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Buying Serge in 2018? Modular Synthesizers
Old 21st August 2018
  #1
Gear Addict
Buying Serge in 2018?

Thinking about picking up a Serge Animal, but not entirely clear on what my options in 2018 are. So where do I actually go to buy one of these today? And other panels. I know Random Source has some stuff, but I couldn't see the Animal/Animoo on their site.
Old 21st August 2018
  #2
If you want new, then Rex Probe (real name: Christopher Grulich, Rex Probe is his artist name) is the guy to talk to. Not at all cheap, but highest quality.
I bought a Creature from him and the experience was positive. Handmade synth without any flaws.
He runs a company called "Sound Transform Systems". Telephone is (262) 367-3030 (vox) (yep, no email )
You can find more info here: Egres - The Unofficial Serge Page
If you want secondhand, check the classifieds at Muff Wiggler forum.
Old 22nd August 2018
  #3
My experience with 'Rex' was good and bad. Mostly a lot of bs marketing hype and associated high price, but the build quality was good.
Personally I would highly recommend looking for a used panel (or system).
They fairly regularly pop up, especially on Muffwiggler.
Old 22nd August 2018
  #4
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spiderman's Avatar
Serge has been on my mind lately too. Animal looks great.... but those prices are nuts, especially considering "for the people that would be both inexpensive and powerful" was the original Serge intention. $5000 for that panel seems like too much for me. I've been looking at DIY and the 73-75 kits look more like what I expected. Also found a La Bestia II and Edelweiss II on Modular Addict that looked interesting.

Anyone have experience with 73-75 or the MA kits mentioned? The sound seems right from the demos. The build doesn't seem too difficult.
Old 22nd August 2018
  #5
No, but the STS Serge panels are excellent - if you can find them cheaper.
People sell panels or whole systems at Muffwiggler.
All the guff about 'military spec' etc winds me up, but the end product is good, just not THAT good.
Old 22nd August 2018
  #6
Gear Addict
Re: looking for a used panel on Muffs or wherever... which builder(s) should I be looking for? STS or someone else? Sorry, that's the one aspect of Serge I'm confused about; all the different builders. Was/is STS the only one to make the Animal/Animoo?
Old 22nd August 2018
  #7
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spiderman's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by smitty.west View Post
Re: which builder(s) should I be looking for? ....
Was/is STS the only one to make the Animal/Animoo?
Along the lines of this question... Is Animal/Animoo a different circuit, or just a different name for a panel of common Serge designed circuits? (guessing the later)
Old 22nd August 2018
  #8
Gear Addict
Also, how is the Random Source stuff? I noticed their panels are new ones- I'm guessing their "best of" or something like that?
Old 22nd August 2018
  #9
Gear Addict
Quote:
Originally Posted by spiderman View Post
Along the lines of this question... Is Animal/Animoo a different circuit, or just a different name for a panel of common Serge designed circuits? (guessing the later)
Animoo is an Animal with ring mod. I think I'll actually go for an Animoo as I'm not planning to turn this into a big system, so I'd like as dense a panel as possible. IIRC Animoo is $300-500 more than Animal.

Any of you Serge guys go with the analog delay? So expensive, but kinda' intriguing.

Is it easy to integrate Serge w/ Modcan A?
Old 22nd August 2018
  #10
Yes I used to have a Serge/Modcan/Synton Fenix system.
Being banana systems you just need to be careful with grounding.

For Serge you are basically talking STS for the most part.
They started making the consistent, well built panels from the 80's.
I'm sure the current Random*Source stuff is also well built and thought out. R*S have collaborated with the originator of Serge.

There have been kits and DIY panels over the years. I would personally avoid them.
The Wilson Analog Delay is not like a standard delay module. I have never owned one, although people swear by it.
The key Serge modules to own (IMO) are:
NTO
VCM
UAD
DUSG

Add a filter.
I also loved the ResEQ module and the FRS (Frequency Shifter)
Old 22nd August 2018
  #11
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spiderman's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by chrisso View Post
There have been kits and DIY panels over the years. I would personally avoid them.
Weren't all of the original Serge panels kits and DIY projects?
Old 22nd August 2018
  #12
Yes, the early Serge panels were not professionally made, but maybe under the supervision of someone qualified? But yeah, they were like kits.
I hear they often sound great, but sometimes have issues.
In any case, I'm only speaking personally, but I would stick to the STS or possibly new factory made R*S.
Old 22nd August 2018
  #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by smitty.west View Post
Also, how is the Random Source stuff? I noticed their panels are new ones- I'm guessing their "best of" or something like that?
The RS* modules are nice for Euro, but a big part of the Serge aesthetic is in the banana cables and stacking. You can do something similar with stackables in Euro, but it's really much more fiddly.

That said, I have practically all of them, and if the DIY boards are available I'd recommend them fully if you already have a euro system. They are a bit pricey premade and most of them are easy DIY builds. The res eq maybe being the exception, not due to the build difficulty, but the quandry of what caps you want to use and sourcing the nice ones.
Old 22nd August 2018
  #14
Quote:
Originally Posted by bluegreengold View Post
The RS* modules are nice for Euro, but a big part of the Serge aesthetic is in the banana cables and stacking. You can do something similar with stackables in Euro, but it's really much more fiddly.
R*S offer Serge with banana connectivity too.
Serge Modular by Random*Source
Old 22nd August 2018
  #15
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cane creek's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by bluegreengold View Post
The res eq maybe being the exception, not due to the build difficulty, but the quandry of what caps you want to use and sourcing the nice ones.
Ive built the Ken stone version and Random Source version of the Resonant EQ and i thought the fun part was choosing the capacitors. You can get all the polystyrene values from Mouser or if you want to treat yourself to some vintage capacitors try Rush on line
Old 22nd August 2018
  #16
Quote:
Originally Posted by chrisso View Post
...
All the guff about 'military spec' etc winds me up, but the end product is good, just not THAT good.
you'd also have to consider the many synths used by the militairy
Old 23rd August 2018
  #17
Gear Addict
what would be your guys' top two panel choices? i'll likely keep it to 2-3 panels (though will be at least a year before i add a second) and am thinking animal + animate and eventually the sequencer. only going panel because more choices make it impossible for me to decide and i work better with some restrictions (relatively speaking).
Old 30th August 2018
  #18
Gear Maniac
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by chrisso View Post
My experience with 'Rex' was good and bad. Mostly a lot of bs marketing hype and associated high price, but the build quality was good.
Personally I would highly recommend looking for a used panel (or system).
They fairly regularly pop up, especially on Muffwiggler.
Marketing hype from someone who does zero marketing. Interesting.
Old 31st August 2018
  #19
Quote:
Originally Posted by MindMachine View Post
Marketing hype from someone who does zero marketing. Interesting.
Have you ever talked to him? I have many times, I also see posts on forums from people who have talked with Rex.
A classic (latest) example is this claim all his Serge parts are now 'military spec'.
When I first called him he said his Oakland panels were super high quality construction with top quality parts. A few years later he was telling people his Hartland panels were much better than the Oakland ones.
When I bought my system he claimed his (very expensive) PSU bricks were military spec and nothing else could be used as an alternative.
I did use a much cheaper, off the shelf alternative, which was fine actually. A friend paid for the STS PSU and ended up having endless issues with it.

Someone can still employ marketing hype if you have to speak to them personally to get advice and to order the product.
Old 31st August 2018
  #20
FWIW, I don't know if it's just the man's psychology, or if it's to justify the expensive price tag. I don't think Serge panels need the hype. It's a wonderful system, both in design and performance. I found the STS 'hype' off putting, especially coming from a more self deprecating UK culture.
Old 1st September 2018
  #21
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Quote:
Originally Posted by smitty.west View Post
what would be your guys' top two panel choices? i'll likely keep it to 2-3 panels (though will be at least a year before i add a second) and am thinking animal + animate and eventually the sequencer. only going panel because more choices make it impossible for me to decide and i work better with some restrictions (relatively speaking).
I have an Animal + Animate + Sequencer (not TKB) trio for many years now, along with a handful of Modcan A modules. I really wish that I had gotten the Animoo though, as I find myself missing a ring mod. I've been somewhat lukewarm on the Animate panel, and most of my patches revolve around the Animal.

I rarely find myself using the Animate's Triple Wave Shaper, Variable Bandwidth VCF, or Preamp modules. I should probably force myself to use those more, especially the Triple Wave Shaper and Variable Bandwidth VCF. I think that for my current tastes, if I had to start over, I might have gone with the Blue Voice and Blue CV panel combo. Still, I'm not unhappy with my Serge system. It's been in its current form for maybe 6-7 years now, with my initial Animal purchase happening over 8 years ago, and, for what it's worth, it's not going anywhere. I love the sound, form, and function of the STS Serge system.
Old 13th September 2018
  #22
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Septik's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by Reptil View Post
If you want new, then Rex Probe (real name: Christopher Grulich, Rex Probe is his artist name) is the guy to talk to. Not at all cheap, but highest quality.
Egres - The Unofficial Serge Page
If you want secondhand, check the classifieds at Muff Wiggler forum.
I wouldn't say "Highest Quality." The price tag being high makes this seem like a boutique type of rolls royce system, but after studying the guy's circuits quite a bit when reverse engineering some WADs for my DIY purposes, I have to say this guy does use some cheaper parts in certain areas than I would expect, and actually strays rather far from original Serge circuits.

I prefer the Random Source stuff to Rex's work, and I am not particularly fond of Rex's business practices or attitude about it. Or his regular price increases. I have had 4 panels by him, I have build everything R*S, and I have built over 10 CGS based panels. I would not say that I have ever felt any of his stuff to be superior in any way, and I ended up selling all of it and keeping only R*S and CGS based stuff.

Just my $0.02 that his stuff is not of any noticable superiority, especially not considering the ~250% more it costs than any other modern alternatives.

Anyway, Serge in this day & age is phenomenal. I rarely ever use my eurorack system since going deep into banana land, and my banana system would be nowhere near what it is without serge in the mix. DIY options are plentiful, there's that ready-made paperface style system from The Human Comparator, and there are lots of people who build R*S and CGS panels for sale (you can frequently find them used on muffs for $800-2250 depending on the panel, the most expensive being something like a La Bestia II whose PCB kit alone costs $1000)
Old 13th September 2018
  #23
Gear Maniac
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by chrisso View Post
Have you ever talked to him? I have many times, I also see posts on forums from people who have talked with Rex.
A classic (latest) example is this claim all his Serge parts are now 'military spec'.
When I first called him he said his Oakland panels were super high quality construction with top quality parts. A few years later he was telling people his Hartland panels were much better than the Oakland ones.
When I bought my system he claimed his (very expensive) PSU bricks were military spec and nothing else could be used as an alternative.
I did use a much cheaper, off the shelf alternative, which was fine actually. A friend paid for the STS PSU and ended up having endless issues with it.

Someone can still employ marketing hype if you have to speak to them personally to get advice and to order the product.
Yes - I have dealt with him since the early 90's as Serge (acquainted with Serge since I was 15-16 in '80-81... just as he was arriving on Haight I think) was handing things off to Rex. And yes after having Serge deliver units that were assembled in his kitchen foyer that needed rework upon pick-up, Rex's Oakland panels did seem bombproof and ultra high quality in comparison.

It started with him milling out aluminum panels per order configuration instead of using the old alumagraphics and stock punch board chassis tops. The panels were also greatly improved by condensing three space modules into two space modules with added stock modifications. Much better functionality in less space with much better quality. He also designed about 10 new modules that added to the line.

The Hartland panel I have looks to be similar to my Oakland panel under the hood. Maybe a little neater solder and wire harnessing. That is due to different builders at each stop I suppose.

So yeah, he can come off like a car salesman from Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy in some regards, but that is his charm. So yeah, if don't have time, don't call. Cause he will share some tales and hyperbole. Worth every dollar.

Last edited by MindMachine; 13th September 2018 at 09:18 PM.. Reason: add a little info
Old 17th September 2018
  #24
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Thanks in a large part to @Reptil and @j3rk who both suffered through my newb-ish questions about all things Serge (and Buchla) I've recently decided to put together a set of Random*Source eurorack modules to scratch my Serge itch while also saving me from having to monkey around with another format (Banana plugs, and 4U). I'm also working to fill another euroack case with several Verbos modules, and I'm after one of the 258J Oscillators by @j3rk.

Frankly I don't yet know much about the whole West Coast philosophy, I just know that I very much like some of the specific sounds I've heard enough to try them out for myself. t'll be good enough for my needs, and bring new sonic textures into my kit, rounding out the usual fare from Roland and Moog, etc.

Also, those other comments by @chrisso in the other recent West Coast thread were quite informative and interesting, to me, a newcomer to this synth niche.
Old 27th September 2018
  #25
you're welcome dude, glad to be of some help Random*Source solid choice.
Old 4th October 2018
  #26
Gear Nut
An Animal/Animoo are the same except the Animoo includes a passive ring modulator as part of the Wave Multiplier which is worth the extra cash. It's a very well designed "system" on it's own similar in the way the Buchla Music Easel is an "instrument"...without the touch keyboard.

On it's own you can make an incredible palate of sounds and the design flow, features, patch program-ability make it much deeper than it appears...which is true of the Serge general philosophy and design. Of course the fact that anything can be CV or audio means there is no distinction in what can be plugged where and the total banana approach means no multiple's are needed. Feedback loops with things re-modulating itself + other modules can get really crazy.

As for STS Sound Transform and Rex, I've been dealing with him for over 30 years having purchased some custom panels as well as M-Modules and the quality has been top notch on all...never a problem. Rex can be interesting to speak with but he is truly passionate about his product which he stands by should something go wrong....excellent service.

There are clearly cheaper alternatives these days and people obviously believe their builds are as good or better...I have no way to know as I don't build. The sonics from STS Serge are some of the best I have heard and it feels like you are molding and bending electricity. It is for sure not cheap but in my opinion (only) I have always felt I am getting a fair deal for the dollar and a great instrument.

And the resale is usually very high as well so not a bad investment. But the Animoo is what it is, you can't change it which keeps you from doing the buy/sell/buy/sell that can often occur with Euro and instead focus on exploring the capabilities and looking for new tricks. It's a VERY fun toy!!
Old 12th October 2018
  #27
Quote:
Originally Posted by Septik View Post
I wouldn't say "Highest Quality." The price tag being high makes this seem like a boutique type of rolls royce system, but after studying the guy's circuits quite a bit when reverse engineering some WADs for my DIY purposes, I have to say this guy does use some cheaper parts in certain areas than I would expect, and actually strays rather far from original Serge circuits.

I prefer the Random Source stuff to Rex's work, and I am not particularly fond of Rex's business practices or attitude about it. Or his regular price increases. I have had 4 panels by him, I have build everything R*S, and I have built over 10 CGS based panels. I would not say that I have ever felt any of his stuff to be superior in any way, and I ended up selling all of it and keeping only R*S and CGS based stuff.

Just my $0.02 that his stuff is not of any noticable superiority, especially not considering the ~250% more it costs than any other modern alternatives.

Anyway, Serge in this day & age is phenomenal. I rarely ever use my eurorack system since going deep into banana land, and my banana system would be nowhere near what it is without serge in the mix. DIY options are plentiful, there's that ready-made paperface style system from The Human Comparator, and there are lots of people who build R*S and CGS panels for sale (you can frequently find them used on muffs for $800-2250 depending on the panel, the most expensive being something like a La Bestia II whose PCB kit alone costs $1000)
I bought my creature plus a boat from Rex some years ago, before Random Source was in business.
I checked and they (Random Source) actually have PCB&Panel kits for serge format available on their website. Didn't know that.
Old 1 week ago
  #28
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Greg_KPX's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by bluegreengold View Post
The RS* modules are nice for Euro, but a big part of the Serge aesthetic is in the banana cables and stacking. You can do something similar with stackables in Euro, but it's really much more fiddly.
Yes, mults and stackables. No big deal and if someone has Eurorack already, it'll suck converting to bananas. It's basically buying into another system and doubling up on stuff.

For Euro Serge there is Elby, R*S and ARC etc... no need to change formats.
Old 1 week ago
  #29
Here for the gear
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Greg_KPX View Post
Yes, mults and stackables. No big deal and if someone has Eurorack already, it'll suck converting to bananas. It's basically buying into another system and doubling up on stuff.

For Euro Serge there is Elby, R*S and ARC etc... no need to change formats.
I wouldn't normally spam GS with this, but since the gearslutz 'threads you might be interested in' bot pointed me here.... for anyone in the EC who wants a nice STS system.... there's this at VEMIA, looking like new:
Spheremusic - Bargain or auction detail . Original cost 13000GBP (with tax & duty) three years ago, first bid cost including premium 7700GBP.
And a TKB with power supply from Belgium, and five other older panels too from the US in the same auction.
Peter Forrest
Old 1 week ago
  #30
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Gringo Starr's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by chrisso View Post
My experience with 'Rex' was good and bad.
Ain’t that the truth. Sometimes I had great conversations with him and other times I got off the phone thinking he was possibly one of the biggest d*ucheb*gs I’ve ever talked to. Guess it depends on the day.

That being said I believe it is high-quality. He gouges the hell out of you for what you get but what you’re going to get is going to be very good.
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