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Buchla Music Easel
Buchla Music Easel

NoiseBug Price : $4499.00

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Manufacturer Description:
This legendary and sought-after Buchla synthesizer from the 200 series will be produced again after 40 years. There are some minor changes here and there but in general it´s pretty much the same as the original. UPDATE: Now playable with MIDI - Note ON, Note OFF, Aftertouch on Channel 1 which routes to the Pressure output on the 218. Most exciting is support for MIDI clock/sync messages, Pulse output at the standard 24ppqn, or if the arpeggiator is enabled will clock that... This is a really well-thought out semi-modular instrument with great sound and lots of possibilities due to well-arranged patch points. The small sequencer and the touch keyboard with integrated arpeggiator invite to play the instrument directly and to interact with it.

Technical Details

At the first glance the Easel looks confusing because of the many switches, faders and many sockets but in the end everything makes sense and it's laid out very logically. The colors of sockets mostly match the function blocks of the Easel (purple = keyboard pressure, yellow = pulser, white = random, orange = envelope, blue = sequencer). The black sockets are CV inputs that are located always left of the according parameter. The sockets at the top of the unit have legending and are self-explaining. The position of most banana sockets below the faders has been chosen for the use of shorting bridges instead of patch cords which enhances clarity of your patch.

The sound generators of the Easel are based on a complex main oscillator and a modulation oscillator. The latter is generally used for modulating the main VCO but it can act as a second VCO and it will be routed into the 2nd Lopass Gate, see below.

The main oscillator can be tuned with the frequency fader over 5 octaves and the response to incoming CV can be changed with the +/- polarity switch. The wave form is depending on the controls in the timbre section: With timbre fader and timbre potentiometer set to zero we will get a sine wave. Turning up the timbre potentiometer the waveform blends to a sawtooth, a square or a triangle, depending on the switch. The timbre fader modifies this wave form by the use of a wave multiplier for sounds with high harmonic content.

The modulation oscillator has no timbre section, only switchable waveforms (saw, square or triangle). In HI mode it's a VCO, in LOW mode it's a LFO. It's frequency can be modulated also by the keyboard (switchable) or a CV. A switch determines how the modulation oscillator affects the main oscillator, either as a ring modulator, for amplitude modulation or for frequency modulation. The modulation intensity is set with the modulation fader but can be voltage controlled, too.

The oscillator(s) are processed with the Lopass Gates (LPGs). Those are vactrol-based circuits with organic behavior and can operate as low pass filters, as VCAs (gate) or as a combination of both. The audio signal for the 1st LPG is always the main VCO. The second LPG is 180° phase shifted and has a flexible routing: either output of LPG1 (what creates high pass sounds due to the shifted phase), the modulation oscillator or an external audio signal. The outputs of the LPGs are mixed in the output section and their levels can be set separately. Behind the mixer there´s a real spring reverb with dry/wet control providing for more depth in the Easel´s sound when desired.

The Easel can be played with the touch keyboard and/or the sequencer. The keyboard senses the amount of skin touching it, resulting in a pseudo pressure sensitivity. It has a range of 2.5 octaves but you can transpose octaves with the four pads on the top right. While normal playing it senses one finger that determines the pitch, but when using the internal arpeggiator all fingers are analyzed. The arpeggiator has it´s own tempo control.

The Pulser is an impulse generator you can use as a clock source or as a second LFO. It can self-repeat or be triggered by key gate or the sequencer. The envelope is an AD or a ASR type, depending on the setting and can be triggered by the pulser, sequencer or the keyboard gate. The analog sequencer has three, four or five steps and features steps gate switches; it´s gate source can be the pulse or the keyboard gate. Interaction of the switch settings and the simultaneous keyboard play can result in really interesting rhythmical structures.

The four touch pads mentioned above can´t only transpose the octaves; in "preset" setting four pre-set fixed voltages can be played to alter the pitch or other parameters.

Memory is possible as well; you need to copy all connections and fader positions by soldering resistors etc. on the memory card. The Easel can read the values of the memory card, settings of the face plate controls or a combination of BOTH, which gives you three sounds at the same time! inputs and outputs

Plenty of control voltage inputs (4mm banana sockets)
Patch cables & Shorting bars included
Will include preset program cards, both "Stuffed" and blank. Two mono audio outputs, a stereo headphone output; external mono audio input (all 1/8"sockets)
Connector for external 12V DC power supply.
Memory card slot
Optional iPad interface/app is available

Measures and Weight
Compact transportable suitcase with removable lid. Matches hand-luggage dimensions of airlines. Exact dimension are depending on the final version of the suitcase.

Specifications and included accessories are subject to change without notice.

10 x program cards
6 shorting bars (2 SETS of 3)
3 x 4 inch cables
4 x 8 inch cables
2 x 18 in cables

With respect to the new Easel powerboards… Firstly notice above the right 1/4" output it is labeled “opt right” and underneath it says “sustain”. This means the jack can be utilized as a sustain pedal input (default) or as an audio output to accomplish stereo signal from the Music Easel.
The second attached photo shows a 4 pin set up and it is shorted to sustain. To make the right output jack output audio (stereo Easel) instead of serving as a Sustain Pedal input (default) all you do is take the black connector and connect it to the far right header. It is silk screened on the PCB that way to easily understand.

The second improvement is the “card” connector… This input is to accept the USB card that BEMI sells for updating modules’ firmware. So now it is possible for the operator to update the 218 keyboard and other modules from the Easel case, with ease.

The third improvement is a 10-pin connector on the powerboard that says 225e/h MIDI in. This connector is for the use of the 225e or 225h in an Easel case.

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