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Aether Machine Modular Synthesizers
Old 1 week ago
  #1
Gear Head
 

Thread Starter
Aether Machine

Hi All

Here to announce a new modular company.

The format the modules are in are most closely aligned to Wiard synthesizers 300 series modules, following the 6U height, interface groupings and alignment, with full shielding. Although my modules diverge slightly, such as using a full parallel mount chassis, fully balanced I/O using TT connectors, different colour scheme and a novel design philosophy.

I seem to be in a bit of a catch 22, where people aren't ready to get on board until I have a full system for sale, but I can't commit the time, labour and finances to a full system until I know people will support it.

Nonetheless the first product is ready for immediate shipping. It is a version of a complex oscillator. Omitting the internal bussing to allow for higher internal circuit complexity and better user freedom.

There are 2 totally unique VCO cores inside. One is a very high accuracy Sine/Cosine generator, with auxiliary second harmonic outputs. The second will allow through zero linear FM, and is an analogue implementation of a wavetable oscillator. This has some advantages compared to digital implementations, namely the sound. But also that a direct computation allows for settings not found in look up table solutions, and that these states can be accessed via a calibrated 1v/oct control (i.e. it can be "played" and behaves more like a tuning control).

Given the internal complexity there are some limitations in the wavetable oscillator, the frequency linearity is not 100%, and high FM indices are not that possible.

Future modules include a sort of vanilla quad LPG, and a complex filter based on an efficient analogue model for a vibrating membrane (a string filter is the wave equation in 2 dimensions, the membrane is 3).

Thanks for looking. Feel free to ask me any questions here or via the contact details on my website.

Mark

aether machine
Old 1 week ago
  #2
6U? As in twice as tall as Euro? I never even knew such a thing existed. Or is it new?

Looks neat either way and I wish you well with your efforts. I’ll be dipping my toe into making modules soon enough too.
Old 1 week ago
  #3
Gear Head
 

Thread Starter
The format was developed by Grant Richter of Wiard synthesizers, around 2001. Grant also contributed heavily to Frac rack, and is one of the pioneers of modular synthesis.

The Wiard system is still available, now run by Cary Grace:

Wiard

I chose to design for this format as it was my favourite system to use as a musician (those days are long gone though, alas). Yes, 6U as in twice the height of euro.

The modules I am offering are 100% compatible, although as an original designer I have veered in a slightly different direction regarding some nuances and aesthetics.
Old 1 week ago
  #4
Quote:
Originally Posted by oblio View Post
The format was developed by Grant Richter of Wiard synthesizers, around 2001. Grant also contributed heavily to Frac rack, and is one of the pioneers of modular synthesis.

The Wiard system is still available, now run by Cary Grace:

Wiard

I chose to design for this format as it was my favourite system to use as a musician (those days are long gone though, alas). Yes, 6U as in twice the height of euro.

The modules I am offering are 100% compatible, although as an original designer I have veered in a slightly different direction regarding some nuances and aesthetics.
Thanks for the info. Always something new to learn with modular.
Old 1 week ago
  #5
Lives for gear
 
void23's Avatar
Sorry if this comes off as trollish ... but why would anyone pursue making modules for an obscure format with almost no market share? Admittedly, most people are in the modular business for the love of the format and not to make themselves rich, but you still have to fund your efforts.
Old 1 week ago
  #6
Gear Head
 

Thread Starter
Quote:
Originally Posted by void23 View Post
Sorry if this comes off as trollish ... but why would anyone pursue making modules for an obscure format with almost no market share? Admittedly, most people are in the modular business for the love of the format and not to make themselves rich, but you still have to fund your efforts.
Let me rephrase your question slightly. Why would anyone buy a product from me?

The design has no relation to 1970s Buchla topologies, which all the "complex oscillator" modules on the eurorack market are, to varying degrees.

The fact that I have designed it from scratch means I can guarantee functionality, and not resort to the typical excuses of "that's just how it is".

Again, with customer support, I am backing my business 100%, sink or swim. If you have a problem my livelihood is on the line, and I cannot afford to fob you off.

Because the performance is better, the functionality and sound is unique.

Surely the fact I am prepared to take such a risk (as every single leap in the art was before me) should be a positive from the point of view of a user, no? Because if the idea was half assed I would have **** canned it yonks ago.
Old 1 week ago
  #7
Lives for gear
 
void23's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by oblio View Post
Let me rephrase your question slightly. Why would anyone buy a product from me?

The design has no relation to 1970s Buchla topologies, which all the "complex oscillator" modules on the eurorack market are, to varying degrees.

The fact that I have designed it from scratch means I can guarantee functionality, and not resort to the typical excuses of "that's just how it is".

Again, with customer support, I am backing my business 100%, sink or swim. If you have a problem my livelihood is on the line, and I cannot afford to fob you off.

Because the performance is better, the functionality and sound is unique.

Surely the fact I am prepared to take such a risk (as every single leap in the art was before me) should be a positive from the point of view of a user, no? Because if the idea was half assed I would have **** canned it yonks ago.
I was more referring to the 6u format as opposed to Euro or even 5u.
Old 1 week ago
  #8
Gear Maniac
 
TMT75's Avatar
That sound!!! Wow
20:00 of joy!
Although I think it is very niche, this ‘machine’ as an instrument is very interesting. And having some options is a bonus.
If I was a rich man......
Old 1 week ago
  #9
Gear Maniac
 
TMT75's Avatar
Braids won’t get me there, I have tried
Old 1 week ago
  #10
Gear Head
 

Thread Starter
Quote:
Originally Posted by TMT75 View Post
That sound!!! Wow
20:00 of joy!
Although I think it is very niche, this ‘machine’ as an instrument is very interesting. And having some options is a bonus.
If I was a rich man......
Hey, thanks for checking it out.

Yes, the price is something I wish was different. I worked hard to keep it low (direct sales helps with that), but the company is staffed 100% by engineers, artists, metalworkers and no marketing or sales department to tell us where to cut corners....
Old 1 week ago
  #11
Lives for gear
 
Coorec's Avatar
Here is what you want to hear: It sound very unique and good. Very interesting. Excellent work, congratulations on your technical and soundrelated achievment!

Here is what you dont want to hear: Make it 3U and make a more acceptable front plate design. Or ask someone to help you make better decisions on the business side of things. There are specialists for that kind of thing. LIke Mr. Schneider from Schneiders Büro / Schneidersladen in Berlin. The guy who runs Superb00th.

I am willing to invest money, even that much. But i cant put it into a rack i have, nor power it from things i have, etc. You are asking too much from new customers.

I wish you best of luck with the Wiard "crowd" tho and hope you will at some point reconsider.
Old 1 week ago
  #12
Gear Head
 

Thread Starter
@Coorec

I am in the process of collaborating with a euro manufacturer to release my upcoming physical modelling filter in parallel in both 3U and 6U, let's see how that goes. But for the most part the business is structured around small scale production and cannot be scaled upwards without fundamentally changing why I am doing it in the first place, NOS parts not available in mass quantities, lifetime serviceability from TH production, a fairly paid skilled work force. So, only a select few designs will be suitable for euro.

RE: The panel design, my feeling is that the customers who are calling for a classic blue panel with minijacks will be disappointed with whatever product I am selling. I am a new designer offering a new take on synthesis, not rereleasing anything.
Old 1 week ago
  #13
Quote:
Originally Posted by oblio View Post
Let me rephrase your question slightly. Why would anyone buy a product from me?
Well actually you shouldn't rephrase his question, because it was a decent question and more caring than your rephrasing assumes.
Wiard was never a big seller, and even moreso post 2000 there are well established formats you could have chosen. It's just about racking and power. It doesn't have to change your module aesthetic or sound.
You could have gone 5U, or 'Banana' like Modcan/Bugbrand/Buchla and Serge, or Euro.

I would call Richter a 1990's second wave modular 'pioneer'. The real modular pioneers were 1960/70's Moog, Buchla, EMU, EMS, Arp and Serge Tcherapin, a full 20+ years before Wiard.
Old 1 week ago
  #14
Quote:
Originally Posted by oblio View Post
RE: The panel design, my feeling is that the customers who are calling for a classic blue panel with minijacks will be disappointed with whatever product I am selling. I am a new designer offering a new take on synthesis, not rereleasing anything.
I don't know you. Not trying to be harsh here, but you don't seem to read people's comments without changing what they mean.
I don't think 'Coorec' was asking for a Wiard style 'plain blue panel', I think 'Coorec' like myself, thought your own panel design was very individual/unusual, and as such would be another contributing factor to limiting sales.
You are free to ignore potential customers feedback and advice of course.
For your own sake, I think you could read their feedback without making incorrect assumptions.
Old 1 week ago
  #15
Gear Head
 

Thread Starter
I am not here to canvas investment for a potential new design. The new design is on offer and ready for shipping. It has taken 5 years of R&D and the cost to fund it is in the region of what you may see for similar products on kickstarter.

Of course I thought about manufacturing for euro, or other formats. I already stated why I chose 6U, that it was my format of choice as a user. But as a designer it offers higher mechanical, aesthetic, musical and electronic functionality/performance. There are a number of different valid design styles, this is mine. Because I am independent and "new" does not make me naive or a fool.

I am simply asking people to look at what I am doing. It is a novel synthesis paradigm, which in itself is both rare and interesting, even if you are not interested in becoming a client.

Last edited by oblio; 1 week ago at 02:40 PM..
Old 1 week ago
  #16
Again though you are misreading and projecting negativity on to my posts.
I don't think anyone thought you were looking for investors (just for one example).
I think modular users here have just given you honest feedback on your product.
Simply put...
Your choice of a very niche, virtually discontinued format is likely to limit the number of potential buyers.
Secondly, that your choice of graphics is likely to put a lot of people off.
Absolutely feel free to ignore this feedback. Who knows, we may be completely wrong.
Very good luck with your venture anyway.
Old 1 week ago
  #17
Indeed there’s something lost in translation here. All anyone has been trying to ask you is-

Why 6u and why not Euro?

It’s a very simple question and nobody is tryout no to say anything negative at all. I’d never even heard of the format until you started the thread and I’ve been into modular for years so it’s s valid question imo. I really don’t care one way or the other but reading this thread is getting weird. Good luck with the product.
Old 1 week ago
  #18
Back in the late 90's, when Eurorack was still more or less just Doepfer and AS, other formats arguably had decent appeal. So along came Technosaurus, Modcan A (then B) and STS Serge had a resurgence. At that time Wiard came along, designed by a well known modular designer/user Grant Richter, who also frequented the main analogue synth forums of the time.
Wiard is of course fully compatible with Eurorack, it just needs a different case and power.
A couple of unique and interesting Wiard modules of the time were the wavetable (Waveform City) and random (Wogglebug). Rare DIY system Digisound (UK) had offered a wavetable module, but Wiard were the only new maker offering one. Although Modcan also offered one roundabout that time.
The only modular maker offering a Buchla style random module was Wiard. That module has since been incorporated into the Make Noise catalog of course.
Old 1 week ago
  #19
Gear Head
 

Thread Starter
I thought I had been explicit about my reasons for the choice of format, but allow me to be more specific.

Adopting these designs for euro would require compromises at a fundamental level, that I am not willing to make, except in a collaboration with a euro manufacturer, which is something I am exploring for specific designs that would easily translate.

Design for shallow cases/skiffs means that for a complex design like this parallel mount SMT boards are the only option for manufacture. As a user I become attached the the devices that I use, and if they can be designed to stay in service throughout my lifetime, this is certainly desirable. This can be possible with SMT, but it is certainly not as easy as through hole with socketed ICs. All front panel controls are mounted using connectors that can be replaced without the need for soldering.

The Wiard 6U format also includes a chassis for robustness and for electrical shielding. This electrical shielding is further taken advantage of with a fully balanced I/O using high reliablity bantam connectors. Moulded bantam cables are available for prices that are cheaper than minijack cables, or certainly equivalent. This makes interfacing with studio, live environments and soundcards much cheaper and easier. You can just patch directly without needing input/output modules/transformers/DIs.

The small scale production and low volume sales means I can increase quality by working with other independent vendors/makers/artists. I can also source parts that are not readily available on the commercial market such as Teflon capacitors, and match components to <0.001% accuracy (where necessary), which is absolutely NOT possible with high volume manufacture. High volume sales are not specifically inherent in the euro format, but to access the distributor network I would likely need to move things in that direction. I would prefer to work with a small number of clients who are into what I do.

+/-15V PSU using better specified distribution (Molex 1490) means increased headroom, higher SNR, lower crosstalk.

The mechanical layout and interface groupings offer a high useability factor. It's a personal preference, and mine is for the style Grant offered.

The Wiard modules are absolutely NOT discontinued, and the vast majority are still in production.

If you made it this far, thanks for reading!
Old 1 week ago
  #20
Lives for gear
 
Derp's Avatar
Nothing wrong with a deep module. I think the whole "can I skiff it?" fad is pretty much over with everybody getting much deeper cases more frequently than skiffs. If you want the shielding and all that jazz, you can build it into the module and charge more. Even 5u will get you more people to buy into it. The number of people that own a Wiard system is tiny, and I imagine it's an even smaller fraction of that that want anything that isn't Wiard. I think it would be worth the time, cost, and R&D to reconsider your system choice and gear it for Euro. There's no shortage of people that are into luxury modules in Euro, so they'll fork over the additional costs for it.
Old 1 week ago
  #21
Personally I'd understand why you would not want to enter Eurorack.
It's very overcrowded market, the modules themselves are cramped for space and many of the modules sold have compromises in them.

You don't see many people using Wiard, that's all I was saying.
Old 1 week ago
  #22
Gear Head
 

Thread Starter
I think I would get my feet dragged over the coals for a euro module that wasn't skiffable. A lot of clients in that format are touring musicians, and to check in their gear is a big deal.

Another issue with larger scale production is user support, it's clear quite a lot of companies rely on internet forums to do that for them, especially regarding integration into unknown set ups, although some of the more successsful companies like Make Noise have dedicated staff for this. Certainly with the oscillators I have had to answer a number of questions already due to the fact that no similar product exists; the behaviour is nuanced and can be unpredictable until you know what you are doing. I would prefer to be able to do this myself.

With complex analogue computation modules like the oscillators (less so with other forthcoming designs), hand matching 0.1% resistors to <0.001% or less is absolutely critical to the design (speaking as a perfectionist), this is laborious, requires specialist equipment and cannot be upscaled to automated assembly processes.

So, euro is really not possible here.
Old 1 week ago
  #23


Now we're getting somewhere.....
Old 1 week ago
  #24
Gear Nut
 
Summer Of Nebula's Avatar
 

I like its design and think it sounds fabulous. I am curious what your filter will look and sound like.

Best of luck!
Old 1 week ago
  #25
Gear Maniac
 
TMT75's Avatar
I am no expert. Not at all......
My ‘vision’ is not of any value, but the demo I saw was really awesome, even on my IPhone the sound was fantastic. I forgot it was about a 6U module and a 6U rack. I saw and heard an instrument.
If I had the money I really would think of buying an instrument like this. The sound of your module is absolutely a good selling point. And there was something going on, the sound and sequencer ...
I didn’t think of it as too expensive. Yeah it is a lot of money, and I can’t afford it, but Buchla for example is not cheap either
But finding other modulemakers who also see the benefit of making modules for this 6U system would be preferable. Just a few to start with. They won’t be your competitors , it makes the concept more appealing for the customers.
I like the panel design btw. But I think that if the only option is the blue panels and your ‘not so blue’ panel, it won’t help with sales. Though I must say, somehow it looked very cool with the other modules. Like..... the king of them .
......Still, it will be niche yeah.

(Ps difficult to express this in English, sorry for that)
Old 1 week ago
  #26
Gear Addict
 
j3rk's Avatar
 

Just want to chime in to say that Mark is a first rate designer. I've seen his work, his schematics, and the dedication put into the mechanical aspects of these modules. If you happen to be one of the few that owns a marvelous Wiard 300 system out there, IMO you couldn't do better than to add his modules. I've followed some of his projects throughout their various stages, and they are meticulously planned, tested, and executed. Very impressive.

Yes, the format is somewhat limiting. I've considered building for it before myself actually, but took the easy way out, and went 4U banana and 5U.

My .02 anyway.
Old 1 week ago
  #27
Nice! I was just thinking this week that I'd love to have a case that combined eurorack modular stuff with API 500 stuff -- I want to build a sort of next-level mixing desk eventually -- and 6U might be the way to go, although what I was hoping to do was use the eurorack stuff for line-level duties, and the API series stuff for things like mic preamps, outputs, compression, and other "recording" sorts of tasks. I feel like the extra headroom (along with space for better shielding) here makes a difference sound-wise for the Wiard format and, sonically speaking, it seems like it would sit nicely next to an amped guitar through a good mic and preamp. Frankly I feel like a modular synth/500 marriage is long overdue, and the voltages here are just about right (not sure about current draw).
Old 6 days ago
  #28
Gear Head
 

Thread Starter
Did you look at Hinton Instruments offerings for mixers?

HINTON INSTRUMENTS

They are 3U, though he encourages running them at +/-15V. Very high functionality modules, and very highly specced with respect to THD, crosstalk, SNR.

My 6U offerings are more likely to focus on unique analogue computing function blocks to make a self contained synthesis engine.
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