I DREAM OF WIRES, 28.7.2015, Kino Babylon Mitte, Berlin/Germany

Everyone involved in synth driven music , from electronic to rock, from alternative to experimental, was definitely fascinated by the strange early days electronic instruments: the first modular synthetizers.
Modulars had their golden age during the late 60’s thru the 70’s with experimental and electronic music and with progressive rock and the first new wave.
In the 80’s digital compact synths became the fashion trend and the old analog gear got immediately obsolete.
During the 90’s the interest in old analog synths started to grow and Dieter Doepfer was the first who decided that a new analog modular system had to be born again!
The new modular standard “Eurorack” was born with Doepfer and a couple more manufacturers at first, but then the eurorack market became full of new brands and ever growing.
Today is difficult to know every module in the modular market as it’s full of new units day by day.
I Dream Of Wires” is THE documentary about the modular world, the rise, fall and rebirth of the modular synthetizer!

I Dream Of Wires Trailer from Monoduo Films on Vimeo.

On Tuesday July 28, I DREAM OF WIRES will celebrate it’s release premiere in Berlin, followed by a live performance by the legendary Morton Subotnick. Taking place at Babylon Kino Berlin, Morton Subotnick, accompanied by his frequent collaborator, video artist Lillevan, presents FROM SILVER APPLES OF THE MOON TO A SKY OF CLOUDLESS SULFUR REVISITED: VI, marking Subotnick’s first live appearance in Germany since 2011.

Morton Subotnick’s contributions to electronic music cannot be overstated; as a founding member of the seminal San Francisco Tape Music Center, Subotnick played a key role in the conception and development of the influential Buchla modular synthesizer. Armed with his Buchla, Subotnick composed and recorded the landmark 1967 LP, SILVER APPLES OF THE MOON, widely regarded as a modern classic, and the first all-electronic music album to connect with popular music audiences. In 2010 SILVER APPLES was selected for the National Recording Registry of the Library of Congress. Long considered one of the essential milestones in electronic music, it continues to have great effect on later generations of artists.

Subotnick’s interview in I DREAM OF WIRES, alongside interviews with influential electronic musicians including Trent Reznor, Gary Numan, Carl Craig, James Holden and Vince Clarke, is pivotal in the film, and provides a revealing insight into this true electronic music visionary.

The film will be introduced by I DREAM OF WIRES’ director Robert Fantinatto, who will also join Morton Subotnick for a post-screening Q&A. This July 28 event is more than just a celebration of the modular synthesizer; it’s a rare opportunity to learn and experience the historical roots of electronic music.

I Dream Of Wires is an independent documentary about the history, demise and resurgence of the modular synthesizer – exploring the dreams and obsessions of people who have dedicated part of their lives to this fascinating, esoteric electronic music machine. Over 100 inventors, musicians and enthusiasts are interviewed about their relationship with the modular synthesizer – for many, it’s an all-consuming passion.

Beginning with an historical primer, I Dream Of Wires explores the early development of modular synthesizers in the 1960s, from pioneering companies R.A.Moog Co and Buchla and Associates. We speak to early adopters of the modular synthesizer, forward-thinking musicians like Morton SubotnickHerb DeutschRamon Sender and Bernie Krause. These musicians offer insight into the modular synthesizer’s conception, providing an outline of Robert Moog‘s “East Coast,” and Don Buchla‘s “West Coast” synthesizer design philosophies, two radically different schools of thought on how musicians would interact with electronic music instruments. The groundwork laid by Moog and Buchla continues to inform the way electronic instruments are designed, and used by musicians, to this day.

Legendary and influential electronic musicians and producers like Gary NumanChris Carter (Throbbing Gristle), Daniel Miller and Flood discuss the modular synthesizer’s 1970s heyday, through to its near-extinction in the 1980s. From there, we trace the phenomenal resurgence of the modular synthesizer. Established musicians such as Trent Reznor (Nine Inch Nails), Carl CraigCevin Key (Skinny Puppy), and Vince Clarke (Erasure) show off their systems and explain why they opt to use this volatile but ultimately rewarding technology. Meanwhile, a new generation of dance and electronica artists including James HoldenJimmy EdgarRichard Devine and Clark explain why they’ve stepped away from laptops to embrace the sound and physicality of modular synthesizers. Innovative companies like ModcanDoepfer, and Synthesis Technology, driven by a desire to revive modular synthesizers, discuss how they planted the seeds that have now grown into a major cottage industry, represented by contemporary manufacturers including Make NoiseIntellijelThe HarvestmanMetasonix, and Verbos Electronics.

Through tracing the history of the modular synthesizer, I Dream Of Wires also outlines the history of electronic music as a whole, from its very beginnings at the dawn of the electric age. The film provides a fascinating look at how technology has shaped the electronic music landscape; from the giant, “unobtanium” analogue machines of the ’60s, to portable synthesizers and preset digital keyboards… from software synthesizers running on computers and smart-phones, to today’s potpourri of vintage and cutting-edge technologies. Today, the modular synthesizer is no longer an esoteric curiosity or even a mere music instrument – it is an essential tool for radical new sounds and a bona fide subculture.

Morton Subotnick EJ3_6637-300dpi

Morton Subotnick is one of the pioneers in the development of electronic music and an innovator in works involving instruments and other media, including interactive computer music systems. The work which brought Subotnick celebrity was Silver Apples of the moon [1966-7], was commissioned by Nonesuch Records, marking the first time an original large-scale composition had been created specifically for the disc medium – a conscious acknowledgment that the home stereo system constituted a present-day form of chamber music. It has become a modern classic and was recently entered into the National Register of Recorded Works at the Library of Congress. Only 300 recordings throughout the entire history of recorded music have been chosen.

He is also pioneering works to offer musical creative tools to young children. He is the author of a series of CD-RoMs for children, a children’s website [] and developing a program for classroom and afgter school programs that will soon become available internationally.

He tours extensively throughout the U.S. and Europe as a lecturer and composer/performer.



Official Website I Dream of Wires

Official Website Morton Subotnick

Website Monoduo Films:

Facebook I Dream of Wires:


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Event Details

Babylon Kino

Rosa-Luxemburg-Strasse 30,

10178 Berlin

28.07.2015 | 8PM

20€ Presales

25€ At the Door

+10€ w/DVD


Tickets Available:


Babylon Kino:

Korg Little bits

korg little bits

“The new Synth Kit includes an assortment of 12 electronic Bits modules that instantly snap together with magnets to create circuits like those used in KORG’s famous analog synthesizers. Modules included in the Synth Kit are power, oscillator (x2), filter, envelope, delay, keyboard, micro sequencer, mix, split, random, and synth speaker.” – Korg

more info : korg usa

Roland JD-990 review

Today the interest is focused on ground-breaking  technology or in knob laden keyboards, but what about the sound??

The Roland JD-800 was in the early ’90s the first synth with user interface full of sliders and buttons , in its way it is the predecessor of what came after it until todays…

the heart of the JD is a “sample & synthesis” generator, a 4 layer for patch synth with wave oscilators, multimode filters andextensive modulations and effects.
The JD800 was the D-50 done right!
Compared to the D-50 the jd lost the wave-synthesis (a sort of fm generator that emulates the analog generation of saw and square waves) but gained a lot of features , first of all the beautiful programming interface.
A year later Roland came out with their flagship JD in rack version, the JD-990!

The JD990 is based heavily on the JD-800 but has some intersting adds.
At first we could think that loosing the big programming interface will lead the JD990 to become the classic “sound-module” to be used with presets… but this is wrong!
The JD990 has in its way a wonderful and clear programming interface, a big LCD display that shows every parameter in a graphic way in order to make programming easy.
Together with the good display Roland addeed the ability to load expansion cards from the Roland  JV serie, the SR-JV, that could improve the waveform palette, as type and number of waves but also with full quality.

The structure is the same of the JD-800: every Patch is composed of 4 layer, every layer has 1 wave generator, a multimode filter, 2 LFO, 3 ENV (1 for pitch, 1 for the filter and 1 for the AMP).
Every patch has the ability to configure the 4 layer in different chains/”structures”, in order to create more complex sounds and simple FM synthesis called FXM.
At the and of the patch chain we have a multieffects processor with modulation effects and ambient effects.

Speaking in terms of sounds , the JD-990 can produce a really vast range of sounds, from classic “analog- like” sound to complex evolving textures.
But the most important aspect is the “sound” itself.
The JD-990 is claimed to be the best sounding digital synth Roland produced till today.
It uses really hi-quality DAC , 44.1 KHz audio playback , against the 37KHz of the JV serie.
The really good audio converters and the warm sounding filters made this synth a classic!

With the ability to load SR-JV80 expansions the JD990 can be not just the box with its factory waves but can be expanded with many type of sound expansions from classic or acustic intruments to electronic o etchnic instruments.
As the JD is a master of pads and textured sounds , using the expansions can lead to interesting experimentation as layering strange asian sounds with electronic backgrounds.

The main carachter of the sound engine is however given by the “warm” dac , that tend to sound really “hi-fi” with a great definition on high frequencies and a tight but extended low-end.
Compared to the JV-1080 / 2080 the jd sounds smoother and rounder, while the jv is more edgy on high frequencies and more “loudness” but with less definition.
The result is a warmer and clearer sound.

Waldorf Microwave 1 vs Microwave 2

Waldorf  Microwaves are top wavetable synthetizers, they are the direct descendents of the awesome PPG WAVE.

Analizing the two models (assuming that the XT is an enhanced version of the 2, but it sounds the same) the most important difference is the fact that the Microwave 1 is a hybrid synth with digital oscillators with VCF and VCA (so an analog 24dB lowpass filter for each voice and a vca) while the Microwave 2 is a fully digital DSP synth.

The differences are evident, the microwave 1 has a more organic and warm sound, sound heavier in the mix and is darker, the microwave 2 is more versatile as the synth has multimode filters, a cleaner sound and a lot more functions, but it sounds colder.
One thing to notice is the envelope clicking.
Both the 1 & 2 have env clicking, but while the 2 can be prevented from clicking with a well programmed env curve, on the mw1 the attack clicks, so this noisy attack cannot be avoided.
here is a demo comparison from Retrosound youtube channel:

Video not available

DSI Mopho Review

The Mopho , by Dave Smith  , is a little yellow box with a very powerful synth inside.
As you can read on the manual , the Mopho is a MOnoPHOnic synth with a full analog audio path, this is the main difference with the other DSI monosynth, the Evolver.

The Mopho was born as a single voice from the Prophet 08, with added sub oscillators.
The carachter and presence of the synth is the same of the big brother but the Mopho has a plus , a more powerful bass because of the suboscillators.
The synth structure is simple: 2 DCO with subs(1 oct down, 2 oct down) , the classic DSI Prophet Curtis lowpass filter with 12/24 dB slope 3 LFO, 3 ENV with delay.
There are no effects , but the synth has the Feedback to sound more raw and aggressive.
Another interesting function is the Filter Audio Mod, in simple words dco1 can modulate the filter frequency creating FM sounds, very interesting when the filter is near to self oscillation.

As all the other DSI synth the Mopho has a 4 track motion sequencer that can control every parameter you want, in order to create, sequenced phrases, evolving textures or powerful rhythms.

The last interesting thing is the Audio in to process external sources thru the synth engine.

The mopho has  a different layout from the other DSI products, it has ten knobs with 5 of them assigned to classic controls as pitch, filter cutoff, resonance, attack and decay/release (useful for a realtime tweaking without getting into menu)  and 4 are “assignable parameters”.

The editing on the machine isn’t super fast as you have to scroll the menu, but if you get into it , it can be quite easy, however using the free editor making a patch is really fast and simple.

The strenghts of the mopho are the powerful sound, the 100% analog timbre that reminds the Sequential Circuits Pro-One , the realtime controls and the dimensions, and not to forget the Price!
The down side is the editing on the machine that can be overlooked by the ones who like software editing or who use an external controller/programmer.

The Mopho is a good machine for those who are looking for powerful analog monophonic sounds for classic tasks as bass or leads but is also a good machine for who is working on more experimental sounds thanks to the motion sequencer and modulation capabilities as the fm filter mod.

Yamaha PSS 390 mini synth demo

Video not available

The Yamaha PSS 390 is the “toy keyboard” claimed to have the better and best sounding FM synth engine in the toy range.
It has 100 tones that can be widely modified with the tone controls, instead of button +/- it features sliders to edit the synth parameters.
The only lack is the midi control that however  can be added by retrofit.
It can be seen in action in the videos of the band “the Apparat Organ Quartet”.

my eurorack modular synth evolutions…

Just to keep you tuned about my eurorack modular system, this is my actual configuration:

  • Cwejman VCO2RM
  • MFB OSC 02 Triple VCO
  • Doepfer A138 mixer
  • Analogue Solutions SY02 Multimode filter
  • Doepfer A120 lowpass filter
  • STG Soundlabs “Post-lawsuit” LPF
  • Doepfer A145 LFO
  • Livewire Vulcan Modulator
  • PlanB Model 10 Polyphonic Envelope
  • MFB Dual ADSR
  • Doepfer A132-3 dual VCA
  • Analog Systems RS500E EMS Synthi filter


Studio Electronics SE1 vs ATC1

Usually people look at the  ATC-1 as a stripped down SE-1 , in fact looking at the specs the SE1 seems a top featured synth with 3 VCO, 2 filters , 4 envelopes, 3 lfo, ringmod, noise etc… while ATC-1 with its 2 VCO, 3 ENV , 2 LFO and a coloured push-membrane panel with one only knob does not look handy and full featured as its brother.
Comparing the two Studio Electronics side by side let’s get a totally different opinion.

Studio Electronics SE-1

The first thing to notice is the different “sound”, while the SE1 has a kind of boomin’ majesty the ATC1 sounds really snappy and more aggressive with a more “vintage” feel.
The VCOs  have different carachters, in the SE1 are regular and full of harmonics on the bass range, the ATC1 VCOs are more angular and grittier on the high frequencies.

Talking about the filters, testing both the SE1 and ATC1 with the MOOG FILTER, the SE-1 has a boomin’rounder sound, very powerful in the sub range, the ATC-1 has a more punchy percussive behaviour and a slightly bigger  response in the frequency cut off min-max gap, like if the filter could reach higher frequencies/ get more open.


The ENVELOPE section is the part that more influences the sound together with the VCA.
The SE-1 has booming env , not really fast but really effective to get the presence and power on the bass frequencies range for basses and percussions and to get the smooth leads that are a part of the carachter of this synth.
The VCA on the SE1 is really warm and smooth, resulting in a really dinamic but always warm and clean sound.
On the ATC-1 the ENVELOPEs are really snappy and fast, and make the synth really percussive sounding, with an awesome power on punchy basses, not as deep as the SE1, but really kicking.
The ATC1 VCA is more raw and vintage sounding, it’s less smooth than the SE-1 but it results in some way more organic and alive.


The big difference in the synthetizing capabilities is the CROSS-MOD present on the ATC-1 and absent on the SE-1.
This particular function that let the vco2 modulate the vco1 and/or the filter cutoff frequency let shine the ATC-1 in modular-type sounds, and is the main reason that make us understand that the ATC-1 is not the little brother of the SE1 but a totally weird machine with a target towards classic analog sounds but also for experimental stuff, while the SE1 is more on the classic and “safe” side of monophonic type of sounds.


I don’t mean that the SE1 is a machine good only for simple sounds like basses or leads, it can get on experimental sounds too, but the cross mod on the ATC1 is far more effective and open to experimental sound creation.

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