Serge Space Sounds
Here’s a video featuring the classic modular Serge: Of the tiny handful of analog modulars out today you can buy as new, Serge stands out in a variety of ways. The modules are of extremely high quality, have wide parameter range, excellent tracking/stability, and low noise (except for the noise module). There are a lot of modules, over 65. Patching is done with rugged banana plugs; a little bit of a pain to interface with other gear, but once you’ve gotten used to stacking multiple bananas, you’ll never want to patch any other way again. Many control voltage inputs on Serge modules have clever inverting attenuators – at the twelve o’ clock position, you have zero gain, turn clockwise, you have increasing positive gain, turn counterclockwise, you have increasing invertedgain. There are many unique modules in the lineup, some obvious, some very strange. You can spend months and years exploring a Serge system and still discover new ways of using the modules. If you’re looking to get a few snappy ‘synth sounds’ with a press of a button, forget it. Go to the Best Buy and pick up a nice Yamaha MIDI keyboard. But if you’re looking for something unique and challenging, and if you’re crazy enough to spend thousands of dollars and wait months to have the system built and delivered, this is the one.
On a Serge, audio signals, control voltages, and trigger signals are fairly interchangeable and the system uses only one kind of patch cord. Audio signals can be accepted by trigger inputs, control voltage generators can be used for audio. Use control voltage mixers for audio, or run your sequencer at audio rates for wild, squealy, rippy noises.
Many Serge modules can be internally patched. What’s that mean? The modules themselves can be patch-programmed to do different things. For example, patching the GATE output to the TRIGGER input of a Dual Transient Generator turns the DTG into a voltage-controlled clock, LFO, or audio oscillator.
Which leads us to the extreme flexibility of the designs. You have to do a lot of thinking and experimenting on these things to really appreciate them. For someone used to the more conventional approaches out there, this can be a little intimidating.
Serge modules have a very high density of functionality. Every square inch of panel space is useful. You can put a pretty impressive system together in one or two suitcase-size boxes.
Serges are handbuilt to customer specification, and by handbuilt I mean that they’re put together by people who have spent years mastering the build process. I’ve heard people complain about the price of modules versus the cost of parts, and why should an oscillator cost ‘X’ when the parts cost ‘Y’. But the truth is, the nice juicy modules use a lot of discrete components, some laboriously hand-matched. Once the components are assembled, the module has to be calibrated, burned-in, and checked. A lot of skilled labor is involved, and expensive test gear.