Synth Site: Miscellaneous: QSS44 modular: User reviews Add review
Average rating: 5.0 out of 5
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johnm a part-time user from USA writes:
If the reader will forgive me, I must amend what I wrote below. The only negative comment in an otherwise stellar review was:

"Like all analog synthesizers, the synthesizers.com system has it's weaknesses. For example, the oscillators aren't as linear and don't track or sync quite as well as modules based on the CMS chip designs. However, they still perform within the range of traditional analog acceptability and don't have that signature CMS harshness to them."

As somebody noted, I meant "CEM," not "CMS" (what was I thinking?) But the biggest error concerns the linearity of the Synthesizers.com oscillators.

To save patch real-estate, I "Doepferized" my Synthesizers.com system using internal homemade wire harnesses so that, unless overridden by inserting a patchcord, all of the ADSRs trigger when you hit a key and all but two of the eight oscillators in my system will run from a single CV source. The problem I was having was that all six of the oscillators in the oscillator bank had poor linearity, which got even worse as the footage was increased. I did manage to retune one of them to get just under 5 octaves of acceptable tracking, but this made switching footage ranges even worse than before. The question was, how could all of the oscillators display such dubious linearity when Synthesizers.com uses calibrated lab equipment to tune each one?

The embarrassing answer is that it wasn't the oscillators that were the problem, but my internal CV bus. Something in the connection is introducing a slight voltage drop. This means that a one octave jump no longer provides a 1V change, so the tuning changes. When the "bus override" feature I added to each oscillator is used, the oscillators all work as specified. That is, they track accurately over all five octaves and over all footages.

Not only are the oscillators as linear as claimed, but they are astonishingly stable. My frequency counter revealed that the particular oscillator I was testing was exactly where I had left it (440.00 Hz) a full *three hours* earlier. Try and get THAT kind of stability out of a vintage analog equipment!

While I don't look forward to determining what is causing the voltage drop on my homemade oscillator bus, it is good to know that the oscillators are as linear as they are supposed to be. This makes the overall modular system about as close to perfection as you can buy.

johnm

Rating: 5 out of 5 posted Saturday-Aug-11-2001 at 17:31
johnm a part-time user from USA writes:
People in various forums who own a synthesizers.com system often describe it as a "dream synth." That's easy to understand, once you see one in the flesh (or rather, in the walnut). Lovely wooden cabinets provide a sturdy housing for droves of sturdy ebony colored modules. Knobs are big, LEDs are used in all the right places, 1/4" jacks provide Vicegrip-solid connections, and panel graphics are clean and sensible. The system resembles the classic modular Moogs many of us used to drool over but couldn't afford at the time. The electronics are new, but the sensible format is preserved. For example, each module is flanked with brushed aluminum sides that greatly add to delineation. This avoids a problem several competing synthesizers have: modules with boundaries that aren't clearly defined, which adds to "eye confusion" (and who needs that when you already have patch cords to deal with?).

Like all analog synthesizers, the synthesizers.com system has it's weaknesses. For example, the oscillators aren't as linear and don't track or sync quite as well as modules based on the CMS chip designs. However, they still perform within the range of traditional analog acceptability and don't have that signature CMS harshness to them. When augmented with the Oscillator Aid modules, they become even more versatile. Suffice it to say that I like the oscillators enough to have purchased an entire bank of them.

Other modules of note are the sequencer (perhaps the system's "flagship" module--the design is excellent), the ADSRs (simple, clean and straightforward--I have 5 and I want more), and modules providing bias, inversion, rectification and other serious electrical functions that will warm any analog purist's heart.

If you want a system that is extremely versatile, attractive, affordable, and built like a brick synth house, look no further than synthesizers.com. Of all the analog synths I have used or owned over the last 25 years, this is the one that I really feel at home with.

Rating: 5 out of 5 posted Saturday-Jul-21-2001 at 04:55
eric m. a professional user from USA writes:
not just a few modules, but a whole product line. excellent module layout and quality. large 1/4" jacks and big knobs. great prices. the synthesizers.com modules are everything i've been looking for in a modular system.

i've had my system for about 7 months now, and i am still very impressed with it. the prices are so low, that it makes it easy to add on additional cabinets until the synth is as big as you want it to be. the filter sounds great, the oscillators can also be used as LFO modules, there are attenuators on most modules to save on excess patching, and the module design is clean and straightforward to use.

looks a lot like the old moog modules, and in fact are the same size. if you are looking into purchasing a modular synthesizer, you would do well to seriously consider synthesizers.com. not just for price, but for panel layout, variety of modules, and great quality of the modules.

Rating: 5 out of 5 posted Saturday-Feb-03-2001 at 04:24
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