Just sharing some things I learned this evening. Every week, I try to set aside an evening to experiment with a particular concept or to learn more about something that evades me. Today, it was pinging filters.

For this one, I'm creating rhythmic and musical textures and accents by pinging Make Noise QPAS and Mutable Instruments Ripples with Pamela's NW and Quadrax. I started with a lush ambient landscape and introduce twinkling arps supplied by STO and a Moog Mother 32. Rossum Electro-Music Trident and Plaits provide low and mid drones with a bit of 'zing' resonance from Trident Reverb is managed with Clouds and Mimeophon. To add/remove pings, I used mute switches from Muta Jovis. I have the option to play STO via Keystep keyboard and will do more of that as this track evolves. If I can do this right using resonance, some of the pings are arranged musically and sound like to-scale notes delivered by a sequencer. Clouds helps to round out sharp edges.

Lessons learned:

Lesson 1. Physical mute switches might send a "pop" downstream when toggled. Mimeophon will gobble them up and send a cascade of terrible repeats right to your face because, let's face it, you probably deserved it.

Lesson 2. Master resonance control between Trident and QPAS. Find balance between Trident 'zing' and QPAS 'Q' so that resonance doesn't overwhelm the high end.

Lesson 3. I'm reaching the limits of my mastering skills. Track where the high end is busy are difficult when it comes to removing ambient hiss or just-too-sharp elements. Low end needs more oomph and a cleaner drop off. I've just got to work towards mastering kung fu... mastering mastering kung fu.

Lesson 4. Rossum Electro-Music Trident is beautiful.That's the first word that comes to mind. I was afraid that it would be buzzy or metallic beyond my liking. It can be if told to be so. Otherwise, it's not. It's just so, so good. I'm only scratching the surface of this thing and will dedicate more time to finding out what it can do. I think that's precisely the feeling you want when you introduce any new module, but especially with an oscillator.

Anyhow, hope you enjoy the snippet of noise. I've decided to post each one of these evenings to YouTube so that maybe others can might glean useful bits from my experiments. Any feedback welcomed.


Two more thoughts after several listens.

  1. Delete the modulation path to Clouds 'Blend.' It drowns us in reverb. Less is more.
  2. The sharpest pings should be reigned in a bit. Expand patch to include attenuator. Solve quickly with Maths.

About that mastering issue...that's not what the problem sounds like. Instead, your description sounds a lot more like the result of a mediocre monitoring chain. And in electronic music, that's not good, given the potential range and sonic complexity synths can put out.

My suggestion would be, if you're planning to stay in this for the long haul, to invest in something serious for monitoring purposes. In my studio, I actually use three different monitor setups for different situations, all routed and controlled by a Presonus Central Station +. The "mains" are a vintage pair of Altec 3841s driven by a Crown D150A, and this is what gets used during tracking. Then for "check", I use a pair of TADs + an Alesis RA100 -- this is for seeing how mixes will sound on a "typical case" end-user system.

But in between is the key setup, which is what I use for both mixing and mastering: a pair of KRK 9000Bs (San Francisco-era...NOT the recent Gibson versions!) driven by a Crest FA601 (actual Brit unit...NOT a Peavey build!). And this wasn't cheap...but it's proven essential, since the 9000Bs are brutally honest, and that "real" Crest amp has the over-the-top slewing rates that allow for precise high frequency reproduction. This is the "critical" chain, where the real voodoo takes place, and without it, things would not work as smoothly as they do. Having utterly flat response and precise waveform replication is KEY to eliminating issues like you're mentioning, as well as avoiding nasty issues like "ear fatigue" from several hours of trying to work on inadequate monitors.

This might not sound like something that requires that level of attention, but believe me, it makes a huge difference...both in your own workflow AND in the final results.

Hi Mowse and Lugia,

Mowse: Wow, thank you very much sharing your lessons learnt on your Pinging filters! It's nice as well as very interesting!

Lugia: Thank you very much in sharing your experiences and view on the mastering stuff!

Kind regards, Garfield.

@Lugia I agree with your thoughts on monitoring and mastering. Right now, I'm working with a fairly limited setup and haven't invested the time to ramp up my skills and understanding in that area. Currently, I do mastering in Logic Pro X. That includes limiting, compression, EQ, stereo spread management, and normalization. For monitoring, I use Yamaha HS5's and Pioneer HDJ-X7's. The chain looks like: modular -> Scarlett audio device (input) -> laptop -> Logic Pro X. Output is through the Scarlett to monitors/headphones. I hear you about ear fatigue and also struggle with mastering for the typical case end listener. I've tried to master using 'neutral' monitors and headphones, but I'm lacking a good end result for the normal listener. It's an area where I'm looking to improve, for sure.

@GarfieldModular Thanks, glad you liked it. I hope to do more of these in hopes that others can get something out of them as I continue to learn.

AAAACK!!! Your first step needs to be to take those Yamahas out in the backyard and douse 'em with gas, then toss a match on them! Yamaha monitors are NOTORIOUS for being ear-fatigue monsters, plus they're not all that accurate. Studios DO use them...but they use them as "checks", not for the critical-listening functions. They're not at all neutral. Plus, since you only have a 5" woofer here, you're not hearing all of your low end, as it can't be accurately reproduced. Personally, I'm very much part of the "He-Man NS-10M Haters" club, and the HS5s are just an outgrowth of those.

I'm going to suggest spending some money here, but it's 100% worthwhile. First up, don't look at ANYTHING with a woofer smaller than 8". Electronic music can do massive bass...but if you can't hear what you're doing in that range, it's pointless. Second, you want biamplification and POWER; it might seem silly to have 100 watts of amplification sitting 4 feet in front of you, but you won't use all of those 100 watts. Instead, you want headroom...ample wattage so that, if there's a BIG transient, it can be reproduced accurately in the few milliseconds that the amps have to hit hard. Lastly, find a pro audio dealer, and take some time to audition monitors. If this requires travel, screw it and do it anyway. The monitors are your window on what you're doing, and if THEY suck, your own work will suck!

Now, holding a line at $600 apiece, here's some suggestions. I'm familiar with these to varying extents, and they should be more than adequate for your uses.

Focal Alpha 80
Presonus Eris E8XT or Scepter S8 (single-point source, like the older Tannoys!)
Adam T8V
KRK Rokit G8 or Rokit 10-3 G4 (this is a 3-way system, 10" woofer!)
Tannoy Gold 8

Use the Pioneers as your "checks", since they're weighted more for DJ work, which I'll bet is where you're aiming your music. But get those Yammys outta there. Yamaha makes some nice stuff...but their monitors ARE NOT part of that!

@Lugia Thank you for this awesome input. Funny you mention DJ work. Most of my audio gear prior to modular was geared towards live shows, spinning records at clubs in Boston. That was back in 1998-2003. It's time for me to dive deep again and apply some fundamental concepts to modular vs dj booth gear. I'm going to chew on what you've shared, including recommendations for more appropriate monitors, and do some homework. Much appreciated.

I keep coming back to this concept to think on it. What I'm going to do right off is to be more intentional about how I manage and separate sound within my modular. Mixing and levels, but also use of filters to control range and separation more effectively. I feel like I'm a being lazy here, especially allowing bass and mid-range sounds to run over everything else.

When I listen to some of my favorite synth artists on my current monitoring setup, their presentation is cleaner, crisper, and more polished than my own. I don't think I'm making the most of what is it front of me. I'll start there.


Update - Fixed a major source of noise when migrating from 3x140HP skiffs powered by uZeus power supplies and flying bus cables to an EP-420 with a very clean power supply. I will be replacing those monitors, but the case migration alone helped quite a bit.