Emu Modular Rebuild

May 8, 2013 in Exclusively Analogue, The Pioneer

We’ve recently completed a rebuild of an original Emu Modular for a customer in Germany. The rebuild involved supplying a new large cabinet, power supply and some of the Exclusively Analogue Pioneer Tribute modules. The picture included below shows the completed system and if you look carefully you might be able to pick out the new modules. Apart from adding the large VCO, 2 Low Pass Filters, Universal Active Filter, Dual Transient Generator, Lag Processor, Noise Source and a Ring Modulator this system also received two of the VCO Range Switch modules and one of the new Pot Pourri modules.

Exclusively Analogue - Emu Modular Rebuild

This is the comment from the customer;

“The modules Tony built sound spot on identical to the old originals and the craftsmanship is second to none. I am very happy”

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 ÷ 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.

Photos of the Universal Active Filter

December 14, 2012 in Exclusively Analogue

The quieter Winter period has meant more time to build the various systems and modules we have to offer and one of the most recent has been the Universal Active Filter. Below are photos of one that was shipped over to Belgium recently. This one uses a number of the same original components from the eMu UAF while our Belgian friend built the wood casing himself.

Universal Active Filter - Exclusively Analogue

Universal Active Filter - Exclusively Analogue

The feedback we’ve received from the buyer about the Universal Active Filter has been really positive;

“It sounds great and is really well built”

Next up is a nice Christmas break and we wish you all the best for the festive period.

Synth Apps on a phone vs The Real Thing and a new Universal Active Filter

August 2, 2012 in Exclusively Analogue, The Pioneer

It’s been a while since my last blog mainly because my ‘day job’ of flying an airliner has kept me very busy recently.

I, like so many people Worldwide, have joined the ‘Apple’ family and ended up with an iPhone and an iPad. One of the interesting things I noticed was a number of Apps (Applications) that you can get for musicians including some quite good analogue synthesizer ones. There is a very good app from Korg, that recreates the famous MS20 synthesizer, and another from Akai. Both allow you to recreate some very realistic analogue synth sounds on your iPhone/iPad. The downside however is the lack of tactility that you get from the ‘real thing’ and you are left trying to get used to finger movements on the screen and that takes time to master. It’s so much easier to just tweak a knob or switch on the real thing!!

No one has so far created an Emu Modular or Aviator app but judging by the apps I have looked at I’m sure it could be done. However, owning the real thing with the original sound and controls is, in my opinion, far better than a digital recreation. You could liken it to the difference between driving a high performance sports car in a computer game and owning the real thing. One of the main reasons is that any digital recreation with ‘analogue modelling’ can only go so far at producing the same filter characteristics. For instance the Emu Universal Active Filter (UAF) has a lot of discrete components (i.e. dual matched transistors) in it that help give it the range of filtering options available and the unique sound

I have been doing some experimentation and detective work recently with the primary aim of trying to find some alternatives for the AD820 and LM114 dual matched transistors used in the Emu UAF module. Fortunately I have now found alternatives from Linear Systems that match the characteristics of the originals so I can now build more Universal Active Filters if anyone wants them. I have done all of the work ready to produce new main and sub module circuit boards as well having the front panels already made.

The Universal Active Filter will be the first module that can be purchased separately so it can be added to existing Emu Modular systems or even to other modulars provided a suitable power source is available. Further details will be on the website shortly but if you are interested in getting a UAF just send us an email.

The picture above shows an original UAF sub module and a new one that I completed recently. In a side by side test the sound you get is identical!!

An insight in to quality and how to order a Pioneer “Tribute” system

April 1, 2012 in The Pioneer

It gives me great pleasure to announce that the first Pioneer “Tribute” system will be on it’s way to Switzerland. This now means there are only 7 more systems left for sale. If you are interested in purchasing one the necessary details are at the bottom of this post.

Ensuring quality

From the outset of the Pioneer “Tribute” project I was keen to ensure that it was a high quality product. All the components used are to equal or better specification than those used by Emu back in the 70s. In some areas there have been improvements beyond the original. One example of this is in the oak cabinet and the mounting of the individual modules. The panels are made to very exact dimensions and I have just received the mounting metalwork which has been made to the same exact standards. This means that there are no unsightly gaps between the modules and they almost blend into one!

The panels themselves are not paint on top of the aluminium but instead the ink is impregnated into the metal. The result is a much sharper finish that is resistant to scratching unlike the original panels. The oak cabinet has been made by a professional cabinet maker and is the finishing touch. I could have used Walnut, which was the wood used in most of the originals, but decided to add a British touch and I think the finish on the oak works well to highlight the modules. The rear panel, which has the power supply mounted on it, has the “Tribute Limited Edition” text and each of the 10 panels are individually engraved “Number * of 10”. I’ll have the first complete system built up in the new cabinet on Tuesday and I will post some pictures once it is done.

I have now finalised what will be in the Tribute system and added some useful modules which I’m sure people will like. The first additional module is the Lag Processor (useful for glide effects and much more). The second is the Ring Modulator which can be used to create a number of interesting effects including ‘bell type’ sounds. Lastly I have decided to include the new MultiMode filter since this adds so much to the system and complements the 24dB Low Pass filter. The MultiMode filter provides 12dB Low Pass, High Pass, Bandpass, and Notch outputs so great for the ‘buzzier’ sounds and reverse envelope sweeps. Although the MulitiMode filter is not an Emu original, they produced the Universal Active Filter, it is made to fit into the system so it doesn’t look out of place.

I’ve also decided to do a small run of the Universal Active Filters to either be added to the Tribute system (at an additional cost) or existing Emu modular systems. I will only make about 10 of these UAFs to the original 1122 specification before looking at doing a redesign to replace the obsolete components.

Ordering a Pioneer “Tribute” system

The 7 remaining Pioneer ‘Tribute’ systems are now available to be purchased for a total cost of £4000 per system (plus shipping). Each system is individually built and can be customised slightly to the buyers requirement. A £500 deposit is required to secure a system with the remaining balance (plus shipping) being payable before delivery. If you are interested please use the “Contact Us” section of this website to get in touch.