The Twisted Synth Of Dr. Joseph A. Paradiso

Dr. Joseph A. Paradiso’s modular synthesizer is considered by many to be one of the largest and most complex in the world.

This modular system, which Paradiso started building over 20 years ago, includes two hand-built modular systems, three Moog keyboard synths, and 3 Casio synths, all integrated and patchable together to make one big modular system.

Full details on the synth are available at Paradiso’s MIT page.

Here’s a rundown of the synths’ modules:

  • (4) Wide-range VCO’s with sine, triangle, square, ramp, pulse waves and PWM, synch, & wave mixer
  • (7) Wide-range VCO’s with sine, pulse, triangle, ramp waves and PWM, synch inputs
  • (2) Phase-locked Loops with VCO’s
  • (1) Top octave tracker with mixer, phase-locked loop, and VCO
  • (1) Digital phoneme (speech) synthesizer with phase-locked loop, VCO, and 8-bit input
  • (1) Frequency-to-voltage converter with subharmonic output
  • (2) AC-coupled VCA’s
  • (1) Dual DC-coupled VCA
  • (2) Quad DC-coupled VCA’s
  • (1) Dual 6-channel VCA
  • (1) Dual balanced modulator (2-quadrant multipliers)
  • (1) Ring Modulator (4-quadrant multiplier)
  • (1) Voltage-controlled stereo bass/treble/volume/balance unit
  • (2) Voltage-controlled stereo panners
  • (1) Dual Voltage-controlled compander
  • (1) Mono Automatic Gain Control (AGC) w. external loop and squelch adj.
  • (3) Multimode (HP,LP,BP,notch) VCF’s w. adj. Q
  • (3) Lowpass/bandpass VCF’s w. adj. Q
  • (1) Cheezy bandpass VCF with LFO
  • (1) Cheezy Lowpass VCF
  • (1) Cheezy Bandpass VCF
  • (1) Voltage-controlled phase shifter
  • (1) Voltage-controlled fuzzbox
  • (1) Voltage-controlled spring reverberator
  • (2) Voltage-controlled pitch shifters (with analog delay)
  • (1) Dual Voltage-controlled analog delays (w. flanger/echo mix)
  • (1) Long voltage-controlled analog delay (w. flanger/echo mix)
  • (1) Quad Voltage-controlled clock/LFO with square and triangle outputs
  • (1) Dual voltage-controlled linear slews w. independently adjustable attack/decay
  • (1) Dual exponential lag w. separate attack/decay adjustments
  • (6) ADSR envelope generators
  • (2) Attack/Decay envelope generators
  • (1) Quad programmable, voltage-controlled monostable multivibrator (single-shot pulser) w. ramp outputs
  • (1) 6-channel voltage-controlled monostable multivibrators (pulse generators)
  • (1) Dual adjustable deadtimer
  • (1) Dual envelope follower with adjustable trigger
  • (1) Envelope Follower with trigger comparitor
  • (1) Shepard Function Generator
  • (1) Log amplifier
  • (1) Dual exponential amplifier
  • (1) Diode Waveshaper
  • (1) Crest-trough detector (gives maximum and minimum of two input voltages)
  • (1) 10-level window comparitor with differential mixer
  • (1) 8-bit ADC with self-clocking and adjustable waveshaping DAC
  • (2) Dual sample/holds
  • (1) Voltage-controlled clocked chaos generator (calculates logistic map)
  • (1) 9-stage Pseudo-random sequencer with differential analog mixer
  • (1) 10-stage pseudo-random sequencer with differential analog mixer
  • (1) 12-stage analog sequencer
  • (1) Dual 5-stage ring counters
  • (1) 8-stage binary divider with differential analog mixer
  • (1) Quad 7-stage binary counter
  • (1) Quad 4-bit programmable binary divider
  • (1) Quad Flip Flop
  • (1) Dual 4-bit binary rate multiplier
  • (1) Dual 3-to-8 binary decoder
  • (1) 12-channel logic buffer/driver
  • (1) 12-channel inverting logic buffer/driver
  • (1) 12-channel 2-input exclusive-OR gates
  • (1) 12-channel OR gates
  • (1) 12-channel AND gates
  • (1) 6-channel leading/trailing edge detector
  • (1) Quad comparitor with adjustable hysteresis margin
  • (1) 8-channel analog multiplexer
  • (1) Dual 4-channel analog multiplexer
  • (1) 4-channel analog switch
  • (1) 3-channel random trigger generator with ring oscillators (hacked electronic windchimes)
  • (1) 5-voice, 6-program, programmable cheezy drumbox
  • (1) Triggerable sound generator (noise source, VCO, LFO, Envelope, mix; based on video game sound chip)
  • (1) Programmable 8-effect voltage-controlled “Beep/sireen” unit
  • (1) Dual white/pink/random noise source
  • (1) 4-bit Touch Tone (DTMF) generator
  • (1) Dual microphone preamp
  • (2) Quad 10-channel mixers with adjustable gains, 4 adj. input levels/ch., and invertable inputs
  • (1) Quad 4-channel mixer with separate output gains and each input inverting or noninverting
  • (2) Quad mixer/amplifiers w. adj. master gain, 3 noninv. inputs, 3 inv. inputs, and 2 (x10 gain) inputs
  • (1) 4-channel mixer/amplifier
  • (1) Stereo output driver with bass/treble adj. for each channel and headphone driver
  • (1) Stereo Ouput unit with mixer, stereo simulator, headphone amplifier
  • (1) Bias/trigger unit with 4 debounced pushbuttons, 4 debounced switches, 8 adjustable voltages
  • (1) Utility panel (3 attenuators, 3 adjustable voltages, capacitors, diodes, mults)
  • (2) 5-channel adjustable attenuators
  • (1) 6-channel capacitor (AC) coupler
  • (3) 9-Ch. RCA/Phone_Jack/Pin_Jack adaptors
  • (4) 8-channel quad pin jack multiples
  • (1) Interface to heavily hacked Gibson Organ (same vintage as used on Zappa’s Uncle Meat)
  • (1) Casio CS-101 interface with voltage-controlled pitch, attack/release triggers, waveshaping DAC
  • (1) MiniMoog interface (control/access to 28 internal patch points)
  • (1) Moog Satellite Interface (control/access to 19 internal patch points)
  • (1) Radio Shack (Moog) Concertmate MG-1 Interface (control/access to 21 internal patch points)
  • (1) Heavily hacked Casio VL-tone with full-size keyboard, external note control, many intermediate voices, triggers, plus additional clocks, pulsers, binary dividers
  • (1) Heavily hacked Casio SK1 with separate voice/envelope outputs for each of the 4 voices, many additional triggers in and out
  • (1) Optigan organ with rebuilt scanning photodiodes, separate voice outputs, percussion synch output
  • (1) PAIA Hyperflange
  • (1) PAIA vocoder with low octave added
  • (1) PAIA parametric equalizer

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