A tale of two modules..

March 16, 2012 in Exclusively Analogue, The Pioneer

As I continue building up the modules of the “Tribute” system, for my own set and also for the first of the extra sets for lucky buyers, I have looked at what is beyond the basic set. I was fortunate to have some extra original submodules and PCBs for some of the less common modules including the rare Universal Active Filter (UAF), Lag Processor, and Ring Modulator. Unfortunately the discrete dual transistors used in the UAF means that it will not be possible to make many of them, most likely only 4, before having to do an upgrade of the parts with a resultant possible change in characteristics. I have built up the first UAF using an original 1122 submodule, original main PCB and a new front panel to match everything else in my system. The end result is great both visually and sonically!

The Lag Processor and Ring Modulator however are as difficult so I have just ordered the panels for these so that I can include them on my system as well as having some spare if people want them.

Because of the problems with the parts for the UAF I have decided to utilise the Multimode filter I originally used in the Aviator in the first of the new “Pioneer” modules. This filter is based on the Oberheim SEM 12dB design and provides Low Pass, Band Pass, High Pass, and Notch outputs so in some respects is very similar to the UAF. The only thing missing is the voltage control of Resonance (Q as Emu call it) but I personally have never really found much use for that function musically. I have aimed to maintain the same look as the original LPF 6″ x 6″ panel with the addition of a Mode selection control to select the output type just as it was on the SEM and the Aviator. The artwork picture below gives you an idea of how the new EA2120 Multimode Filter front panel will look and I have just put the order in for some of these to be made.

The MultiMode Filter will complement a new “Pioneer” EA2101 24db Low Pass Filter which is based on circuitry similar to the well known SSM2040 IC so with the two modules all the various filtering options will be covered.

So back to the soldering iron, PCB design software, and CorelDraw to work on some more modules to add to the new “Pioneer” system. The Dual LFO, Noise and Sample & Hold combined module looks favourite for my attention next.

Our tribute to the Emu Modular

March 11, 2012 in Exclusively Analogue, The Pioneer

It’s great to be back in the Analogue Synth world again after the long break due to a busy few years at work flying airliners. Now I have some time available and I can get back into doing what I enjoy.

I had always planned to sort out the Emu modular parts, (mainly a collection of sub modules) that I had from the 90s but never thought I would go so far as recreating a complete Emu modular system!

So how did it all start? Back in 1992 I was offered a modular system by a pawn shop in Madison Wisconsin who had had the system for 8 years with no one knowing what to do with it. They couldn’t tell me much about it other than it had aluminium front panels and it sounded like someone’s home built. I bought it unseen mainly out of curiosity and when it arrived I was gobsmacked. Here was one of the best looking modulars I had ever seen in a beautiful walnut cabinet and in flight cases. A definite bargain especially when I plugged it in and found that it was fully working!

It turned out that it was a very rare Emu modular system and in no time at all a shop in London made me an offer I couldn’t refuse with the system eventually ending up in a synth museum. I subsequently managed to buy a home built system based on Emu submodules but mounted on poor quality PCBs and with grey dull looking front panels. After a lengthy phone call to Emu I acquired a box full of parts, unused PCBs and submodules, which I planned to use to build up another system. Time just wasn’t available to complete the project until now!

It has taken ages to completely redo all the printed circuit boards, source the rare original parts, and complete the artwork for the front panels but I think it has been worth it. I now have my own system looking as good as, if not slightly better than, the original and because it uses the same 1970s technology it has the same sound.

The 8 Pioneer ‘Tribute’ modular systems that I am making available are all that I am going to do mainly because of the difficulty in getting some of the rarer parts for the original circuitry. Each one will be built to order and to the highest quality just like the Emu team did back in the 70s. You might like to read a bit of history behind the Emu modular systems in the interview with Dave Rossum; www.siliconbreakdown.com/rossum_interview.htm


The proposed ‘Pioneer’ system will be a redesigned version of the ‘Tribute’ utilising modern and more readily available parts but still maintaining the original look. The first Pioneer module will be the Multimode filter which is already at the prototype stage and fitted in my system.

Well it’s back to the soldering iron and building a couple of Transient Generators today but I will provide some regular updates so keep watching the progress and as a quick thank you; I’m indebted to Rob Keeble of AMS and Senso of Vintage Planet for their help.

Exclusively Analogue is back….

March 2, 2012 in Exclusively Analogue, The Aviator

Hello one and all. For those that can cast their minds back as far as the 1990s you may be familiar with Exclusively Analogue, what we did and what we built. For anyone that can’t quite reach that far back in to the mists of time (or weren’t interested the first time round) here’s a quick refresher.

We designed and built The Aviator in 1993 after working with a number of acts including Erasure, Emerson Lake and Palmer and the Human League. Over the period of 3 years a total of 35 Aviators made their way to distant shores to great acclaim. Here’s what they looked like.

It’s now 2012 and Exclusively Analogue is making a return with something new. That “something new” has already started to create a buzz across internet forums far and wide and we will shortly be in a position to tell you more. For now though, feel free to sit in excitement as Exclusively Analogue prepares to blast through 2012.