Resources for an aspiring synth nerd?

hello all! so i think this forum is full of the types of people i’ve been trying to find… how does one go about learning and designing synth parts. is there some book that’s the bible of such things… or do i need to go through schematics for modular parts i find online… or? i’ve even been going over patents released by bob moog to try to find ideas…

i know enough EE to not blow up anything, and am pretty confident about my programming skills… i just don’t exactly know where to get started

Easiest you could try some sort of Vulcan Mind-Melt with pichenettes…

What is your end goal?

Things to look at:

  • Aaron Lanterman’s class material (including videos)
  • The SDIY mailing list. Just listen to what people are talking about here, until it starts making sense :slight_smile: [most of the time it’s flying very high, and many contributors here are certainly more qualified than most synth manufacturers]
  • Mutable Instruments’ schematics and filter/circuits analyses :smiley:
  • Other collection of schematics: yusynth, this, the EM forums… or service manuals of vintage machines!

For starters you should try to obtain a copy of Musical Applications for Microprocessors by Hal Chamberlin, or get the modular grimoire Electronic Music: Systems, Techniques, and Controls by Allen Strange. If you use some google-fu you should be able to obtain it as an illicit e-book.
or you could read this as a primer to some modular synthesis techniques with the emphasis on sound design theory.

For the electronic theory I would recommend the Art of Electronics by Horowitz/Hill and of course Electronotes as the latter is the definitive guide on the synth application field.
There’s also the Barry Klein book and of course:

Watch the courses on-line by Aaron D Lanterman also! He has some great lectures on-line. Pichenettes beat me to it, linking to those but I also recommend them.

Subtractive isn’t that difficult. Early synths kinda grew out of lab equipment. There’s been circuits to filter and produce tones for years.

There’s various approaches to building any given circuit. Some will use transistors to build a circuit, others will use more discrete parts.

If you’re more interested in more complex synth engines like FM and modelling synths then you aren’t really going to need to build anything as they’re more suited to the fully digital domain.

i’d like to have awesome, unique synths and not have to pay the typical $1k-2k. i’m working up a design for a iron core transformer preamp and the prototype is going to cost me oh so much less then even the cheapest “good” preamp on the market.

thanks! believe me, i’ve been going over every bit of schematic/source code/analysis i can find on your site…

0_o this is awesome…

see… you say “subtractive isn’t difficult” and i wonder… should i use discreet components for the oscillators… op amps… should it be digitial like the shruthi… or in between like a roland dco that waveshapes square waves… but to answer your question… probably subtractive at first… actually probably just a good oscillator that i could easily hook into an ARM microcontroller…

Not difficult in that it’s very common and you’ll find a lot of different circuits around.

Making sounds isn’t hard, it is making sounds that are in tune and are easily controlled :slight_smile:

ahhhh… totally got what you mean now…

You can get something like this and produce waveforms. But where are you gonna attach a keyboard? :slight_smile:

I’m not sure building your own is going to save you money, but I do empathize with that thinking. The used market probably wins here.

As for unique, modular will definitely get you that since there are almost infinite ways to wire them up. It also lets you design and build only the parts you’re interested in building. The rest you can buy or build from a kit.

Another fun project could be rebuilding something old and rare like an Arp Odessey from schematics. I guess getting parts would be a pain though. The number of clones of studio gear has exploded (compressors, eq’s, etc.). It might be just a matter of time before we see that with synths. You could start a revolution :slight_smile:

+1 on thinking you’ll save money. In the long run, you won’t save much. Maybe a couple hundred, depending on what it is. But, it isn’t as hard of a hit if you source the parts gradually. Little here, little there. Plus, you can tell the wife/girlfriend that building it yourself will save all kinds of money! At least that much is true, I know first hand :slight_smile:

Xoxbox vs 303? That said, the only synth that has true clones is the 303. Then there’s the Telemark, Red Square and other homages/sound-alikes… And re-issues/improved stuff like the new SEMs, Voyager and latter Moog gear. Then there’s the dumbed-down or just stupid re-issues made by Roland. And the fun stuff like the Korg Monotron/Monotribes. Or the Mini-brute which is build on Steiner-Parker legacy and that ubiquitous saw-multiplier from an ancient issues of Electro-notes and other fun ideas.

I was thinking of the new Moog stuff too. The Minibrute is especially interesting because it has no midi control/patch save. I think its success might inspire others to recreate some classics. Why shouldn’t korg remake the MS-20? Before they were potentially afraid no one would want a synth you can’t fully control by a computer. Minibrute is proving that isn’t true. Then again Roland won’t redo the 303, 808, or 909 and there’s clearly a demand for those…

I would suggest Electro-Music or Muffwiggler if you want to find out more-both have active DIY communities with plenty of projects available and are pretty friendly (especially Muffwiggler).

Basic technology of analogue synthesis hasn’t changed since the 70s, so Hal Chamberlin’s Musical Applications of Microprocessors or Barry Klein’s Electronic Music Circuits. Or just take the plunge and buy all the back issues of Electronotes-their designs influenced a lot of people starting with later Moog…