Meeting Topic: The Circuit Is The Sound - An Engineer's Perspective on Analog Modular Synthesis
Speaker Name: Daniel Casado
Meeting Location: Shoreline Community College Music bldg, Shoreline WA
The PNW Section kicked off its new season with a presentation on electronics, sound and the circuits that are used to make analog synthesized sounds. Past and current PNW committee member Daniel Casado led the tutorial, a bit of an accompaniment to the next planned meeting on modular synthesizers. 17 AES members and 12 nonmembers gathered at Shoreline Community College's music building in Shoreline, WA, just north of Seattle.
With over 30 years in the professional audio industry, Daniel's experience includes Director of Engineering Support for McCauley Loudspeakers, regional manufacturer's rep, front of house for national acts, mixing live performances for radio & television broadcast, sound system design & installation, manufacturing, R & D, and teaching electronics & audio theory. He has extensive studio experience, and is a musician as well, with a life-long interest in electronic music.
While Daniel had a table full of devices, his demonstrations largely used the program, Reaktor. He presented a comprehensive and wide ranging introduction to circuit concepts as they apply to modular synthesizers. With modulars, you must do everything to get your sounds and make them interesting. He showed some basics of sound and waveform control, and went into a general electronics tutorial. DC and AC circuits, logic gates, clocking, sample and hold, and sequencing were among the topics covered.
After an intermission, some door prizes were awarded.
Continuing with the presentation, Daniel spoke of an advanced counter circuit outputting in binary. He also spoke of latches, then basic building blocks of electronics such as resistors, capacitors, inductors/coils, diodes, transistors, RC time constants, integrated circuits, sources and loading.
Several sound demos showed pitched and unpitched sound sources, different waveforms, detuning and oscillator synchronization. More demonstrations were done for additive and subtractive synthesis, and FM synthesis.
Additional comments described modular characteristics to look for, such as different shapes and connectors, stability and scaling. Delays such as tape simulation and bucket brigade devices were discussed. He recommended working with and without a musical keyboard controllers, as it affects one's work with the sounds. Future conjectures about alternative controllers was also discussed.
Written By: Gary Louie