Partial view of my “Kerberos” poly-synth system, which comprises an A6 Andromeda, an 8-voice Poly Evolver (w/Evolver Rack), a 24-voice JD-800 with ‘string card expansion.’ I thought of this layout after seeing a couple of Buchla systems a long while ago. Yeah, I have loooong arms.
Eurorack is for babies who can’t read manuals. Besides 1 eurorack 1-voice system vs. a 48-voice pallete from a fully interconnected, multi-timbral poly-synth system… It’s not even fair, is it?
the A6 boasts 16 voices of pure analog power
I use an audio patchbay and a virtual MIDI patchbay. Needless to say the A6 is the ‘master’ keyboard/controller in charge of the other two synths for notes and basic modulation, but the other two keybeds are available too if needed, which is sometimes useful, particularly when, say, sound-designing using only two synths and leaving one for riffs or solos on top.
The A6 and the Poly Evolver have individual outputs for every voice and their main outputs. They also have ‘external’ inputs. The JD-800 has 4 outputs. By using the patchbay and conscious level staging you can route anything to anything in terms of audio. On the A6 you can receive CV and turn it into plain MIDI. You also have 8 direct MIDI CC inputs routable to anything, plus your mandatory pedal, switch and sustain.
The A6 and the Poly Evolver have individual outputs for every voice
It is then easy to, for instance:
- start with a ‘negative’/’reversed’ saw waveshape in OSC1 in the A6, then add a tad of SUBOSC1 for subtle grit, keep overall level very low for now
- then mix in a silky basic string waveform from the JD-800 or some other cool digital waveform,
- modify to taste with the JD-800’s plethora of sliders…, then route the output of the JD-800 into A6, and then apply maybe a bit glorious A6’s analog distortion
- then apply your A6 choice of ladder or OB style filtering
- and envelopes and other modulation to taste (!)
- then you output this into the PEK for some hack effect plus 3 delay lines and further SEM filtering massacre
- finally we further improve the organic aspect of the sound by LFO’ing the shvt out the whole thing with the included 4 LFO’s in the PEK.
Well, that’s just 7 basic steps, but it sounds incredibly fvcking big compared to your typical eurorack or the 1 synth me-too moog kind of thing. The key skill here is to know how to set the IO staging at all times particularly on the envelopes, VCAs and OSCs, otherwise things get out of hand very easyly. Best practice is to use your mixer’s master fader if you ‘need’ a louder reference, than to, say, increase the oscillators’ volume at source. Just don’t do it unless you know why you need to do it. Some might argue that it seems complicated. Fvck, yes, it is. Thankfully, it is! It’s called AMBITION… lol
Nothing wrong at all with jelly and butter sounds, but you need to be more ambitious if aspiring to find new sonic textures. I think most synthesis techniques have been already explored to death individually, so now we need to come up with less obvious and more complex methods in order to find new sonic terrains to explore. Layering deliberate combinations of synths and synthesis methods is one such method. Given the number of possibilities and options for this method, it will take a while before we finish experimenting with it, hence the Kerberos Poly-Synth System.