STS Slipping Into The Shadows?

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Post by Scories » Sun Jan 25, 2015 2:18 pm

Makes sense, thanks.

Then it would probably take two spaces to achieve an x-fader vca.

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Post by Vsyevolod » Sun Jan 25, 2015 2:44 pm

Just to be clear, when people here are talking about STS VCA's being superior to other Serge clones, are we also putting SMMS VCA's into that inferior category? In other words, has Rex improved the VCA over the original Tcherepnin design significantly? Or are we just talking about one of Ken Stones VCA's? And was his VCA a clone of Serge's VCA or one of his own? He does do both last I heard.

I think it's important to be really clear about this so that we're not just spreading rumours. I know that of all the Serge stuff out there, STS is the most expensive. Were I a big Rex fan-boi, I would certainly take offense at the intrusion of 'cheaper modules' that are appearing more and more, and I might talk shit about all the other stuff out there. I'd just like to keep this conversation on the real side. :)

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Post by nordlead » Sun Jan 25, 2015 3:12 pm

Vsyevolod is right - re the VCAs a couple of things are thrown together. I'm far from an expert here, from what I understand there were 2 (original) Serge VCA designs, the earlier one (101) used transistor based gain cells (108) - like the filters - while the later one (206) is CA3280 based.

It appears the later (CA3280) one was easier to manufacture as it didn't require hand matching of transistors - in terms of audio quality, however, I believe Serge considers the gain cell version superior.

Current STS versions (e.g. X-Fader, UAP) use the CA3280 design (206).

There are no CGS versions of the 206 - AFAIK due to the fact that those CA3280 chips have become are pretty hard to get (or quite expensive).

All the STS I have (or had) use the old, original boards - I have not seen any changes to the original Serge designs/boards other than swapping resistor values or using better op-amps.
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Post by Scories » Sun Jan 25, 2015 3:31 pm

Interesting. Do you have any audio examples of the 108 vca to compare with the 206?

Are they similar in terms of dynamics or do they provide a very different flavour?

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Post by Gringo Starr » Sun Jan 25, 2015 4:08 pm

wavecircle wrote:I don't think it's slipping away, anyone serious about modular synthesizers are more than aware of Serge and STS. I met Rob Hordijk at the start of the year and he is very content running a small hand made operation. Hordijk doesn't advertise at all and does very well, he takes the orders he wants and works when he wants and makes fantastic synths. Up scaling = more responsibility and less freedom.
And this pretty much wraps up what I hit upon in my OP. As far as STS being content the way things are. I totally understand that. I like my life a certain way too.

edit: by the way I was very careful when writing my op. I did not want to be disrespectful to STS, or more specifically to Rex, in any way. I've had nothing but good experiences with Rex and STS. So hopefully no offense was taken. I'm just the kind of guy that likes as many people at the dinner table as possible.
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Post by wavecircle » Sun Jan 25, 2015 4:27 pm

To be honest I think most new modular users want the instant gratification that many euro modules give them. The heavy use of dsp based modules and loads of normalisations seem more and more common. It won't be long and there will be euro romplers and workstations. It's horses for courses, I like playing with basic function blocks and seeing what interesting things lurk in analogue circuits. Others want an instant "phat" bassline and 909 drums, that's fine too but they are very different markets.
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Re: STS Slipping Into The Shadows?

Post by confusional » Wed Jan 28, 2015 1:51 am

Gringo Starr wrote:Maybe things are content for STS. And if that's the case I totally get it. But I hope things pick up in Serge/STS world.
Every time I've ordered from STS, I got what I ordered, within the time frame estimated, and I'm delighted with what I bought. This has been going on for several years now. I can say for certain that both STS and myself are 'content' with the state of our relationship. So I'm not exactly sure what you mean by 'I hope things pick up in the Serge/STS world'. Pick up... what!? :hmm:

If you do have any bright ideas for his business, it would probably be more effective to bring it up with Rex directly rather than whinging on some ephemeral web forum that he doesn't give the slightest shit about. His actual customers, the ones who keep his business humming, are not online rehashing opinions on his business model. They're on the phone with him placing orders and writing checks. If you really do respect the guy and wish him and his business the best, then why aren't you talking to him if you're less than happy?

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Re: STS Slipping Into The Shadows?

Post by Gringo Starr » Wed Jan 28, 2015 3:42 am

confusional wrote:
Gringo Starr wrote:Maybe things are content for STS. And if that's the case I totally get it. But I hope things pick up in Serge/STS world.
Every time I've ordered from STS, I got what I ordered, within the time frame estimated, and I'm delighted with what I bought.
What the fuck does that have to do with anything I said??? You're trying a bit too hard to be a hero. A matter of fact I think your entire response is a pile of bullshit.
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Re: STS Slipping Into The Shadows?

Post by confusional » Wed Jan 28, 2015 10:03 am

Gringo Starr wrote:
confusional wrote:
Gringo Starr wrote:Maybe things are content for STS. And if that's the case I totally get it. But I hope things pick up in Serge/STS world.
Every time I've ordered from STS, I got what I ordered, within the time frame estimated, and I'm delighted with what I bought.
What the fuck does that have to do with anything I said??? You're trying a bit too hard to be a hero. A matter of fact I think your entire response is a pile of bullshit.
A hero... for what or whom?

Once again, if you wonder if STS is content with things, pick up the telephone and give the guy a call. Last time I checked in with Rex, nearly a year ago when I ordered a panel from him, he seemed pretty darn happy. A year later, I'm still pretty darn happy with my purchase and plan to order from him again. But no, you still don't like that answer because that's not what you wanted to hear and using a phone is scary.

Ok guys. We have to remember to be very careful not spread rumors about quality unless we're talking about STS, because my toddler can solder-up as good as quality if not better panels than Rex, even though it's totally okay to spread rumors about him and the state of his business via bullshit thread topics such as this one.

Speaking of which, maybe something really has happened over the course of last year? Maybe he's... slipping into the shadows (cue ominous old-timey radio music). Maybe the curtains a drawn, and all he does is rock gently back and forth in a corner under the work bench wondering if 3U stackables are a better way to go? Maybe in his time of need he needs.... yes, that's it. He needs a hero!

So this is my message to Rex even though he'll never read it here. Here I come, lil' buddy! I'm wearing a gold cape and an aluminum-plated mask. I will defeat... um, well I have no idea what the problem is really, oh but will protect and avenge thee! Up, up, and away!!!

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Post by tojpeters » Wed Jan 28, 2015 10:47 am

Why does every Serge thread have to turn into a pile of shit being stirred by fanboys?

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Post by confusional » Wed Jan 28, 2015 11:36 am

tojpeters wrote:Why does every Serge thread have to turn into a pile of shit being stirred by fanboys?
:despair:

I don't know. I prefer the Serge threads that have something to do with using the gear to make music. Imagine that. But no, it's always got to be about debating business models, comparisons to other builders, pricing, and all of that nonsense. And yet these threads continue to be created.

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Re: STS Slipping Into The Shadows?

Post by Gringo Starr » Wed Jan 28, 2015 11:45 am

confusional wrote:
Gringo Starr wrote:
Once again, if you wonder if STS is content with things, pick up the telephone and give the guy a call. Last time I checked in with Rex, nearly a year ago when I ordered a panel from him, he seemed pretty darn happy. A year later, I'm still pretty darn happy with my purchase and plan to order from him again. But no, you still don't like that answer because that's not what you wanted to hear and using a phone is scary.

Ok guys. We have to remember to be very careful not spread rumors about quality unless we're talking about STS, because my toddler can solder-up as good as quality if not better panels than Rex, even though it's totally okay to spread rumors about him and the state of his business via bullshit thread topics such as this one.

Speaking of which, maybe something really has happened over the course of last year? Maybe he's... slipping into the shadows (cue ominous old-timey radio music). Maybe the curtains a drawn, and all he does is rock gently back and forth in a corner under the work bench wondering if 3U stackables are a better way to go? Maybe in his time of need he needs.... yes, that's it. He needs a hero!

So this is my message to Rex even though he'll never read it here. Here I come, lil' buddy! I'm wearing a gold cape and an aluminum-plated mask. I will defeat... um, well I have no idea what the problem is really, oh but will protect and avenge thee! Up, up, and away!!!
Confusional I would almost rather give you the benefit of the doubt and think that everything about your presence in this thread is a result of your unique sense of humor. But I don't think that's the case. I really can't understand how you've arrived at your conclusions. Maybe you truly are Confusional.
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Post by DrOctave » Wed Jan 28, 2015 11:51 am

confusional wrote:
tojpeters wrote:Why does every Serge thread have to turn into a pile of shit being stirred by fanboys?
:despair:

I don't know. I prefer the Serge threads that have something to do with using the gear to make music. Imagine that. But no, it's always got to be about debating business models, comparisons to other builders, pricing, and all of that nonsense. And yet these threads continue to be created.
Who cares. what can you afford than buy it. STS and CGS are not the same.

COA and STS are not the SAME.

I have panels built by Todd Fletcher and Mike from Metalbox and from Rex. the 2 diy ones the jacks dont hold the nanas like STS. the vca in the diy sucks, the vcos are different the slope also doesnt sound the same. maybe i hear bad maybe i am a fanboi. this is my opinion i bought direct from rex it was fine.

admitted the diy is 1/2 the cost so you get what you pay for.

They all sound good but it is all user preference.

Who cares. I am done with the Serge style and drama of it all and the diy fanbois trying to devalue the true serge sts etc.

Have a great day. make some sounds and move on.
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Re: STS Slipping Into The Shadows?

Post by confusional » Wed Jan 28, 2015 12:32 pm

Gringo Starr wrote:Confusional I would almost rather give you the benefit of the doubt and think that everything about your presence in this thread is a result of your unique sense of humor.
It is. Damn, you caught me! :hihi:
Gringo Starr wrote:Maybe you truly are Confusional.
I am! :nana:

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Post by tojpeters » Wed Jan 28, 2015 1:02 pm

If someone is paying for a completed panel it is not DIY.
You are trying to be dismissive and insulting.
Not for the first time.

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Post by drewskee » Wed Jan 28, 2015 2:05 pm

Geez...the OP seemed to ask/pose a hypothesis that as things heat up in the modular world via Euro in comparison Serge is by default becoming more obsure...which is kind of true. I also think there is some fear that STS will go by the wayside as there is nothing to base any conclusions on in regards to the health of STS. So we are left to conjecture and ruminate which is not harmful in terms of having a dialogue here on Muff...fanboys and others always welcome.

It seems from speaking with Rex that he's fine, STS is humming away and he now has reliable staff to help assemble, but he personally handles all customer interaction. Like it or not that means there is a consistency to dealing with STS and you don't end up with someone who "kinda knows".

With the transition of Buchla to BEMI and the millions of small boutique Euro builders Serge is staring to look like the most stable, extensive, consistent banana based system with excellent quality, sonics and prices to match. Even more so than Buchla there is an aesthetic and consistency that makes a Serge "system" more homogeneous, with its inherent capabilities and restrictions...a good thing in my mind as the modules are generally multi-purpose.

I think the main point of the OP was to express some concern as well as hope that STS remains viable, healthy and available to those that want it. I have personally never used or tried a Serge clone and for me I like dealing with one guy who knows the stuff inside and out, that you can actually call on the phone at almost anytime. That service comes with a price as well.

Long live STS...and all other modular options too!
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Post by Gringo Starr » Wed Jan 28, 2015 2:38 pm

Well said Drewskee. Thanks for chiming in. I agree with everything you said. I was careful when writing my op because I didn't want to be negative or disrespectful. It was more of an observation based on the things I mentioned and all I really wanted was to rally the troops. Just went about it wrong. Maybe a better way would be to make a bunch of kick ass Serge demos and start posting them.
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Post by qstate » Wed Jan 28, 2015 4:20 pm

STS doesn't do commodity modular so he doesn't need to play the game the same way.

I appreciate that Rex is able to keep putting out super high quality stuff and still answer the phone to help with patching advice.

For Serge DIY, it's worth plugging tojpeters for great customer service. AndrewF also does a great job with NLC for 4U banana format. Both gentlemen are great to work with and super responsive.

Tom Bugs does a great job in this respect too on the 3U banana side.
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Post by 3001 » Thu Jan 29, 2015 10:26 am

STS is the longest running modular company around today, no? he is doing something right, his business model is working.

He might last the "modular wars" of today. What euro companies do you think will exist? Euro seems to of really blown up lately, but can it survive such growth? We should not get too excited, I'm sure shortly a few businesses will go under when the market is over saturated with modules, and the little guys can't make enough to make it worth while, they will get absorbed, and the big companies will last, small ones die. and i'm sure some of the big ones will crash as well.

I see the future as only the homogenous entities will survive...

CGS is not STS, and Serge is not STS. STS went above and beyond. All these clones, are they copying Serge schematics, or STS? That's what I wonder?

I'm curious to these Tip top? Will it be equal? or corners cut? Like Modcan A/B to modcan euro are different entities, same company and module even...
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Post by J3RK » Thu Jan 29, 2015 12:40 pm

On Modcan, it appears that 7 of the modules available in Euro are digital. If these ones are any different in any way from their A/B counterparts I would be VERY surprised. Also, unless something's been explicitly stated somewhere, I would still be very surprised to see differences in the analog ones. Take the multimode filter for example. It's a discrete-OTA state variable. I can't really see this changing between the formats in any significant way. Please correct me if you've heard otherwise from Bruce, but it really wouldn't make any sense to change anything except possibly the PCB layout to fit behind a Euro panel.

I agree that CGS is not Serge and STS is not CGS. It's debatable however to say that Serge is not STS. STS is using Serge's circuits. I know that component choice is the biggest differentiator here. Rex likes to use nice Mica caps, nice Burr Brown op amps, etc. There may be some very minor tweaks to the circuits, but from what I've seen first hand, the circuits themselves are very similar if not the same.

If you take one of Ken's Serge-licensed PCBs, and use the same components that Rex would choose, you'd be in nearly identical territory.

That said, where I think STS makes sense for a lot of people is that Rex and his crew do all of this for you, and you're guaranteed a working product. I can't fault him on any of that. You pay a bit of a premium, but you know it's going to work.

Depending on your builder with the others, you may get identical quality (maybe even better than STS actually in some cases) but you don't know until you have it in your hands. Rex is a pretty solid bet.

I'm willing to bet that the Tip Top modules will be great. Given the different market that Tip Top is in though, who knows if he'll use the Mica and styrene caps, fancy op amps, etc. etc. To keep pricing in line with what much (not all) of the Euro market expects, different component choices may be made. This is only a guess, but seems plausible.

Where things are going to get exciting outside of DIY is Random Source I think. If you've seen the quality of work they're producing, you'll know what I mean.

Within DIY, I'm pretty excited about quite a few upcoming projects. However, if you're not DIY inclined, you'll have to find a good builder if you want to compete with STS QA.

I might poke a little fun at Rex and his business, his decisions, and attitudes toward certain things occasionally, but I can't argue that the guy puts out polished work. It is a little short-sighted though to ignore some of the other 4U offerings. You just have to put some thought into who's building it, with which components, and how much testing is going into it.

That said, to be on topic, I think STS has some good supplementary options coming up. I see it a little less as competition, and more of a bolstering in the overall ecosystem. It's likely to be good for everyone. I also don't see STS going anywhere. There are a lot of people out there buying things that have never even logged in here.
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Post by ear ear » Thu Jan 29, 2015 1:01 pm

J3RK wrote:On Modcan, it appears that 7 of the modules available in Euro are digital. If these ones are any different in any way from their A/B counterparts I would be VERY surprised.
Look at the Euro Quad LFO compared to the A Series one, for example. Same goes for A vs B - little differences here and there.
J3RK wrote:Where things are going to get exciting outside of DIY is Random Source I think. If you've seen the quality of work they're producing, you'll know what I mean.
How are Random*Source 'outside of DIY'?
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Post by J3RK » Thu Jan 29, 2015 6:53 pm

I can't say much about Random Source yet, but take a look at the DIY threads, take a look at the quality of the boats and PSU. You'll get an idea of what they're about.

As far as the Quad LFO goes, yes, I see some differences here and there, but nothing that would make me think the Euro set is any less capable than the A/B. In fact, it looks like there are some improvements on the Euro module. 16 bit instead of 12 bit output, and more gate jacks for example. Some of the IO looks a bit different, but it seems to be largely the same. Some compromises do have to be made in Euro due to size constraints, but I don't see anything quality-wise that says one is better than the other. Just tradeoffs and not all in favor of one format or the other.

Anyway... :cloud:
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Post by hongaars » Mon Feb 02, 2015 2:02 am

I really hope STS will release the P-class! That would be very interesting.

Unfortunately, the announcement of the Kracken's been 1.5 years ago.

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Post by deltaphoenix » Mon Feb 02, 2015 8:29 am

One thing that has been brought to my attention is that STS is listing stuff on eBay for cheaper than I have heard of STS selling for new.

Right now there are 3 listings (search STS/Serge) and one is a custom panel that does CV to Midi (5 hrs. left). I wasn't going to say anything but I can't afford anything for awhile anyways. I think there was an Animate that sold a week or two ago for a decent price. Rex had relished it twice and dropped the price each time.

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Post by jamb » Mon Feb 02, 2015 12:58 pm

It was an animal

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