Voyager vs. Eurorack Modular - the evidence

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restlessboy
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Voyager vs. Eurorack Modular - the evidence

Post by restlessboy » Mon Aug 27, 2012 8:09 am

Hi,

I've decided to save up over the next year and buy myself a seriously nice synth. This gives me plenty of time to um and ah about exactly what I want.

The Voyager is a contender from sheer beauty and sound quality. But I'm torn as to whether a modular would be better for what I want to achieve.

Here's something I've already posted in another thread, I thought I'd be better re-posting it and starting the debate as a standalone:

I am not, primarily, a keyboard, player - I'm okay for what I want to do, but I'm reliant on editing after the fact to get my performances perfect. I see myself using a DAW to send midi to the Voyager and then recording final outputs with my hands flying from knob to knob. Knobs are very important to me after years of software synthesis. (fwiw - please don't recommend I consider the RME, for various reasons I've already decided against that)

So basically I'm more of a 'sound designer'. I'm interested in creating quite rhythmic, modulated, evolving sounds. The 'classic moog'/phat bass etc. isn't really a concern for me. I'm more interested in a range of sounds, harsh metallic noise, soft siney type eerie sounds, bell-like sounds, Radiophonic Workshop style bloops and bleeps. Basically I want versatility, and the chance to just muck about and be pleasantly surprised.

To get this I figure the expansion box is going to be a no-brainer, and there'll be plenty of scope to shell out on moogerfoogers and more over the years. So...

What I'm wondering is whether I might be better going for a pure modular system? Mix and match modules more? Is the Voyager too wedded to classic 'moogy' sounds? Or could you get sounds from it which don't have an obvious origin?

The sound samples I've heard hint at this - and the sounds in themselves are great. But the only truly convincing example of what exactly I'd be going for comes from the very short official moog video of someone testing out the Voyager XL patching.

Interested in any thoughts/ examples of people using Voyagers to do the sort of thing I'm after. Also any thoughts on how easy it would be to, for example, patch in a eurorack module to work with the Voyager?


Someone on that thread has already helpfully replied saying they think a modular is the way to go for me, and I can see why. When I'm talking about versatility, clearly comparing voyager to a true modular is like saying 'which is bigger, an elephant or infinity?' - but maybe sometimes an elephant is enough?

There are things about the Voyager that appeal in terms of workflow, not least preset saving, the touch pad, portability, ease of processing external audio. And the fact that most modular sound demos just don't sound as warm and lush.

What I'd really like is to hear some examples of people really using the Voyager in a 'modular way'. I know it can sound like a Moog - it wouldn't sell many if it didn't! But can it only sound like a Moog?

I can see the case for the prosecution - the Voyager is not infinitely reconfigurable. But I want the case for the defence, imagine I'd come on here hating on the Voyager and saying it was limited. What would you produce to change my mind? :)

Look forward to hearing your opinions and your music!

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Re: Voyager vs. Eurorack Modular - the evidence

Post by starkaudio » Tue Aug 28, 2012 1:40 pm

I am the mirror of you (restlessboy). Two years ago I was at the decision point you are at now and I went with the modular. I've built a medium-small eurorack modular (12u) and I'm very very pleased with it.

But I'm also buying a Voyager soon. Here's why and I think it might address your request for a "defense".

The modular works well:
  • I can patch crazy stuff on the modular just as well as more conventional synth-oriented patches.
  • I'm happy with the warm/lush sounds I get from my modular. Soundwise I'm very pleased with it. Can I replicate the moog sound, kinda. Well enough for me.
  • It integrates just fine with my DAW (I use MIDI to CV units from Kenton.)

But I'm now ALSO buying a Voyager. Why?

What I hope to gain from the Voyager:
  • My modular is not as "playable" as the Voyager. It's quite cramped and more than half the knobs are tiny.
  • I'm took a trip to Asheville and spent an afternoon playing with the Voyager and talking to Jim. The Voyager will integrate with my modular just fine. Especially well if i get a VX-351 with it.
  • Beauty. History. I really love the look of the Voyager and all the history that comes with it.

So can you make "modular-style" music with your Voyager? Yes.

Will you probably still want a modular? Yes.

Should you eventually own both. I say yes.

Which should you buy first? Probably the modular.

Hope that helps. (Probably doesn't...sorry.)
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thealien666
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Re: Voyager vs. Eurorack Modular - the evidence

Post by thealien666 » Tue Aug 28, 2012 10:58 pm

Well said, starkaudio.

After all, the Voyager is a direct descendant of the Minimoog D, which was primarily created for musicians, stemming from a need for an alternative to big modular Moog systems.

If restlessboy gets a Voyager first, after a while he will realize that a modular would add possibilities and go well with it.
If he gets a modular first, after a while he will realize that a Voyager would be more practical and would also go well with the modular.

Time to flip a coin maybe ? :lol: But better not loose it ! You'll need every single one of them to buy all this !! :shock:

Edit I have switched the names of the protagonists, that I had previously reversed due to fatigue and confusion on my part. Thanks to Stiiiiiiive for pointing it out...
Last edited by thealien666 on Wed Aug 29, 2012 11:57 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Voyager vs. Eurorack Modular - the evidence

Post by stiiiiiiive » Wed Aug 29, 2012 4:06 am

Alain, you may have confused the two protagonists here ;)

Not a Voyager nor a modular owner. I cannot explain, but I feel you, RestlessBoy, would be more pleased by getting a modular.

First.

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Re: Voyager vs. Eurorack Modular - the evidence

Post by EricK » Wed Aug 29, 2012 8:09 am

Voyager/Growing Modular owner here.

My system consists of the Voyager and other monophonic synths along with 12U of dotcom modules. I was originally planning on building a modular, but the builder of the system I had my eye on went awol.

I had begun collecting a few Foogers and the cp251 to expand on what the Micro would do until I could afford the Voyager. I knew that the Modular was going to be a huge expense and I would still have to get a keyboard controller anyway, so I went with the Voyager. I got my ash lunar from novamusik for 2999 with the vx351.

What I did was I compared features/price. At the time, the modular that I wanted to get was a Moog clone and it was several price points higher than a dotcom. So I got way more features for the price at the beginning by going with the Voyager. Now that I finally decided on dotcom rather than my original choice, I don’t know if I would have made the same decision if I considered dotcom from the beginning.

The one aspect of my decision that I do tend to regret though is going with the Foogers rather than their module equivalent. I don’t dislike any of the Foogers, but price/space wise they simply can’t compare with modules. I was using the 107 and 102 as extra oscs with the micro, and the 104z with the VX and CP units. I added the 103 and 101 later. with my dotcom vca and envgen, it is an independent synth, but I there are ins and outs that I wish that I had that would be there on the modules. I don’t regret the 102,103,104, but I could do without the freqbox and the 101, replacing them with proper osc and filter modules. I have mine racked if that makes a difference. Their quality and sound is wonderful and I don’t think I'll be selling them since I have them.

You can do some great stuff with the Voyager, but if your heart yearns for modular then you won’t be satisfied until you are tangled up in patch cords. Having the Voyager as the heart of a modular system simply can’t be beat, but it would be nicer with the XL.

Even though the Voyager has the knob-per-function interface, I still wish that it had inputs for the envelopes and filter resonance. I wish that the software went further with the programmable sources and destinations. So the knob-per-function will really spoil you, but when you go modular, having a multitude of ins and outs per module will spoil you again.

So you do have a dilemma on your hands, but you shouldn't have any issues converting the voltages over to make them compatible.

For me it would be harder going from huge knobs to tiny ones, but thats just a matter of preference.

I never was interested in eurorack until I saw the LZX video synthesizer modules....now I see I might have to get a "few". :roll:
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restlessboy
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Re: Voyager vs. Eurorack Modular - the evidence

Post by restlessboy » Thu Sep 06, 2012 10:52 am

Thanks everyone! Took me a while to notice anyone had replied. Guess I had notifications turned off.

I'm still in a dilemma about this. Thankfully saving up for anything like a decent modular startup will take some months (even longer if I decide to go for the Voyager!).

starkaudio - I'm interested to hear more about integrating Voyager with eurorack, if you have the time?

There's one other factor. I doubt if I went for the modular first that I'd ever manage to save for the Voyager, as I'd be buying modules all the time instead. At least if I got the Voyager first I could still build up a modular system slowly... or maybe I'd get hooked on moogerfoogers! :)

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Re: Voyager vs. Eurorack Modular - the evidence

Post by starkaudio » Mon Sep 10, 2012 9:43 am

I'll get back to you when I *have* a voyager. Saving now. Hopefully by spring.
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Re: Voyager vs. Eurorack Modular - the evidence

Post by EMwhite » Mon Sep 10, 2012 5:13 pm

I thought of selling my Voyager Old School many times in order to fund some MOS-LAB OSCs and some additional modules as I might be able to afford from the sale. But the sad truth is that a used Voyager or a used Voyager Old School doesn't garner that much. There are plenty of them for sale all of the time.

Despite this, I did some math and found that even if I pushed two of the OSCs to the side of the Voyager, the addition of the VX-351 turns it into one of the best Analog controllers and CV processors out there and when I say that I mean that it provides functions which can all be combined or used independently:

- high quality 44 key controller
w/touch sensitivity/CV out
w/channel aftertouch/CV out
nice LHC
- 2x LFOs; 1 which can output all waveforms simultaneously
the second (OSC3) which can be directed at various destinations within
- Two ENV gens
- Low Pass filter with dual lowpass/high pass mode and some CV controlled panning capabilities
- A VCA with headphone jack
- Mults and attenuators

Mapping to Synth.com 'modules' you're looking at a minimum of:

$125 - Power (8 space)
$450 - keyboard
$189 - Low Pass Filter
$97 - VCA
$65 - Noise
$92 - Env gen
$92 - Env gen
$92 - S&H
$58 - Multiples

And these are the most basic building blocks of a synth. Euro might be a tad cheaper, but not here in the states.

So my point is that even as inexpensive as the Synth.com solution is, this list of modules here is $1,260 and I don't have any case or mounting hardware and haven't even added any LFOs, or OSCs or the mixer or capabilities or complex routing/switching via Mod Busses. It's not an apples-for-apples comparison as there are some features built into the synth.com modules that Voyager doesn't have and likewise.

But it's a tough sell. But add a small handful of modules and I think you'll get the best overall bang for the buck.

Most of all though, you need to find out what type of musician you are. I think you gave a good background. And if you use a DAW, multitracking is going to benefit you big time. I know guys that dump 3x trying to get multiple 'voices' and expensive sequencing gear to do the most basic of background accompaniment with sequencers.

And to your comment: "I doubt if I went for the modular first that I'd ever manage to save for the Voyager, as I'd be buying modules all the time instead. At least if I got the Voyager first I could still build up a modular system slowly"

You're not kidding. As expensive as a Voyager may seem, getting the modular, especially if you start from nothing, will put you into a hole so deep, you won't know what happened. Before you know it, you'll be eating noodles for lunch and making your own coffee at home instead of buying Dunkin Dognuts just to save a buck or two so that you can afford another $92 ENV Gen, or a mounting rail or something else.

So my advice is get the Voyager and VX-351 first, you won't outgrow it. Then go from there. One thing about Euro is that there is a much bigger universe of diverse modules than the basics that are normally found at synth.com. And if you go 5U/MU and are handy with a soldering iron, you can get kits for about 50% of module prices, the market is ripe with entrepreneus designing modules from the ground up, or packaging well known homegrown stuff into sharply paneled formats. Take a look at what SSL has coming out: http://www.steamsynth.com (once godaddy.com comes back online that is... and btw: synth.com uses godaddy also : )
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Kenneth
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Re: Voyager vs. Eurorack Modular - the evidence

Post by Kenneth » Mon Sep 10, 2012 9:58 pm

I actually wanted to ask about integrating a Vouager with a modular system. I have an Old School and am wondering if the control voltages between the OS and a euro rack system would play well together? I don't like using MIDI controllers.
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Re: Voyager vs. Eurorack Modular - the evidence

Post by Just Me » Tue Sep 11, 2012 9:45 am

Interfacing to MU is the easiest. All the signals, CVs and jacks are the same.
Adding a 351 and a Fooger or two to a Voyager is the gateway drug to modular addiction. Hope you have either a good job or no other hobbies.
Just an FYI, my Voyager has been out of the racks and sitting on the floor unused for months. It is a large beast that takes up a lot of room.
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Re: Voyager vs. Eurorack Modular - the evidence

Post by starkaudio » Tue Sep 11, 2012 11:26 pm

Kenneth wrote:I actually wanted to ask about integrating a Vouager with a modular system. I have an Old School and am wondering if the control voltages between the OS and a euro rack system would play well together? I don't like using MIDI controllers.



I have read (not confirmed myself yet) that the pitch CV out of a voyager is not quite 1V/Oct so you might have some pitch tracking problems if your modular uses that. If someone can confirm/deny this, great.
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Re: Voyager vs. Eurorack Modular - the evidence

Post by starkaudio » Wed Sep 12, 2012 6:50 am

...But I asked this guy and he said the pitch voltages lined up just fine.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3x4dNyilz_4
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