The MacBeth X-Series Micromac Synthesizer

Ken MacBeth of MacBeth Studio Systems has been dropping hints about a new minisynth on his Facebook page.

It looks like a response to recent minisynths like the Doepfer Dark Energy – but on steroids.

MacBeth has this to say about it:

I play with the idea of designing some very small (42HP in 3U) MIDI driven analogue!

Why just have one oscillator and one envelope generator when you could have three oscs and two independant envelopes?!

Anyone else interested in 3 VCO, 2 EG semi-modular MIDI minisynth?

Pricing and availability haven’t been officially announced yet.

More images below.


15 thoughts on “The MacBeth X-Series Micromac Synthesizer

  1. Very nice! I'm guessing too that this will eventually come in the 'under $5K' cheapo price range! As someone who's never used a modular, I have a probably daft question: it's well known that modulars and semi-modulars are generally monophonic. But if I get 3 oscillator modules – each with their own VC input, presumably I can get three-part harmony out of the thing if I drive the unit with, say, a hardware sequencer that can generate three separate VC outputs?? I mean, I know the oscillator's only one part of the signal path but it is the part that generates pitch, right?

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  2. You require three distinct and separate pathways that each include at least an oscillator, an envelope generator, some filtration and an amplifier. In other words, you probably need three micromacs to play three notes.

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  3. Thanks. I guess that's what I'll aim for then. I love the idea of 'composition in sound' suggested by the modular concept yet for me that is inextricable from 'composition in harmony'… in other words, the idea of both elements shifting around in a real-time, responsive way, with the adjustment of pitch interval being part of the same process that adjusts the filter etc…
    Obviously there is a more straightforward structuring-over-time that a sequencer like the Analogue Solutions Oberkorn or equivalent suggests.

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  4. What vaggio said is not really true. You don't really *require* all of those elements, they just help to shape the sounds. Your original guess was pretty accurate, feeding a different pitch voltage into each oscillator will control that oscillator's tune.

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  5. Cool! So one sequences the pitched detuning of the oscillators like one might sequence (any other sort of) modulation by varying CV input over time. I had the hunch originally because the MonoEvolver can do this kind of 'pseudo-polyphony' thing with its four oscillators. But a more 'modular' version of the DSI instrument would offer more real-time hands-on control and more expansion flexibility :)

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  6. Or just detune the oscillators pitches relative to each other. It probably won't offer a very satisfying musical experience, however. And presenting three discretely separated CV pitches to the VCO's will be a logistical headache. At any rate, the micromac looks much more interesting than the Dark Energy.

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  7. Again, I'm not sure why you're talking like this. Presenting different voltages to different inputs is the essence of modular synthesis.

    Something like Silent Way would allow you to easily send three pitch voltages from Ableton Live.

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  8. Yes, by delivering three different notes via three different MIDI channels into a multi channel DC coupled D-A converter, etc. Hardly viable for someone "who's never used a modular".

    He's stuck with having to use three midi keyboards, three midi-cv converters, (or three CV generating keyboards, if he has them) and playing one of the boards with his foot!

    Anyway, a circuitous way of saying that the micromac is probably not a good starting place to generate three note analog polyphony. Not impossible, just not very convenient.

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  9. That's not what he asked. Try re-reading his question:

    "if I get 3 oscillator modules – each with their own VC input, presumably I can get three-part harmony out of the thing if I drive the unit with, say, a hardware sequencer that can generate three separate VC outputs?"

    The answer is a simple "Yes."

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  10. Ken Macbeth: King of Vaporware. Note that he has not yet released the X Factor keyboard announced in 2007, the M5X (cancelled?), or the original 5U Dual Osc/Filter series. I'll hold my breath waiting for this MiniMac thing. whilst Ken twiddles his thumbs deciding if he should actually release the 5U modular line we've all seen prety pictures of.

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  11. Yeah ! let's buy a pair of those… whenever… this could be a very nice entry "module" for future expansions… and @bee, Ken does what he wants, this is true life ;-)

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