. How would presets be able to recreate up how the module was patched with other modules and/or modulated by outboard sources? I think it's a given that it wouldn't work like some preset synth; do any serious people believe it's a "preset module"?
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Re: Starthief's Eurorack adventure, 2016-???

Post by a773 » Sun Jul 26, 2020 5:37 pm

@Rex Coil 7: I was simple referring to starthief initial worries he wouldn’t get along with it (desktop synth etc), plus comparing it to current trends (although not that widespread) towards modules that are “complete voices with (almost total) patch recall”.

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Re: Starthief's Eurorack adventure, 2016-???

Post by starthief » Sun Jul 26, 2020 6:04 pm

Heh. It was a first impression that formed back when I was looking at [waves vaguely at ALL of Eurorack] and getting a bit overwhelmed. It's just a little weird I let that blind spot stay there so long and didn't go back and look at it until so recently.

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Re: Starthief's Eurorack adventure, 2016-???

Post by Funky40 » Sun Jul 26, 2020 7:37 pm

starthief wrote:
Sun Jul 26, 2020 4:45 pm
All this said, I'm interested in Shapeshifter in its own right --
this makes ofcourse sense ;)
i ended up patching allways strange noises with the Shapey to be sampled into the MPC1k,
then abusing the MPC as kind of a glitch tool, then going in direction "Transformer sounds".
The type of noises i was patching with the shapey were not possible for me to get elsewhere.
they sounded crap alone, but magic when mangled in a sampler.
That was an interesting experience.




a773 wrote:
Sun Jul 26, 2020 3:41 pm
We don't have to agree, I just don't share your feelings towards the shapeshifter, funky.

As I see it, fm works best with sines, more complex waveforms tend to get noisy very quickly. I think the key to appreciating the shapeshifter is a) don't use everything it can do at once and b) a little goes a long way....

But again you don't have to agree with me or try to convince me, I can live with not everyone liking what i like :-)
and i don´t have to disagree with you. ;)
i don´t see your post in any way opposite to mine.
its what your saying yourself: "complex waveforms tend to get noisy quickly"
----> there my whole point lies ;)

i agree that you don´t *have* to do anything at once,
but if you know what you are doing IS this a very big strenght of the shapey.
But here, i repeat, comes the way the wavetables were arranged into play, and its knocking out alots of the possible potential,
since if you want to have the ability to dive between noisy and clean, AND having the ability to do all you like, *within one patch*,
are you restricted to just a *very few* wavetables.
well. thats how i want to patch with such VCO.
other folks might like to patch in entirely different directions, true. ;)


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Re: Starthief's Eurorack adventure, 2016-???

Post by starthief » Wed Jul 29, 2020 1:04 pm

Got my Pod 60, got my Sweet 16. I'm holding off shuffling modules for the moment, because I got a ship notification on my custom audio snake, and I'd rather pull out my rack box and rewire both the power and audio in one go. But then, it's been sitting at "acceptance pending" for a few days now so it's possible Shapeshifter will arrive first, and if so I will sort something out :D


I played with Akemie's Castle more, and... seriously, it makes freaking gorgeous sounds. None of my other FM gear really sounds like it. I think a big part of that is that the old Yamaha FM chips didn't band-limit FM index to reduce aliasing, so it's got some brightness to it that others don't. You can really hear that when comparing it to Hertz Donut with a ratio of about 3:1 or 4:1.

So, something I'll be listening for is whether Shapeshifter can match that character. I don't expect it will. Therefore, I expect Castle to stay for good. I bet I'd really like Rubicon, but for my purposes it offers no real advantages over Castle.

And since I'll be keeping Castle, I am going to put aside the thought of going for VHO. It's also big, it's more expensive, and my imagined role for it isn't that far from what I'm doing with Castle sometimes anyway (with the 3-carrier algo, modulating levels with different multiplier settings).

What I will look at, if Shifter does replace one or both of HD or E352, is 4ms EnOsc. Some of the demos have been pretty impressive, and it seems like it easily falls into a role as an ambient drone machine. I have some other ideas for it as well.

After that it's the Waver. And then -- depending on whether I feel inspired by Shapeshifter's comb filter -- perhaps Morpheus or Bionic Lester mk3 (possibly letting go of my second Rings in the process).

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Re: Starthief's Eurorack adventure, 2016-???

Post by starthief » Sat Aug 01, 2020 12:08 pm

The snake cable I ordered finally made it to the St. Louis regional post office, after sitting at "acceptance pending" since last Monday. So though I'm not quite ready to rewire my studio, I still went ahead and shuffled modules since Shapeshifter is about to arrive on my doorstep any minute now :D

It turns out MSCL and Gozinta wouldn't fit in the Pod 60. The depth numbers in ModularGrid don't seem to include power connections in many cases. Also, it was extremely impractical to try to fit a flying bus cable in there to squeeze in an extra header. So this is how things are while I decide my next move:
12u_8_1_20.png
pod60_8_1_20.png
As another practical matter, the USB jack on Sweet 16 cries out for a down-angle USB B cable to keep out of the way. So I've got one of those on order.

The short-throw, narrow faders on Sweet 16 aren't quite as sweet as the ones on my 16n Faderbank, but they should do the job just fine.

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Re: Starthief's Eurorack adventure, 2016-???

Post by starthief » Sat Aug 01, 2020 7:42 pm

First impressions of Shapeshifter: after a few minutes it felt comfortable to use. :D

I immediately get what Funky40 was saying about the wavetables. In a purely wavetable oscillator shootout, E352 stomps all over it.

Likewise, I think if it was just two sines with FM, without the different combo modes and wavetables, I would probably prefer the Hertz Donut.

But I'm finding that the magic is in combining features. Sometimes, two features that each normally add harshness, sort of cancel each other out and create beauty. As I modulate shape and FM depth, and play with different wavetables, ratios, tilt and combo modes and detuning, I'm finding myself using less FM depth than I normally would. I'm surprised at how much I'm enabling ring modulation or other combo modes with it.

One thing I'm a little surprised about is the wavefolder. I knew with this newer hardware revision, they changed it so fully CCW isn't silent -- but it has a minimum folding/saturating effect that's more than I would have expected, like it's got just a hair too much minimum gain going into the shaping circuit. I can see wanting to crossfade that out. That said, I feel like there are a lot of ways to get harmonic complexity entirely outside of wavefolding with this beast :)

I don't have an immediate "yes, dump the Donut" or "no, E352 has to stay" judgement. I will need more time to get to know Shifter, compare and think about it. I do know that Castle is safe though :)

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Re: Starthief's Eurorack adventure, 2016-???

Post by SavageMessiah » Sat Aug 01, 2020 8:33 pm

One thing that's not immediately obvious is that when you assign mod b to combo you can crossfade/morph between the different combo modes.

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Re: Starthief's Eurorack adventure, 2016-???

Post by starthief » Sat Aug 01, 2020 9:42 pm

SavageMessiah wrote:
Sat Aug 01, 2020 8:33 pm
One thing that's not immediately obvious is that when you assign mod b to combo you can crossfade/morph between the different combo modes.
Oh, that's a nice touch... kinda like Warps. :tu:

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Re: Starthief's Eurorack adventure, 2016-???

Post by Funky40 » Sat Aug 01, 2020 10:19 pm

starthief wrote:
Sat Aug 01, 2020 7:42 pm
I don't have an immediate "yes, dump the Donut" or "no, E352 has to stay" judgement.
thats a Donut mkII right ?

when i had my shapey i also had the Donut2, but i just had it for evaluation purposes since i could get a very good deal, taking it on top of a PH2.
So i was not exactly sticky to it ;)
In my hands, and for my tastes, was i absolutely able to "replace" the Donut2´s sound with the shapey.
( i never used the distortion etc. buttons on the Donut2), while the shapey can do so much more.
Definitly woth then for you to have a closer look on that ;)


totally agree, the shapey likes to see small and very small FX indexes.
with my early Shapey there was something wrong with the FX index, it was nearly impossible to dial in *very* subtle FM indexes.
That was one of the big reasons i sold it.
they later changed that behave with a FW update ( too late for me, unforunately)

shapey is super deep, it will keep you busy for some time ;) enjoy


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Re: Starthief's Eurorack adventure, 2016-???

Post by starthief » Sat Aug 01, 2020 11:24 pm

For me, Hertz Donut mk2 was the first complex oscillator I tried, and it left its mark. I got really comfortable with using it and came to appreciate its quirks. Trying to use ER-301 to replace it wasn't as satisfying (even though it sounded very good), I wasn't as much into DPO, and the mk3 just wasn't as friendly to use.

But I feel ike Shapeshifter is pretty friendly and immediate to work with (aside from the possibility of having some features turned on without realizing it). Probably the best test would be to put HDmk2 in a box for a while and see whether I miss it.

I might do the same with the E352 as well.

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Re: Starthief's Eurorack adventure, 2016-???

Post by starthief » Sun Aug 02, 2020 11:23 am

I'm starting to get a sense of why Out 1, rather than Out 2, is normalled to Mod A. There are sweet spots where a little bit of internal FM, and a little bit of phase modulation of Osc 2 from Out 1, spontaneously synchronizes the oscillators in this really musical way. With just the right settings it can slip in and out of sync and it just sounds really damn gorgeous :D It also can interact with chord mode nicely.

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Wiggling with Experience
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Joined: Thu Apr 05, 2018 5:48 pm

Re: Starthief's Eurorack adventure, 2016-???

Post by SavageMessiah » Sun Aug 02, 2020 11:27 am

Yeah, a tiny bit of FM/PM crossmod is good times. Go all in on both and put OSC 2 in LFO mode and then fool around with the sync settings and you can get some completely insane unstable feedback disasters that are great fodder for further processing.

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