Have you spent any time on Modular Grid looking at new modules recently? I know you have. Don’t lie. It’s unflattering.
I’m sure we’ve all noticed there’s no shortage of stereo modules now available. In fact, stereo has been a common module feature for at least the past year.. It may actually be more bizarre to see a big module released nowadays that’s mono only.
There’s a reason for this: stereo in modular is seriously freaking cool! Patches are more immersive, making it easy to discover new textures not feasible in mono. Your tracks simply become much more varied and unique, setting you apart from other modular artists. It creates a much more active listening experience for your audience.
There was a time when stereo wasn’t all the rage in eurorack. For many years most modules released did not prioritize stereo patching. Around 2018/2019 the field widened – but chances are most of the modules you have in your rack weren’t explicitly designed for stereo use.
You know the drill. It’s time to get creative and change that.
Build a stereo patch – optimally without using modules inherently designed for stereo (dual L&R outputs). That said, we here at NYMS really, really dig stereo patches – so we won’t explicitly forbid the use of stereo out modules, (especially if it means we get to hear some really cool music or sound design as a result), but that’s not really in the spirit of a Patchable. With some creative patching, mono modules can be patched for stereo output. Take charge and find ways to create stereo patches from modules that were not explicitly made for this task.
Here are some neat tricks to help you accomplish this:
- To set up the audio chain you do not need much – it’s as simple as duplicating a single VCO output. A buffered mult, or normalled VCA works fine. Send those to a dual (or more) VCA which can be fed into the left and right of your mixing board / audio interface.
- Now, make things interesting by using unique envelopes with different timing to feed into the VCAs. If you time your gates to have them fire at opposite timings, or use something like the EOC on Maths to fire a gate over to Envelope A once Envelope B finishes, you can very quickly and easily recreate the classic “ping-pong” effect!
- Another fun way to get a stereo patch going is to use multi-output modules, like a VCO with 2+ waveform outputs, or a filter with LP & BP outs (or any combination…HP & Notch, whatever). Send one to Left VCA and one to Right VCA and you have diversified sound already. This can get dizzying and unsettling for a listener on headphones if the two sounds are high frequencies or really unique from one another – so take caution…unless you actually want to make your listener uneasy. You sadist.
- One way to correct for some of this instability is by using mid-side processing. It is a technique for “widening” your stereo field and creating a fuller stereo image by taking 2 channels of audio and creating two new channels – the Sum and the Difference. iZotope explains the concept better, but essentially the Mid = the sum or overlap of L+R inputs, and the Side = difference of the L+R inputs. To achieve this you need a module that can give you the sum and difference outputs of any two unique inputs. Kinks, LRMSMSLR, SumDiff were all made to do this…but what about a module that nearly all of us have…🤔
HOW TO PLAY
THIS PATCHABLE RUNS THROUGH THE MONTH OF MAY.
- Create an original piece of music using the framework above. For normal Patchable submissions, please detail about what times in the performance you implement each step, and what they are.
- Include the suffix PATCHABLE-0026 in the track title and the number of the patchable you chose. A completed track title would look like this: SurroundedSound PATCHABLE-0026
- Upload your track to Soundcloud.
- Include a link to your track and patch notes in the comments below.
PLAY YOUR PATCH LIVE
If you would like to play a performance on Patchable Performers, please contact @saddleuptherobots or @vcloki on Discord to apply for a time slot.
Don’t forget to press record (!) and then post your set after the show. Needless to say, we recommend watching this one wearing headphones.