Why Buchla Synthesizers?

At the new Buchla Tech blog, Mark Verbos offers 14 reasons why the Buchla 200 is “the best modular electronic instrument ever made.”

Here are a few highlights:

1. Don Buchla designed the front panel of his instruments first and the electronics second. A musician himself, this means that each module was an idea for a musician’s tool rather than an engineer’s.

2. Audio paths and control paths are totally divided. The control path uses unshielded stacking banana cables. The audio path uses 1/8″ mini cables. On early modules the control paths and signal paths even used separate power rails! The audio signals are line level, just like all the signals in a recording studio, so patching in and out of the system is seamless. The stacking bananas are great for control signals, they mult simply. The EF Johnson banana jacks come in a variety of colors, which Don used to code what the jacks are used for.

3. Controls sweep within a musically useful range. This is in some ways related to #2. Because audio processing modules never have to concern themselves with CV signals and vice versa, the controls don’t have half of their rotation representing useless values, like a Serge.

5. Circuit boards are all mounted parallel to the panel, making the system take up less space behind the panel than most modulars. This allows for the suitcase cabinets and folding 203 cabinets. I will never understand the MOTM/Moog/Blacet/whatever system of mounting PCBs sticking way out back.

7. Analog address of sequencers. Most of the time a sequencer is simply going to be pulsed along linearly. But having the CV in to sweep through the range of steps allows the sequencer to be used in several new ways including as a quantizer, tracking generator and more.

9. Source of Uncertainty. These days, all modulars have noise and sample & hold modules, but nobody ever made so many specific and musical options available to make sounds randomly shift and evolve. All hail the 266!

12. Voltage Controlled Panning. The 207 allows 2 channels to be sweeped around via a CV. The 227 and 204 allow quad panning from 2 CVs. Simple yet wonderful.

13. Tunable Touchplate Keyboards. Those users who have no interest in playing a piano keyboard can rig up a 217 to do lots of things that no other system has ever allowed.

See the full article at the Buchla Tech blog. 

Image: synthesizers

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