If you’re not totally fixed on 4U format, there’s the Euro-Serge modules from Elby which includes lots of 73 era designs and banana jacks. They’re available as kits or built modules and have the advantage of being a bit more modular than the Serge panel approach.
The Random*Source 4x4 kits are also great. Modular, not too expensive, easy to build, and 4u/banana. Readily available.
Thanks - I forgot about them.
Maybe it’s a mistaken thought on my part but for some reason I’m have it in my head that the Random*Source modules are more modern era (80s onwards) Serge designs? I guess I could go check their website myself!
They’re not the 70’s “paperface” style, more modern in some ways. They are excellent and are endorsed by Serge himself, so that’s something…
I only have one of their boats which is very good quality. Need to fill the other half of it at some point.
It’s good to know that Serge is getting his dues from both Random*Source and Elby for their use of his designs.
Thanks for the ideas! (also @emenel)
I’ve looked at Elby before, but I need to investigate properly. Though I would like to put together a small 4u setup. Random*Source has been on my radar for a while - a 4x4 boat consisting of something between La Bestia and Edelweiss could be fun
I can vouch for R*S
Anybody with the means to try them out should jump at the chance honestly. High quality products and good people.
I’m half through building my second full R*S panel, and have a boat of 4x4 module kits coming soon. It’s my main system now
By the time I understood the appeal of serge panels and the unique benefits of the system I had committed to other tools. Highly recommend these (and banana based synths in general).
I’d have to sell most of what I’ve got to switch and there are a few bits of gear I can’t part with right now.
Random Source is the way to go if anyone is considering available options
I’ve done just that, sold 90% of my eurorack and a handful of other things to focus on banana systems: Serge, Bugbrand, and Ciat-Lonbarde. I’m loving the change so far, but did still keep a small skiff of eurorack for those unique items.
I was lucky enough to find a number of panels from the 79-88 era, I didn’t buy them initially because they were vintage, but because they were cheap. [Actually everything good I ended up with was because of opportunity or because of not knowing/caring what i was getting, if there was something specific I wanted it would of course be hideously expensive and rare…]
Admittedly the oldest panels still look like hell, I also got a lot of the dirty CalArts patch cables for about 50 cents/cable. But at least most of them had consistent color codes as to length. I also had some of the more expensive STS stuff, mostly also from earlier times (the “Oakland” era) but in my experience it just didn’t sound as good (despite the oscillators being much more precise in high registers, lower noise etc.) The biggest difference was in the audio mixers and VCA’s, the noise (which was always low to begin with) was gone but so was the warmth and character. But then I’d also say the '79 oscillators (kit) sound warmer than the 83 ones (factory). So over the years I got rid of most STS and kept the older stuff because I didn’t have to worry about things disappearing in the mix or how it played with everything else.
And the really cool thing on the old systems is if something goes wrong you can just contact Kevin for repairs, he actually had a lot of input on the design (second only to Serge), he’s extremely reasonable and hands down the nicest person in the business, he does a number of useful minor mods as well.
Anyway, I don’t know what prices on the old systems run or even if they come up very often, but even a few years ago they were surprisingly inexpensive. OTOH I have never seen an actual 74-76 system, what I am talking about is the slightly later era (beginning in 1978) where the modules were more or less finalized. I consider my system fixed and would not get any more panels even if a genuine 1974 system showed up, so this is mostly for others to consider.
Are the banana cables a big deal? From what I’ve read, they’re just more reliable than euro stackables? Sorry if this has been asked a bunch of times.
I’ll say so, yes, it is a definite advantage to have bananas over stackcables. First of all most everything with Serge requires these kinds of mults, it wouldn’t be Serge otherwise. Second, stackcables which I use in my other system, are much more awkward. Not only do they occupy more space, they’re more limited in how many you can stack and even with the more common “bus chains”, where the maximum stacked = 2, you have to be careful sometimes of not bumping the cables.
To add to @ht73’s great response - bananas are also much easier to unplug/plug in while playing. And they don’t make a “pop” because they don’t carry ground. Much less fiddley.
You can also really go crazy stacking them and they’re much more robust (good ones anyway).
Edit: one more thing is that you can make connections without actually inserting the cable. This is amazing for playability and improvising.
Here we go… this is the problem with stackcables, they take up way too much space and this even on a “6U” system with the knobs separated from the patch points. And you can barely see the patch. And heaven forbid you touch one of the cables on one of the main pitch busses the tuning will go haywire because it puts too much pressure on the jack. Have no idea how people survive with these in the smaller Euro format.
Did you try combining Serge and CL gear? Are the voltage ranges compatible? Been eyeing the new R*S Mantra, the small boat and small power supply make it very appealing.
Continuing the discussion from Show us your modular system:
Given the energy of the Serge related posts in other threads I thought that it might be time for a home for all things Serge.
This thread can be for 4u, 3u, Serge design and playing methods and philosophy, tips and techniques…
EDIT: Oops! Totally forgot about this older thread. Thanks for the merge
A couple things to get the ball rolling:
The magic DUSG, IMO one of the main centrepieces of the Serge system and philosophy. It can be a filter, vca, oscillator, lfo, trigger generator, delay, slew, function/envelope, and more.
http://carbon111.com/alphabet1.html – more details on some patch ideas fort he DUSG.
It’s really at the heart of Serge’s “patch programming” notion - being able to patch a module or set of modules for specific functions at different times.
When I’m done building my system I’ll have 4 DUSGs in it, and I’m not sure it’ll be enough
There’s a euro-serge version from Random*Source, and there are lots of modules inspired by it (i.e. Swoop, Maths/Function).
that website has a book:
The Original Serge Guidebook
The late Rich Gold’s excellent Serge Guidebook, originally shipped with systems in the 70s and 80s. Such a wonderful reference to the unique architecture of the Serge Modular system!
The book is fantastic. The PDF is scans of pages that look like a combination of typewriter and hand drawings of modules and patches… it’s full of great info. I just wish it was searchable