Know when to fold (part 1)

It’s April, and you know what that means: Time to spend MY ENTIRE TAX REFUND ON MASSIVE AMOUNTS OF SYNTHESIS STUFF wait I’ve just been handed a memo that says “no it isn’t” hang on who wrote this memo?

Okay, but I can buy one module, right?

I had a few varied ideas, but ultimately fell back to something I’ve been thinking for some time. So far everything I’ve bought has been additive, East Coast synthesis stuff. All the modules I’ve built are things I already had one of inside the Mother-32, though maybe with some additional capabilities. Oscillator, envelope generator, VCA, multiple, attenuator, mixer.

Moog/ARP style East Coast synthesis is what I’m most familiar with, what I did back in college days and mostly ever since. Only recently did I even learn how different the Buchla West Coast style is (despite heavy listening to Morton Subotnick back in the day) and even now I have only a sliver of real understanding of West Coast synthesis. But it interests me, and I think it offers nice possibilities to get beyond the boundaries of where I’ve been in the past.

Wavefolding seems to be a characteristic piece of West Coast synthesis. There are a few wavefolder modules out there, but the one that caught my attention was the nonlinearcircuits timbre!. This is a fairly straightforward through-hole design and I like the results as heard and seen in the video. NLC produces the PCBs and front panels which are, as I understand, made of PCB material using PCB techniques with a design by NLC which I, ah, am not fond of. On the other hand Magpie Modular makes an aluminum front panel for the timbre! which I like a lot better and, hey, I just discovered they’re running a $10 off sale right now, whoo hoo!

SynthCube makes kits for these (with either panel) for $89, but I wondered about sourcing my own parts. In fact I have a lot of the BoM already, at least a lot of the cheap parts! Most of the resistors, the diodes, some of the capacitors, one of the ICs and a couple of the IC sockets, power header, like that. I looked at Mouser and Tayda for the remaining parts, except obviously the PCB and panel (from SynthCube and Magpie respectively) and the power cable (SynthCube). At Mouser these seemed to add up to about $17 and at Tayda about $7.60! With one catch. There’s a J112 JFET which Tayda doesn’t carry. They do carry the 2N5457 (listed, though out of stock right now) which according to this and this might work in its place, and even better yet, I have a couple of 2N4391 in my stash which the former link also recommends as a possible substitution. I inquired on the FB Nonlinearcircuits Builders Guild group but it appears no one there has tried this. Worth a shot, though, right?

The other thing is the jacks. Tayda has jacks that will fit, but SynthCube has actual Kobiconn jacks that are probably better quality. Except they’re also out of stock right now.

Assuming they get restocked, and assuming my 2N4391 will work, I can get the PCB, power cable, and jacks at Synthcube for about $30 with shipping, the panel from Magpie for about $20 with shipping, and the remaining parts from Tayda for about $10 shipped, for a total of around $60. Way below the $95 or so for the kit.

With savings like that, maybe I can get two modules. Uh oh.

Hang on, I’ve been handed another memo.

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