The current direction of Dotcom modules

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alternating.bit
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The current direction of Dotcom modules

Post by alternating.bit » Mon Jan 16, 2017 9:16 pm

Ok, I'm going to say it, but before I do keep in mind this is merely my personal opinion and I have the best respect for Roger and his products and I know how he basically can never win, as people want one thing, then they want another but here's my rant:

The last few modules like LFO++, Gate Math and the Envelope ++ seem to be his response to all of those complaining about his vanilla modules that have limited functionality and take up wasted space. However, for me he's gone from one extreme to the other creating very complex, ambitiously versatile multi-function modules that are small step shy of requiring menu diving or a manual close by. Granted if you spend enough time with a module you'll get more familiar with it, but to me the whole point of modular was to break apart a synthesizer into separate, flexible parts that you can route at your leisure. Do I want an entire panel to just have white noise and an attenuator? No, which is why I think dual-function modules appeal to me the most. Oakley modules for instance have done just that with looping ADSRs, dual VCAs, dual LFOs etc. They're straight forward yet still maximize modular function space. I owned the Gate Math module and used it in just a few patches but decided to get rid of it in favor of my COTK clock denominator which is much simpler for me to grasp on the fly, and simply divide & multiply gates... to each his own, of course. I guess I'm the simple minded modular guy, but at any rate, I'm wondering if anyone else feels the same way. I looked at the Envelope ++ and thought it would be cool to have in a portable rig, but then I'd feel like I was wasting its potential if I only used it as a sequencer, or only as a gate divider or only as an EG... does that make any sense? It's almost like modular limitations cause more room for creativity.

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Post by unwar » Mon Jan 16, 2017 9:52 pm

i'm completey into this new direction from them. it simply provides more options in a field of sound design/music that is all about options.

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Post by 3vcos » Mon Jan 16, 2017 9:54 pm

The Envelope ++ makes me want to start investing in 5U again. Just amazing.

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Post by unwar » Mon Jan 16, 2017 10:02 pm

the ++ LFO is just as nuts. i'm hoping they ++ all their standard modules...VCOs, VCAs, filters etc.
but i get the anti-hypercomplexity thing as well, i don't want to have to sit and digitally program every module just to get a fart happening. but these ++ modules seem to be hitting that balance between compact, complex functionality and ease of use.

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Post by 22tape » Mon Jan 16, 2017 10:48 pm

I totally get the simplicity thing. That's what has me looking at MU in the first place.

But Roger, as a synth builder and a creative, is likely building these more complex modules as a way of self expression. He's just doing his thing :bananaguitar:

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Post by ranix » Mon Jan 16, 2017 10:57 pm

gate math is too far for me, but envelope++ is just right

the Moon 4 channel LFO is perfect for me so I don't really have anything to say about lfo++

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Post by Huba-Swift » Mon Jan 16, 2017 11:45 pm

I have an LFO++ and for the most-part I like it. For me, being able to quickly get something going, but then being able to delve in deeper when you wish is ideal. If you have to finick around with menus or similar in order to get anything useful out of it, then it's a no go, and that's why the gate math didn't appeal to me.

We need to be careful not to point out the negative in everything though. People were asking for more complex/wacky modules from synthesizers.com, and now that we have them we dislike them for being too complicated. Personally I think synthesizers.com is going about it in the wrong way. For instance, I wouldn't mind if they had larger front panels to allow for a more friendly interface, after all, most people choose 5U/MU for the interface understanding that it will take up a lot of space, so to cram a ton of controls in a 1MU wide seems against exactly why people choose MU. Perhaps his goal isn't to please MU users but to get eurorackers into MU? Probably not...

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Post by 22tape » Mon Jan 16, 2017 11:58 pm

Huba-Swift wrote:I wouldn't mind if they had larger front panels to allow for a more friendly interface, after all, most people choose 5U/MU for the interface understanding that it will take up a lot of space, so to cram a ton of controls in a 1MU wide seems against exactly why people choose MU.
Very good point! Having space to wiggle is what draws me to the dotcom format.

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Post by unwar » Tue Jan 17, 2017 12:05 am

i don't get the problem. its not like the standard modules have been recalled or deleted from the catalogue. it's simply an increase in the options available in dotcom. granted, the gate math module is deep and the manual is at first daunting but it plays just as well with on the fly experiments, random knob turning and button mashing...or you can take it slow and program it deep.
i think the thought box is a good example of the potential complexity offered by these new dense modules while maintaining the creamery rich sounds of the larger format but still offering a better physical interface than the smaller format varieties

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Post by VinceL » Tue Jan 17, 2017 12:46 am

I am in complete agreement with you, alternating.bit. :tu:

In the threads where the LFO++ and Gate Math modules were first discussed, I made posts about too many functions being crammed into too little space. And also the fact that you can't tell exactly how the module is set based upon looking at the knob and switch positions.

I've also sent messages to Roger expressing my concern.

As you said, ab, I think Roger has overreacted to past criticism of his modules being too vanilla and wasting space.

I think the LFO++ and Gate Math modules would benefit greatly from being expanded to 2 spaces wide.

But, I think Roger has a good handle on what people want. Euro is clearly the dominant format. Other than the fact that these modules have 1/4" jacks, they strike me as very Euro-ish with their tiny knobs and closely spaced knobs, jacks and switches.

He has certainly moved away from some of his design philosophy points (as listed on his website):
- Separate functions are put on separate modules, not combined.
- Big knobs, 1/4 jacks, but resist over-populated panels.

I wish Roger success with his new modules, but I do hope he will return to his original design philosophy.
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Post by ba1 » Tue Jan 17, 2017 1:07 am

unwar wrote:i don't get the problem. its not like the standard modules have been recalled or deleted from the catalogue. it's simply an increase in the options available in dotcom. granted, the gate math module is deep and the manual is at first daunting but it plays just as well with on the fly experiments, random knob turning and button mashing...or you can take it slow and program it deep.
i think the thought box is a good example of the potential complexity offered by these new dense modules while maintaining the creamery rich sounds of the larger format but still offering a better physical interface than the smaller format varieties
I agree. More options is always a good thing. I find the Gate Math easy to work with after a brief getting acquainted period. It doesn't feel cramped at all. There are modules by other MU builders that are equally or more cramped. I'll be ordering an LFO++ and Envelope++ asap. They look great!

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Post by 22tape » Tue Jan 17, 2017 1:08 am

Maybe these modules reflect a certain competitive spirit? In that sense, I feel you, Roger! :guinness:

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Post by josaka » Tue Jan 17, 2017 1:19 am

tbf you don't have to buy them .. I prefer complex "options" keeps it interesting longer.. my main quible is the cost of these things..you can buy whole synths for this money

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Re: The current direction of Dotcom modules

Post by Hirsbro » Tue Jan 17, 2017 4:28 am

alternating.bit wrote:Ok, I'm going to say it, but before I do keep in mind this is merely my personal opinion and I have the best respect for Roger and his products and I know how he basically can never win, as people want one thing, then they want another but here's my rant:

The last few modules like LFO++, Gate Math and the Envelope ++ seem to be his response to all of those complaining about his vanilla modules that have limited functionality and take up wasted space. However, for me he's gone from one extreme to the other creating very complex, ambitiously versatile multi-function modules that are small step shy of requiring menu diving or a manual close by. Granted if you spend enough time with a module you'll get more familiar with it, but to me the whole point of modular was to break apart a synthesizer into separate, flexible parts that you can route at your leisure. Do I want an entire panel to just have white noise and an attenuator? No, which is why I think dual-function modules appeal to me the most. Oakley modules for instance have done just that with looping ADSRs, dual VCAs, dual LFOs etc. They're straight forward yet still maximize modular function space. I owned the Gate Math module and used it in just a few patches but decided to get rid of it in favor of my COTK clock denominator which is much simpler for me to grasp on the fly, and simply divide & multiply gates... to each his own, of course. I guess I'm the simple minded modular guy, but at any rate, I'm wondering if anyone else feels the same way. I looked at the Envelope ++ and thought it would be cool to have in a portable rig, but then I'd feel like I was wasting its potential if I only used it as a sequencer, or only as a gate divider or only as an EG... does that make any sense? It's almost like modular limitations cause more room for creativity.
Yes I feel the same way as you I suppose. As long as the basic models are not discontinued its ok, though I wouuld like to see some development of new "basic" models and not only complex which are not so appealing to me for the same reasons you line out.
At the end of the day I'm just happy dotcom is existing and evolving :love:

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Post by alternating.bit » Tue Jan 17, 2017 6:15 am

Huba-Swift wrote:People were asking for more complex/wacky modules from synthesizers.com, and now that we have them we dislike them for being too complicated.
That's pretty much what I meant by saying:
alternating.bit wrote:I have the best respect for Roger and his products and I know how he basically can never win, as people want one thing, then they want another...
Huba-Swift wrote:I wouldn't mind if they had larger front panels to allow for a more friendly interface
Agreed, as others here have alluded that Dotcom's newer modules would benefit as a 2U.
Huba-Swift wrote:We need to be careful not to point out the negative in everything though.
I don't think I'm being negative, I'm just explaining why the new modules don't work for me while at the same time relaying why I liked the Dotcom system in the first place. I also feel its a good business move for Roger, but I'm just being this guy: :youkids:
unwar wrote:i don't get the problem. its not like the standard modules have been recalled or deleted from the catalogue
The 'problem' to me is perception. It's almost like Roger is "selling out" to the Eurorack masses by cramming features... and actually yes, things may very likely begin to be deleted over time, just like earlier versions of the MIDI interface module and some others. But hey, I've already built my system and there's plenty of used modules out there to pass around. I think I just wanted to share my reaction to the current trend, and re-emphasize how I think Oakley, Moon and some others got it right as far as doubling up on features without being overbearing.

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Post by johny_gtr » Tue Jan 17, 2017 6:33 am

I need two more envelopes for my system second voice. Dotcom ENV++ looks like a great variant for it. It can be my first dotcom module.

I don't find ENV++ overpopulated: all knobs are on the "standard" positions. Switches are very useful but no so often in real-time mode - in jams or records.

Attack and Decay inputs are helpful and very close to knobs but it's not so important for me. Price is also OK.

Only one question from me - how can re-panel ENV++ to my favorite black anodized panels? It like to have all modules in the same design.

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Post by johny_gtr » Tue Jan 17, 2017 6:37 am

off-topic: it's quite interesting why Roger didn't use dotcom cables on the ENV++ demo video

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Post by unwar » Tue Jan 17, 2017 6:59 am

i don't see it as cramming features but designing modules that extend the functions and concepts of standard ones. the initial dotcom modules were based on designs from more than 60 years ago. its nuts to expect Roger not to expand and evolve these ideas. its that desire to grow and experiment that brought us synthesis in the first place.

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Post by alternating.bit » Tue Jan 17, 2017 6:59 am

^ Good point, unwar!
johny_gtr wrote:off-topic: it's quite interesting why Roger didn't use dotcom cables on the ENV++ demo video
Are you asking why or implying Roger explained why? I was surprised too but now that you mention it I'm curious why.

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Post by Flareless » Tue Jan 17, 2017 7:07 am

I think there is one thing that hasn't been discussed too much in this very interesting thread; Roger has a business to run.

One of the things the Euro folks talk about is the ability of their modules to do more in a smaller space than MU/5U. More bang for the buck / rack space. I believe these new designs are Roger's way of address this concern.

Personally my preference is the less dense, one or two functions per module which can at a glance be understood. They tend to cost less, have a bit more breathing space and chunkier knobs.

But let's face it; Eurorack has MU beat in user base by a HUGE margin.

By building these types of advanced modules Roger can make new potential Wigglers give pause to their decision on the format that they go with. They might say "hey, I like the big, awesome feel of MU and now there are more advanced modules available. Maybe I'll go with Dotcom".

Oakley, a brand that I really like, has realized this and has come out with a Eurorack line of its modules. Evolution. A sound business decision.

Every business needs to evolve or it risks becoming stagnant and irrelevant. Just like artists. Who remembers when Peter Gabriel released SO? My first thought was "oh man.... he sold out". My second was "wow, this is kinda cool". It also brought Gabes a whole new market. Evolution isn't the same as selling out IMHO. It's the way life continues and adapts.

I plan to pick up both a Gate Math and an Envelope++ over the next few months. I'll either like them or I won't. No one is compelling me to buy them and there are still tons of classic Dotcom modules I want to add to my system. Hell, I just asked for a quote on a Slew Limiter.

So I guess what I'm saying is embrace it or don't. Buy it or don't. It's a free market. But let's not condemn Roger for wanting to evolve his business model and bring us his vision for the future.
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Post by alternating.bit » Tue Jan 17, 2017 7:13 am

^
alternating.bit wrote: I also feel its a good business move for Roger, but .
:miley:

Of course it kind of goes without saying, but yes he's trending... it's essential for good business.

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Post by Tronman » Tue Jan 17, 2017 8:15 am

I have 2 LFO++ and a Gate Math, and I've been trying to justify getting an Envelope++, mainly because I've been wanting a dedicated gate delay. But I look at the rest of my system and wonder if I really need it. I have 3 looping EGs, I can use my Q105 for a gate delay and I really don't care about having so much control over shaping the envelopes.

My main problem with these feature-dense modules is, while using one of the features, you usually can't use any of the others unless it's in combination with the feature you're using (as far as I can tell). If I just want the gate delay feature, I probably can't use the looping envelope feature separately. But to each, their own. I do appreciate Roger's creativity and his wish to please a wider consumer base. I also don't foresee the old standby Dotcom modules going away. Looks like everybody wins.
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Post by spinach_pizza » Tue Jan 17, 2017 11:56 am

I'm generally in favor of the new dotcom modules if only for the possibility of putting together a portable MU system that won't require a forklift to move.

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Post by moogboy » Tue Jan 17, 2017 12:28 pm

I recognize what all of you are saying, and in a lot of cases I don't disagree. I don't like super dense modules in small spaces, even though I come from eurorack. I LOVE what Roger is doing here though. I just got into 5U again, and I'm giving myself some strict limits on the size of my case. At some point, I just gotta get at least one LFO++ and Envelope++ in there. Those modules are capable of so much, they're like a Maths or Serge DUSG but fine tuned for these ultra musical things that I look for in 5U.

It would be awesome to have the luxury of spreading out with a bunch of LFOs and envelopes, but in a small system it's sometimes better to have multi-functional modules. It's like instead of using 8 out of 14 modules on every patch, you use only the same 8 modules in every patch but the CV and audio routings are always different because you're using every feature and mode of operation for the modules.

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Post by kindredlost » Tue Jan 17, 2017 1:32 pm

I love the direction Arrick is going here but I have no room left for any more modules. I've pretty well maxed out the system and will have to decide on replacement modules. The new ADSR looks like something a could swap in place of the conventional ADSR. I have Gate Math and like it but am not using it as much as I thought right off. There is something about having to bust out the manual to get to some of the more exotic divisions that puts me off a little. I have too many dividers which mostly do the common divisions and really love the Gate Math for those weird ones. I tend to agree the mapping of the presets are something you have to write down if you wish to come back to it later.
All in all the modules are a good addition to the standard ones and I hope he keeps going with new ones.
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