Which voicecards to choose?


Ambika will be my first hardware synth, and I really don’t know which voicecards to choose… I think I will complete it with Anushri and a full analo poly (like Prohpet 08 or something like that, I am looking for a good deal). I firstly think I will buy 6 x SVF multi mode voicecard, Please what is your point about that?

Thank you very much.

Any of the Voicecards are great - you can’t make a bad choice. Your only problem will be choosing an recent analog Synth after owning the Ambika.

Héhé ok that’s clear ! And what about mixing the voicecards? for exemple 2 x SVF + 4 x SMR4 ? (I want to play all together)

Personally i wouldn’t do it if you plan to use it as a 6 Voice Poly. But why not get the 6 SVFs and one of each other to test?

Regarding a full analog Poly; there are currently only the P08 and its little Brother the MoPho x4 and the PolyEvolver Keyboard. In my opinion the Ambika eats the P08 and its successors (MoPhOs Tetra) for Breakfast, and is well up, if not beyond the Evolver.

So why not choose something that complements the Ambika/Anushris Sound and go the other direction - hence get something Digital and Cold. Id suggest the Waldorf Blofeld Keyboard (and its 1k chapter than the P08), if you are not in need of a Keyboard you might even look for a used Waldorf Microwave XT (don’t fear - they are built like a Cirklon. Tanks are built like Cirklons, too). If you aren’t afraid of spending Money in the P08 range think about the Arturia Origin.

On the Ambika Overview page there is a suggestion: ‘This allows you to mix and match several filter types inside the same unit – for example to play a pad on 5 4-pole voices, and a squelchy bandpass filtered lead on the multimode board’. That is what I plan to do with 4x SM-4 (plus the one that will come with the kit) and 1x SVF.

Ok thanks for your quick answer! one last question about the kit : after buying the kit (mobo+ SMR), we have to buy the componant of each voicecards separetly ( " separate voicecard kit")?


From what I understood there won’t be full voicecard kits. There will be a full kit for the control board plus one SVF card. For the rest there are the PCB + the chips, and there is an accessory pack for building six voice cards with the most hard-to-find parts. You’ll still have to source the more common parts (R + C) for the voice cards. So I have just now ordered the pcb’s + chips + one accessory kit for the five voice cards.

  • Control board + 1 SMR voicecard :wink:

@Fiflouc yes, that’s correct. As I understand it, the kit will come with all the components for the mainboard, + 1 voicecard. You have to source all components for the remaining VCs yourself, with the exception of the programmable chips, which can be bought pre-programmed from the MI shop, and the PCBs, of course, which you also get from here. There are BOMs for all the components from Mouser and possibly other suppliers available, so if you want to buy all components at the same time, it’s pretty easy.

As far as mixing and matching different voicecards, the synth is pretty flexible. The VCs can be using and combined in any combination, so, for example, you could have a 4-voice poly part using 4x 4P cards, then two different patches using an SVF and SMR card each. I’m not sure what happens if you try and make a poly part using more than one VC type though, or if it even allows you to do that. I can’t speak from experience, because I went with a full set of 6 4P cards when I got in on the ‘pioneer run’. Sounds great, but I can’t help feeling I should have gone for the SVF ones instead.


I really think that 6xSMR is the best choice. It has more character. It’s not going to work in “any” situation, neither is the 6xSVF option (2-poles are less useful in a polyphonic environment). 4P voicecards are great and very “straight”, and pretty multipurpose, and can cover the whole range between polyphonic and monophonic and agressive and smooth synthesis. But the SMR voicecards really give a true “vintage” analog feel, which is in my opinion the biggest advantage of a machine like the ambika compared to modern, fully digital polyphonic synths or VSTs. They won’t be able to be very ‘agressive’ and may sound a little weak when used as a monophonic synth on its own. Not really a great choice for bassline. But they really shine when used in polyphony, they add a lot of texture. Still, while being able to deliver a very tasty vintage tone, a set of SMR cards will undoubtedly allow you more options than any of the 80s vintage polyphonic synths.

You can chose some SVF cards if you think the ambika more as a ‘n x poly + mono’ synth, because SVF voicecards are really great for leads or basslines. But I don’t think I would equip my ambika with a set of 6 SVF voicecards, unless I want to do a lot of sonic experimentation and don’t want to use the ambika as a “classic” polyphonic synth. Which is also fine thanks to the programmation options of this beast.

edit : oh, and 4P and SMR mix very well. I have an ambika equipped with 4xSMR and 2x4P at hand, and I can use it as a 6 voices polyphonic synth without an issue. They don’t have exactly the same volume but I find it to be barely a problem. It adds a bit of randomness to the sound, which is something that I like a lot.

I already have 2 SMR-4 Shruthis and I love their sounds a lot. If I choose 6 x SMR voicecards for my future Ambika, will it be some overlaps (about the sound) with my actual Shruthis ? I still think the SVF voicecards might offer a wider sound palette, but I’ve never tried them …

What is the opinion of the pioneer builders ?

Hédi K.

The SMR-4 Shruthi sound slightly fatter and more gritty in the PPG direction. The Ambika is a bit more refined and elegant, which fits perfectly the Polyphonic approach.

It’s a different filter.

The 4P voicecard sounds almost exactly like a 4PM shruthi when set in 4P LP mode with the ‘basic’ resonance parameter, and the SVF sounds very close to a dual SVF with the filters in series and one of them wide open…
If you want to experiment with SV-filters, in my opinion you better try a 4PM or a dual-SVF shruthi filter because there’s much more room for experimentation than on an ambika voicecard, and there are chances that most of your experimentation will be focused on a single voicecard… and could imply external signal filtering.

On its side, the ambika SMR voicecard brings more harmonics due to the darlington buffers (which are replaced by op-amp buffers on the shruthi SMR4 filter board) and there is really a difference. The filter is less punchy (my guess is that it’s because there is less headroom) but even with no resonance it adds a beautiful flavor. If you’re familiar with guitar stompboxes effects, it’s very much like OTA-based phasers. You can tell there’s a huge difference between an EHX Small Stone and jfet-based phasers (or worse, digital phasers…), there’s something gorgeously lo-fi in it - the SMR voicecard has it. The shruthi SMR4 filter is rather clean when there is no resonance IMHO. Which makes me think that it could be interesting to try a shruthi SMR4 filter using the darlington buffers, especially for external signal filtering (probably not so interesting for the mono-synth).

I’m not saying that 4P and SVF voicecards are useless. I just think that the SMR voicecard brings the Ambika into an even cooler and appropriate dimension. No surprise why Olivier has seemingly developed an assembled version of 2 SMR voicecards on a single PC-board.

I was going to order 6 SVF cards, thinking that this would be closer to something like an Oberheim SEM sort of sound, which is what I would like to get. After reading this, I’m not so sure. I also figured a slightly “thinnner” filter sound might be good for polyphony and it’s very different than everything else I have. For the big polyphonic sounds, I have a Kurzweil K2600XS, and it is big in every sense of the word.

The more I use the SMRmkii and listen to the Ambika samples the more I think that Olivier choose well as having the SMR4 be the primary filter. It produces great results very easily and indeed has a nice warm sound, perfect for polyphonic goodness.

Don’t get me worn with the “slightly thinner” Filter sound on the SMR-4 Ambika. Its still fat, its just thinner to the Shruthi which is ÜberFat™

Yeah when ordering my voicecards I also had that silly demo video of the oberheim SEM 8 synthesizer in mind. But actually, I believe that the überfat sounds that we can hear were obtained with the filters all set to LP.

I might try to develop a SV version of the SMR voicecard, though (which would obviously imply SMD components soldering), because I like the BP mode. If only I had time… and money… :frowning:

i took 6x 4pm voicecards, since i was curious about the sound (haven’t finished the 4pm yet) and because i like to use it as a poly synth and harmonic playing, which i’ve never done with the dual SVF. i’m always ending up with NOISE when i play the SVF, there’s no way for me ignoring the modulation matrix and it’s perfect for this drone type of sounds. however i can imagine that it makes sense to have 6 voices svf in a polysynth and… i’ll try it anyway :wink:

the SVF is not equivalent to the dual SVF :wink:

My Oberheim lust comes from playing a 4-voice in the late 70s. I was starting on a tour of Canada with a band and looking for a polyphonic synth. After spending time with a Prophet 5 and an OB-X, I had settled on the Oberheim, but ended up trying a 4-voice that was for sale. It sounded amazing but for show work, the OB-X was just more convenient.