Digital modular synth in a box?

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geecen
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Digital modular synth in a box?

Post by geecen » Fri Sep 25, 2020 9:58 am

Hi

Wondering what you guys would consider the closest thing to a digital 'modular synth in a box'?

I have a kurzweil K2000 which has amazing modulation possibilities - the thing it doesn't quite do is go the whole way by having note events as a destination for modulation. You can kind of work around it a bit, but no really. It would be amazing if for eg you could use the great modulation / chaotic possibilities of the FUNs to trigger notes when it reaches a certain threshold, run short sequences etc.

I was wondering whether there is anything around like this? I know of the anamono from gotharman does something like this, but it's discontinued. Other options are the nord modular and axoloti, but they bot require patching on the computer, then playing on the device. I have an axo and love it, but it's not the same as making patches on the device itself.

I guess I could get an ipad with audulus or something, but do like some buttons and knobs. Plus I'm loath to buy something quite expensive that will be useless when apple stop updating the firmware in a few years.

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Re: Digital modular synth in a box?

Post by Kattefjaes » Fri Sep 25, 2020 10:06 am

I can't think of a good fit off the top of my head- and I wonder if it's related to how much hacking you're prepared to do. The Mod Duo X looks like a nice little hardware platform, otherwise, I'd be really tempted to consider a cluster of RPis running PD patches, in a box or something crazy.

How about a fast-ish Intel NUC running VCV Rack? Add a good quality soundcard (RME stuff is my favourite, excellent drivers and good Linux support too) and you could probably run some pretty complex patches.

I can't think of many current production things that would do it- maybe someone else can. There are off the shelf things like the Organelle which can run single PD patches, but not sure I can think of many really flexible "digital modular" things out there right now. How "modular" does it need to be- would a heavy duty mod matrix and lots of voices be enough?
Last edited by Kattefjaes on Fri Sep 25, 2020 10:08 am, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Digital modular synth in a box?

Post by cscairney » Fri Sep 25, 2020 10:08 am

Check out Tiny LD from Gotharman! I have the LD3 and it exceeds all expectations. Tiny LD is the same internally with some UI differences.

Don’t let the demos fool you. They are awesome but definitely not limited to flemming’s taste.

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Re: Digital modular synth in a box?

Post by 3hands » Fri Sep 25, 2020 10:15 am

Emu e4 sampler.

Honestly, it’s outrageous what you can do with it utilizing the Cords function. Plus you can use any sort of source you want.
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Re: Digital modular synth in a box?

Post by geecen » Fri Sep 25, 2020 10:17 am

Kattefjaes wrote:
Fri Sep 25, 2020 10:06 am
I can't think of a good fit off the top of my head- and I wonder if it's related to how much hacking you're prepared to do. The Mod Duo X looks like a nice little hardware platform, otherwise, I'd be really tempted to consider a cluster of RPis running PD patches, in a box or something crazy.

How about a fast-ish Intel NUC running VCV Rack? Add a good quality soundcard (RME stuff is my favourite, excellent drivers and good Linux support too) and you could probably run some pretty complex patches.

I can't think of many current production things that would do it- maybe someone else can. There are off the shelf things like the Organelle which can run single PD patches, but not sure I can think of many really flexible "digital modular" things out there right now. How "modular" does it need to be- would a heavy duty mod matrix and lots of voices be enough?
Definitely good ideas, and maybe a dedicated computer setup is the way to go. I think a nice interface makes such a difference, especially when you look at computers all day and don't fancy looking at one again in the evening! Something even just with the axoloti's functionality and power, but that I could edit through menus and a screen on the device would be great.

I'll look into the mod duo.

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Re: Digital modular synth in a box?

Post by geecen » Fri Sep 25, 2020 10:18 am

3hands wrote:
Fri Sep 25, 2020 10:15 am
Emu e4 sampler.

Honestly, it’s outrageous what you can do with it utilizing the Cords function. Plus you can use any sort of source you want.
I have a e64400 actually, but used the cords more for fancy modulation. Can you actually trigger notes as a destination? If so, I'll definitely boot it up tonight! Wish it was a bit smaller though :hihi:

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Re: Digital modular synth in a box?

Post by geecen » Fri Sep 25, 2020 10:20 am

cscairney wrote:
Fri Sep 25, 2020 10:08 am
Check out Tiny LD from Gotharman! I have the LD3 and it exceeds all expectations. Tiny LD is the same internally with some UI differences.

Don’t let the demos fool you. They are awesome but definitely not limited to flemming’s taste.
Yea I've had a look at it before. Maybe need to deep-dive the manual and get a real feel for what it can do. Have been somewhat put off by that terrible touchscreen keyboard, but obviously you wouldn't have to use it!

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Re: Digital modular synth in a box?

Post by Buttons ARE toys » Fri Sep 25, 2020 10:21 am

Maybe not what you had in mind, but the DSI Pro 2 is nearly modular in its design and you can do some interesting note triggering things by routing its CV outputs to its own inputs.
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Re: Digital modular synth in a box?

Post by 3hands » Fri Sep 25, 2020 10:24 am

geecen wrote:
Fri Sep 25, 2020 10:18 am
3hands wrote:
Fri Sep 25, 2020 10:15 am
Emu e4 sampler.

Honestly, it’s outrageous what you can do with it utilizing the Cords function. Plus you can use any sort of source you want.
I have a e64400 actually, but used the cords more for fancy modulation. Can you actually trigger notes as a destination? If so, I'll definitely boot it up tonight! Wish it was a bit smaller though :hihi:
Yeah, they are a bit VCR like, aren’t they? Haha!

Im not sure if you can trigger notes as a destination, but could you not simply set a filter low (ish), and crank up the velocity, and then trigger the filter with an LFO? That would give you a pseudo random sequence! I may have assumed a bit too much with that answer.
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Re: Digital modular synth in a box?

Post by Kattefjaes » Fri Sep 25, 2020 10:32 am

geecen wrote:
Fri Sep 25, 2020 10:17 am

Definitely good ideas, and maybe a dedicated computer setup is the way to go. I think a nice interface makes such a difference, especially when you look at computers all day and don't fancy looking at one again in the evening! Something even just with the axoloti's functionality and power, but that I could edit through menus and a screen on the device would be great.

I'll look into the mod duo.
I absolutely sympathise with the thinking behind the question- I love not having babysit more bloody computers too. I love being able to fire up my modular and only involve the computer if I want to start recording (my soundcard sounds so nice that I couldn't really bear to go back to a cheap Zoom recorder).

I'm hoping your question will flush out some more interesting answers, honestly. I could find something like the machine you're after tempting, if the price was sensible.

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Re: Digital modular synth in a box?

Post by geecen » Fri Sep 25, 2020 10:54 am

Kattefjaes wrote:
Fri Sep 25, 2020 10:32 am
geecen wrote:
Fri Sep 25, 2020 10:17 am

Definitely good ideas, and maybe a dedicated computer setup is the way to go. I think a nice interface makes such a difference, especially when you look at computers all day and don't fancy looking at one again in the evening! Something even just with the axoloti's functionality and power, but that I could edit through menus and a screen on the device would be great.

I'll look into the mod duo.
I absolutely sympathise with the thinking behind the question- I love not having babysit more bloody computers too. I love being able to fire up my modular and only involve the computer if I want to start recording (my soundcard sounds so nice that I couldn't really bear to go back to a cheap Zoom recorder).

I'm hoping your question will flush out some more interesting answers, honestly. I could find something like the machine you're after tempting, if the price was sensible.
One thing that might hit the spot coming on the horizon is the nerdseq poertable. With all the table modulation, probability and groove control to get off grid it looks to be pretty flexible. We'll have to wait and see on that one.

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Re: Digital modular synth in a box?

Post by geecen » Fri Sep 25, 2020 10:56 am

3hands wrote:
Fri Sep 25, 2020 10:24 am
geecen wrote:
Fri Sep 25, 2020 10:18 am
3hands wrote:
Fri Sep 25, 2020 10:15 am
Emu e4 sampler.

Honestly, it’s outrageous what you can do with it utilizing the Cords function. Plus you can use any sort of source you want.
I have a e64400 actually, but used the cords more for fancy modulation. Can you actually trigger notes as a destination? If so, I'll definitely boot it up tonight! Wish it was a bit smaller though :hihi:
Yeah, they are a bit VCR like, aren’t they? Haha!

Im not sure if you can trigger notes as a destination, but could you not simply set a filter low (ish), and crank up the velocity, and then trigger the filter with an LFO? That would give you a pseudo random sequence! I may have assumed a bit too much with that answer.
Can't remember atm. The thing I do remember is finding the way cords work a bit confusing in that the operations you perform are a kind of bus that you plug one source into, then output into the destination or something.

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Re: Digital modular synth in a box?

Post by geecen » Fri Sep 25, 2020 11:01 am

Buttons ARE toys wrote:
Fri Sep 25, 2020 10:21 am
Maybe not what you had in mind, but the DSI Pro 2 is nearly modular in its design and you can do some interesting note triggering things by routing its CV outputs to its own inputs.
I've thought about the pro2 and 3. The one downside with them as far as I can: the modulation sequencer lanes sound great, but they are all locked to the same clock, so they are essentially modulation lanes like elektron parameter locks rather than independent sequencers.

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Re: Digital modular synth in a box?

Post by Red Electric Rainbow » Fri Sep 25, 2020 11:03 am

Maybe look into the Nord G2? I’ve heard John Bowens Solaris often described as a modular VST in hardware form but I have ZERO experience with it so I cannot confirm.
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Re: Digital modular synth in a box?

Post by Buttons ARE toys » Fri Sep 25, 2020 11:04 am

geecen wrote:
Fri Sep 25, 2020 11:01 am
Buttons ARE toys wrote:
Fri Sep 25, 2020 10:21 am
Maybe not what you had in mind, but the DSI Pro 2 is nearly modular in its design and you can do some interesting note triggering things by routing its CV outputs to its own inputs.
I've thought about the pro2 and 3. The one downside with them as far as I can: the modulation sequencer lanes sound great, but they are all locked to the same clock, so they are essentially modulation lanes like elektron parameter locks rather than independent sequencers.
That's true, but they can all be different lengths which helps break things up.
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Re: Digital modular synth in a box?

Post by southphillysynths » Fri Sep 25, 2020 11:09 am

Yes check out Nord micro modular. All versions.
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Re: Digital modular synth in a box?

Post by Kattefjaes » Fri Sep 25, 2020 11:24 am

geecen wrote:
Fri Sep 25, 2020 10:54 am
One thing that might hit the spot coming on the horizon is the nerdseq poertable. With all the table modulation, probability and groove control to get off grid it looks to be pretty flexible. We'll have to wait and see on that one.
Yes, it looks sweet, if they can hit a reasonable pricepoint. As an old Amiga-era trackerhead, I have been keeping an eye out for it. Tempted by the Polyend thing for a fun portable device too, but trackers are very different to modular as a feel.

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Re: Digital modular synth in a box?

Post by Nelson Baboon » Fri Sep 25, 2020 12:09 pm

you might look at the motas-6. The signal path is analog, but the control is digital. Aside from explicitly modularly designed synths like the nord modular series, this is the closest I've encountered.

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Re: Digital modular synth in a box?

Post by ersatzplanet » Fri Sep 25, 2020 12:25 pm

There was a synth introduced a couple of years ago. that was basically a computer that had a hardware interface that emulated a semi-modular. It had the ability to be patched with cords, but no audio actually went through the cables themselves. The jacks were scanned and the computer figured out what was plugged into what and recreated it in the software. A person could do this sort of thing by making a hardware controller that had the layout of the synth and knobs, switches and jacks. Theses would be just an interface to the computer which could be any small sized but powerful commercial computer (not Pi's though they are getting pretty powerful). The software on the computer could be almost anything as long as it could translate the hardware interface, though I imagine the integration between them would have to be pretty strong.

The high end of a system like this could be truly modular - you would buy "modules" that would be the interface unit (knobs jacks etc) and they would be recognized when plugged into the special cabinet that would be needed, and the software would then activate the software "module" needed to use it. If there knobs were all encoders, the whole patch could be memorized. If you wanted to start from a previous patch, the jacks could have LEDs next to them that would tell you where to put the cables (lit sequentially). Then you could go into edit mode and add or subtract from the recalled patch. The software could be updated for new modules that used the same panel configurations, like filter types (transistor/diode ladder emulations and such)

Unfortunately, this would be a VERY expensive endeavor. With something more like a G2 Engine module and a really large touch screen interface (like the largest MS Surface products), you would get most of the patching experience.
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Re: Digital modular synth in a box?

Post by TheRosskonian » Fri Sep 25, 2020 1:02 pm

Have no experience with either, but wouldn't Empress Zoia or Poly Effects Digit fit the bill?

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Re: Digital modular synth in a box?

Post by Dave Peck » Fri Sep 25, 2020 1:49 pm

geecen wrote:
Fri Sep 25, 2020 9:58 am
Other options are the nord modular and axoloti, but they bot require patching on the computer, then playing on the device.
You can get a SBC (Single Board Computer) or a Tiny PC about the size of a deck of cards and mount it directly to, or even inside, the Nord modular. Connect a display and a mouse and the NM is a complete standalone device.

Also, it is possible to patch entirely on the synth's panel controls without using a mouse (at least on the G2, not sure about the original NM). I knew a guy who had bad carpel tunnel for a while and he did all of his patching via the front panel controls because he couldn't use a mouse. You can add modules to a patch, connect patch cords, etc. Everything you could do with a mouse.

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Re: Digital modular synth in a box?

Post by mor4sso » Fri Sep 25, 2020 3:16 pm

John Bowen Solaris is essentially a digital modular

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Re: Digital modular synth in a box?

Post by geecen » Fri Sep 25, 2020 5:01 pm

Dave Peck wrote:
Fri Sep 25, 2020 1:49 pm
geecen wrote:
Fri Sep 25, 2020 9:58 am
Other options are the nord modular and axoloti, but they bot require patching on the computer, then playing on the device.
You can get a SBC (Single Board Computer) or a Tiny PC about the size of a deck of cards and mount it directly to, or even inside, the Nord modular. Connect a display and a mouse and the NM is a complete standalone device.

Also, it is possible to patch entirely on the synth's panel controls without using a mouse (at least on the G2, not sure about the original NM). I knew a guy who had bad carpel tunnel for a while and he did all of his patching via the front panel controls because he couldn't use a mouse. You can add modules to a patch, connect patch cords, etc. Everything you could do with a mouse.
That’s really cool- didn’t know you could do that

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Re: Digital modular synth in a box?

Post by geecen » Fri Sep 25, 2020 5:02 pm

mor4sso wrote:
Fri Sep 25, 2020 3:16 pm
John Bowen Solaris is essentially a digital modular
Heard about it but don’t know much. I’ll go and have a read...

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Re: Digital modular synth in a box?

Post by Moho » Sat Sep 26, 2020 10:22 am

I'm surprised no ones suggested the Hydrasynth

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