The MOTM-800 envelope generator is the simplest MOTM module. Just as expected,
you have front panel control over attack, decay, and release times, along
with sustain level. The module has gate and trigger inputs and positive
and inverted outputs. The time values are on the fast side and allow some
snappy attack transients. Techno mavens will love it.
I wish the MOTM-800 had an LED so I could see when it triggers. I also think Synthesis Technology needs a full-featured envelope module with voltage-controllable durations. In the meantime, the MOTM-800 is affordable and functional.
MOTM-120. The MOTM-120 SubOctave Multiplexer includes two digital counters, a digital multiplexer, and four digital ring modulators. The module converts an input signal to a square wave and then divides the frequency by 2, 4, 8, and 16. You can mix the octaves with the original, but thats only the beginning.
The MOTM-120 works with both audio and ultra-low frequencies, and it lets you modulate the first input with a second input. In the Cross mode, the module acts as a ring modulator when A and B inputs are audio. If A is audio and B is an LFO, you hear rhythmic, sequenced pulsing among the four suboctave pitches. When a clock is sent to both A and B inputs, strange syncopation occurs. Things can get wacky fast with this module.
MOTM-700. The MOTM-700 Dual 2:1 Voltage Controller Router allows you to assign one input to two outputs (or vice versa) and use control voltages to flip between the two. The module has two routing sections that can be used independently. The MOTM-700 accepts any frequency, so you can route control voltages or audio signals. You can even force the switches to flip at certain audio frequencies, which creates composite waveforms with some bizarre and messy modulation artifacts. The MOTM-700, by design, invites creative misuse.
Power and Versatility
The two remaining MOTM modules are utilitarian in design. The MOTM-900 power supply uses a medical-grade, low-ripple power block with enough juice to drive about 30 modules. The power cord plugs into the front of the power supply module, which makes cabinet mounting easier. The power switch has a mechanical indicator for the on position, though no lighted switch.
For systems using more than 30 modules, Synthesis Technology sells a larger power block that doesnt quite fit behind the front panel. Some drilling and soldering is necessary to mount it into a cabinet.
The MOTM-940 Patch Panel includes eight rows of three jack types1/4-inch, 3.5 mm, and banana jacksso you can integrate voltage and audio signals from modular synths (such as Buchla, Serge, Modcan, and Wiard) or other instruments that dont use 1/4-inch cords. The 3.5 mm jacks accept 1/8-inch plugs, and each of the banana jacks has a second banana jack next to it for grounding purposes.
Also, the bottom of the MOTM-940 panel includes two handy 4-way mults using 1/4-inch jacks. Each mult group gives you as many as three output signals from one input. The MOTM-940 is the only panel that doesnt come in kit form. However, it is a panel that you could use in other parts of the studio, wherever theres a need to convert from one plug type to another.
A Dream Come True
Like most analog modular synthesizer manufacturers, Synthesis Technology is a small company, and its size has certain advantages and disadvantages. On the one hand, it means that a certain clarity permeates the modules and few compromises creep into the design. On the other hand, you might experience delays when ordering modules, and the price wont drop if a large quantity of modules are produced. The MOTM system is a boutique product aimed at open-minded electronic musicians, audiophile sound designers, and serious DIY tweakers. Such a select market doesnt lend itself to mass production, and I suspect these modules will remain a specialty item.
Yet for the high standards they meet, the Synthesis Technology MOTM modules are quite a value. Each module costs less than a comparable Moog or Buchla module did in 1970, which makes this system a bargain after 30 years of inflation. In addition, Synthesis Technology has updated seemingly retro analog gear into an audiophile 21st-century sound designers dream. The MOTM system is the real deal. Theres nothing virtual about it.
Robert Rich has released more than 20 albums and has created an Acid loop library among other stuff. Some of its pretty strange. His Web site is www.amoeba.com.
Reprinted with permission from Magazine, March, 2001
© 2000, Intertec Publishing, A Primedia Company All Rights Reserved
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