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CV on Analog Four

If you got an Elektron Analog Four (or Analog Keys) and devices that can be operated via CV (control voltage) and Gate trigger connections, here’s how to do it, e.g. connect Moog Minitaur and Arturia MiniBrute to sequence, automate and processes them on Analog Four.

1. Connect a stereo ¼” (female) to CV Output A and B on Analog Four, and dual mono ¼” to Pitch CV (tip) and Gate (ring) of the Minitaur.
2. Connect Audio Out on Minitaur to Audio Input Left on Analog Four.
3. On Analog Four, select track Trk 1.
4. Select Osc 1 > IN L.
5. Pass all frequencies on 2-pole ladder filter: Filters > FRQ 127 and RES 0, and 2-pole multi mode filter: Filters > HP2 > FRQ 0 and RES 0.
6. Set the envelope on Amp > REL INF (if you don’t plan to use the Osc 2, sub oscillators or filter self-oscillation of the Analog Four).
7. Select track CV.
8. Set CV > CV A > TRK > TR1 and CV > CV B > TRK > TR1.
9. Select CV A configuration page, and set:

TYPE > PITCH V/oct
NOTE 1 > C 3
VOLTAGE 1 > 1.448 V
NOTE 2 > C 6
Voltage 1 > 4.634 V

10. Select CV B configuration page, and set:

TYPE > GATE
POLARITY > V-TRIG
LEVEL > 5.0 V

11. Connect a stereo ¼” (female) to CV Output C and D on Analog Four, and dual mono ¼” to Pitch (to VCO) (tip) and Gate In (ring) of the MiniBrute.
12. Connect Master Out on MiniBrute to Audio Input Right on Analog Four.
13. On Analog Four, select track Trk 2.
14. Select Osc 1 > IN R.
15. Pass all frequencies on 2-pole ladder filter: Filters > FRQ 127 and RES 0, and 2-pole multi mode filter: Filters > HP2 > FRQ 0 and RES 0.
16. Set the envelope on Amp > REL INF (if you don’t plan to use the Osc 2, sub oscillators or filter self-oscillation of the Analog Four).
17. Select track CV.
18. Set CV > CV C > TRK > TR2 and CV > CV D > TRK > TR2.
19. Select CV A configuration page, and set:

TYPE > PITCH V/oct
NOTE 1 > C 5
VOLTAGE 1 > 1.004 V
NOTE 2 > C 8
Voltage 1 > 4.004 V

20. Select CV D configuration page, and set:

TYPE > GATE
POLARITY > V-TRIG
LEVEL > 5.0 V

Set up the old king SH-101

If you got a Roland SH-101, the set it up like this:

1. Connect a stereo ¼” (female) to CV Output A and B on Analog Four, and dual mono ¼” to CV In (tip) and Gate In (ring) of the SH-101.
2. Connect Output on SH-101 to Audio Input Left on Analog Four.
3. On Analog Four, select track Trk 1.
4. Select Osc 1 > IN L.
5. Pass all frequencies on 2-pole ladder filter: Filters > FRQ 127 and RES 0, and 2-pole multi mode filter: Filters > HP2 > FRQ 0 and RES 0.
6. Set the envelope on Amp > REL INF (if you don’t plan to use the Osc 2, sub oscillators or filter self-oscillation of the Analog Four).
7. Select track CV.
8. Set CV > CV A > TRK > TR1 and CV > CV B > TRK > TR1.
9. Select CV A configuration page, and set:

TYPE > PITCH V/oct
NOTE 1 > C 3
VOLTAGE 1 > 0.986 V
NOTE 2 > C 6
Voltage 1 > 3.956 V

10. Select CV B configuration page, and set:

TYPE > GATE
POLARITY > V-TRIG
LEVEL > 5.0 V

Note that the voltage levels are roughly set. Also bear in mind that it seems that some split cables use left for tip and right for ring, while others directly contrary.

Tune Other Gear

If you got other gear, then connect a tuner to the audio output, select CV A configuration page and start with:

TYPE > PITCH V/oct
NOTE 1 > C 3
VOLTAGE 1 > 1.000 V
NOTE 2 > C 6
Voltage 1 > 4.000 V

Then just tweak the voltage settings – 1 V per octave in the mid range – according to the tuner, this usually works.

Lastly, don’t forget to check all four voices on the KIT > POLY CONFIG > VOICES to use Analog Four as an analog polysynth while using the two external sound sources of your choice.

P.S. I totally missed this, but this blog, Holy Bot, turns four years today, yay!

Hardware versus Software

Firstly, most listeners wouldn’t care if a piece of music was achieved using real analog gear or virtual analog emulations. And the quality and tone of different sound sources could be so similar that no-one could tell which one is which, at least not in the context of a finished track.

However, which synth is being used does matter for the musician, due to the sound is only one of many equally important factors for the operator.

Different instruments affect creatively and playability. And different purpose-built interfaces inspire different musical ideas and sound designs. For me, it’s just more fun with knobs and switches on a hardware synth. (Also there’s the resale value. Many hardware synths hold their value well, and vintage synths increase over time.)

Options to the Original

A real Roland Jupiter-8 possesses an unmatched tactility, but its sounds could be copied.

For example, Arturia has programmed a recreation of the synth, the Jup-8 V, and while it may sound quite like the original, softsynths by their nature have no physical controls (tweaking sounds and sweeping filters are being done with a mouse, keyborad or with a generic MIDI controller).

One could of course sample the original Jupiter-8, but samples are merely captured snapshots (even when using a round-robin algorithm) and samples may not convey all the nuances of playing the original instrument.

Roland’s own JP-08, a digital hardware synth with lots of controls and a dedicated set of processors that’s using Analog Circuit Behaviour technology to reproduce Jupiter-8’s sounds could be a third option in this case. Now this small device don’t deliver all the actual characteristics of the original hardware, but it has its own right and does step outside the in-the-box-environment.

Analog Hardware

Nowadays, many home and even professional studios are run with a digital setup, combining software and MIDI controllers. And as electronic instruments, there some are benefits of softsynths, like instant recall of settings when loading a project, and not occupying any physical space.

For a long time I used mainly used softsynths and a small MIDI controller, the Oxygen 8, and I was good with that. But I like unruly analog sounds, and analog synths with analog circuitry need to be hardware. While, in terms of digital synths, most things they do are technically feasible with comparable software.

Worth mentioning is that Arturia, that made a name for itself by making faithful software emulations of hardware vintage synths, has manufactured a few solid analog monosynths too since 2012.

What I don’t get is when a software company like Softube release a virtual modular plugin based on Doepfer’s Eurorack standard. The most obvious reason for these modular synths is tactility. The concept (already being done with Reaktor by Native Instruments) and sound of a modular system could of course be imitated, but the physical aspects just don’t translate. One of the main point here is manually signal routing on a physical, expandable and flexible modular grid.

Anyway, I think the sound of analog hardware per se can be comparable, if not equivalent, to software, but sound is not all when making music.

Analog Synth Filter Test

I’ve made a low-pass filter test of sorts. Very unscientific though.

I ran an old monosynth through three popular modern synths: Arturia MiniBrute, Moog Music Minitaur and Elektron Analog Four.

The sound source is the Roland SH-101 with both waveforms plus the sub-oscillator simultaneous triggered on C1. The gate signal controls the VCA, envelope and modulation are turned off, and key follow knob is set to 100%.

The audio signal is sent to the filter circuits of the different synths. The test pattern is defined as follows:

  1. A “clean” tone feeds into the filter for a few seconds, with frequency cutoff set to 100% and resonance at 0%.
  2. Manual filter cutoff sweep with resonance at 0%.
  3. Manual filter cutoff sweep with resonance at 50%.
  4. Manual filter cutoff sweep with resonance at 100%.

First off is the SH-101 internal 4-pole 24 dB per octave low-pass filter.

Next up is this unmodulated audio signal going into the MiniBrute and processed with the multimode Steiner-Parker filter, set to 12 dB per octave slope in low-pass.

On the higher resonance level, self-oscillation occurs and the volume peaks. (I had to put a limiter at -6 dB threshold to keep the volume at bay). The filter sweeps follow the same order as earlier.

The second external filter in this test is the Moog ladder filter (4-pole 24 dB per octave low-pass) of the Minitaur. Again the filter sweep follows the same order as above. The volume level drops noticeably on the higher resonance settings.

The last filter is the Analog Four’s ladder filter, another 4-pole 24 dB per octave low-pass.

The audio signal pass through the synth’s second filter unaffected (the 2-pole multimode filter is set to 12 dB per octave high-pass with minimum frequency and no resonance).

Maybe I’m doing something wrong here, because the audio signal seems to loose some decibels both in the treble and in the bass. Anyway, the flattest response is obtained when resonance is somewhere around 25, not 0.

On the last filter sweep, the resonance is set to 85 (out of 127), because the self-oscillation is going crazy over 85, and only the filter sounds. And the volume raises dramatically.

That’s the test for what it’s worth, I know the execution leaves a lot to be desired. The input level of the synths differ some, which makes a comparison hard. I should probably mention that the audio signal is running through a Mackie 1202VLZ4 mixer before being recorded using high-grade Cirrus Logic converters. This might have some affection and coloring on the signal.

https://api.soundcloud.com/tracks/216289044/stream?client_id=3cQaPshpEeLqMsNFAUw1Q?plead=please-dont-download-this-or-our-lawyers-wont-let-us-host-audio

Thought I’d finish this track, but I didn’t and I won’t.

It’s a half-baked attempt with some analog hardware (Moog Music Minitaur versus Arturia MiniBrute versus Gakken SX-150 Mark II) and sampled drums.

It’s less than a minute.

https://api.soundcloud.com/tracks/205880253/stream?client_id=3cQaPshpEeLqMsNFAUw1Q?plead=please-dont-download-this-or-our-lawyers-wont-let-us-host-audio

Some time ago I got an Arturia MiniBrute. Initially I was a bit perplexed by how the Steiner-Parker multimode filter worked. Anyway, here’s a short demo made of 100 percent Brute sounds (some external effects are added though).

All drum sounds – programmed in some kind of UK garage fashion – are designed on the synth, often utilizing the Brute Factor.

The rest is merely a single setting, multitracked as four-voice polyphonic. The lead is rich of harmonics with mixed waveforms and a bit of the signature Ultrasaw and Metalizer wave shaper.

P.S. If you’re interested, there are more demos of soloed synths like this at Synth Farm, https://www.facebook.com/groups/synthfarm/.

Seq / Arp

Another post about the mighty MiniBrute. Here’s a tip how to hack the arpeggiator to act as the sequencer like on the newer SE model.

Just send the SysEx command: F0 00 20 6B 04 01 75 01 3E 01 F7  to your MiniBrute to enable the sequencer. And if you what the arp back, or if you have a SE version, then send F0 00 20 6B 04 01 46 01 3E 00 F7.

This information was published on one of the developer Yves Usson’s personal sites. You may also wanna visit for more information about how you can send SysEx et cetera.

Speaking of the MiniBrute. Right now I’m in the beginner’s phase, that is, messing around and making lots of noise, but not any songs. I experiment and come up with many sounds that are good enough, but there’s no saving patches on the MiniBrute. (I could take pictures of the knob settings, but I know I would never look at them.)

So it’s a different approach and workflow from what I’m used to, it’s more about improvising and jamming. Now I need to find a way to capture ideas and process them into compositions. I guess it has to do with some kind of multitracking. 

Anyway, it’s fun and I’ve hooked up the MiniBrute to my volcas (sample, bass and keys). The whole band is playing, I don’t even have to start any DAW.

P.S. About the image, well I had no printer at home, just my mad skillz.

Et tu, Brute?

image

So I finally got an Arturia MiniBrute Mk I today. (I actually got both the MiniBrute and the MicroBrute for what it’s worth, but I’ll return the latter to the store tomorrow.)

It wasn’t easy to decide which one to pick, the Micro, the Mini or any of the SEs. But I looked around, checked Gearslutz, reddit and other forums and came to the conclusion that the MiniBrute seems to be the best choice, at least for me. Perhaps the SE would fit better – because I’d rather have a sequencer than an arpeggiator, but when it all comes down, I need neither of them.

The Micro

While I prefer the size of the MicroBrute, I think the MiniBrute feels sturdier, more heavy duty. The keys are nice, but I don’t mind mini-keys, and I really don’t need another full-size keybed portion (I’m obviously not in the target group for this synth).

Other advantage the MicroBrute might have over the MiniBrute – besides the price – is the patch bay. Although you’re able to do most things on the MiniBrute with its extra encoders; except CV Out LFO and envelope and such, but I don’t have, and I’m not planning to get, any modular system.) Actually, I think the MiniBrute has more modulation options and flexibility than the MicroBrute.

Okay, the overtone control that allows pitch changing and that could be modulated via the mod matrix, would of course be nice. But I’m good with the sub oscillator of the MiniBrute – and it does cover another octave and offer both sinus and square wave.

The Mini

So the reasons to choose MiniBrute wasn’t the semi-weighted keyboard with aftertouch. No, what appealed to me were: separate ADSR envelopes for filter and amplification, an extra filter type (notch), white noise, three additional LFO waveforms, an extra LFO and maybe MIDI Out. I think these things make the MiniBrute a greater, and more versatile synth.

I chose a Brute synth from Arturia because I’ve heard that they have a distinctive voice and filter character, and this purchase was supposed to complement my other gear. Also, I wanted an analog synthesis that couldn’t be found anywhere digital roams.

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