FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions)
What is the standard lead time?
Lead time is the time between your order payment and us shipping your product.
This time varies from 1-3 days for most smaller orders and up to 6 weeks for larger system orders. If you have a deadline, email us at email@example.com, we would love to help!
99% of the time we meet or beat our quoted lead time.
Do you ship to other countries?
We ship all over. You are responsible for any taxes and fees imposed by your country.
Harmonized codes for all synthesizer products are 920710-0020.
Regulations vary country-to-country and change regularly.
Do you have dealers or distributors?
We only sell direct to customers.
Do you have a phone?
Our business is global and email is how we communicate. We're very responsive with any type of question - email us at firstname.lastname@example.org
If you purchase a product and don't like it, you can return it and get a refund for the complete amount minus shipping charges. We ask that you do this within 10 days of receipt of the products. We can't take back damaged or modified products.
All of our products carry a one year warranty. If a product breaks within the first year after you purchased it new from us, email us @ email@example.com. The customer is responsible for packaging issues and shipping charges. If the product is damaged from abuse or modification, this warranty doesn't apply.
Are y'all still in business???
Believe it or not, we hear this question a few times a year and I'm not sure why because we and our customers make lots of noises in the synthesizer market. The answer is Yes. Synthesizers.com has been in business for more than 20 years. We have sold thousands of modular systems and modules over the years, many more than Moog and ARP combined. And our product line grows and grows. To my knowledge, our Facebook group is the largest modular synth group on the web. Join the fun!
Do you go to NAMM?
NAMM a big trade show where music instrument manufacturers show off their products. In the past we have not attended trade shows, but it is something we are actively looking into.
Who is Synthesizers.com?
Synthesizers.com is a company in Tyler, Texas founded by Roger Arrick. See more on the About page.
What about your company name?
It was around 1996 when Roger made the decision to design and produce a modular synthesizer. There was a renewed interest in analog synths and I could feel it. This was the .com era and the web was changing everything. Websites were just beginning to appear on TV ads. He decided to go out on a limb with a marketing experiment by making the company name the domain name. Many domain names were still available and he snatched up Synthesizers.com. The rest is history so they say.
Who is Patcher Jack?
Patcher Jack is the company mascot.
Are your power supplies 110v and 220v?
Yes, all of our power supplies will run on 110v or 220v
A fuse blew, what should I do?
Fuses are designed to turn off a power system due to an over-current condition. If a fuse blows, there's a reason, it's probably not just a bad fuse. Don't just automatically replace the fuse, and definitely don't put aluminium foil or something in there, that's very dangerous. Unplug the AC power cable and inspect the power components for the problem. If you have too many modules on a small power supply, that could cause it. If you have modules from another manufacturer that draws a lot of current, that could cause it. If you have a DIY power system that is mis-wired, that could cause it. If there is a bad power supply or a broken wire, or a shorted wire, those could all cause the fuse to blow too. Need help troublshooting? Send us an email @ firstname.lastname@example.org
Do you provide the AC power cord?
We provide a power cord for USA 110v operation. You must supply the power cord for other locations. Use a cord with an IEC C13 connector on one end to plug into the synthesizer, and a plug on the other end to match your outlets. IEC C13 connectors are the standard connector used with many office machines, computers, etc.
What DC Voltages do your systems run on?
Our power systems produce +15V, -15V and +5V.
Do you sell any power adapters?
We do not sell adapters to connect other products to our power systems or our products to other power systems. Damage to products caused by DIY or 3rd party adapters is not covered under warranty.
Can you help with my DIY power setup?
Due to the potential problems and dangers with DIY (Do-It-Yourself) power systems and modifications of power systems, we do not offer advice about this and strongly recommend against it. Modules and other products damaged by DIY power systems or modifications to our power systems are not warranted. Do yourself a favor and buy a working and tested power system, it is the backbone of your system.
Two Power Supplies in a System?
Yes, you can have 2 or more power supplies in a system. That allows each cabinet with a power supply to operate alone. Good for traveling gigs. Make sure NOT to connect the two power sources together using a QIC cable.
Spaces vs Modules?
Cabinets offer a certain number of module spaces such as 11, 22 or 44. Many modules consume only 1 space, but some consume 2 or 4 or 8 spaces. A discussion about how spaces vs modules relates to power supplies can be found in the Tutorial section.
What new products are you going to make?
My policy is to never announce what product I'm going to create until the product is in production or ready to ship. This helps me keep my sanity, and it also avoids a common problem in this industry of companies making promises they can't keep. So, that's the way I do it and it's worked well.
What are the differences between Synthesizers.com and Moog
There are several aspects of Synthesizers.com systems that are enhancements over the original Moog systems. Some of these things are possible due to better electronics, some are because of design philosophy and OCD, and many are just simple improvements due to hindsight. Here are a few of those things:
Consistent Panel Graphics:
This includes font types and sizes, placement of graphics and layout of panels. Some original Moog modules have graphics that are covered by jack washers, sometimes above and sometimes below the described item, inconsistent use of font type and sizes, even the logos and headings sometimes don't line up on the same system.
Synthesizers.com systems are hyper-modular. Even the power modules can be placed in any position - even on the back. There is no fixed normalization in a Synthesizers.com system. Moog systems had some un-modular aspects including some normalization. Moving modules to other places was often difficult or required special wiring. Moog systems also used a series of special half-size modules that were fixed on the bottom row and couldn't be placed anywhere else.
Universal Gate/Trigger Signals:
Synthesizers.com uses a simpler system for gate signals that gives the user more patching options. Gate signals indicate an on/off condition usually from a keyboard or sequencer. Gates are used to start envelopes, oscillator cycles or sequencers. All Gate signal inputs can be triggered by any audio or control signal - they even use the same connector. In a Synthesizers.com system, there is no distinction between audio, control, and gate signals. This greatly increases patching possibilities. Moog systems used both switch and voltage triggers with different connectors. To fire an envelope generator from an oscillator required a special conversion module and extra patch cords. Learn more about gates and triggers.
Larger Signal Levels:
Synthesizers.com systems use 10V Peak-Peak signal levels. Voltage levels throughout the system can often reach as high as 25V. These giant voltage levels help improve the signal to noise ratio. Moog systems use 1-2Vpp signal levels.
Possibly the biggest difference of all is the ease of patching made by placing attenuators, inverters, and mixers on modules instead of requiring a separate module. This makes patching more intuitive and uses less cables. To control a filter with an envelope generator, simply use one patch cord. Moog systems often require signals go through an attenuator module before going to their destination. This can double the amount of cords or limit the user's patch.
Ok, some people would say I'm being picky, but it's always bothered me that the Moog keyboard side panels had an angle that was opposite of the cabinets. On Synthesizers.com systems the angle of the keyboard enclosure matches the keyboard garage and the tilted cabinet.
Rear Enclosure Design:
Synthesizers.com systems studio cabinets have closed rear panels of walnut and also provide 4 module spaces on the back, typically for power modules. The rear of the system is worthy of show. The system doesn't have to be placed against a wall or away from an audience. Moog systems use perforated pressboard as a rear panel which looks like the back of a vintage TV.
Moog power supplies produced asymmetrical voltages of -6v and +12 which limited design choices and reduced headroom. Later Moogs added a +/-15V supply which is what Synthesizers.com systems use. Moog used card edge connectors for power. Synthesizers.com also has a separate 5V power source for digital circuitry. Synthesizers.com DC power connector has become an industry standard for modern modular synths.
Panel Circuit Mounting:
Moog Circuit boards are very large since they are designed to fit inside of a metal frame and are perpendicular to the front panel. The mechanics are large and deep and use a lot of metal. My guess is that the main design influence was military electronics and radios. Synthesizers.com modules do not consume very much space behind the panel. The circuit boards are mounted parallel to the front panel giving us many more options when mounting modules in portable cabinets and racks. This image shows the difference between a Moog 960 and a Synthesizers.com Q960.
Moog panels used anodized aluminium that was then etched to expose the lettering. This etching process used dangerous chemicals and created toxic fumes. Bob commented about this to me in the 90's. Moog module artwork doesn't have consistent widths which caused the exposed panel edges to be inconsistent. Synthesizers.com panels use a masking process, paint, then silkscreen printing. This is a bit more work but it's safer and the panels look great.
Synthesizers.com follows the Moog look, feel and sound because we think it's great. Moog has set the standard and we all appreciate Bob for that.
Is this a copy of a Moog modular?
Synthesizers.com systems are not copies of Moog modular systems but they use the same form factor (panel size), called MU (Moog Unit).
Synthesizers.com modules will physically fit in a Moog modular but use different power systems.
Synthesizers.com modules will patch together with a Moog modular since their signal levels are similar and both use 1/4" phone jacks. The exception to this is Switch Triggers.
The Q150 Ladder filter uses the core circuit of Bob Moog's famous ladder filter.
The Q960 Sequencer uses the same panel layout of Moog's 960 Sequencer, but the circuitry has been redesigned to use modern components that can be maintained.
Do you sell kits?
Depends on the type of kit you are looking for, we do sell conversion kits, which either combine 2 or more of our modules into a single module, or add functionality to an existing module. You can see all our conversion kits here.
We also offer a prototype module, which gives you the ability to create your own modules as you see fit, but have a nice front panel that you can customize. Check it out here.
We have no plans to offer kits that allow you to make any of our modules yourself for 5 important reasons -
#1: You'll find that our assembled and tested modules are cheaper than most kits because we make them in volume. We also use several automated processes such as soldering and wire cutting/stripping which reduce the time (and cost).
#2: Some modules require fancy test equipment to calibrate correctly. This is especially true of Oscillators.
#3: The documentation required to describe building a module correctly would be much larger than the documentation to show how to operate it. Documentation is difficult to write, prone to errors, and costly to produce.
#4: Technical support of module builders with varying degrees of skill and experience is costly, time consuming, and frustrating for the customer.
#5: Having products built by the factory helps maintain their value by assuring future buyers of the quality standards.
Please compare an assembled Synthesizers.com product with other company's offerings. With Synthesizers.com modules, you'll be making sounds right out of the box.
What about quality, parts, price?
Our designs are very typical analog circuitry.
Much of it derived from data books and 30 year old texts.
We avoid exotic components that are difficult to find.
We put all ICs in sockets for ease of maintenance.
We only use microprocessors for modules that can really benefit from them such as sequencers and MIDI controllers.
We consider cost when designing a product because we want you to be able to afford it, and we want to stay in business.
We also control costs by doing what most companies will not do:
No dealers - Instead: Factory direct saves you 20%-50%
Our products are built with commercial grade components using normal commercial grade processes. This is not a garage shop operation, we have full-time assemblers and techs that build electronics for a living. All circuit boards are multi-layered fiberglass with solder masks. All panels are made from .062" aluminium. Studio cabinets are made from real, solid American walnut. No laminates. We use commercial grade jacks which work great. All modules are calibrated, tested, and burned in before shipping.
We use open frame pots because we do not believe that using industrial grade sealed pots justify their incredible cost. Both sealed and unsealed pots can become scratchy. Open frame pots can be cleaned if needed, sealed units can not.
How do I move modules around?
It's very easy to move modules around and most people eventually do so to match their patching style. Synthesizers.com systems are hyper-modular and most modules can be moved to any location in the cabinet.
Disconnect the AC Power cord, unscrew the module, pull it out, and disconnect the small DC power connector. Power connectors are Keyed to help eliminate incorrect connection.
Some modules have Aid modules next to them with cables that connect the two behind the panel. These modules and their Aid modules will need to be moved together.
Examples of Aid modules are the Q141 Oscillator aid and the Q140 Filter Aid.
The Q115 Reverb module is connected to the reverb tank with 2 cables behind the panel so make sure these cables will reach the new module location.
The Q107 Filter is sensitive to power supply noise so resist moving it directly in front of the supply.
Power Modules such as the Q101, Q102, Q103, Q137 are connected to the power supply and/or the DC power harness so the module must be mounted so that these cables will reach them.
Can I calibrate a module myself?
Every module that requires calibration comes with calibration instructions. Usually this takes a good frequency counter, volt meter (4+ digits), oscilloscope, and a precise voltage source (+/-1mv). All modules are calibrated before shipping with very accurate test equipment so you don't have to worry about this, but many people like to know what all of those trim-pots are for on the PCB. Many modules require no calibration at all. For the most part, we recommend not messing with the trimmers.
Why don't you offer an LFO?
See the Q167 LFO++
LFOs (Low Frequency Oscillators) are separate from waveform oscillators in some modular systems. They are used to supply low frequency control signals to filters, amplifiers and other modules. Typical LFOs have a limited number of waveforms and lack other features to save costs. Since many people want a full-featured LFO with accurate tracking, PWM, FM, and Sync, there ends up being no difference between a good LFO and a good VCO. Instead of creating a separate LFO module, I decided to make the voltage levels in our system standardized so an oscillator would work as an LFO also. This is the same philosophy as the Moog modulars and gives you maximum flexibility and it certainly gives you more features than using a traditional LFO. Check out the price/performance/feature ratio of our full-featured Q106 VCO/LFO compared to other companies LFO and you'll see this is the best solution. Like most issues concerning synthesizers, and music in general, there are differing opinions.
I absolutely love the fact that the oscillators double as VC LFO's.
The idea of wasting your Oscillator on simple modulation doesn't make sense.
How 'quiet' are these systems/modules?
In this 'digital' age of CD quality recording equipment, the question of noise comes up a little more than it use to back in the days ruled by vinyl. We've tried to be true to the 'analog' concept and are pleased with the results. We don't use Digital Signal Processors (DSP) in our products - that would make them more quiet but would also make them digital! There are plenty of products out there to give you that sterile digital sound. But you're here for a different reason - you want analog. Now to the answer: Using an HP 8903b audio analyzer through our Q108 amplifier shows a signal to noise ratio of 82db (CD quality is around 96db). How's that?
What about output voltage levels?
The signals in a Synthesizers.com modular are very 'hot' meaning they are often 20Vpp or more. These high levels help to improve the signal-to-noise ratio. Since amps and mixers are designed to deal with much smaller signals, you'll need to attenuate the signals from the synth to prevent clipping. This is very easy since most synth patches end with a VCA (Q108 Amplifier). Simply use the Control #1 attenuator to reduce the output level to whatever you need. Another way is to use a Q125 Signal Processor to attenuate the output signal.
Modular analog synthesizers (and many normalized synths) are inherently monophonic meaning that only one note can be played at a time. Pressing more than one key will result in only one of the key's notes being played. Making a monophonic synthesizer act polyphonic is not an easy task since you would need multiple identical patches running in parallel. This would require many more modules than a normal monophonic patch. All of the settings would have to be the same which would be difficult and would not lend itself to real-time control.
In summary, don't expect a big polyphonic experience from a modular analog synthesizer. The sound of a modular synthesizer is very large in its monophonic form and it's best used that way.
What is a minimal system?
To build a minimal synthesizer system you'll need some basic modules to create and modify waveforms. We suggest you take a look at our preconfigured systems - you're likely to find something that meets your needs and budget.
A typical minimal system would consist of the following items:
1) QPS1 Power Supply
1) QDH20 DC Power Harness
1) Q137 Power Control
1) Q174 MIDI Interface
1) Q105 Slew Limiter
3) Q106 Oscillator
1) Q107 State Variable Filter
1) Q108 Amplifier
2) Q109 Envelope Generator
1) Q110 Noise
1) Q112 Mixer
1) Q116 Ring Modulator
1) Q117 Sample & Hold
1) Q124 Multiples
1) Q125 Signal Processor
If you will be using your system mostly for modifying sounds from a guitar, microphone or other instrument, add a Q118 Instrument Interface in place of one of the Q106 Oscillators.
If you want a VERY MINIMAL system that will simply make some sounds and allow filtering, then use these modules (doesn't include power products):
2) Q106 Oscillator
1) Q107 State Variable Filter
1) Q108 Amplifier
2) Q109 Envelope Generator
Normally a keyboard controller will produce 1 volt per octave with each key being 1/12 of a volt change. The oscillator is designed to respond to this exponentially so that a 1 volt change will result in a doubling of the frequency (pitch). There are many people interested in other tuning systems besides the western standard 12 semitones per octave. By changing the control voltage from the keyboard controller you can achieve different tunings. The oscillator has a variable exponential input which allows you to attenuate the control signal - usually from a keyboard. The result of attenuation would be that it would take more keys to produce one octave of change. While this would allow greater than 12 keys per octave, it would not allow less than 12. This can also be done using the Q125 Signal Processor which simply allows you to amplify or attenuate a signal - in this case a control voltage from a keyboard controller. Take the control voltage from the keyboard and patch it to the input of the top section of the Q125 Signal Processor, then patch the output into the exponential response connector of an oscillator. By adjusting the gain control you can change the 1 volt per octave signal into something else such as 1 volt per 2 octaves (24 equal tones per octave) and of course anything in between. You can also go the other way where 12 keys will represent a span greater than 1 octave. The control is continuously variable and can be done using a good set of ears or a frequency counter. As you can probably tell, this method only allows equal temperament and you're limited to a standard 12-keys-per-octave keyboard. Once you get over 36 tones per octave you'll start getting less accurate results. This is due to the tracking nature of an analog synthesizer. If you need perfect accuracy for 48 equal temperament, then use a digital synth.
Who says that a keyboard has to have the low notes on the left and the high notes on the right? After all, many written languages read right to left. The Q125 Signal Processor also allows you to invert a signal which would result in the the keys on the left being higher pitch than the keys on the right. Remember, this is a modular analog synthesizer - almost anything can be done - normal or not.
See our link page for pointers to the Microtonal universe.
We don't do DIY, that's for you to do. Our single goal is to provide assembled, tested and calibrated products that just work. We can't offer help modifying products. Please don't ask us how we build our products so you can build your own. We highly discourage DIY of any power system component for the obvious safety reasons and potential product damage. Please don't ask us to fix a product that has been modified or abused. I think you'll find this policy is similar to most other manufacturers in the world.
General interfacing information
Modules from Synthesizers.com use 1v/octave pitch voltages, 5v+ gates, 10vpp modulation signals, and 10-25vpp audio signals. These signals will interface to most modern modules. Synthesizers.com use 1/4 plugs for all signals.
If your system uses 1/8" plugs then you'll need adapter cables or use our Q122 Interface module.
If your system uses Switch Triggers, you'll need our QMVS switch trigger converter cable.
The Synthesizers.com power connector has become the industry standard for MU size modules. We use +15v,-15v,+5 power rails. See our Power page for more info. Moog modules use an unusual power connector and voltages. Products damaged by a DIY power supply or miswired by a 3rd party product are not covered under warranty.
Synthesizers.com uses the same panel size as Moog modulars called Moog Unit (MU). Our modules are typically less than 3" deep behind the panel so they will fit in very shallow cabinets.
Yes, MoogerFoogers can be patched with a Synthesizers.com modular with standard 1/4" patch cables.
Moog Voyager Interfacing
Yes, a Moog Voyager will interface with a Synthesizers.com modular. See this guide.
Using Moog switch triggers
Moog systems use a unique type of Trigger (or Gate) signal called switch trigger. These are on/off signals that are usually generated from a keyboard controller and are used to start an envelope generator or sequencer. Instead of the signal carrying a voltage that changes, the Moog 'Switch Trigger' is just dry contacts or a mechanical switch to ground. The one advantage to this is that triggers can be patched in parallel to create a logical OR - the disadvantage is that the trigger must go through a conversion module to interface to other voltage level signals. Synthesizers.com systems use voltage gate signals instead which allows for easier, more intuitive patching and much more flexibility without conversion.
Voltage to Moog Switch Trigger Cable
This special cable converts voltage gate signals from a Synthesizers.com system to switch trigger signals needed to activate Moog envelope generators. It has a male 1/4" plug on one end and a 2-pin Cinch/Jones plug on the other.
To convert from a Moog Switch Trigger to a voltage gate needed by Synthesizers.com modules, you'll need to run the Moog Switch Trigger signal through the Moog 961 module to create a voltage. You can also use the Q142 Pedal Interface which will convert any mechanical switch to a voltage level. You'll have to construct a special cable. The reason that a simple cable is not available to make this conversion is because a voltage source is needed.
Moog modular compatibility?
Audio signals can be patched between Synthesizers.com modules and Moog modules but Moog signal levels tend to be lower. Both use 1/4" plugs and jacks.
Moog modulars use switch trigger instead of gate. Switch trigger uses an unusual connector. It has to be converted to gate with a special module or a special cable. Learn the whole story about gates.
Synthesizers.com modules have the same panel size and mounting as a Moog modular system. This is called MU (Moog Unit). Physically, Synthesizers.com modules will fit in a Moog modular system, but Moog modules have large metal frames and won't fit in many Synthesizers.com cabinets.
Moog modular power supplies are completely different. They use -6v and +12 volts and a large card edge connector as opposed to the Synthesizers.com power connector which has become the modern standard. See the technical information page for details on the power connections.
Moog modular keyboard connectors are very different from anything else anyone makes and wont interface to anything I'm aware of.
Yes. MOTM Modules are made by Synthesis Technology. We both use standard voltages for audio, control and pitch signals (1V/Oct). So there is no problem patching the two types of modules together. The difference is the power supply connectors and panel width.
MOTM modules are 8.75 high (5U) just like ours but come in width multiples of 1.75". This will leave a gap when placed in a Synthesizers.com cabinet which is expecting module widths in multiples of 2.125 like Moog modules. The gap can be filled with a small metal strip. Complete details about module sizes can be found on the Technical information page.
MOTM modules have the circuit board (PCB) perpendicular to the front panel which consumes about 4 to 5 inches behind the panel. Synthesizers.com modules have the PCB parallel to the front panel and consume only about 2.5 inches. Here is a picture of both modules.
Ultimately this means that MOTM modules have trouble fitting into some locations inside of Synthesizers.com cabinets because the PCB bumps into the cabinet or the power supply.
MOTM Modules use +15 and -15 power, Synthesizers.com modules use that also, but Synthesizers.com also has +5 volts. This helps keep the power supply clean from digital noise. Pinouts of the power connectors can be found on the Technical information page.
Modcan and Cynthia modules have different panel dimensions (9" tall vs 8.75" for the .com and 2.25" wide vs 2.125" for the .com). This prevents using our standard cases to house both types of modules. Modcan and Cynthia modules use +15, -15 volts just like Synthesizers.com systems but the connector is different and special power cables will be needed. Modcan and Cynthia modules use banana jacks instead of 1/4" jacks so you can use our Banana Jack Interface to interface the two types of modules. Other than physical mounting, power connectors and panel jacks, the external signals such as pitch voltage, signal voltage, and gate signals are compatible with Synthesizers.com systems. Modcan has added a 'B Series' with a different form factor - see their website for more info.
Yes, boost the signal level with a Q118 Instrument Interface. Signal levels of a guitar are very low and need to be boosted (amplified) in order to match those of a modular synth.
Synthesizers.com modules are not designed to work stand-alone, they need an enclosure such as a cabinet or rack frame, and a power supply system.
There is not a module that will extract pitch information from your guitar (Pitch to voltage converter). That is a very difficult task. But the Q118 instrument interface does create a gate signal indicating the start and end of a note. The threshold is adjustable. This gate can be used to trigger the envelope generator, start a sequencer, etc.
Our Box11p is a typical configuration of modules suited for processing external sounds such as those from a guitar. The system includes the Q118 instrument interface, oscillator, filter, envelope generator, voltage controlled amplifier, rack frame, and power supply. This system can be expanded into a full-blown modular synthesizer easily.
Something isn't working right on your website, or I can't find something, what should I do?
Please let us know if you find an error, we have been known to reward people for helping us debug our site. Also, if you need help, don't hesitate to reach out to email@example.com We are here to help!