A modular synthesizer is a versatile musical instrument allowing musicians to create endless number of sounds. The idea behind the modular synthesizer is to allow the user to choose the modules that he/she likes and essentially creating their own instrument. The system can have as many modules as the user wants.
For this modular synthesizer, we decided to design the basic modules: voltage-controlled oscillator, voltage-controlled filter, voltage-controlled amplifier and envelope generator, because they are the core modules of any synthesizer:
- The oscillator is necessary to produce a harmonically rich waveform.
- The filter is used to manipulate the harmonic spectrum.
- The voltage controlled amplifier manipulates the amplitude of the signal to simulate the dynamics of an instrument.
- The envelope generator produces a control voltage signal that can be used to control any of the modules. The standard use is to control the VCA.
We also decided that all of the modules should be purely analog, meaning the circuitry will only have active and passive electrical components and will not have any digital components.
Looking back at the synthesizer we built in our first year at Fontys, this BeCreative project was a very big step in what we wanted to achieve and to learn. All in all, the project was a success.
This video gives you a first impression of modular synthesis: