EURORACK vs BUCHLA vs SERGE question

and with bananas you can quickly tap the contact in and out, rhythmically too. so just by shaking your hand you can do some crazy stuff.
when you have tabletop banana stuff you can also use cables that are 2mm on one end and firm 4mm on the other end. put both ends in some banana holes and then shake the cables to jitter the conatcts on the 2mm end.

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In any case, regardless of the comfort of use of the banana cables, I am more interested in the ability to have a “complete” instrument and not have the feeling of having a patched system, although this also has advantages. Listening to some of the written comments, the real doubts I have are whether to invest in a new system like EASEL, or to follow the Eurorack line and buy a complete system, for example, VERBOS. The big problem with Buchla instruments is that there are not many possibilities to play or experiment with one before making the jump. I will try to see if in Schneidersladen they have a chance to have one to play.

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Yes, the Verbos + Mannequins + ER301 combo is magical. I recently added a couple of RandomSource eurorack modules to the list and I am really happy with them.

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in that case, I would still go with an easel or plumbutter over euro. the biggest pro of euro is also its biggest weakness - a crippling amount of options. even if you go with a one manufacturer system, they will still release new products every year and you’ll be thinking about this or that change. that really takes away from the ‘complete’ instrument feel for me, no matter how capable the system. also, i’m not sure what the music you’re going for sounds like, but the plumbutter just oozes experimental/concrete to me

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Yes, I think I’ll wait for the upcoming reissue of the Easel or the 208c. Thanks for all the info.

By the way … I’ve been hearing your song on Soundcloud. I REALLY love them!

Can you share some tips on how this one was done?

ah sorry, that’s not my track! batchas is a well known modular guy with lots of buchla/serge/ciat recordings on his soundcloud and a website with lots of buchla/serge info. maybe if you reach out he’ll explain to you

To me, the allure of eurorack is creating an ecosystem of sound. Almost like a pedalboard but in a better format. The effects are as important as the sound sources but the point is getting as far from a DAW as possible.

But if you want to perform and improvise like playing a piano of guitar, I find buchla to be far superior. The 4u size difference is a huge factor for me as it gives extra space to move sliders and knobs in increments. The sound is also more elemental to my ear whether it’s buchla or serge. Just feels like you are connecting with the waveforms in a more direct manner.

For those of us who have a difficult time organizing our minds, The endless stream of eurorack news and releases can be such a drag. More time is spent on modulargrid Than on making music. Having all the tools packed into a 208 was good for mental clarity for me.

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Ya, it’s called the keen 220.

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That’s a third party polyphonic keyboard , waiting to see what comes up specifically for buchla. But that company has great designs

I’ve tried some Serge stuff (I had 4 panels of 73-75, now just have the 2 homebuilt). While it’s different, I think you still end up feeling like you need to expand. A ‘complete’ system would be pretty pricey including a few panels. Anyways, did not quite achieve the feeling I was hoping for, but didn’t try the random source panels like La Bestia which are very well thought out.

Recently, I actually landed on the combo that @glia mentioned earlier of the plumbutter + cocoquantus. The plumbutter in particular is a very ‘complete’ instrument by itself, but it has a very specific set of sounds which may or may not appeal. Tempted to pick up a sidrax organ or maybe another Ciat-Lonbarde piece, but I’m very much into what I have at the moment and they stand on their own quite well.

Worth waiting to see if Buchla comes out with a new easel, imo.

I sold the majority of my euro to buy a 208c, kept a few things to control it, like the 0-Ctrl, Marbles and Pressure Points but just this week acquired a few 4u Serge Modules.

Here’s my take:

  1. Euro is the easiest to get started in. Tons of relatively inexpensive choices to really nice stuff. The high end stuff (Verbos/ Instruo / Etc ) sounds pretty close to Buchla. I really came to hate the form factor and dissonance of all the brands visually and the fact that the ui is all over the place too. Like others have said the never ending cycle of buy and sell is not good for the soul.

  2. Buchla 208c… Sounds amazing, like just instantly wow. The UI is incredible. But, after a few months I’m already feeling limited. Not enough modulation on board. Looked into more Buchla but it’s just so expensive. I really have learned to like banana though. One thing i just don’t get though is the separation of audio and cv? And why the stupid tinijack? Also the 208 really has a sound, and it’s hard to get away from it. Whereas Euro was very amorphous because of all the brands, Buchla is the opposite.

  3. Serge… So far, this feels like the best compromise of cost, UI and sound. Every module has a million functions built it. The sound is great. I just picked up a Random Source Dual filter and the SSG with Slopes. It’s pretty insane how much you could accomplish with even those two modules. I love the patch programming paradigm of Serge. Other benefit is that Serge runs in the same power standard as euro: ± 12v so I just tapped off my euro supply and up and running.

I have a euro to banana unit for interoperability between all of them, there’s definitely some small issues with going between each but nothing that can’t be solved.

I’d like to be in only one format but haven’t fully decided which way to go yet.

Current setup:

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Of these I only have experience with Euro, but to me:

  • Euro has by far the most diversity of any format, in terms of types of modules and choices within those types, and it seems to be ahead of the curve in terms of development. Even if you’re looking for a particular sound, style, or aesthetic, chances are you can find it in Eurorack. Serge for instance is well covered in Euro format. It’s more rare for Euro modules to be ported to other formats (though in some cases it does happen).
  • I like that there is no distinction between signal types. CV, gate/trigger/clock signals, and audio are all just a matter of interpretation.
  • There are stackable Euro cables (or mults if you prefer those, both in module format or floating), and momentary and toggle manual switches as well as all sorts of routing options. I don’t feel like I’m missing anything by not using bananas. To be fair, I might feel differently if I tried it, but I still doubt I would want to give up the other advantages of Eurorack for it.
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I’ll echo some others and say that I think some CL gear would be a good addition, the Plumbutter in particular. Sometimes I really don’t feel like patching up my eurorack stuff (due to laziness, lack of motivation, depresssion, what have you) but I’m inspired by the Plumbutter & Cocoquantus every time I plug them in.

I have a 7U eurorack setup that’s very Monome/Mannequins heavy, a MN Shared System, Double Knot and a CL trio of Plumbutter, Cocoquantus, and Sidrax.

While I do love the flexibility and variety of eurorack, the longer I’ve been doing this the more I have come to appreciate having complete & uniform instruments/systems. I tend to focus more on making music rather than what modules I need next and how I’m gonna rearrange my case to fit them in. My banana synths are just an absolute joy to patch - they’re weird and sometimes unpredictable and just generally very conducive to creativity. And as much as I do love the Shared System I do think a lot about swapping it out for an Easel at some point.

True on diversity in euro. But I think the diversity hit a tipping point and it crossed into a state of option paralysis, for me at least. I hated that feeling of never having anywhere close to unified system. I was contemplating going back to euro for a second and just getting only one brand/system, but inevitably you start slipping into the world of just checking out something new to solve an immediate need and it just opens a pandora’s box of possibilities.

Bananas I think are a better tactile experience along with the fact that 4u panels are bigger and more unified from panel to panel, at least in Serge the layouts always follow some sort of grid. I don’t get this need to crunch everything into such a small space, but then people have like walls of stuff anyway.

And honestly in euro I was just constantly looking for stuff that sounded like Buchla, but it was never quite there. There was always something missing, so I figured I’d just focus on the core sounds I wanted by actually just getting the thing I was mimicking.

I also like the idea of going to the root of the design philosophy, most every classic synthesis method in euro is copied from Moog, Buchla and Serge, so why not just focus on the gear that’s actually made by people that have direct connections to the actual makers? Serge is still alive and has worked directly with a few of the current Serge makers, the main designer at Buchla worked directly under Don, and I’m sure that’s the case at Moog as well.

In response to the different cables for audio/CV-

Why do you have separate interconnection schemes for control voltages and audio signals?

There are several reasons for maintaining this distinction:
The wires required are specialized in purpose. Signal wires must be shielded, while control voltage connections need no shielding. We chose to employ 1/8" plugs for their compactness and banana plugs for their stackability.

Modules can be optimized for performance in their domain of destiny. As a simple example, the parameters that characterize a good mixer are dissimilar to those that make a good control voltage summer. There are definite compromises made in the design of modules that serve both functions.

The interconnections are different. Signals work best with exponential input pots, low output impedances and lots of headroom. Control voltages work best with bidirectional input multipliers, asymmetric output impedances, and no headroom. By choosing yet a different scheme for conveying timing information, a single pulse connection can carry both sustain and transient information, and have both inputs and outputs indefinitely paralleled.

It is a simple matter to provide both sorts of inputs to those parameters that make sensible use of signal as well as control voltages. For example, our oscillators use both f.m. inputs (with exponential attenuators) and control voltage inputs (with linear, bidirectional, multiplying c.v. inputs).

There’s the matter of deciphering the intent and action of a patch. When the signal paths are easily differentiated from the structural aspects, such decoding is immensely simplified.

With microcomputers serving to store patches, the differentiation is essential. Audio signals stay in the signal domain, while control voltages are digitized and stored as parts of presets.

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You should try a complete intrument next to see how it compares to eurorack. TBH if I had the same collection of eurorack as you, I’d be pretty content. Playing on an instrument designed with a specific purpose was an illuminating process for me. Try out Buchla, Ciat Lonbarde, or Lorre Mill next. Skip on Serge if portability is one of your concerns.

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Well, first of all thanks for all this information. It’s super interesting to hear all these points from different vists. For me the Eurorack world is the only one I know, so I can’t compare. In any case, today I am not considering changing the format but supplementing it. I think that the Eurorack system has negative things, such as the great diversity of options and the constant GAS that traps us. However, I think that beyond all this there are things that with SERGE or BUCHLA alone you cannot do, such as manipulating samples or certain granular synthesis, … etc. Also, getting polyphonies like the ones I get with TELETYPE + JUST FRIENDS would be expensive on other systems. Buchla has things that attract me and at the same time I don’t like them. For example, the fact of its clearly distinguishable particular sound (although my experience only comes mainly from watching videos on YouTube) is something that on the one hand I like, and on the other hand I could get tired. However then I think "well, you’ve been playing the violin for 16 years and this hasn’t happened to you that long (except for constantly changing the type of strings). A violin sounds like a violin here and in Tokyo, so something has personality and is identifiable does not have to be bad. Moreover, it is what is expected of an instrument ". The fact of constantly looking for information on modules is something that sometimes is maddening, but I am not sure if I would stop to be in the world of Buchla or Serge. Perhaps the price of these systems would be what would slow you down a bit. I do not know. In addition to all this, for me it is VERY important that the instrument is easily transportable, so the doubts about whether to slightly expand the Eurorack suitcase or acquire a new instrument. Anyway, sorry if sometimes this doesn’t make much sense.

I haven’t played buchla gear in almost two decades so my memory can’t be trusted, but I never loved the feel of the 100 series. However, the easel was so different, a pleasing intuitive animal, the perfect size. Like playing an electronic clarinet-bassoon box. I loved Charles Cohen experiments and collaboration with friends. I don’t think, as others also mention, an easel would feel very satisfying for me anymore without the sample processing and mutable instruments that I love (note the easel does take input, it’s just very simple), but i don’t have access to one anymore and can imagine combining a few eurorack modules with an easel could be really nice.
As you can see on other threads on lines, some folks buy exclusively one manufacturer’s modules in order to craft something like a complete instrument designed to all work together.
Me, I’ve cobbled together my own half-easel-esque / half sample-wrangling modules in a skiff along with teletype and morphagene

I’d recommend looking at perfect circuit’s west coast series to get a sense of how they replicate west coast style play / layout, and videos for each of their different versions will give you a sense of whether the cobbled together nature could work for you versus a complete intuitive instrument

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It is amazing the amount of rationalization goes into grounding simple desire for new things.
While i get the idea of complete instrument i think that any system can be that. The only difference is our perception. Someone cares about panels being uniformly designed, while others don’t, some solve this by designing their own panels, while others bash the format :slight_smile:
I think if we are talking that Euro does not let one express him/herself, while Buchla will solve this, we are fooling ourselves.

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Judging from the modules that you mentioned you have a very nice system with already a lot of possibilities. But one thing that struck me as odd is that you mentioned playing violin while your system (at least from my perspective) looks like it is suited more into preplanned playing (er-101 and teletype as sequencers) and lacking freely playable surfaces. I don’t know what forced you to stop playing violin (and sorry to hear about that) but maybe desire for other greener pastures come from this gap between freely playable violin where you can very easily transform movement into sound and your system which requires rather deliberate notes entrance (by knobs in ER-101 or by keyboard in Teletype)?
Maybe something like Ribbon Controller might make your system feel more like instrument to you?

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