Deadmau5 Shares His Modular Synthesizer Secrets

Deadmau5 (Joel Thomas Zimmerman) shared his his modular synth secrets in a recent live UStream session. This two-part set of YouTube videos captures the session for your edutainment.

In the video, Deadmau5 demonstrates how he works this monster synth, starting with patching the output into his “mouse butt”.

It might be easy to diss Zimmerman for putting together a modular synthesizer that’s so packed full of goodies that there’s no room for a”fucking normal VCO”. And it will piss off some readers to see him smoking all over tens of thousands of dollars of gear.

But it’s also sort of refreshing to see Zimmerman putting out something this raw and unproduced and sharing his obvious enthusiasm for synthesis.

Check it out – and then leave a comment with your thoughts!

58 thoughts on “Deadmau5 Shares His Modular Synthesizer Secrets

  1. That was DUMB.

    To change the subject……… aBUGton Live crashes alot and alot of people that have been dedicated users for years are now complaining how bad it has been.

  2. Hm, for the not-modular user this can be interesting… but people with modulars will just laugh over this really poor demonstration of a monster modular that could in no time produce some sick shit. That does not mean that I find him stupid or dumb, it is just a really laughable demo.

  3. Clarification,i meant the video was DUMB,not DEADMAU5. I think DEADMAU5 is actually creative and has succeeded well.

    p.s. remember my first post….aBUGTON Live crashes and I want my money back.

  4. Just watched it (skipped a lot) to the end. The least he could have done was making this mouse explode.. Bummer 🙁

  5. First of all I never heard something from deadmau5 that I would call interesting or good maybe I just don't know enough of this guys outputs?
    I don't care about his smoking beside his gear.
    BUT
    What he shows on this modular is simply poor and makes me think someone else built it up for him and he just took it out of the box a moment before…
    This vids won't make me give deadmau5 more attention than I did before…

  6. Watching the first few seconds (searching for his VCO) I get the distinct impression that maybe the good Mr. Zimmerman just shot and released these videos to put on all the people who are jealous because he has this big modular system with some very expensive modules (like two Macbeth dual oscillators if I'm not mistaken) in it. If not: <Mr_T_Mode>I pitty the fool who derives self-esteem by showing others how big his modular case is</Mr_T_Mode> Side note: I'm glad I stopped smoking pot well before I got a modular. Being somewhat sober makes it just so much more fun and productive and experience. 😛

  7. i like his remixes… but i doubt they have anything to do with this modular… dude had some technical difficulties… lol

  8. Well if you guys knew a little more about Joel, you'd know that he actually doesn't smoke pot or do drugs. He does smoke and drink, but that seems to be common enough in the industry he is in.

    Commenting on his demo for the modular: It's definitely neat that hes taking some time to show fans his setup, and in his other Ustreams I have seen him do similar things with plugins and such for Ableton. He definitely has an unparalleled ability to try and connect with his fans.

    Sure, he cant find the VCO, but its because he doesn't have much experience with it. He did put it together, but he does shows almost every night so from what I understand he doesn't have much time to familiarize himself with it.

    Looking at it this way, I think its cool hes interested in modulars when there are plenty of crappy producers and DJs out there who just stick to their FL studio stock VSTs. Plus his integration of his modulars in his live sets in conjunction with Ableton is pretty cool for such a "mainstream" DJ.

    Sorry for the rant, but it's just my $.02

  9. Also: I didn't mean the first part in scolding, as if everyone should know it. I just meant it as in you shouldn't automatically assume.

  10. Joel Zimmerman is an idiot. Only a few weeks ago he was bragging in Keyboard magazine about how he could spot a virtual digital synth miles vs. the real, thing miles away and he was also bragging about how he only uses analog synth to create his music..
    Truth is, he can't even use his own gear!!
    Deadmau5 is a hack who just got lucky.. he started as a bad Crystal Method ripoff, (just listen to his horrid Get Scraped album) and now he believes his own hype.
    And to those who say he doesn't do drugs.. what do you think the cigarette in his hand is?
    in case you didn't know, nicotine is a DRUG.

    1. Whatever you negative assholes… I love Deadmau5 AND drugs AND booze AND nicotine so suck it! I saw him down in Sobe three days ago and had the time of my life! I’m a Mau5keteer fo sho!!! Woooo! PARTY!!!!!

  11. Joel Zimmerman is a joke. Just a few months ago, he was bragging in Keyboard magazine about how he could spot a virtual analog synth vs. the real thing miles away, and how he only uses analog gear in his albums..
    the same analog gear he can't even use LOL

    Deadmau5 started as a bad Crystal Method rip off hack (just listen to his 2006 album "Get Scraped") who got lucky along the way and started to believe his own hype.

    And to those who say he doesn't do drugs.. what do you think the cigarette in his hand is? Nicotine is a DRUG last time i checked!

  12. Joel Zimmerman is a joke. Just a few months ago, he was bragging in Keyboard magazine about how he could spot a virtual analog synth vs. the real thing miles away, and how he only uses analog gear in his albums..
    the same analog gear he can't even use LOL

    Deadmau5 started as a bad Crystal Method rip off hack (just listen to his 2006 album "Get Scraped") who got lucky along the way and started to believe his own hype.

    And to those who say he doesn't do drugs.. what do you think the cigarette in his hand is? Nicotine is a DRUG last time i checked!

  13. Joel Zimmerman is a joke. Just a few months ago, he was bragging in Keyboard magazine about how he could spot a virtual analog synth vs. the real thing miles away, and how he only uses analog gear in his albums..
    the same analog gear he can't even use LOL

    Deadmau5 started as a bad Crystal Method rip off hack (just listen to his 2006 album "Get Scraped") who got lucky along the way and started to believe his own hype.

    And to those who say he doesn't do drugs.. what do you think the cigarette in his hand is? Nicotine is a DRUG last time i checked!

  14. Joel Zimmerman is a joke. Just a few months ago, he was bragging in Keyboard magazine about how he could spot a virtual analog synth vs. the real thing miles away, and how he only uses analog gear in his albums..
    the same analog gear he can't even use LOL

    Deadmau5 started as a bad Crystal Method rip off hack (just listen to his 2006 album "Get Scraped") who got lucky along the way and started to believe his own hype.

    And to those who say he doesn't do drugs.. what do you think the cigarette in his hand is? Nicotine is a DRUG last time i checked!

  15. Joel Zimmerman is a joke. Just a few months ago, he was bragging in Keyboard magazine about how he could spot a virtual analog synth vs. the real thing miles away, and how he only uses analog gear in his albums..
    the same analog gear he can't even use LOL

    Deadmau5 started as a bad Crystal Method rip off hack (just listen to his 2006 album "Get Scraped") who got lucky along the way and started to believe his own hype.

    And to those who say he doesn't do drugs.. what do you think the cigarette in his hand is? Nicotine is a DRUG last time i checked!

  16. Joel Zimmerman is a joke. Just a few months ago, he was bragging in Keyboard magazine about how he could spot a virtual analog synth vs. the real thing miles away, and how he only uses analog gear in his albums..
    the same analog gear he can't even use LOL

    Deadmau5 started as a bad Crystal Method rip off hack (just listen to his 2006 album "Get Scraped") who got lucky along the way and started to believe his own hype.

    And to those who say he doesn't do drugs.. what do you think the cigarette in his hand is? Nicotine is a DRUG last time i checked!

  17. A few weeks ago, this Deadmau5 fool was bragging in Keyboard magazine about how he created his cheesy repetitive music in analog synths, which he obviously has no clue how to use. And for those who say he doesn't use drugs.. Nicotine is a DRUG last time i checked.

  18. He gets to make music for a living. Better than that; music that a lot of people love, and he can afford to put together a modular monster with whatever bits he wants. So who's the fool?

    1. There is no way Zimmerman is using this hardware to produce tracks. He obviously produces everything with software. His knowledge of hardware is so scant that he might have turned on that rack only once before this video interview. The hardware is just for show and to trick others trying to copy his style.

  19. I never liked deadmau5 too much tbh. I thought he was overrated and his songs were good but not worth the level of fame he's got. But that was just so awesome in the second video at about 3:20 "can you just dj? can you just suck it?" ha ha i loled. But he is so right. There's so much more to making music than just playing other people's tracks. It's obvious he really loves the music and loves what he does. Regardless of his level of knowledge and whatnaught like some of you are saying, it's great that at least he genuinely loves the music.

  20. Such negativity, it's sad. I have been building systems and making music professionally for 37 years (ouch) I'm glad some of you didn't witness the noise I made early on. These wonderful machines are not solely the province of a devoted niche, they are meant to be explored and enjoyed by any fortunate soul who has access. Even if it's his first run at using the beast, why be so dismissive? I believe Mr. Zimmerman is a bright young man with a very special grasp.

  21. ya and so is caffeine and about 50000 other things in our food. fkin idiot. pretty sure we all knew we were talking about 'mind altering' drugs. christ

  22. damn you people take this shit too seriously. you expect that little mouse to shit gold? when you can do half the shit he does you can talk. oh wait you haven't done jack shit but talk crap about him on the internet.

  23. I see some producers are getting jeolous for this brillian artist…I personally love Tiesto but Tiesto said that Deadmau5 & Mat Zo are the upcoming talents)….you will hear a lot of quality tunes from them…

    & one more thing if a big name artist shares his secrets then why should we blaim him like hes a sucker…we need to encourae him

    1. Tiesto’s time has passed with the decline in Trance listeners. Most EDM fans these days want to hear Electro House. Hence, Deadmau5 took over where Tiesto left off.

  24. Notice how the only people who are talking bullshit about him seem to feel the need to spam the same message over and over again on the internet just to be heard… Pathetic.

    Deadmau5 is a musician and a performer who does his best to talk to his fans as much as possible yet is still a human being (unlike many others) and you just have to respect him for that. Maybe this is what gets him hate sometimes as he speaks his opinion, an opinion which others disagree with and because their on the internet they think their the tough guys.

    I don’t care if you like him or not but at least give a good (intelligent) reason for either.

  25. This is great! Anyone who actually uses analogue synths will know that half the time you don’t know what the fuck is going on. I mean you do if you stop to work it out for five minutes, but it’s very common to be suddenly stumped as to why you a) have no sound or b) have the best sound you ever heard. I think it’s great that he’s trying to make it understandable for people. If he was to show a complete working system he’s set up, it wouldn’t be helpful.

    1. Nicely put. I don’t have a full modular stuff yet, but when I first got my first analog synth module, I was wondering whether the thing was broke or something.. took me quite a while to notice that it was indeed receiving the midi signal I was sending to it with my keyboard (thanks to the red LED), opening of filter didn’t help.. at some point I turned 2 knobs, which ofc were for selection between square/saw and also as a VCO level (they were off initially, lol)

  26. I hear the modular synths in his tracks, the sounds are his period, that is why he is so rich, last i heard he is up at around 100 million us,

    no one on this planet can duplicate his sound, he is the only one that has it and if it took him a million or 2 to get there so be it,

    this guy is the best out there hands down, no radio airplay, little promotion, just word of mouth, so you explain that to all of you negative babies who can’t make money doing music full time,

    1. His music is original and unique. People here who say all these negative stuff about him it’s obvious they are clueless when it comes to analog synthesizers and they have never had a single synth in their whole life.

      his modular system is not that expensive. With £15000 you could have it in your studio 🙂

      Mick Jagger of the Rolling Stones bought his Moog Modular in the 60’s for $11000. The equivalent of around $70000 today. Now that’s expensive!

  27. Please stop smoking. You are damaging your body beyond repair. The sickness that will come before your death as a result of your smoking will be a seriously horrifying experience for you, your loved ones and for those who will have to care for you while you are at end of life.

  28. Honestly guys… Put Joel in a room with a modular for 30 days and I would bet the farm that he would be making music with it that would rival that of the *best* of those that have used this type of synth to produce music.
    Doesn’t really matter if you like his music or not, the guy has talent.

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