Exploring the Vintage Character of the System80 810 MK2: A 3-in-1 Subtractive Analog Voice Module

Diving into the heart of the System80 810 MK2, you quickly realize this is not your typical 3-in-1 subtractive analog voice Eurorack Module. Its enchanting vintage character is a tribute to the golden age of Japanese analog synthesis, featuring elements from the likes of the System 700, System 100m, and the Jupiter-8. With the addition of modulation, an envelope generator, and a streamlined interface, this module becomes a versatile addition to any Eurorack setup.

At the core of this module, you find a temperature-compensated, discrete voltage-controlled oscillator (VCO). The oscillator works perfectly within the standard 1V/octave range, displaying impeccable tracking for about 7-8 octaves. Flexibility is key here, with the inclusion of a Sync input that features both weak and strong oscillator sync modes. Paired with six selectable waveform outputs — Pulse, Ramp, Triangle, or Sine — and octave range switch, the creative possibilities are vast. Not to forget the addition of Pulse Width Modulation CV input and a sub-oscillator, broadening the scope of sound design possibilities.

Moving into the filter section, the 810 MK2 does not disappoint. A cascaded operational transconductance amplifier (OTA) design lies at the heart of this module, inspired by classic Roland topologies. With the ability to self-oscillate, tracking 1 V/octave over 3-4 octaves, this filter adds a generous depth to the module. In terms of inputs, the VCO output and sub-oscillator are normalized to two logarithmically attenuated channels, with additional frequency CV inputs, both unipolar and bipolar, to play around with.

The Voltage Controlled Amplifier (VCA) utilizes a traditional single OTA design, contributing to the module's warm sound. There are three logarithmically attenuated audio inputs — the first of which is normalized to the filter's output. Users are given even more control with two CV inputs that allow for either exponential or linear responses.

The MK2 version of the System80 810 elevates the module's usability and functionality, introducing solid-state octave switching and memory recall for waveform selections. A steel back cover concludes the updates to this iteration, adding a robust feel to an already grounded module.

Overall, the System80 810 MK2 is not merely a clone of its renowned predecessors. It instead acts as a bridge between the vintage character of beloved Japanese analog synths and contemporary modular convenience. Its lush 3-in-1 subtractive voice delivers the classic analog sound with a modern twist, making it a compelling choice for Eurorack enthusiasts and electronic music creators alike.

Example Usage

Novice-level usage example:

The System80 810 MK2 is an all-in-one subtractive analog voice module that allows you to create vintage-inspired sounds in your eurorack setup. Let's start by exploring the Voltage Controlled Oscillator (VCO).

To get started, patch the VCO's 1V/octave CV input to your sequencer or keyboard. This will determine the pitch of the oscillator. Use the octave range switch to select the desired range.

Next, let's choose a waveform for the VCO output. You have four options: Pulse, Ramp, Triangle, or Sine. Use the waveform selection knob to dial in the desired waveform, and if you want to add some modulation, you can use the Pulse Width Modulation CV input.

Now, let's move on to the Voltage Controlled Filter (VCF). Patch the VCO output to one of the VCF's log attenuated inputs. This will allow you to filter the sound generated by the VCO. Experiment with the selectable 12 or 24 dB response to find the perfect tone. Don't forget to try out the voltage controlled resonance, which adds a touch of character to your sound.

Finally, let's take a look at the Voltage Controlled Amplifier (VCA). Patch the VCF output to one of the VCA's audio inputs. This will determine the signal that will be controlled by the VCA. You can use the two CV inputs to shape the amplitude of the sound. Experiment with the exponential or linear response to achieve different dynamics.

Remember, the System80 810 MK2 is not just a clone, but a unique module that brings together the best elements of vintage Japanese analog synthesizers. With some creativity and experimentation, you can create your own classic sounds with a modern twist.

One intermediate-level usage example for the System80 810 MK2 module is to create a vintage-style lead sound. Start by patching the VCO's Pulse waveform output into the VCF's audio input. Then, adjust the VCO's frequency using the 1 V/octave CV input and one of the attenuated exponential CV inputs for modulation. Experiment with different octave ranges and waveform selections to find the desired vintage character.

Next, use the VCF's frequency CV inputs to further shape the sound. Connect a sequencer or an LFO to one of the frequency CV inputs to create movement in the filter cutoff. Additionally, utilize the voltage controlled resonance to add emphasis to certain frequencies.

Finally, route the VCF's output to the VCA's IN 1 input and adjust the VCA's CV inputs for volume control. By combining the VCO, VCF, and VCA sections of the System80 810 MK2, you can craft a versatile vintage lead sound with rich timbral character and expressive control.

Further Thoughts

In this example, we will explore the vintage character of the System80 810 MK2 by creating a classic Roland-style bass patch reminiscent of the Jupiter-8.

First, let's start by using the VCO to generate a rich and warm bass sound. Set the waveform to a Pulse wave and adjust the octave range switch to -1. This will give us a thick and punchy foundation for our bass patch.

Next, let's shape the sound using the VCF. Choose the 24 dB response for a more aggressive tone. Increase the resonance slightly to add some bite to the sound. Use the frequency CV inputs to create movement and variation in the bassline. Try using an envelope generator to modulate one of the CV inputs to create a dynamic filter sweep effect.

To add even more character to the bass sound, let's utilize the sub-oscillator. Patch the sub-oscillator output into one of the log attenuated inputs of the VCA. This will thicken the sound and give it a more prominent presence in the mix. Experiment with the VCA CV inputs to shape the dynamics of the bassline.

To make the bassline more interesting, we can introduce modulation. Use one of the attenuated exponential CV inputs of the VCO to apply pitch modulation. Connect a slow LFO to the pulse width modulation CV input to create a subtle pulsating effect. Combine this with some filter modulation using another LFO or an envelope generator to add movement and texture to the sound.

Remember to adjust the settings and experiment with different modulation sources to find your desired vintage character. The System80 810 MK2's vintage-inspired design, combined with modulation and patching possibilities, opens up a world of creative possibilities for crafting classic analog bass sounds.

Whether you're looking to recreate the iconic basslines of the past or explore new sonic territories, the System80 810 MK2 is a powerful and versatile subtractive analog voice module that will surely satisfy your vintage synthesis cravings.