best SOUNDING signal path MODULES

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harlequin
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best SOUNDING signal path MODULES

Post by harlequin » Wed May 27, 2020 8:43 pm

Hi,

I haven't seen much discussion of the sound quality of audio routing in eurorack or modular? Being a live sound engineer and studio nerd this is very important for me. I'm about to pull the trigger on a small eurorack kit for the first time, predominantly utility modules, a sequencer, noise source, and VCA. Which manufacturers have the best reputation for high quality audio routing eg components and implementation? Looking at VCA's i'm much more interested in how it will degrade or improve the sound as much as 'features'.

I assume doepfer would be one?

Are there many discrete manufacturers? Eg no or little ICs? Just noticed Koma have a 'discrete VCA' module.

And 5U systems with bigger voltage rails and more space in the units would inherently sound better. But not going there!

TIA

Jake

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Re: best SOUNDING signal path MODULES

Post by Chaklack » Wed May 27, 2020 8:56 pm

Anything I send through the Xaoc Tallin or any Verbos modules come out nicer.

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Re: best SOUNDING signal path MODULES

Post by tuj » Wed May 27, 2020 8:58 pm

The intelljel VCA's are consistently good. I have 3 of the HexVCA and they are great and super clean with tons of gain. THAT Corp. chips. I have the UVCA's also and they are also quite clean and quiet. Some VCA's will not 'shut' all the way around 0v and that can lead to bleed. Intellijel and some others use extra clamping circuity around 0v to silence the VCA.

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Re: best SOUNDING signal path MODULES

Post by starthief » Wed May 27, 2020 9:03 pm

If you're looking for super high fidelity stuff, Doepfer isn't it.

Really, the emphasis Eurorack has is "does this work well in a synth?" and the answer from pretty much every manufacturer is some variation of "yes." The Tallin mentioned above sounds great because of the way it overdrives, not because of some theoretical perfection.

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Re: best SOUNDING signal path MODULES

Post by hawkfuzz » Wed May 27, 2020 9:09 pm

Just days ago.
viewtopic.php?f=16&t=232228

Might help your search. I personally don't think fidelity is something you need to worry about. This isn't a mixing desk so most things should sound the same and if you don't like how it sounds, it's very easy to swipe.
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mutedial
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Re: best SOUNDING signal path MODULES

Post by mutedial » Wed May 27, 2020 9:10 pm

A lot of people seem to really like the L-1 VCA (e.g. Paul @ Synth Tech has spoken highly of it, Robert Rich uses it, I just saw Jamie Liddell praising it in a DivKid YT interview).
For output models some people use that as well, I use the Vermona Tai-4 and I like it, but I also wouldn't consider myself an audiophile etc ;)

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Re: best SOUNDING signal path MODULES

Post by beepnsleep » Wed May 27, 2020 9:14 pm

for smaller systems and not using with other gear, most things should sound fairly similar. that said, it doesn't get much better than http://www.hinton-instruments.co.uk/paprod/modular/ but the offerings are still not enough to fill a system. Wiard also uses Bantam for balanced compatibility, but is 6U

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VZvision
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Re: best SOUNDING signal path MODULES

Post by VZvision » Wed May 27, 2020 9:15 pm

Might want to give this thread a read:

viewtopic.php?t=91069

A few manufacturers chime in too which is helpful to put the idea of high quality audio into a eurorack design perspective.

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Re: best SOUNDING signal path MODULES

Post by mskala » Wed May 27, 2020 10:42 pm

I make a discrete-transistor mixer and envelope generator but I don't want to encourage anyone to buy into the audiophile woo surrounding discrete design.

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Re: best SOUNDING signal path MODULES

Post by tommygee » Thu May 28, 2020 2:26 am

harlequin wrote:
Wed May 27, 2020 8:43 pm
Hi,

I haven't seen much discussion of the sound quality of audio routing in eurorack or modular? Being a live sound engineer and studio nerd this is very important for me. I'm about to pull the trigger on a small eurorack kit for the first time, predominantly utility modules, a sequencer, noise source, and VCA. Which manufacturers have the best reputation for high quality audio routing eg components and implementation? Looking at VCA's i'm much more interested in how it will degrade or improve the sound as much as 'features'.

I assume doepfer would be one?

Are there many discrete manufacturers? Eg no or little ICs? Just noticed Koma have a 'discrete VCA' module.

And 5U systems with bigger voltage rails and more space in the units would inherently sound better. But not going there!

TIA

Jake
Great post and relevant to look into optimising modules within the signal path and optimising the source. MANHATTAN ANALOG VCA - sounds really great. I would also recommend looking into the right envelope generator(s) as it will affect impact and transients of sound - Tip Top Audio ZG4000 with MA VCA or Xaox Devices Tallin give my basses very solid and snappy sound. Several people asked me what kind of compressor I used to get that sound lol.

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Re: best SOUNDING signal path MODULES

Post by Stice » Thu May 28, 2020 8:59 am

Vermona TwinVCAmp and Koma Dual Discrete Amolifier both sound great. NW2S balances IO sounds great.

I’ve heard good things about L-1, AJH and ACL but haven’t tried them.

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Re: best SOUNDING signal path MODULES

Post by dooj88 » Thu May 28, 2020 10:11 am

my rebel tech mixer works like a dream. it's the final amp stage that sums up the other mixers before the recorder and have 0 concerns about clarity. it's a bit expensive for what it is, and i'm not sure i wouldn't bought it for myself.. but i won it from ben during the divmas giveaway he did a few years ago. love it to bits because it has very soild knobs and enough space to get in there and move them in a performance.

"Mix 03 is an extensible 4 channel mono mixer with tons of headroom that delivers crystal clear, transparent audio as well as precise control voltage mixing."

"Levels
By default the Mix 03 has audio taper knobs. At fully clockwise, the output level is +6dB, 2x gain. Unity gain is at 3 o’clock, and infinite attenuation at the fully anti-clockwise position.
If required, linear taper can be configured by cutting the solder jumpers on the back of the module."

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Re: best SOUNDING signal path MODULES

Post by mritenburg » Thu May 28, 2020 10:23 am

tommygee wrote:
Thu May 28, 2020 2:26 am
MANHATTAN ANALOG VCA - sounds really great
+1 who cares if it uses a THAT ic, the MA VCA Is one of the best sounding VCA’s I’ve used in eurorack.
Disappointment with any module is usually a failure of imagination.

a loose reference


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Re: best SOUNDING signal path MODULES

Post by Hovercraft » Thu May 28, 2020 10:38 am

It's probably best to have a different mindset when thinking about synthesis, as opposed to the studio and sound reinforcement process. In synthesis you're more concerned about whether your modular will generate the quality of the timbres you like, and the features/controls/price. As Starthief mentioned, the "highest performance" from a technical perspective isn't necessarily the best option.

I have a variety of VCA's, including the Koma Dual Discrete, and the Intellijel Quad--they're all good. The Koma is nice for overdriving and the ability to mix 2 inputs and 2 CVs in each channel--but it's not dc-coupled, so audio only. I'd put it in a similar class to the Tallin--meant to impart some character to the signal. The Intellijel is more of workhorse, but it also has some nice tricks like boosting gain when needed, and normalling of inputs.

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Re: best SOUNDING signal path MODULES

Post by tommygee » Thu May 28, 2020 10:51 am

Hovercraft wrote:
Thu May 28, 2020 10:38 am
It's probably best to have a different mindset when thinking about synthesis, as opposed to the studio and sound reinforcement process. In synthesis you're more concerned about whether your modular will generate the quality of the timbres you like, and the features/controls/price. As Starthief mentioned, the "highest performance" from a technical perspective isn't necessarily the best option.


Perhaps to you. Not to everybody. You can totally combine the studio and sound reinforcement proces. Sometimes I wanna go clean, sometimes dirty lol I wanna make sure that some of my sounds get a certain knock, impact for instance - so when I deliver my stems to the mixer, my sounds are sonically already headed in the right direction - also from a technical standpoint. And then I make sure to use modules, that have the optimised signal path/sound for every aspect of the direction I wanna go.

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Re: best SOUNDING signal path MODULES

Post by Pelsea » Thu May 28, 2020 12:56 pm

In my experience, this is the wrong sort of question. The recording business has always had its purists (two perfect microphones capturing the precise sound heard in row 5 center)* and its artists (how can I get a releasable track from these yo-yos). Both schools understand and care about THD, signal to noise, and so forth, but the artist is more willing to compromise in order to get a desirable result. Most synthesists don't care about such things. The important factors for a module (which you will see discussed endlessly here) are how interesting it sounds and how playable it is. Of course, no one wants noise or spurious tones any more than they want fret buzz on a guitar. But once you get below the threshold of annoyance (about 55 dB spl**), the gear is considered good enough. Most of the gear in a rack is there to mess up the sound, not preserve it. This applies to VCAs as much as anything else. Yes, a wide open VCA probably should not affect the sound, but the distortion generated as the level is changing is much more important.
The only modules that really need to meet studio specs are mixers and output drivers. They will color everything that comes out of the instrument.

*[There is no intention to dis audio purists here.]
**[A very subjective value heavily influenced by listening conditions.]
Books and tutorials on modular synthesis at http://peterelsea.com
Patch responsibly.
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Re: best SOUNDING signal path MODULES

Post by Voltcontrol » Thu May 28, 2020 1:03 pm

The new Synthesis Technology FX module is built with extraordinarily great parts in the audio signal path when compared to your average module.
Another shout to Verbos for good sounding result. However, I've never bothered to check how clean it is.
Gaun Yersel!

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Re: best SOUNDING signal path MODULES

Post by dooj88 » Thu May 28, 2020 3:40 pm

error instruments yoyo module in 3..2..1...

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Re: best SOUNDING signal path MODULES

Post by mritenburg » Thu May 28, 2020 3:47 pm

Voltcontrol wrote:
Thu May 28, 2020 1:03 pm
Another shout to Verbos for good sounding result. However, I've never bothered to check how clean it is.
Verbos is designed to impart color, which is does quite well, but the audio path is not what would be considered “clean.” Instead, the Verbos audio path is designed to add pleasing harmonic distortion. It’s part of Verbos’ design philosophy and is covered in many of the available manufacturer demo videos.

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Re: best SOUNDING signal path MODULES

Post by Voltcontrol » Thu May 28, 2020 3:50 pm

mritenburg wrote:
Thu May 28, 2020 3:47 pm
.. the Verbos audio path is designed to add pleasing harmonic distortion. It’s part of Verbos’ design philosophy and is covered in many of the available manufacturer demo videos.
As stated before in this thread it does really depend on what kind of 'best sound' a person is after. Pleasing harmonics does sound like my thing. :)
Gaun Yersel!

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mritenburg
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Re: best SOUNDING signal path MODULES

Post by mritenburg » Thu May 28, 2020 3:57 pm

Voltcontrol wrote:
Thu May 28, 2020 3:50 pm
Another shout to Verbos for good sounding result. However, I've never bothered to check how clean it is
mritenburg wrote:
Thu May 28, 2020 3:47 pm
.. the Verbos audio path is designed to add pleasing harmonic distortion. It’s part of Verbos’ design philosophy and is covered in many of the available manufacturer demo videos.
Voltcontrol wrote:
Thu May 28, 2020 3:50 pm
As stated before in this thread it does really depend on what kind of 'best sound' a person is after. Pleasing harmonics does sound like my thing. :)
Right, just responding to your statement about not knowing the how clean the Verbos audio path is with the well-known facts. I'm not making a judgment call on whether or not the Verbos audio path is good or bad. I happen to own and use most of the Verbos modules.

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Re: best SOUNDING signal path MODULES

Post by Voltcontrol » Thu May 28, 2020 4:02 pm

mritenburg wrote:
Thu May 28, 2020 3:57 pm

Right, just responding to your statement about not knowing the how clean the Verbos audio path is with the well-known facts. I'm not making a judgment call on whether or not the Verbos audio path is good or bad. I happen to own and use most of the Verbos modules.
Thank you.
Gaun Yersel!

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Re: best SOUNDING signal path MODULES

Post by blw » Thu May 28, 2020 4:36 pm

Cwejman is your brand. Get on the list for one of everything. ;) The L-1 VCA is very good, too.

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Re: best SOUNDING signal path MODULES

Post by target_destroyed » Thu May 28, 2020 5:37 pm

dooj88 wrote:
Thu May 28, 2020 3:40 pm
error instruments yoyo module in 3..2..1...
:yay:

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Re: best SOUNDING signal path MODULES

Post by Sookilala » Thu May 28, 2020 6:23 pm

Another vote for Xaoc Tallin, thing sounds amazing imo

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