Sunday, 14 April 2019

Using the Behringer Model D as a Filter

A while back I had a look at the Behringer Model D. It's a modern-day analogue synthesiser that emulates the venerable Moog MiniMoog. I've never used a MiniMoog, so I can't compare them myself, but the internet believes that the Model D is the musical spitting image of the original and so does this chap from Sound on Sound magazine. As an instrument in its own right I enjoy it immensely although it's not as flexible a synthesiser as the Korg ARP Odyssey (for example).

Physically it feels cheap but original MiniMoogs are now so expensive on the used market that they're almost unusable in a live context. What if you spill beer on your MiniMoog? What if it gets stolen? You would have to destroy roughly twelve Model Ds before the cost equals a single MiniMoog.

One of the MiniMoog's best features is the filter, which has a distinctively "smooth" sound. It's hard to describe in words but it has a smooth, rich, full-bodied sound. The MiniMoog has an audio input that can feed external sounds into the filter, and so does the Model D, so I decided to try it out:

This video also contains some remarkably clear footage of my right hand.

In this video the Model D's oscillators are turned off. Instead I'm feeding the sound of a Korg MicroKorg into the filter. Ordinarily this would result in silence, because you need some way to trigger the Model D's envelopes - there isn't a way to just disconnect the envelopes or force them to be always-on.

Therefore I'm using the gate output of my Arturia Beatstep as a gate source. To complicate matters the Model D has separate gate inputs for the loudness and filter envelopes, so I have to use a stacked splitter cable to trigger both of them. Notice how the cable running into the LC GATE input - above and to the right of the FILTER EMPHASIS control - has a second cable coming out of it, leading into the FC GATE input.

The BeatStep is feeding notes into the MicroKorg via MIDI, and the end result is a Korg MicroKorg with a Model D filter, or alternatively a Model D with a MicroKorg's oscillators. Ironically the MicroKorg has a bunch of analogue-sounding presets, so the end result still sounds like an analogue synthesiser. It would be fascinating to put a Yamaha DX7 or something obviously sampled through the Model D instead. That is for the future.

Let's take a moment to reflect on the unlikely renaissance of analogue synthesisers. Actual genuine analogue synthesisers with analogue circuitry, not software emulation. Few people in the 1990s would have guessed that CV/GATE would make a comeback in the new millennium, but here we are, with no less than two analogue recreations of the ARP Odyssey on the market, plus a bunch of affordable compact keyboard synths from Korg. Even Arturia, who make software instruments, now sell an analogue synthesiser.

Also, I have learned to spell millennium correctly. That's not much use in 2019, but who knows. Perhaps Chris Carter's Millennium will make a comeback and I will find myself needing to write about it. There's an easy way to remember how to spell millennium. It's like accommodate. It goes two-two. Two-two.

Philippines is one-two, Mississippi is two-two-two, but millennium and accommodate are two-two.