Last installment I talked about VCAs, which are important in analog synthesis because of their versatility. This time around I'm going to discuss a type of module with a more narrow focus: the voltage-controlled filter (VCF). Voltage control is so ubiquitous in modular-synthesizer filters that we normally expect something called just a "filter" to really be a VCF unless it is explicitly described as a fixed filter. Filters in modular synthesis are nearly always used to set the timbre of a sound.
When people think of their favourite modules, the humble VCA (Voltage Controlled Amplifier) is seldom at the top of the list. But among experienced modular users it's understood that even if they don't get top billing, VCAs are absolutely essential to having a usable system. The saying on Muffwiggler is that "You can never have too many VCAs!", and in this installment I look at the different kinds of VCAs and why they're so useful.
Back in Part 3 of the "intro to modular" series I said it would cost about US$1000 to US$2000 to get started in modular synthesis, and I said that although there are ways to economize, they are really ways to keep the price tag in that range, not ways to lower the low end further. This week, let's look at a couple of them.
I will assume that you've already read Part 1, which describes what a modular synthesizer is; and part 2, which says that you shouldn't buy one. Your spouse isn't allowed to kill me because I did warn you, and your cat has already formed an opinion on your intelligence anyway. In this third installment I'm going to offer some suggestions on how to get started with modular synthesis. Very much depends on your own reasons, which are ultimately known only to you, for why you've decided to do this. I can only offer some insights that may be helpful for what I think are typical newcomers.