DIY Synth Series Part 1 — The Exponential VCO

Today’s music is mostly made using computer software to master tracks, add instrumentals, mix songs, manipulate sounds and much more— but how do they use to make music? Music used to be done entirely with REAL instruments such as guitars and pianos but synthetic sounds have made their mark on the musical scene, as well. A great band to look at for an example is Kraftwerk, which in the 1970s used synthesizers to create all their sounds from the aggressive sawtooths to the gentle beep and boop of a computer. These synthesizers (unlike most ones you will find today) were all analogue which means that, instead of relying on software and processors, the sound generation was done by manipulating electrical signals against time. How does an old fashion synthesizer work? This series of projects will show how all the different parts in a synthesizer work and how to build your own modules. In this project, we will be building the heart of the synthesizer, the VCO (voltage-controlled oscillator), which takes in analogue voltages and generates the raw sounds ready to be further processed by filters, modulators, ADSR modules, and step sequences.”

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