Compressing Modulars?

List, Chris Chris.List at
Tue Nov 18 15:26:36 CET 1997

On Monday, November 17, 1997 5:50 PM, media at
[SMTP:media at] wrote:
> Actually, I think Romeo is describing more of a limiter than a
> compressor.  I'm under the impression that he is trying to prevent
> rather than deliberately change the sound.


> At 10:50 AM +0100 11/17/97, Haible Juergen wrote:
> >I know it's just my opinion, but I try to use as few compressors on
> >electronic instruments as possible. Your *Modular* synth is too loud
> >Well, you have the core of a compressor, a VCA, at the end of your
> >Modular's signal path anyway. So why messing the signals up with
> >another VCA (the compressor's) ? All you need is the right CV for
> >Synth's VCA. Does the Sustain pot of your envelopes have linear or
> >logatithmic response? The VCA itself: linear or exponential?
> >I'm asking this because the *input* level of your average synth VCA
> >most probably quite limited anyway (speaking of otas - not of "pro"
> >vca's like dbx chips etc.). So the VCA CV may be the key to the
> >solution.
> That is a very good point.  Given the description above, I wonder how
> a dynamic range this synth has.  In my experience, synths typically
> less dynamic range than decent mic pre's.  Maybe he could just add an
> attenuator (such as a voltage divider to ground) after the VCA or VCF
> whatever is the last module before he sends it to the mixer.  I'm
> his mixer is already potted all the way down.

I don't want to speak for Romeo here, but I think I've had the same
problems with my synth. It's not so much the dynamic range of the synth
as it is the chaotic nature of it. You get a bassline rolling along
nicely - with a little LFO on the filter - suddenly everything syncs up
and the LFO causes the filter to hit the frequency of the incoming VCO -
the resonance suddenly jumps and your already hot line to the mixer
jumps into the distortion zone. I've often used a compressor (more as a
soft limiter really) on one of my synth outputs - and consider this "the
anything goes" channel - where I can whack up the filter res, or the
VCAs or whatever - and not worry about the overdrive. 

A very good point has been raised here, however. It might be cool to add
a limiting switch to your (or my?) existing VCA. FWR and filter the
sound coming *into* the VCA, and, if this volume envelope crosses a
certain threshold, you start adding a negative voltage to your VCA's
gain CV. Like I said, you could switch this in and out. This would be a
relatively small mod to an existing VCA.

- CList

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