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Advantages of true modular over mod matrix?

VST, AU, etc. plug-in Virtual Instruments discussion

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urlwolf
KVRist
 
225 posts since 23 Dec, 2002

Postby urlwolf; Sun Mar 16, 2014 12:44 am Advantages of true modular over mod matrix?

Sorry if this is obvious, but...
What are the advantages of a true modular over a mod matrix? If the mod matrix is well implemented and you can route anything to anything, they are equivalent?
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aciddose
KVRAF
 
9062 posts since 7 Dec, 2004, from Vancouver, Canada

Postby aciddose; Sun Mar 16, 2014 12:52 am Re: Advantages of true modular over mod matrix?

A modular allows you to build the synthesizer from modules. They're completely different.

A matrix or any signal routing ability between fixed modules is not at all the same.

If you were able to select modules even if you had a fixed number (say, 16) then the synthesizer would be modular regardless of the format of the GUI.

For example my synthesizer Xhip is not modular. Xhip 2 (unreleased) is modular. They both have exactly the same modules and both have a full mod-matrix, but neither of them allow configuration of either by the user at this point.

The only difference is that internally, Xhip is made up of a fixed set of modules allocated in a fixed structure, while Xhip 2 is made up of completely dynamic modules allocated in a list. It could be dynamic, but it need not be to technically count as modular.

Synthesizers without a fully fixed signal path (mod matrix, with some connections only possible via the matrix) and fixed modules are considered "semi-modular", such as the MS-20. For example you can not route pink noise without using the matrix and this section of this module (the noise generator / pink filter) is fixed, built directly in with the rest of the synthesizer although left normally unconnected.

Typically a semi-modular due to having fixed modules has "normalized" connections between the modules. For example the oscillators pass into a mixer, into a filter, into the amplifier. The LFO and envelopes are routed to amplitude, pitch, cutoff. The keyboard/input CV and gate are connected where they need to go and so on. Beyond that however it is possible to take the oscillators out before the filter, or insert additional signals into the mixer, or use an external LFO to modulate cutoff and so on.
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whyterabbyt
Beware the Quoth
 
21475 posts since 3 Sep, 2001, from R'lyeh Oceanic Amusement Park and Funfair

Postby whyterabbyt; Sun Mar 16, 2014 1:54 am Re: Advantages of true modular over mod matrix?

urlwolf wrote:Sorry if this is obvious, but...
What are the advantages of a true modular over a mod matrix? If the mod matrix is well implemented and you can route anything to anything, they are equivalent?


A mod matrix routes modulation sources to parameters. Its part of the architecture. That's all. It doesn't have any impact on the rest of the architecture of the synth, ie the blocks generating the signal and processing it, and the signal path between them, what modulators exist, and where they can be routed.

A true modular synth is one where you can completely define which blocks are used, and where, and the signal path between them, and the modulators, and the modulation routing.

There are semi modular synths out there where the set of blocks are fixed, but you can still define the signal path between them, and define the modulation routing. And some of them have a matrix for making the connections between the blocks, but that's usually not a mod matrix, its a signal matrix.
To laymen, software development is something akin to wizardry. Neither time, nor effort are involved. If software is missing features they want, or has bugs, it is solely because someone has been too lazy to wave their magic wand.
mystran
KVRAF
 
4186 posts since 11 Feb, 2006, from Helsinki, Finland

Postby mystran; Sun Mar 16, 2014 7:22 am Re: Advantages of true modular over mod matrix?

Modulation matrices usually deal with mostly control signals, while IMHO the most important defining characteristic of a modular is that there is no true distinction between CV and audio; within the bandwidth limitations of the individual modules, you can patch pretty much anything pretty much anywhere and in analog modular setups that generally includes any external gear as well, as long as you can get signal levels to agree.
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V-GER
KVRian
 
584 posts since 2 Oct, 2011

Postby V-GER; Sun Mar 16, 2014 8:05 am Re: Advantages of true modular over mod matrix?

Also in what I consider truly modular software you can set up your own feedback paths. With control signals and modulation signals being interchangable you could for instance use a mixer before a filter module, route the output of the filter into a distortion module, the distortion into a frequency shifter where an LFO frequency shifts the distorted signal and route the output of that again into a comb filter. Route the comb filter into another slot on the mixer that goes into the filter, adjust the level to get the degree of feedback you'd like and set up some modulation of all involved modules. You can't do that what any modulation matrix I've seen! (and you probably never will because than they'd have to call it something else, like just "matrix" instead of "modulation matrix" and it'd be a nightmare to keep track of what you've done later on compared to the nice visual overview in most modulars)

If you want to modulate the frequency of a filter with an audio signal (for instance an oscillator) you can route that audio signal into a module or five to shape it in various ways first.

What you may usually think of as modulation signals can be used as sound sources, can be great for percussive and/or experimental sounds. Or just some processoriented exploring should you feel like it, though it seems some people here would have put a ban on any processoriented activites related to anything that could be considered musical instruments if they could. Keep on tweaking in the free world say I! :razz:

You can set up parallell signal paths, and try out what happens if you invert one of them and add them together so you in theory should be left with the difference between them if you've kept away from timebased effects (no combfilters and delay modules).

Also you won't run out of slots in the darn modulation matrix, and in software like Vaz Modular and Sonigen Modular you can just add more modules if you'd like an extra LFO somewhere (though available computing power sets a limit somewhere). Some modular software imposes an upper limit on the number of modules.

Sorry this got so long, got carried away... :oops: :hyper:
"Well, I haven't tried anything yet. I need to research solutions
first."
pdxindy
KVRAF
 
8870 posts since 2 Feb, 2005, from in the wilds

Postby pdxindy; Sun Mar 16, 2014 9:37 am Re: Advantages of true modular over mod matrix?

mystran wrote:Modulation matrices usually deal with mostly control signals, while IMHO the most important defining characteristic of a modular is that there is no true distinction between CV and audio


+1
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Tricky-Loops
KVRAF
 
8290 posts since 12 Mar, 2012, from South Bavaria - near the alps... :-)

Postby Tricky-Loops; Sun Mar 16, 2014 9:48 am Re: Advantages of true modular over mod matrix?

A synth with modulation matrix is a modular synth in chains... :P
V0RT3X
KVRAF
 
4326 posts since 3 Jul, 2012

Postby V0RT3X; Sun Mar 16, 2014 9:55 am Re: Advantages of true modular over mod matrix?

Modular synthesizers all the way.
Best Advice I ever got : "Having the best tools and technical knowledge isn't gonna do much for you if you don't understand how to make good music."
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fluffy_little_something
KVRAF
 
3679 posts since 5 Jun, 2012

Postby fluffy_little_something; Sun Mar 16, 2014 10:26 am Re: Advantages of true modular over mod matrix?

Modular synths are better for more experimental synth freaks and maybe even future synth developers than for regular musicians. In most cases a good, regular non-modular synth will do, especially if it has a modulation matrix.

I used to play around with Mulab's integrated modular synth (which was later released as the Mux plugin). But after a while I noticed I was wasting my time as building a standard synth from individual modules took me longer than using a regular synth right away. And since my sound needs were not experimental or extreme, the sound difference was not different enough to warrant that time and effort.
V0RT3X
KVRAF
 
4326 posts since 3 Jul, 2012

Postby V0RT3X; Sun Mar 16, 2014 10:45 am Re: Advantages of true modular over mod matrix?

Honestly it depends on what your going to do. If you want to focus on music production more than sound design then get a standard synth with patch recall and a mod matrix.

later when you need a synth for more complex sound design get a modular! The idea behind a true modular is that you can design the system how you see fit.

They might not be as flexible as a system with patch recall, but modular allows for way more flexibility in terms of the sheer amount of possibilities.

I'm not really attracted to true modulars because I'm a synth freak, but more for the possibilities that you can do with one.
Best Advice I ever got : "Having the best tools and technical knowledge isn't gonna do much for you if you don't understand how to make good music."
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fluffy_little_something
KVRAF
 
3679 posts since 5 Jun, 2012

Postby fluffy_little_something; Sun Mar 16, 2014 10:55 am Re: Advantages of true modular over mod matrix?

V0RT3X wrote:Honestly it depends on what your going to do. If you want to focus on music production more than sound design then get a standard synth with patch recall and a mod matrix.

later when you need a synth for more complex sound design get a modular! The idea behind a true modular is that you can design the system how you see fit.

They might not be as flexible as a system with patch recall, but modular allows for way more flexibility in terms of the sheer amount of possibilities.

I'm not really attracted to true modulars because I'm a synth freak, but more for the possibilities that you can do with one.



That "later" will likely never ever come with most regular synth players. And the better regular synths become, the less reason there is to go modular.

Isn't the fact that you feel like you need those extended modular possibilities an indication that you actually ARE a synth freak? :wink:
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Tricky-Loops
KVRAF
 
8290 posts since 12 Mar, 2012, from South Bavaria - near the alps... :-)

Postby Tricky-Loops; Sun Mar 16, 2014 11:03 am Re: Advantages of true modular over mod matrix?

fluffy_little_something wrote:I used to play around with Mulab's integrated modular synth (which was later released as the Mux plugin). But after a while I noticed I was wasting my time as building a standard synth from individual modules took me longer than using a regular synth right away. And since my sound needs were not experimental or extreme, the sound difference was not different enough to warrant that time and effort.
That's indeed always the question I'm asking myself: Do I waste my time? Should I rather make some pop songs than experimenting with all these new crazy sound design possibilities?

The possibilities are nearly endless nowadays, you can design every sound you want, you can imitate everything. It's just a question of time. You can try months (or even years) to program a perfect trumpet sound with a brass synth patch, MIDI programming, breath controller and effects or you can just use a few good samples to make a song in a few weeks...

You could use your whole time to program the craziest MUX patches without making any song for decades... :o

Anyway, what isn't "wasting time"? Every hobby is some kind of "wasting time", no matter if you're painting, programming a synth, singing, building a stone garden, playing guitar or fiddling around with modular synths. At least it's something active, not passive like watching DVDs...
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aciddose
KVRAF
 
9062 posts since 7 Dec, 2004, from Vancouver, Canada

Postby aciddose; Sun Mar 16, 2014 11:09 am Re: Advantages of true modular over mod matrix?

Tricky-Loops wrote:A synth with modulation matrix is a modular synth in chains... :P


How so? The only difference is you can't change the modules easily. I actually have mine wired with normalized connections and only rarely use patch cables, where upon regular use I typically normalize that connection or add a switch or whatever.

Means I only need a dozen cables to make most of the patches I could ever envision which is a huge time saver.

In addition, the majority of the patches I do make are purely for modulation sources, not audio-as-modulation and not audio. So in that respect except in edge cases, a synthesizer with a mod matrix fully replaces a modular.

Of course I do replace the modules and make adjustments and modifications in both hardware and software versions of this because I'm the designer/programmer, I can do anything I like. This is why I became the designer/programmer in the first place ;)
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fluffy_little_something
KVRAF
 
3679 posts since 5 Jun, 2012

Postby fluffy_little_something; Sun Mar 16, 2014 11:31 am Re: Advantages of true modular over mod matrix?

What exactly does a modular synth offer that a hardwired one does not? For instance, you still need to stick to the logical order of modules. There is no point in putting the filter before the oscillator if I am not mistaken :hihi: You still need your oscillators, filters, envelopes, LFO's etc.
In the past maybe adding many more oscillators than the usual 2 made sense, but nowadays many plugins have unison, layering and what not so you can make the sound fatter and more complex.
So at the end of the day, modular mostly does mean more modulation paths. And that is where an extensive modulation matrix comes in handy.
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vurt
addled muppet weed
 
33749 posts since 25 Jan, 2003, from through the looking glass

Postby vurt; Sun Mar 16, 2014 11:34 am Re: Advantages of true modular over mod matrix?

fluffy_little_something wrote:What exactly does a modular synth offer that a hardwired one does not?


choices.
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