Tips And Tricks

On this page you'll find general tips for Modular Synthesis, either with the Pulsar or with any Modular System, along with workarounds for known issues with the Pulsar modulars.

If you have any tips you'd like to add, send them to .

Bugs / Workarounds

Cable color coding issues

How to avoid the 'illegal operation in referenced modules' bug.

Workaround for the MW Wheel LFO bug

Tips

Avoiding Clicks in your modular patches

Avoiding 'Zipper' noise in the Constant Value module

Avoiding 'Zipper' noise / tone stepping in (e.g.) filter modules

Circuit diagrams for Saturation modules

Creating logical (And, Or, Not) operators

Customizing Modular II Pull Down Menus 

How to generate controller messages via (e.g.) an LFO

How to get that 'Classic' Ring mod Effect.

How to get that hard, grinding synced oscillator sound

How to make a chord maker

How to use an LFO to modulate the tempo of a Tempo delay

Loading v1 Modules into v2 patches and vice versa

Playing stereo samples in the modular sample player

Samples not looping in Sample Player Modules

Using the Modular as a Multi Effects unit

 

 

Cable color coding issues 

Although cables are meant to be coloured according to their function, the actual colour of a cable is determined by the order in which the cable is attached. If you connect a blue connector to a green connector the cable will be blue, but if you connect it the other way round the cable will be green.

Thankfully, you can get round this afterwards by selecting the cable, right-clicking on it and then selecting the colour you wish the cable to be.

 

How to avoid the 'illegal operation in referenced modules' bug.

"The module cannot be saved because you made some illegal operation in the referenced modules. Please save your device or reference module first and try again."

 

If you get this error message when trying to save a modular patch, or a project with a modular patch in it, this is because of a bug which prevents the saving of a patch with effects in the MultiFX module.

To get round this problem, save the patch without any effects in the MultiFX slots. You can then save presets for the patch using whichever effects you want.

You will also get the same error when trying to save your project, so what I do is this:

Create a preset called (eg) 'No FX' which has nothing in the FX slots. Then load this preset just before saving the patch or project.

This is a known and reported bug.

 

Workaround for the MW Wheel LFO bug.

There is a bug which means that the MW LFO module does not always work as expected - the wheel doesn't respond to incoming CC values. Here's a workaround until the bug is fixed.

 

1. Load in the MW Triangle LFO.

2.Save the patch as is.

3. Delete the patch from your project and load the previously saved one.

4. Connect the patch to a MIDI Source, the modulation wheel in the modular should react from now on. top

Avoiding 'Zipper' noise in the Constant Value module (from Robin Chard)

In working with Modular II I've noticed clicks and pops when trying to control a constant value slider via midi. 

Solution: Midi controller -> const val slider -> ring mod (second ring mod source is a const val slider set at 127). The ring mod uses very little DSP so this seems a reasonable fix. top

Avoiding 'Zipper' noise / tone stepping in (e.g.) filter modules (from Claes johnson)

Q: In the 24 dB LP filter for example, when I turn the resonance to 127 and then turn the frequency knob I should hear the self oscillation smoothly go from low to high tones. Instead I hear the tone stepping through the values almost like playing a chromatic scale or a sample and hold module. Is there any workaround to avoid this stepping?

A: The stepping is not caused by the filter but by the knob that controls the frequency. So to get rid of it you can use this approach: 

use the 'constant val' module instead of the filter knob and route it through a 6db lowpass filter and into one of the 24 dB filters CFm inputs.. This will smoothen out the sweeps when you move the cutoff knob.. you'll have to tweak the 6db filter to get the feel you want but the range you probably should be testing is about 2 or 3 pixels from the minimum...

 

BW  adds - not all knobs suffer from this zippering effect. Some knobs have a dithering  module 'behind them' which smoothes out the transitions from one step to the next. However, the dithering module adds DSP cost to the knob, so it has not been added to each knob, only to those which Creamware thought most necessary. top

Samples not looping in Sample Player modules (from Robin Chard)

Sample Player Module: Do you have a looped .WAV sample that will not play looped? It appears the Pulsar module is sensitive to information in the "Info" fields of .WAV files. Awave automatically puts some information there when you save a file. Cool Edit 2000 can view and edit this info. Remove the info text and see if your sample will now play looped...Works for me. top

Avoiding Clicks with your Modular patches (from Paul Van der Valk)

Q: Playing around with the stock Modular I patches, I notice that many notes are preceded with a "click". Someone suggested that it might be due to the Attack value in one or more ADSR envelopes being set to zero, but changing it has had no effect (with regard to the "click").

A: I've had trouble with clicks as well, until I started to use the Esync adder. Using esyncable envelopes only (or as much as possible) with Esync adders solved the problem in my case. The stock patches should be correct in this respect but then, not all envelopes have Esync output...

Also, it is possible to get clicks when using a near zero release value and possibly overflowing the polyphony (for example, while playing legato in a monophonic patch). Raising the release value a little will solve this problem and won't have such dramatic effect as raising the attack, which looses punch easily.  top

How to make a Chord Maker (from Erik de Vries)

I can make it with the Modular 2, it's quite simple:

Take 3 midi keyzones

Set the splitpoint to 127, so the lower zone covers the whole keyrange

Set the transpose values to values you like for your chord, e.g. 0-4-7 for a major chord

Take 2 midi mergers

Merge the low out of keyzone 1 and 2 in the first merger

Merge the low out of keyzone 3 and the output of the first merger in the second merger

Connect the output of the second merger to midi out

There's your chordmaker!

 

Now in the project window you just connect the pulsar midi source to midi in of the modular patch and midi out of the modular patch to midi in of a synth.

Set the polyphony of the synth to at least 3.

I'm afraid this can't be done with modular 1. I miss the midi out and the midi merger modules. top

 

Playing Stereo samples in the modular sample player. (Robin Chard)

Split stereo files into 2 mono files in Cool Edit or Awave. Load 2 Sample OSCs and trigger with same trigger. top

2 circuit diagrams (Robin Chard)

Saturation circuit Robin's been working on for his forthcoming Sick Pulsar patch:

"The saturation signal flow diagram is based on my soon to be uploaded "Sick Pulsar" based on the Access Virus signal routing and control. I did some research into saturation, distortion, and overdrive and came up with a fairly flexible and useful circuit. I wrote this a few days ago to update people about the patch..."

"Saturation: I've got two versions going. The downloadable version uses the distortion module between 2 multimode filters. The fancier version uses the Obsidian Modular Rectifier to split the signal waveform into upper and lower components, select separate processing for each, then recombines them. It also uses the Obsidian Shaper, so for each half of the waveform you can select Distortion Soft/Hard, Shaper, Normal and control the level of that half of the wave.

Here's the circuit diagram.

The other shows a circuit which allows the control of Velocity/Volume using a VCA slider. Further notes are in the diagram itself.  top

How to modulate the tempo of a tempo delay using an LFO (from Norsez)

Q: How can I modulate the tempo of the tempo delay fx? I want to use an LFO ,not midi gate signals. But if you connect an LFO to the mod input of the delay, you get a 'division by 0' error message.

A: You can't use the LFO to modulate clock destination directly because the control value of the LFO can drop to zero. You want to put a frequency divider between the LFO and the delay tempo modulation destination or you could just a simple MIDI clock. top

Using the Modular as a Multi Effects Unit (from Algorhythm)

By using the M/S insert rack and Modular FX in serial, one can come up with great fx routing possibilities. For example, delay>chorus>filter, or phase>flange>reverb.

Also, using the insert racks in Modular2 gives MIDI control over FX devices which lack MIDI control. I have even noticed that it works on devices which the 'midi-izer doesn't, if I remember correctly!

I have found that by creating a few of these Modular patches with my favorite FX loaded in the proper config, I can quickly hook the outputs of a synth or outboard device to the Modular and start getting creative with FX processing! - A lot less time spent wiring up several devices in tandem, or loading up inserts into the BM. Additionally, You can save 'omnipresets', by saving presets of the Modular, which keeps all of the configs of each FX inserted in the patch. Thus, switch from a really long delay with a lot of reverb to a short delay with a short reverb tail simply by sending patch change messages to the Modular FX machine.

See the Modular 2 patch Tempo FX Machine for an excellent example of this.

How to create that 'Classic Ring mod' effect. (From David Peck on the Nord Modular list):

Q: "Hello, I am always hearing people talk about the "classic ring modulator" sound but cannot figure out what they are talking about?

A: Try using two sine waves as the inputs. Tune the two sine waves a fifth apart (tune the second Osc 7 half steps above the first). Or, tune them a sixth apart (nine half steps) and then use the fine tune control to slow down the "beating" effect you hear. I personally prefer this tuning for the "classic" Ring Mod sound.

Then try substituting different waveforms for the sine waves (use multi-oscillators to make this easier). top

How to get that hard, grinding synced oscillator sound? (from fra77x)

Q: Does anyone know how to get that hard, grinding synced oscillator sound? I don't mean the wimpy soft little whiney sync, I mean the big abrasive analog Roland-style sync, or early monophonic style sync from the Korg MonoPoly or SC ProOne.

I've tried the usual Master/Slave sync and twiddling the tuning knobs, but the effect is so slight that it's hardly worth bothering. On some other patches I've noticed people seem to be attempting to get the effect by using distortion, but that's not the same.

A: Try modulating the pitch of the Slave Oscillators - for example:

Use a mix 4 module -connect 2 ADSR envelopes and 2 LFO to it. Then connect the mixer out to a pitch modifier mod in and the pitch modifiers freq out to the slave 's Osc frequency.  top

 

Creating Logical operators (and, or, not). (from Sampsa Lehtonen )

 

Q: I'm playing with the Pulsar modular2 for few days, and now I think it lacks some Boolean operators (AND, OR, NO) that could be used on audio as well as on modulation. One of the ideas behind that is to build some modules with cyclic parameter change, making cyclic "holes" in pulse ...

A: If you need those Boolean operators, you can always fake it. You can emulate binary signals with square pulse oscillators with amplitude of 0.5 and by adding 0.5 to that signal. So range [-0.5, 0.5] will become as [0.0, 1.0]

Operator AND is simple - just amplitude modulate all your signals.

Operator OR is a bit more complex. First you and both (or all) signal together and then use limiter to clip that to 1.0.

NOT is done simply with function 1.0 - [signal]

This way the signal will be always either 0.0 or 1.0. And then you can modulate final binary signal with your original signal (if this is what you meant?)

I guess you could easily do also some kind of "binarizer", which would convert an audio signal to binary signal. Perhaps with some kind of db threshold triggering, even with some DSR-envelope?... top 

 

How to generate controller messages via (e.g.) an LFO (from Paul van der Valk)

 

Q: How do I generate controller messages via some LFO, so that it can control devices that don't have an LFO of their own? (Gotta be easier than trying to draw a  sine wave in Logic!)

A: This could be done with the modular in pulsar 1.x. It may not work anymore in software version 2.x and/or modular2. The key factor is that the midi controller module can work in two directions. This is
somewhat comparable to using a regular loudspeaker as a microphone. Reasonable heavy signal smoothening will be needed, and it would not be suitable for response-critical tasks, but midi LFOs, envelopes, inversion, CC redirection etc. is/was definitively possible!  top

 

Loading v1 Modules into v2 patches and vice versa

 

Missing your favourite Version 1 module in Version 2? It is perfectly possible to load version 1 Modules into a Version 2 patch, and vice versa. This is also true for third party modules, many of which are only available for version 1. 

Obviously, the v1 modules will look too big and the v2 modules too small when loaded into the other versions interface, but as long as you don't mind that all else seems to work fine. top

Customizing Modular II Pull Down Menus

Modular II looks in: x:\Pulsar\Devices\Modular2\modules for the items in the pull down menus. (where x:\Pulsar is the directory where you have Pulsar installed).

If you have additional modules like the Text Modular or the Obsidian modules for modular I you can create a spot on the pull down by creating a subdirectory under x:\Pulsar\Devices\Modular2\modules and copying the module files to that directory.

It is also possible to create subdirectories - for example, you could have a "3rd Party" directory, and then separate subdirectories for Orbitone, SpaceF, Obsidian, etc.

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