Maintenance and Inconveniences in Modern Analog Synthesizers

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Libertine Lush
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Maintenance and Inconveniences in Modern Analog Synthesizers

Post by Libertine Lush » Sat Jun 27, 2015 5:10 pm

I intend to get my first analog synthesizer some time this year--the Moog Sub 37 specifically.

I've read some threads on the maintenance required of older synths, but for newer synths, like the Moog Sub 37, what kind of maintenance and inconveniences should I expect in a modern analog synth?

1) How often would I need to calibrate, is that something I can easily do myself and is the equipment needed expensive (I briefly looked up oscilloscopes on Amazon and the well-rated and popular ones are not cheap)?
2) Are there certain conditions (like room temperature; it gets wildly hot and humid here in the summer) that exacerbate the need for maintenance?
3) I've read about analog snyths needing warm up time. Is that still relevant today?
4) What kind of functions/interactions does a digital synthesizer have with a DAW that are not possible when paired with an analog snyth?

And if there's any other maintenance or inconveniences of analog snyth ownership, I would love to hear about them, to know what to expect--even the Sub 37's beautiful "light show" mode can't mollify a mistaken $1.5k purchase.

Thank you for any insight.

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MC
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Re: Maintenance and Inconveniences in Modern Analog Synthesi

Post by MC » Sat Jun 27, 2015 9:35 pm

Libertine Lush wrote:I intend to get my first analog synthesizer some time this year--the Moog Sub 37 specifically.


Welcome!

I've read some threads on the maintenance required of older synths, but for newer synths, like the Moog Sub 37, what kind of maintenance and inconveniences should I expect in a modern analog synth?


Considering that I have owned my Voyager since 2003 - 12 years - not much. I've had a T3 since 2009 and it has needed nothing.

1) How often would I need to calibrate, is that something I can easily do myself and is the equipment needed expensive (I briefly looked up oscilloscopes on Amazon and the well-rated and popular ones are not cheap)?


The Voyager needed VCO calibration twice in a twelve year period, but the pitch was not out much at all. My T3 has yet to need a calibration. You don't need special equipment but you better know which trimpot is which or the wrong one will need special equipment.

2) Are there certain conditions (like room temperature; it gets wildly hot and humid here in the summer) that exacerbate the need for maintenance?


Excessive humidity such as storage in basement or storage unit with no climate control will exacerbate the maintenance, not to mention damaging the resistive elements on the trimpots.

3) I've read about analog snyths needing warm up time. Is that still relevant today?


Most of them. It is a necessary evil of v/oct oscillators but not v/hz oscillators. The former are far more common. The Minitaur, T3, and subphatty have v/hz oscillators.

4) What kind of functions/interactions does a digital synthesizer have with a DAW that are not possible when paired with an analog snyth?


Automated control of the synth controls, although the modern Moogs have this function. Many non-moog budget analogs do not have this feature.

And if there's any other maintenance or inconveniences of analog snyth ownership, I would love to hear about them, to know what to expect--even the Sub 37's beautiful "light show" mode can't mollify a mistaken $1.5k purchase.


Don't be paranoid. The new analogs are quite robust. Some have teething problems related to OS but Moog is hardly alone.

Thank you for any insight.


You're welcome.
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Libertine Lush
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Re: Maintenance and Inconveniences in Modern Analog Synthesi

Post by Libertine Lush » Sun Jun 28, 2015 2:35 am

MC wrote:Most of them. It is a necessary evil of v/oct oscillators but not v/hz oscillators. The former are far more common. The Minitaur, T3, and subphatty have v/hz oscillators.


Do you mind educating me on what those 2 oscillator types are? And do you know which the Sub 37 has?

Thank you for all the info.

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Re: Maintenance and Inconveniences in Modern Analog Synthesi

Post by MC » Sun Jun 28, 2015 4:26 pm

Gear list: '04 Saturn Ion, John Deere X300 tractor, ganged set of seven reel mowers for 3 acres of lawn, herd of sheep for backup lawn mowers, two tiger cats for mouse population control Oh you meant MUSIC gear Oops I hit the 255 character limi


psynthetic
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Re: Maintenance and Inconveniences in Modern Analog Synthesi

Post by psynthetic » Sun Jun 28, 2015 9:21 pm



Great link, thanks a lot. :)
Going to share this article with a friend of mine and then start following some more links on that page when I get the time I think.

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Re: Maintenance and Inconveniences in Modern Analog Synthesi

Post by DonutDude » Sun Jun 28, 2015 9:47 pm



Awesome site I'd forgotten about. Thanks for the reminder - now bookmarked.

Blackout
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Re: Maintenance and Inconveniences in Modern Analog Synthesi

Post by Blackout » Mon Jul 06, 2015 12:33 pm

we will only really know the answer to this question in 20 or 30 years. eg when a component "dies" in a Minimoog, it is swapped out and replaced. fairly easy.

With something like the Sub37 containing custom CPU chips and surface mount components, its going to prove to be a lot trickier. but then again, they might prove to be far more reliable because of this new type of build. But in general, surface mount chips and things like SMD resistors and capacitors, are a real pain in the ass to change and require some considerable skill. There are a lot fewer techs around that will tackle it. These days they just change the whole board over that has the problem instead of individual components. its just too much trouble.

i just hope that Moog will still be around and going strong, to supply the spare parts...and new synths! if i were to place a bet on something like this, its much safer than some other unknown upstart brand. so you just have to take a little bit of a chance.

or do what ive seen some ppl do, and thats buy a second copy of the synth for the attic, for future spare parts!

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latigid on
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Re: Maintenance and Inconveniences in Modern Analog Synthesi

Post by latigid on » Tue Jul 07, 2015 11:33 am

Blackout wrote:we will only really know the answer to this question in 20 or 30 years. eg when a component "dies" in a Minimoog, it is swapped out and replaced. fairly easy.

With something like the Sub37 containing custom CPU chips and surface mount components, its going to prove to be a lot trickier. but then again, they might prove to be far more reliable because of this new type of build. But in general, surface mount chips and things like SMD resistors and capacitors, are a real pain in the ass to change and require some considerable skill. There are a lot fewer techs around that will tackle it. These days they just change the whole board over that has the problem instead of individual components. its just too much trouble.

i just hope that Moog will still be around and going strong, to supply the spare parts...and new synths! if i were to place a bet on something like this, its much safer than some other unknown upstart brand. so you just have to take a little bit of a chance.

or do what ive seen some ppl do, and thats buy a second copy of the synth for the attic, for future spare parts!


Just to state that SMT is not inherently more difficult to service, you just need tweezers or a hot air rework station. In fact, it can be easier than replacing components with plated through holes attached to huge ground planes with leadfree solder.

One thing that can be problematic is the sheer density of components, especially if they're very small (e.g. less than 0603). Another is for boards >2 signal layers which are difficult to trace without a schematic or even a layout.

As long as the source files are available, one should be able to build new firmware for those CPUs as long as they're off the shelf (highly likely in this day and age). If there's a will, there's a way (see for example the Rhodes Chroma and its various upgrades).

So: get a schematic of your synth along with a copy of the source. And keep it somewhere accessible, maybe USB drives will be gone in a few decades! :)

Blackout
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Re: Maintenance and Inconveniences in Modern Analog Synthesi

Post by Blackout » Tue Jul 07, 2015 12:13 pm

latigid on wrote:
One thing that can be problematic is the sheer density of components, especially if they're very small (e.g. less than 0603). Another is for boards >2 signal layers which are difficult to trace without a schematic or even a layout.


my whole argument exactly latigid.

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Re: Maintenance and Inconveniences in Modern Analog Synthesi

Post by BrockParry » Sun Oct 11, 2015 9:47 am

The Voyager needed VCO calibration twice in a twelve year period, but the pitch was not out much at all. My T3 has yet to need a calibration. You don't need special equipment but you better know which trimpot is which or the wrong one will need special equipment.
Excessive humidity such as storage in basement or storage unit with no climate control will exacerbate the maintenance, not to mention damaging the resistive elements on the trimpots.

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Re: Maintenance and Inconveniences in Modern Analog Synthesi

Post by MoogProg » Mon Oct 12, 2015 9:17 am

Back in the '90s I sold off all my keyboard gear, collected pennies-on-the-dollar and put the money into a new Martin guitar with a lifetime warranty. It is now worth twice what I paid at full retail, has required almost zero maintenance, and likely will last my entire lifetime, only getting better and better with age.

I certainly enjoy my Sub37, but also live knowing it die long before any of my acoustic instruments. Heading into RMA #2 after only one year. :(

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Re: Maintenance and Inconveniences in Modern Analog Synthesi

Post by _DemonDan_ » Mon Oct 12, 2015 10:12 am

MC wrote:The Minitaur, T3, and Sub Phatty have v/hz oscillators.

From the online Moog Sub Phatty Owners Manual {Page 8}:
The PITCH CV and FILTER CV inputs are calibrated so that a one-volt change in the control voltage will result in a one-octave change in frequency.
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Re: Maintenance and Inconveniences in Modern Analog Synthesi

Post by MC » Mon Oct 12, 2015 12:57 pm

_DemonDan_ wrote:
MC wrote:The Minitaur, T3, and Sub Phatty have v/hz oscillators.

From the online Moog Sub Phatty Owners Manual {Page 8}:
The PITCH CV and FILTER CV inputs are calibrated so that a one-volt change in the control voltage will result in a one-octave change in frequency.


Which are converted to v/hz signals to accommodate the internal v/hz oscillators.
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