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Modular and Beyond Since 2008



Full Systems? The most difficult part of getting started in modular is deciding on the module selection. The Euro-Serge comprises a large variety of different modules, and probably no one would ever have every single variety of module in a system. Noisebug has made the process of module selection easy by choosing a variety of wildly-interesting modules for each system. Each system is careful considered by our professional synthesists and guaranteed to deliver the absolute maximum versatility and enjoyability in all of your music and sound design endeavors.


East Coast - West Coast - Best Coast

The world of synthesizer systems can be broadly split in to two styles which have been named East Coast and West Coast. The difference between these systems basically boils down to how a 'sound' is created and manipulated. East Coast In the East Coast systems have a subtractive synthesis patch entirely oriented towards the filter. This is your classic VCO-VCF-VCA connection with ADSR type envelopes for the VCF and VCA. The envelopes generators typically have only a single output. The oscillators usually have very simple waveforms such as saw tooth and square wave. The filter is then used to produce the timbres. This patch makes sense for playing with a black and white type keyboard. It produces a limited but pleasing range of timbres and is easy to operate and understand. Modules in an East Coast system tend to be fairly rigid and defined so that, for example, an LFO is pretty much always just an LFO, perhaps getting up to audio rate, but generally having only a single function Manufacturers like Moog, ARP and Oberheim fall under the East Coast banner. Modules names tend to be descriptive of their function and so we see modules such as: VCO - Voltage Controlled Oscillator,  VCF - Voltage Controlled Filter,  VCA - Voltage Controlled Amplifier, and  ADSR - Envelope Generator (Attack Decay Sustain Release) each with a defined function and generally not much variation outside of that. West Coast In the West Coast systems there are 3 possible synthesis modes. Additive, non-linear wave shaping and dynamic depth FM are the primary synthesis modes. East Coast subtractive synthesis is typically not DIRECTLY supported. Good approximations of subtractive synthesis can be patched on the Serge with cascaded filters. These instruments are oriented towards controlling with a multiple output sequencer or multiple output complex envelope generator instead of a black and white keyboard. They produce a larger and more importantly, different set of timbres than the simpler East Coast instruments. The classic patch in a West Coast instrument involves two blocks. The first is a complex oscillator which supports both non-linear wave shaping and dynamic depth FM. The second signal processor is a Lowpass Gate or “frequency and amplitude domain processor”. The primary timbre generation is done directly with the oscillator, and the Lowpass Gate just tweaks the amplitude and frequency character. These two blocks are designed to be controlled by one complex envelope generator with multiple outputs routed to all the timbre factors. Manufacturers like Serge, Buchla and Wiard fall under the West Coast banner. Modules in West Coast systems are not automatically based on traditional (electronic) musical terminology - generalised electronic functional names are generally adopted where they provided better descriptions than electronic music parameters giving us modules such as: Positive Slew Generator,  Negative Slew Generator,  Wave Multiplier, and  Voltage Processor These modules can often be patched/configured for a variety of different functions. The Universal Slope Generator is a prime example as it can be configured as:

Voltage Controlled Envelope Generator,

Voltage Controlled Portamento,

Voltage Controlled LFO,

Voltage Controlled Oscillator,

Envelope Follower, 

Sub-Harmonic Generator


This is a somewhat simplified explanation to illustrate subtle points about the two systems. Actual usage involves a combination of both techniques. Notions of East and West Coast synthesis are rejected by some contemporary commentators on the basis that while they may have had truth in the late 1960s and early 1970s, most modern synthesizers can implement both approaches and achieve fairly complex timbres regardless of their format. This may be so, but it also misses an important point: that so many introductions to synthesis are focused on East Coast (i.e. subtractive) approaches that it surely risks masking the richness of the subject. West Coast can be educationally expedient, particularly in the way that they enable complex and evolving timbres to be created from only two or three building blocks. Best Coast Euro-Serge systems would also tend to be classified under the West Coast banner but with the move in to the world of the EuroSynth, the Euro-Serge can now be classified as Best Coast as it is now able to be combined with sonic sources from a wide range of eclectic modules. Best Coast can be educationally expedient, particularly in the way that they enable complex and evolving timbres to be created from only two or three building blocks 

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