New Modules Available – VCO Range Switch, Pot Pourri, Ring Modulator & Lag Processor

May 3, 2013 in EA Modules, Exclusively Analogue

Following interest in the UAF and conversations about what other modules we’re building this post looks at what’s currently available to order and what’s coming shortly.

  • The Universal Active Filter is a faithful reproduction of the Emu module and although some alternative components have been used to replace the original, impossible to get, dual transistors this change has not affected the sound at all. I have done extensive side by side testing to confirm this and spent a lot of time matching the transistor characteristics.
  • The VCO Range Switch module is a useful addition to a system since it allows instant octave shifting of any 1Volt/octave VCO. 3 individual VCOs can be controlled by this unit and although designed for the Emu system it can be fitted to any modular provided there is a suitable Power Supply.
  • The Pot Pourri module is my take on the Emu Pot Pourri module and includes 2 Low Frequency Oscillators, 2 Analogue Inverters, a basic Noise Source, and a Sample and Hold (S&H). I find having the two LFOs in a system really useful and by having the addition of a S&H, which uses the Noise and LFO2 as the source and clock, adds a lot to any modular. A particularly ‘pleasing’ effect can be achieved by using the Gate signal to clock the S&H which is then fed to the Filter Frequency control. The result is random shifts of the filter frequency, especially good with a high resonance setting, that happen in sync with the notes being played.

We’ll shortly be releasing Lag Processor and Ring Modulator modules and will make sure there’s a post on the site when those are ready to order.

  • The 2340 Voltage Controlled Lag Processor performs a rate-limiting function on its input; it introduces a linear or exponential slide in the output voltage if the input voltage changes faster than a certain rate. Typically it is used to process control voltages—for example, it can give voltage controlled portamento when its input is a keyboard control voltage and it can turn a gate into a voltage controlled attack/release transient generator. One feature I like is that you can set it to only give glide on an increasing keyboard voltage but not a decreasing voltage or vice versa which is subtly different from the normal ‘always glide’ on most synths.
  • The 2430 Ring Modulator is a balanced modulator for electronic music. The module has two inputs, modulation and carrier, which are identical for high signal levels. The output is the algebraic product of the input voltages: Vout = Vmod x Vcar Ă· 5 when the input attenuators are fully clockwise and the coupling switches are in the DC position. AC coupling will level-shift the corresponding input so it effectively centers around zero volts. This can have a striking effect on the output signal, due to the inherent non-linearity of balanced modulation.

Project Merlin Confirmed And Why Knob Size Matters

April 20, 2013 in Exclusively Analogue, Project Merlin

Depending on where you come from, and your particular interests, the word ‘knob’ can refer to a number of things including things not really suitable for this website dedicated to Analogue Synthesizers!

I’ve just had the pleasure of visiting someone in Germany who really enjoys analogue synths and he has an enviable collection of modulars, including an Emu which is why I was there. Looking around the room my eyes always focused on the big old modulars like the Moogs and then at the newer, smaller and compressed modulars. Whilst I can appreciate that small knobs and small format modulars work for a lot of people, (it saves building an extension to your house or flat just to hold the modular!), for me ‘Big is Beautiful’. In particular the large format of the Emu modular is a favourite which is why I’ve spent a vast amount of time and effort to recreate this classic.

Once I had completed the rebuild into a new 4 tier cabinet with new power supply and some additional Pioneer Tribute modules I surveyed the result of my labours and knew why I liked the Emu so much. To then plug it in and hear the results was even better, more so when the big smile appeared on the owner’s face. It seems I’m not alone in liking ‘BIG KNOBS’ because I heard that there is a group of analogue synth enthusiasts in Germany who hold regular ‘Happy Knobbing’ events where tweaking ‘knobs’ of various sizes on analogue modulars and synths is their ‘thing’.

There is a good reason for all this talk about ‘knobs’. I’ve started work on my next synth, (I’ve called it “Project Merlin” for now since it will hopefully produce ‘magical’ sounds), which for want of a better description will be a cut down Aviator with a new unique filter and some interesting modulation options. I have to decide on the format both in terms of the overall size and also the size of the human interface part, the ‘knobs’.

I’ve used the Emu style large knobs on the ‘Last of the Few’ Aviators and that seems to work very well against the black front panel. The original silver Aviators had slightly smaller coloured knobs which also worked at the time but I have to say that the overall look of these last few Aviators is better, in my opinion.

I’d like your help in determining which route to go down; choice for you is a small compact synth with small knobs or something a little larger, about 2/3 the height of the Aviator, with BIG knobs. Your opinions would be appreciated!

Why Analogue Synths In A Digital World?

February 2, 2013 in Exclusively Analogue, The Aviator

I’m often asked why I remain firmly rooted in the past using technology from the 1970s and 1980s rather than taking the leap into the present and embracing the digital world. While you might think at my age I would enjoy nothing better than driving my car listening to classical music, heavy rock or perhaps the Bee Gees it might surprise you to know that Tiesto, the Swedish House Mafia, or a Trance compilation (played at the required high volume sufficient to get the whole car to become a bass resonator) is nearer the truth!

I know Trance is an acquired taste but what attracts me is that if you listen to most tracks you can guarantee that a lot of the sounds used are “analogue'” in origin and in particular a great deal of use is made of sweeping filters. Analogue synthesizers have been part of my life since the early 1970s when I used to listen to Keith Emerson, Rick Wakeman, Wendy Carlos, etc playing their Moog synths. I was captivated by the sound and my journey into building analogue synths began in 1977 when I built my first one, based on an article in an Electronics magazine. This synth, a Minisonic, was built whilst serving on HMS Hermes and whilst it was a basic analogue synth is could still produce some awesome sounds.

Little did I know that my passion for analogue synthesizers would take me on an incredible journey. In 1992 that same journey took me to a studio in North London where I ended up working on one of the most famous analogue synths, Keith Emerson’s huge Moog Modular. To think that 20 years earlier I had listened to this monster being used on the numerous ELP albums and there I was working on it! 20 years on from that and here I am still pursuing my passion and building analogue synthesizers again.

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The Aviator Goes Global Again

January 27, 2013 in Exclusively Analogue, The Aviator

We did it in the 1990’s with the Aviator travelling as far afield as the USA and Japan and we’ve now done it again thanks to orders from the USA, France, Germany, Sweden and the UK. A big thank you to all those that have placed orders and reserved build slots in the past few weeks, you should now have received confirmation of the process and timelines for your Aviator.

For those still interested, there are now only 5 left to order. If you’d like a piece of the action before the Aviator takes the last flight please get in touch to avoid disappointment.

Aviator Sound Tests

January 19, 2013 in Exclusively Analogue, The Aviator

Following on from yesterdays post about the first Aviator to be built in 16 years we’ve now uploaded a few sound files from the testing that was undertaken before it was shipped. These 3 sound files demonstrate the filter options available on the Aviator.

The above sound file is based on the intro beat from the Swedish House Mafia track “Greyhound”. It uses the Exclusively Analogue Aviator synthesizer with the 24 dB Low Pass filter before switching to a 12 dB Multimode filter and demonstrating Low Pass through to High Pass.

Based on the track “Greece 2000” and starts with a 24 dB Low Pass filter before switching to a 12dB Multimode filter.

This sound file has The Aviator synthesizer doing the lead synth solo that Keith Emerson did in Lucky Man. It starts with a 24 dB Low Pass filter before adding a VCF2 in Multi-Mode as an additional output to change the sound.

The Aviator: Black Is The Next Trend

December 31, 2012 in Exclusively Analogue, The Aviator

With the festive season nearly finished and everyone looking forward to 2013 we’ve managed to spend some time building another Aviator system. This is the first one to be built since 1996 and features the alternate black front panel with the eMu modular style knobs. The photo below was taken during a test build to fit all the parts together and to organise the internal wiring.

This Aviator will be headed to France once completed and will feature the “Custom Built for ……” inscription laser etched on to the top left corner. If we get some time (and permission) we will attempt to try and get more photos of the completed system with the laser etching finished and visible.

Exclusively Analogue - Aviator Black Front Panel

We are sure you’ll agree the black front panel looks quite stylish.

Anyway, the final comment for 2012 is for us to wish you all a Happy New Year.