Tag Archives: ALM

Triple Mantis

Not sure what the plural of Mantis is, but I now have three of the Tip Top Audio cases of the same name, laid out end-to-end on my desk like a mini mission control.

Mission control

Analog Synth Mantis

To the left is the Analog Synth Mantis which is probably the more ‘vanilla’ of the three cases. Built around three different oscillators (OSC303, Tip Top Z3000 and the Doepfer A-110), each with a separate, dedicated filter (VCF303, Intellijel uVCF and Doepfer A-105 respectively), as well as the usual array of VCA’s, ADSR’s and LFO’s (Mainly Doepfer or Erica synths modules).

Dinsync’s excellent Modseq module allows me to do some repeatable Sample and Hold style manipulation of the filter cut-offs, or paired with the Ladik Easy Quantizer module, makes a mean bassline sequencer for the OSC303.

Other modules of note include the FoH Choices joystick, which is paired with the clever little Ladik Joystick Math module which makes it a lot more flexible, and a small selection of Make Noise modules including the Moddemix and LXD which are both great for teasing out plucky, percussive sounds.

Digital & Sequencing Mantis

The middle, Digital & Sequencing Mantis has something of a split personality. The top row provides the master clock for the whole system, which I have distributed between the three cases using a combination of different powered multiples to create a semi-permanent clock backbone.

It also provides additional sequencing and quantizing capabilities, courtesy of a Turing Machine with the Pulses and Voltages expanders and the GMSN Pure Sequencer, both paired with Doepfer A156 Dual Quantizer. These are great when I want something a little more unpredictable than the ES-40 / Ableton Live combination or my Beatstep Pro. Alternatively, the sequencers work great as modulation sources for my percussion modules.

The lower row houses my ‘Digital’ modules, including the obligatory Mutable Instruments trilogy of Braids, Rings and Clouds, as well as Erica synths Black Hole DSP which has some lovely Shimmer effects. A Mutable Music Things ‘Ears’ module rounds things off, used primarily to trigger the strum input of Rings.

Gates & Percussion Mantis

Moving to the right we have the Gates & Percussion Mantis which has a wide variety of drum and percussion modules as well as gate triggers, clock dividers and logic modules which are great for coming up with abstract drum patterns.

The sound sources themselves include the ALM Taiko modules (Still on the lookout for the limited Haswell’s Taiko if one ever comes up on eBay or Muffwiggler), multiple kick drum synths (With the Hexinverter Mutant Bassdrum being a current favourite) and a selection of Tip Top Audio 808 modules.

It’s worth remembering that percussion modules don’t have to be limited to providing drum sounds though, as many have pitch CV inputs which allow you to use them for basslines and tuned percussion alike. They also often have built in VCA’s and envelopes, further increasing their effectiveness for a relatively low cost.

Also in this case are some additional effects courtesy of the Sara VCF filter from DinSync, ALM’s EQ and Music Thing’s Spring reverb module. There’s also a passive ring modulator I made with some germanium diodes which is pretty unique sounding.

And last but not least, we have the Audiodamage ADM09 USB audio interface which is normally linked to an iPad 3 running the stunning Borderlands 2, granular synthesis app. You can coax some amazing sounds out of Borderlands, particularly when feeding it a diet of modular synth noises from the ADM09.

One day, I might even learn what it all does 🙂 Seriously though, I’ve just signed up to the Learning Modular Patreon page which gives regular hints and tips on how to get the most out of your modular synth, as well as free access to a course of your choice on the main Learning Modular site. Can’t be bad!

I’d hope I’m comfortable with the basics, so went with the ‘Level 2 Eurorack expansion’ which is very comprehensive and appears to be regularly updated to keep it current. Chris Meyer who created and presents the course has a great knack of making complex concepts sound easy and I’m learning so much already. Here’s an excerpt from the course…

The only danger is that I’m now lusting after a Mordax Data module, having seen Chris demonstrate his one. I’m sure I can make it fit somewhere 🙂

Eurorack Drum Machine Update

Well, I’m making rapid progress. Have already built the frame for the Eurorack Drum Machine, based around a repurposed Pittsburgh Modular Cell 48 case, and installed three of the modules.

The Akemies Taiko and Pip Slope modules should be arriving early next week.

The Pico Trigger is amazing and really easy to program with the browser based pattern editor which works great from my iPad. 8 patterns can be stored in the module at any one time, even after powering off.

I particularly like the way that each of the 4 tracks has an independent length parameter (1 to 16 steps), great for programming polyrhythmic patterns that change over time.

The arcade buttons aren’t yet functional, but there is a DIY section on the Doepfer website which helpfully explains how to build a manual gate so I’ll start there; just waiting for some veroboard and a 6HP blank panel to be delivered first.

Also contemplating squeezing in a Synthrotek 555 LFO too to add some modulation.

Eurorack Drum Machine

Nearly finished with my rebuild of the modular synth. The Tiptop Mantis Case is full and I’ve also built a second suitcase synth based around modules from Mutable Instruments, Including the ‘Ears’ module which Santa got for me 🙂

So now I’ve turned my attention to building a portable, Eurorack based Drum Machine. Here’s a mock-up of what it could look like…

The core pattern sequencing will be handled through the Erica Synth Pico Trigg module, with the 5 arcade buttons at the bottom allowing me to manually trigger Accent and Choke on the two ALM Taiko modules as well as the Trig input on the ALM Pip Slope.

An ALM PE-1 rounds things off, doubling as a handy 2:1 mixer in addition to EQ duties.

Modular update 2016 #1

Decided to have a major upgrade of my studio and also try and fully integrate the modular with my laptop setup.

We’re Jammin’

First purchase was the Maschine Jam which has really renewed my love for Maschine and should elevate it beyond the role of ‘just’ a drum machine.

I then ordered some Expert Sleepers ES-40, ES-8CV and ES-8GT modules to let me trigger the modular from within Ableton, Maschine and Reaktor – only really scratched the surface but it looks to be a really flexible solution, and the integration with Reaktor is mind blowing.

Room to grow

Today, I took delivery of a new modular case, a Tiptop Audio Mantis, and it’s a beautiful piece of engineering for a brilliant price (at least, relative to other Eurorack cases).

Here’s the empty case which I’ll be filling up this evening as I transfer my modules across.

Mantis

Tiptop Audio Mantis case

Also replaced my beloved Nord Drum with a Dinky’s Taiko drum synthesizer module too which I’ll be trying out later this evening. (I’ve multi-sampled the Nord into 20 or so Maschine kits, so still have access to its electro sounds – might even put those kits up for sale at some point).

Final piece I’ve ordered is a second Tiptop Audio Z3000 oscillator to compliment my old Mk1 module, which is waiting for me at the local post office.

Can’t wait to write some new music with it all!