Tag Archive for synth

MFB Dual ADSR review

MFB Berlin started with simples and cheap drum machines and the Synth-lite, a DCO based Moog Prodigy clone.
With the Eurorack explosion MFB started producing modules derived from their synths and drums.

The latest creations are the semimodular synth Kraftzwerkg and his brother Schlagzwerg, a semimodular drumcomputer.
MFB built this two semimodular using the modules they produce in eurorack.


First this module is not a classic ADSR but an AHDSR, in fact after the attack there is a HOLD!
The HOLD is really useful for “sequencer sounds”, you can turn every knob to 1 and just use the hold to control the duration of the sound.



It can be useful also for a smoother change between the attack and the decay curves to get a rounded tones.
The Dual Env is an EXPONENTIAL ENVELOPE, but has a switch wich let you decide if one of the two can act in LINEAR mode.
When the env act in linear mode even the hold changes its behaviour shaping the sound in a more “angular” way.

An interesting add tipical of MFB modules is the buss control, so you don’t have to connect the midi-to-cv interface to send the gate signals to the gate in socket in the envelope module, it uses the buss connection, and I find it really useful.
An other useful thing is that every env has 2 cv out, so if the patch is not too complex you don’t need a multiply module.

There’s no switch to choose a fast or slow behaviour as in the Doepfer Envelope, but the Dual env is really snappy and has a really fast attack time.

For synthetizing percussions and especially Kick drums this env is top!
It can get rounded kicks but also hard edge sounds.
Using the HOLD can lead to interesting results programming drum sounds.
With the hold we can create a “slightly compressed” kick with a fast decay, so the sound get fatter and the peak is less accentuated.

Programming bass sound it can result both smooth or percussive.
Using the linear mode for the filter env the result is a percussive “angular” bass , while using both exp the sound plays smoother.

All in all this module is quite cheap (98 euros in EU) , works really well and has its own carachter.
For me is  a really good buy!

MFB Synth Berlin

Elektron Monomachine review

The Monomachine is what I call THE unortodox synth concept in an alluminium box.

Elektron MonoMachine SFX60

Elektron MonoMachine SFX60

Everybody interested in innovative music machines  knows the philosophy of the Elektrons, an easy and intuitive approach to manipulation/creation of sounds and sequencing, multi synthesis to have a extremely versatile palette of sound at your fingertips, a really good support from tutorials to fresh new O.S. often released to get more power from your machine.

The Monomachhine is  structured as six digital monosynth with efx, arpeggiator and a 64 step sequencer track.
Every “monosynth” can be a synth , a efx processor or an audio in track (to process external signals).
So this box can generate, process and manipulate audio material all together in a really easy way.
Let’s get deeper into the machine…


Every track can use one of the machine:

  • GND (gnd/sine/noise generator)
  • SuperWave (kind of virtual analog machine)
  • DigiWave (wavetable synthesis and a drum machine 12bit sample based)
  • FM+ (kind of Frequency Modulation synthesis)
  • SID (emulation of the C64 synth chip used even in the Elektron Sidstation)
  • VO (vocal synth)
  • EFX (a processing machine for internal or external sounds)

You can build a kit with a different machine on every track , so you can have a very versatile  sonic palette of sound .
Every machine can do different things and even the oddest one (as the VO) can be really useful and amazing , when you use them with  creativity.
The thing to keep in mind with the Mono is that it’s not a standard synth, it’s a Monomomachine!
Machines , usually, have only ONE oscillator, and this can be considered a great limitation, but it isn’t so.
If you want the machine to make detuned trance leads  you have only to choose the Superwave SAW machine and turn up the unison and work with the detune and you will get a “supersaw” sound in few seconds…
If you’re searching for bells, the EFM machines are the best, choose the parallel and play with the knobs, you ‘ll get a bell sound as soon as you turn those knobs.

Considering the “Generator” part of the synth (oscillators machines) the MonoMachine is really versatile and easy but even a synth of its own kind, as for the other parts as filters, envelopes and modulations…

The filter section is composed by a really particular filter that act as a multimode.
You have:

  • Base freq
  • Width
  • Highpass Q
  • Lowpass Q
  • Base env amount (bofs)
  • Width env amount (wofs)
  • Attack
  • Decay

In use I can say that it can cut the low freq turning up the base freq(highpass),  cut the high freq turning down the width (lowpass), or can be a band pass using the base to chose the”freq” and the width choosing the  “band”.
All in all is a very versatile filter that sound “elektron”, not a moog o roland replica/emulation, but it’s really rounded and acid, when you turn up the Qs, but it can even select the frequencies in a clinical way just to shape a minimal sound.
The filter does not have an auto normalization/headroom, this can give it that carachter, if you want a clean resonance you ha to turn down the “volume” or “distortion”(headroom) in the AMP page.

The AMP page is where we have the amp and volume settings and the particular AHDR env.
The reason this particular env was chosen by Elektron is because the Monomachine was born as a sequencer based machine so, the holod can take advantage of the sequencer way of thinking.
Apart from HOLD the other things are quite standard, as volume, pan, portamento.
The only parameter that really shape the armonics of the sound is the DISTORTION, that is the headroom.
A higher distortion doesn’t “grunge” the sound or add noisy harmonics, but saturate the signal making higher harmonics less evident getting a darker sound.

The EFX page is one of my favorite in the MonoMachine, they are not the classic delay /reverb, but Sample Rate Reduction, a parametric EQ and a delay.
As everything can be automatized with the “parameter locks” (this is the name in elektrons  for the MOTION SEQ in the Korgs) you can have awesome results using parameter locks on SRR or delay parameters…

Last but not least  the LFOs.
Lfos  are the key to the monomachine together with the parameter locks, because there are 3 of them and everyone can modulate every parameter of the synth  generator.
Imagine a modulated delay with a oscillating SRR… amazing!

to be continued…
stay tuned!

personal modular synth

This is my first post and I want to start with something different from other “synth blogs”.
Going modular is really a new strange experience, and it’s hard to describe the reasons why someone choose to start with a modular synth.
It may be our fascination for old sci-fi movies, the old photos of electronic /concrete music studios or just the wish to have a different approach to music creation/production in a far more personal way than using the ever boring presets of modern synths.

My first approach with the “semi-modudular” synth was when I bought my Korg MS-10, a really cheap and powerful synth in the early 90’s (that I swapped for its bigger brother  MS-20).
After some years trying to get a real powerful semi-modular (ARP 2600 or a Roland System100) , I had a close encounter with an old Elektor Formant (that had to be restored..) and I decided to give it a try.

The Elektor is a DIY project developed in the late 70’s and it aimed to be the “moog for the masses” .
The structure was quite similar to the moog modular and even the sound was quite close.
I was astonished how good the synth sounded and he could not only be a “efx machine” in the EMS style, it could sound really musical.
The downside of the Elektor was that it was quite difficult to manage as a “straight synth” for leads and basses as tunung stability was not so good.
After some months I decided to sell it to get a more useful synth.

Roland System 100

Roland System 100

During the following years I got a Roland System100 (yeah!! my dream came true!!) and a Korg MS-50 to expand my Korg MS-20 so my modular needs were satisfied and after getting REAKTOR and the Clavia Nordmodular I didn’t think about getting a “real” modular anymore…

But with the new eurorack producers growing up with really interesting new modules I decided to get into the analog modular psychedelic trip again…

I started with a 2 row Doepfer LC case and a small amount of module to get the thing quite cheap and simple but at the same time quite versatile and powerful to enter the eurorack world.

Eurorack modular

My eurorack configuration is the following:

  • Doepfer A-190-2 (midi-cv interface)
  • MFB OSC-02 (triple vco)
  • Doepfer A138 (mixer)
  • Doepfer A-120(24dB lowpass filter)
  • Doepfer A-132-3 DVCA (Dual lin/exp VCA)
  • MFB Dual ADSR
  • Doepfer A-145 (lfo)


More or less it looks like a standard synth , but the modular capabilities make it really a powerful soundesign machine even if the modules are quite standard and not a wall of knobs.
I will examinate deeper module by module the whole system and I will post demos.
For now I can say it’s a good soundesign machine but even a really good “straight synth” that resambles quite well the carachter of the old japanese beasts like the Korg MS, Roland SH and Yamaha CS.
I did not want another moog clone…

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