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Why not just Doepfer?
Old 26th April 2016
  #1
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Why not just Doepfer?

I'm a modular noob considering starting a first modular system, based largely around analog wavefolding and tzfm, stuff I can't do with my normal hardware synths. So I've been doing a ton of research and comparing demos of complex analog oscillators (DPO, Verbos, Endorphin.es, Sputnik, Intellijel Rubicon/mFold, etc).

But everytime I think I see something unique (and analog), Doepfer seems to already have gotten there with a no-frills module that has all the features (if often divided amongst a few separate single purpose units), at a fraction of the price. Fewer internal modulation buses, but more flexibility through patching. None of the fancy graphics and fonts, of course.

For example, Rubicon is cool, but with a basic oscillator we're talking over $600. But a Doepfer a-110-2 and a-110-4 gets you tzfm, multiple waveforms, and I think all the extras of the Intellijel setup. I'm sure they don't sound identical, but all demos indicate not better or worse, just diff.

DPO is also cool. But at $600, why not do the a-110-2/4 combo with the a-137 waveshaper/folder, and for $450, get tzfm AND wavefolding? The only thing I see missing is variable slew between oscillators but any utility module can do that (ie: Disting or Maths that you prob have anyway), and you get the powerful possibility of wavefolding with fm, or even each into the other?

Doepfer always gets high grades on synth sites for sound quality, demos sound good, and its modules are boring but well laid out in terms of features, but they are never the 'talked about' units.

Do they just look boring? While I prefer cool fonts and graphics, if that's all it is, it seems Doepfer usually has more features and patchable flexibility for often significantly less cash.

Am I missing something?

Last edited by fromthepuggle; 26th April 2016 at 05:51 PM..
Old 26th April 2016
  #2
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pr0gr4m's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by fromthepuggle View Post
Am I missing something?
I don't believe you are. You understand the differences, and seem aware that things are different and not necessarily worse or better.
Old 26th April 2016
  #3
Doepfer is a well respected brand but there are many more out there just as good. It's all a matter of preference and as the saying goes, "Beauty is in the eye of the beholder."

Go with what appeals to you and for a sound you'll be sure of.
Old 26th April 2016
  #4
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subdo's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by fromthepuggle View Post
.....Doepfer always gets high grades on synth sites for sound quality, demos sound good, and its modules are boring but well laid out in terms of features, but they are never the 'talked about' units.

Do they just look boring? While I prefer cool fonts and graphics, if that's all it is, it seems Doepfer usually has more features and patchable flexibility for often significantly less cash.

Am I missing something?
Deopfer can be a little hard to get a hold of in the states. I think analogue haven is the only place that caries them (could be wrong). I think the new "Vintage" panels look pretty cool actually. I haven;t seen them for sale anywhere I shop though. Pittsburgh modular is like the Deopfer of the US. Simple well built no frills modules.
Old 26th April 2016
  #5
Quote:
Originally Posted by subdo View Post
Deopfer can be a little hard to get a hold of in the states. I think analogue haven is the only place that caries them (could be wrong). I think the new "Vintage" panels look pretty cool actually. I haven;t seen them for sale anywhere I shop though. Pittsburgh modular is like the Deopfer of the US. Simple well built no frills modules.
Ive bought doepfer from detroit modular, they have a pretty large catalogue
Old 26th April 2016
  #6
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Many smaller brands presents unique modules that does more than the individual Doepfer ones. Many of the impossible scenarios for a sequencer or VCO; is impossible with the standard Doepfer modules without expanding your case. But it is about sound and features. I have payed many times the price for some modules because I want that sound.
Old 26th April 2016
  #7
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subdo's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by kcearl View Post
Ive bought doepfer from detroit modular, they have a pretty large catalogue
So they do! They even have the new vintage paneled ones. Good to know.
Old 26th April 2016
  #8
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Doepfer is a fantastic product. I started out with their Basic System back in the day (however, there were only a handful of Eurorack manufacturers at the time).

They sound great, they are pretty well built and they are a great product for the price. I don't have many Doepfer modules left in my rig. I have sold them all as I tended to gravitate towards other "more interesting" modules. That being said, they are PHENOMENAL if you want to get your feet wet in modular. Even now, I do wish I owned some of their modules.
Old 26th April 2016
  #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by subdo View Post
Deopfer can be a little hard to get a hold of in the states. I think analogue haven is the only place that caries them (could be wrong). I think the new "Vintage" panels look pretty cool actually. I haven;t seen them for sale anywhere I shop though. Pittsburgh modular is like the Deopfer of the US. Simple well built no frills modules.
This actually makes a ton of sense. If you can't find Doepfer in your local store (I just looked, and sure enough mine doesn't have them, and I've been looking mostly at Analogue Haven's site), it's hard to compare in person.
Old 26th April 2016
  #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by pr0gr4m View Post
I don't believe you are. You understand the differences, and seem aware that things are different and not necessarily worse or better.
Ok, cool, good to hear it.

Of course there's sound pref, and that's always gonna be quirky, but there's a difference between a second rate module and 'just different,' and everything seems to indicate it's more preference than overall quality. (That said, some people do gripe a little about Doepfer build quality, but not overwhelmingly so).

The comparison to Pittsburgh also makes sense, I think.

Of course, Make Noise always looks cooler (or Noise Engineering, or insert favorite cool module graphics aesthetic here).
Old 26th April 2016
  #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by intuitionnyc View Post
Doepfer is a fantastic product. I started out with their Basic System back in the day (however, there were only a handful of Eurorack manufacturers at the time).

They sound great, they are pretty well built and they are a great product for the price. I don't have many Doepfer modules left in my rig. I have sold them all as I tended to gravitate towards other "more interesting" modules. That being said, they are PHENOMENAL if you want to get your feet wet in modular. Even now, I do wish I owned some of their modules.
I'm curious, which Doepfers did you sell for which more interesting units, and why?
Old 26th April 2016
  #12
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BTByrd's Avatar
There's no reason not to go for an all-Doepfer system unless there's something you want that Doepfer doesn't make. And there's a lot of modules out there that don't have Doepfer equivalents. Referring to your original post, for example, the DPO's circuitry and component design is radically different from the Doepfer modules you mentioned, so while you can get similar functionality from Doepfer modules, the sound will be considerably different (as will be the way it responds to modulation). Then there are modules whose functionality and sound are radically different from anything Doepfer makes.
Old 26th April 2016
  #13
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xanderbeanz's Avatar
I love my A137-1, I run all kindsa stuff through it! Kinda cryptic but incredible.
Old 26th April 2016
  #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BTByrd View Post
There's no reason not to go for an all-Doepfer system unless there's something you want that Doepfer doesn't make. And there's a lot of modules out there that don't have Doepfer equivalents. Referring to your original post, for example, the DPO's circuitry and component design is radically different from the Doepfer modules you mentioned, so while you can get similar functionality from Doepfer modules, the sound will be considerably different (as will be the way it responds to modulation). Then there are modules whose functionality and sound are radically different from anything Doepfer makes.
That makes sense. I was listening last night to a Muff Wiggler post that did a blind test of Endorphin.es, DPO, and Rubicon/mFold. All excellent, really a matter of taste. Some are fuzzier, some more precise, some seem calibrated to sharper shaped curves when you turn a knob or modulate a CV than others, but really about preference.

If Doepfer isn't avail for comparison at my local store (and it's not), that's a downside. But perhaps it makes sense to go with a bunch of Doepfers, and replace selectively if I hear something better from there.
Old 26th April 2016
  #15
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BTByrd's Avatar
Or go to the store and buy what you like there rather than buying a bunch of modules that you've never heard or used before and then trying to correct your purchasing mistakes after the fact.
Old 26th April 2016
  #16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BTByrd View Post
Or go to the store and buy what you like there rather than buying a bunch of modules that you've never heard or used before and then trying to correct your purchasing mistakes after the fact.
This is sensible in theory, but practically speaking, it's much more expensive. The only way to really compare the Doepfer, since they aren't at my local store, is to buy them, hear them in my house, then go to my local store and see if there's something better. They'll retain their value if I choose to sell them.
Old 26th April 2016
  #17
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BTByrd's Avatar
Buy used modules. Muff's B/S/T forum is probably the best around.
Old 26th April 2016
  #18
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BTByrd View Post
Buy used modules. Muff's B/S/T forum is probably the best around.
Well yeah, buying used at Muffs totally makes sense. I do want to support my local store, though (Control in Brooklyn), especially since demoing things there for free isn't quite fair since they need to pay rent (not cheap in Bklyn) and without brick and mortar there's no way to demo things first.
Old 26th April 2016
  #19
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BTByrd's Avatar
Ordering an all-Doepfer from Analogue Haven isn't going to help them out much. You seem pretty set on the DPO; keep your eyes out for a used one and buy the cheaper support modules locally. Also, Control sells used modules. So there's that.
Old 26th April 2016
  #20
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intuitionnyc's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by fromthepuggle View Post
I'm curious, which Doepfers did you sell for which more interesting units, and why?
Some of it was just getting rid of what I wasn't using. For ex, I sold a clock divider, clock sequencer switch type module, ring modulator, because it wasn't really in my workflow at the time. Plus, the Basic System comes with a full case. You have to sell something (or just take it out) to use something else.

Eventually, after a long time, I sold my Doepfer VCO's and Filters because I found others that were more appealing to me in terms of sound, size, etc. I think the Doepfer stuff sounds great, but for me, it was a little too plain vanilla in comparison to some stuff Harvestman, Make Noise and Livewire was making at the time.

Like I said, at the time, Doepfer was a great entry point for me. I don't regret it at all. Plus, I didn't have a store near me to try out a modular and get feedback from other owners. I figured the Basic System would have everything I needed to start out. Nowadays, there are so many other options. If I was starting out now, I would get a skiff and get some modules I really identify with. That's not to say Doepfer isn't still amazing. Another reason I think they are great for beginners is because they are relatively simple modules. In contrast, while Make Noise Maths is an EPIC module due to the fact that it can do SO many things, if you are a beginner, it may take a long time before you can wrap your head around everything it does.
Old 26th April 2016
  #21
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When I was putting together my modular, I decided to make it all Doepfer to save money and simplify things. I like their approach of making relatively simple modules, each with a primary function. Everything works together perfectly. And if there are any problems, I only need to deal with one manufacturer to sort them out. There are certainly better sounding/more interesting modules out there. But overall, I'm really happy with this system and have no regrets for going with Doepfer.
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Old 26th April 2016
  #22
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fusionid's Avatar
 

The A-124 Wasp Filter is one of the best filters ever. Regardless of who makes it or what it looks like.
Must buy for that price there is no competition.
Old 26th April 2016
  #23
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BTByrd's Avatar
+1 on Wasp. It sounds freaking fantastic despite being one of the cheapest modules in my rig.

I'll also throw in a plug for Frankenrigs. While some people really love the aesthetic of having just one manufacturer in a system, I prefer like the versatility of combining them. For instance, Tony from Make Noise was inspired by The Harvestman to start his own synth company, and the Donut pairs well with the Make Noise stuff. (Indeed, Tony spent a lot of time with the Donut while he was designing the DPO because he loved how intensely deep the modulation amounts you can achieve are.) I probably own more Doepfer modules than anything else (with Make Noise running a close second) and think they're great. But there's a big world of modules out there and I wouldn't want to stick to just one manufacturer. For reference, here's my main Eurorack case.



It has 13+ different manufacturers in it, but it's a well thought out system so it feels like a singular instrument. Everything compliments and enhances everything else.
Old 26th April 2016
  #24
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enossified's Avatar
I think it's just a flavor of the month mentality.

Doepfer has been around close to 20 years now. Synthesizers.com and MOTM well over a decade, other mfrs I seldom hear people discuss include Blacet, pAiA, Cynthia, Modcan, Wiard and Analog Systems...they were all around when I first entered the modular world in 2005. Not coincidentally outside of Doepfer and AS they don't have a presence in Eurorack and they offer a solid but conservative line of modules.

But if Doepfer hadn't invented Eurorack where would we be today, eh?
Old 26th April 2016
  #25
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Mefistophelees's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by fromthepuggle View Post
DPO is also cool. But at $600, why not do the a-110-2/4 combo with the a-137 waveshaper/folder, and for $450, get tzfm AND wavefolding? The only thing I see missing is variable slew between oscillators but any utility module can do that (ie: Disting or Maths that you prob have anyway), and you get the powerful possibility of wavefolding with fm, or even each into the other?
The DPO has 3 wave shapers and a pair of modulation busses. You'd need a bunch of modules to implement these fully. Despite being quite expensive, it is actually good value given all the functionality it provides.

Quote:
Do they just look boring? While I prefer cool fonts and graphics, if that's all it is, it seems Doepfer usually has more features and patchable flexibility for often significantly less cash.

Am I missing something?
Doepfer might not be the most talked about but they do a lot of good, very well priced modules. I tend to go for exotic stuff and I have a good few Doepfer modules. They do some exotic stuff like the PLL, min/max and IIRC a 6 pole Vactrol filter.
Old 27th April 2016
  #26
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Quote:
Originally Posted by intuitionnyc View Post
Some of it was just getting rid of what I wasn't using. For ex, I sold a clock divider, clock sequencer switch type module, ring modulator, because it wasn't really in my workflow at the time. Plus, the Basic System comes with a full case. You have to sell something (or just take it out) to use something else.

Eventually, after a long time, I sold my Doepfer VCO's and Filters because I found others that were more appealing to me in terms of sound, size, etc. I think the Doepfer stuff sounds great, but for me, it was a little too plain vanilla in comparison to some stuff Harvestman, Make Noise and Livewire was making at the time.

Like I said, at the time, Doepfer was a great entry point for me. I don't regret it at all. Plus, I didn't have a store near me to try out a modular and get feedback from other owners. I figured the Basic System would have everything I needed to start out. Nowadays, there are so many other options. If I was starting out now, I would get a skiff and get some modules I really identify with. That's not to say Doepfer isn't still amazing. Another reason I think they are great for beginners is because they are relatively simple modules. In contrast, while Make Noise Maths is an EPIC module due to the fact that it can do SO many things, if you are a beginner, it may take a long time before you can wrap your head around everything it does.
Yeah, I don't think I'd go for a basic system or anything like that, and oscillators and filters especially seem like a first thing to replace.

And yes, Maths DOES look amazing! It's hard not to see that as a logical supplement to any system.
Old 27th April 2016
  #27
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Quote:
Originally Posted by maisonvague View Post
When I was putting together my modular, I decided to make it all Doepfer to save money and simplify things. I like their approach of making relatively simple modules, each with a primary function. Everything works together perfectly. And if there are any problems, I only need to deal with one manufacturer to sort them out. There are certainly better sounding/more interesting modules out there. But overall, I'm really happy with this system and have no regrets for going with Doepfer.
Wow, there's not even one module from another manufacturer. You sure you don't own stock in the company?!
Old 27th April 2016
  #28
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mefistophelees View Post
The DPO has 3 wave shapers and a pair of modulation busses. You'd need a bunch of modules to implement these fully. Despite being quite expensive, it is actually good value given all the functionality it provides.



Doepfer might not be the most talked about but they do a lot of good, very well priced modules. I tend to go for exotic stuff and I have a good few Doepfer modules. They do some exotic stuff like the PLL, min/max and IIRC a 6 pole Vactrol filter.
I'm unclear how the DPO would differ from an a-137 (you say 3 waveshapers on a DPO?). I'm not fully sure of a one to one comparison on features, but there are four diff modulations of the waveshaping on the a-137, multiples of the wave, folding level, harmonics, and symmetry, while the DPO has fold, shape, and angle. Even if these are not identical parameters it seems comparable in flexibility.
Old 27th April 2016
  #29
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Here is what Doepfer doesn't do well: digital.
Old 27th April 2016
  #30
Doepfer rocks. Solid, fairly cheap, lots of options. Nice features like a lot of built-in attenuators on inputs (bugs me that other manufacturers leave those out). My one single complaint is mostly tactile - the pots are stiff to turn, so frantic live tweaking isn't as easy as other modules.
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