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Modular synthesizer - which one?

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Modular synthesizer - which one?

Postby Spiked Lunch » Mon Aug 11, 2008 6:37 pm

I've been lusting for a modular synthesizer for years and years and it's finally come the time to get one - wahooo!

My gut instinct tells me to go for a Doepfer (http://www.thomann.de/gb/doepfer_a100bs2.htm) - their modules are fairly cheep, they do a wide range and they're based in Germany, so not too far away for repairs, if needed.

I have heard that they're a little delicate, especially with the patching and that it can be a little fiddly to reach some of the controls when you've got lots of wires everywhere. This doesn't concern me much though.

What are your views on the current crop of modular synths? I'd love to hear from some owners or people who have spent a good while playing some of them.

My max budget is £1500.

Cheers,
Mike
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Re: Modular synthesizer - which one?

Postby hollowsun » Mon Aug 11, 2008 7:14 pm

This one:

Image

£1,300 (without the keyboard)

Synthesizers.com

They are in the US and (to my knowledge, no UK distributor) so I have no idea what shipping and customs and all that nonsense would add.

But it is FABULOUS gear (I've had a chance to play on them when Stateside).

More local and cheaper is this which was brought to my attention just yesterday:

Image

£400-ish ... which is severely tempting

MFB

At Thomann
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Re: Modular synthesizer - which one?

Postby Andy Cobley » Mon Aug 11, 2008 7:48 pm

Is there a review of that Kraftwerg anywhere ?

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Re: Modular synthesizer - which one?

Postby hogberto » Mon Aug 11, 2008 9:00 pm

i suggest you give analogue systems a look.

http://www.analoguesystems.co.uk

nice stuff, good selection of modules and bob is always happy to answer questions. one of his starter systems would fit your budget.

quite a lot of their stuff has been reviewed in SOS over the years.

i've been putting together an analogue systems set up for the past few years. no reliability problems and it all sounds nice. some interesting digital modules too if you're interested.

i'll probably add some doepfer stuff in due course. that's the beauty of modulars, of course, you don't need to stick to one make. ;)
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Re: Modular synthesizer - which one?

Postby indexofmetals » Tue Aug 12, 2008 8:39 am

I agree with hogberto, if you choose eurorack then there's no need to go with one make. Analogue systems power adaptors are slightly different than the rest of the other Euroracks (doepfer, plan b, livewire, harvestman, cwejman, bananalogue, etc) but their cases do have some slots for the other eurorack types, also analog haven in the US sell adaptors that connect to AS modules to use in a doepfer case.

My doepfer portable case is a made up of livewire AFG, AS 95 VCO, AS ADSR, Doepfer source of uncertainty, plan b eg, plan b dual lopass gate, plan b audio tool (waveshaper, vca & ring mod), tiptop audio v/c effects, with the empty spaces allocated to plan b v/c lfo, v/c adsr, wave splicer & headphone output (already ordered) and probably a second AS95 vco.

I'd definitely look into plan b, livewire & harvestman in addition to analogue systems.
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Re: Modular synthesizer - which one?

Postby Zukan » Tue Aug 12, 2008 9:17 am

I had a number of modular systems and for the budget you are suggesting I would contact Tony Algood at Oakley Sound and get him to build you a bespoke system.
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Re: Modular synthesizer - which one?

Postby Spiked Lunch » Tue Aug 12, 2008 6:39 pm

So no real Doepfer fans then?

If I was in the US, the .com systems would be a bit of a no brainer! I'd really like to stick to something closer to home though, at least initially.

The MFB modular is news to me too. I've seen some of there other stuff and they look pretty good for the price - I really want to get a 'proper' modular system though.

I thought that Oakley had gone off the map - on looking at the site it appears that the modules are DIY. I'm a dab hand with a soldering iron but when my synth finally arives, I want to plug it in and make some noise - not spend 4 weeks building, testing and calibrating.

Analogue systems are quite tempting though, there basic system looks quite similar to the basic Doepfer system - although a bit more pretty. I'd also have to pay extra for a MIDI to CV converter.

Anyone got any thoughts on Analogue Systems Vs Doepfer?

My gut feeling is still the doepfer, it does look a tad grey but it also comes in cheaper than the others and it's surely an OK synth for my first move into modular synthesis?

Mike
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Re: Modular synthesizer - which one?

Postby indexofmetals » Wed Aug 13, 2008 12:10 pm

if you got to http://www.oakleysound.co.uk/projects.htm, there's a link to readymade modules and also one for cases. Tony's a great guy and my minimoog is currently with him for repair. He's the only person I use for repairs.

What type of music do you want the modular for?
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Re: Modular synthesizer - which one?

Postby Zukan » Wed Aug 13, 2008 12:36 pm

Yes, there are built modules available and Tony will build you a bespoke system if you require.

I had one of the Doepfer modulars but never really got on with it.
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Re: Modular synthesizer - which one?

Postby Vader77 » Wed Aug 13, 2008 4:57 pm

I don't think Tony builds modulars anymore due to new EU regs with lead free solder and recycling/dismantling products when scrapped (as if you would).
This isn't to say its worth asking but last time I heard he was chock-a-block with repairs and mods.

I hear Doepfer have a clean Rolandish tone and you can also use AS modules with a little cross wiring.
I've also heard nothing but good things about synthesiser.com and that new MFB looks very interesting for the price.
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Re: Modular synthesizer - which one?

Postby Spiked Lunch » Wed Aug 13, 2008 6:14 pm


I've been thinking about this all day in work, £1.5K is a lot of money for me to spend so I really want to get my purchase right.

Have any of you ever imported stuff from the US? It's something that I've never done before and I'm a little nervous if I'm honest.

I really like the look of the bigger format stuff and the .com Portable-22 comes in at around £1350. VAT on top of that comes in at around £1600, then shipping + duty tax.

Anyone reasonably qualified to hazard a guess at the final price?

IF my budget can stretch, I think I'll go for the .com - I'll also drop Oakley a line to see if they can build me a similar system.

Mike
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Re: Modular synthesizer - which one?

Postby dubbmann » Wed Aug 13, 2008 8:49 pm

hi,

i'd second the recommendations for some of the smaller, boutique synth makers, albeit for a slightly different reason that others have mentioned: i think we need to support these small makers lest they go out of business. this is not to derogate doepfer: i have a bunch of doepfer gear (schaltwerks, regelwerke, maq, ms404) and think their build quality is excellent and their customer support has been top-drawer as far as my experience goes. it's just that buying an analogue solutions or an oakley will help keep those guys going, and that's not a trivial factor.

btw, as for buying from the states: i've bought from europe w/o problems. if you buy from a store you're going o be ok. i've dealt with analogue haven in los angeles, they're very above board and seem like good guys.

hope this helps,

c
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Re: Modular synthesizer - which one?

Postby Spiked Lunch » Thu Aug 14, 2008 7:45 am

Are you from the US Dubbmann?

I've bought from Germany on numerous occasions but buying from the US is a bit more complicated as there is various extra costs that need to be factored in.

The synthesizers.com system is going to come in way over budget but I'm going to live dangerously and get it anyway 8-)
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Re: Modular synthesizer - which one?

Postby indexofmetals » Thu Aug 14, 2008 9:00 am

I order from the US all the time, mainly from Analog Haven & Noisebug (they used to be part of analog haven). Shawn at the former & Chuck at the latter are both very helpful & friendly. All my items have been well packed with no problems so far.
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Re: Modular synthesizer - which one?

Postby tea for two » Thu Aug 14, 2008 9:04 am

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Re: Modular synthesizer - which one?

Postby Spiked Lunch » Fri Aug 15, 2008 7:47 am


Thanks for all your input,

I've decided to for the synthesizers.com portable 22 system + a clipper/rectifier module. I've put a provisional order in and I'm now waiting for a reply.

Mike
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Re: Modular synthesizer - which one?

Postby Pashmina » Sat Aug 16, 2008 1:13 am

I would go for Modcan if I were buying a single manufacturer system. They have a greater range of modules (like, you have single, dual and quad LFO modules, you don't have to tune a VCO down) and their modules are more fully-functioned and more space efficient if you go for the banana jack system - compare their A-series envelope w/dotcom's for example. it does way more, in a smaller space. I have 12 modcan modules, build quality is great and sound is exemplary, rich, "fat", analog.

There is no need to stick to one system though, in fact it's crazy to do so! Too much fun stuff out there.

Beware that there are a few manufacturers who are SLOW deliverers. I've waited 1yr+ and 3yrs+ for alleged stock modules from intransigents who will hold on to your money forever and NEVER deliver unless you hassle them continually and hold them up in public from time to time. PM me if you want my list of "never deal with agains"

Tony at Oakley is designing but isn't manufacturing modules himself anymore, they're now made (officially) by this dude:

http://www.krisp1.com/

Audio quality in Tony's designs is very very appealing. Strongly recommended. The phaser in particular is outstanding.
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Re: Modular synthesizer - which one?

Postby Pashmina » Sat Aug 16, 2008 1:32 am

Plus, if you REALLY want to maximise your bang-for-buck, buy Doepfer and buy USED. There is always LOADS of used Doepfer stuff about, either on ebay or at analog haven in the states.
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Re: Modular synthesizer - which one?

Postby krisp1 » Sat Aug 16, 2008 10:52 am

Hi
Oakley modular is alive and well Tony is designing Ceri and Julie are selling the PCB’s for DIY and I am building the moduels in both 5U MOTM format and as bespoke Frac
I have a delivery policy of 4 weeks for there purchase to ship from orders taken on 5U format
Cheers

Paul


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Re: Modular synthesizer - which one?

Postby Arpangel » Sat Aug 16, 2008 11:55 am

Pashmina wrote:Plus, if you REALLY want to maximise your bang-for-buck, buy Doepfer and buy USED. There is always LOADS of used Doepfer stuff about, either on ebay or at analog haven in the states.

Sorry for butting in here, but is the import duty high when you ship from Analog Haven ?

Tony.
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