Moog Subharmonicon

@jayhosking Really enjoyed this. Wasn’t expecting the vocals and it was a pleasant surprise!

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That was fantastic!

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Damn, really nice track. The FM from the Matriarch really added a new layer.

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No doubt a silly question, but I know nothing about synths and how they work - bear with me, I’m learning :wink:

Could a digitone get the same sounds / tones / voices as a subharmonicon?

Not silly at all, especially if you’re just learning.

Synths fall into a few categories, but the two most common are subtractive synths and FM synths. Subtractive synths tend to sound warmer and fuzzier, due to a combination of their oscillators and filters; FM synths tend to sound harsher and brighter. Subtractive synthesis is usually what you find in classic hardware (e.g. Moogs), whereas FM really appeared in the 80s and has progressed from that 80s sound into the cold/crystalline/metallic sounds of more recently.

Both are great, and to some extent you can make overlapping sounds, but by default they sound very different and they each have tonal aspects that can’t be emulated by the other. The Subharmonicon is a subtractive synth, and the Digitone is an FM synth. So if you’re looking for the Subharmonicon sound, you’re probably not going to find it in the Digitone.

Hope that’s helpful. Best of luck!

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Thank you @jayhosking ! Much appreciated. That’s a great help. I think I’m going to have to have both side by side to really make the call.

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Just to add something to the great response by @jayhosking, the Subharmonicon has a rather unique take on sequencing notes, using 2 (overlapping) 4-step sequencers to create poly-rythms, whereas the Elektron uses a more conventional 16-64 step sequencer.

You would want to make sure you compare this aspect as well to see which one will serve you better right now.

If you prefer the sound of analog subtractive synthesis over FM, but find the Subharmonicon’s sequencer is not what you are looking for, you can also look at the Moog Mother 32, which is subtractive, with a generally similar sound to SubH (but also different because it doesn’t have the suboscillators), but it has a more traditional sequencer.

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So while this topic is hot, how are people liking the Subharmonicon,
it seems fairly limited synthesis wise but it seems like the magic is in the sequencer.

I am all about polyryhtms and love what some people have achived with the SH.

I have seen some really lovely visceral sequences being churned out.

but my fears is that is it is a one trick pony. SH owners what are your thoughts?

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My first impressions: I like the sound of it a lot, its oscillators and filter, but I’m fond of that Moog sound in general. The sequencer is fun but a little more fickle (and less musical) than I’d first hoped, and gets you into some really wonky territory if you’re not careful. Still, its massive limitations lead to really pleasing results and I was immediately making music with it. And the fact that it can send its rhythms out (either isolated, or summed together) to control other gear is an amazing feature that I didn’t know I’d want until I had it. It’s a blast to pair with other modular gear. If you’re into melodic, hypnotic lines in songs that drift in and out of your attention, you should give the Subharmonicon a shot.

There are plenty of pieces of gear I play with and think, “This is fun, but I’m almost certainly not holding onto this for the long run.” While it’s still early days, I haven’t felt that at all about the Subharmonicon, and usually it would come up by now.

Hope that’s helpful!

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What makes the Digitone special is the subtractive synthesis signal path it has.

From the manual :

Digitone represents our vision of how FM synthesis can be revitalized and modernized. Here’s how: combine FM sound generation with a classic subtractive synthesis signal flow. From jagged chaos to mellow soundscapes in less than a second. Digitone is one unique box.

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Dear lord, that’s a great track.

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Thanks @aloud, I should have mentioned, I have a Subharmonicon.

I purchased this on a complete whim, never owned a synth bar a little casio keyboard you could sample into when I was 6/7 (I’m 41 now lol). Always been into guitars to be honest. I knew I wanted to try a synth out, I knew i liked Moogs tones, the idea of two analog VCOs and four Subharmonic Oscillators really interested me for chord creations - the sequencer went over my head to be honest.

After having the Moog for a month and half I still love the tone, the 6 voices as such - but the sequencer drives me nuts. I either get a (lovely) slow droning 4 beat pattern, or a sort of skipping 8 beat patter or just a mess. I’m not too much of a fan of the little nobs to program the note change of each step either as it’s pretty fiddly and can be a bit hit and miss.

Don’t get me wrong, I love the thing, it sounds fantastic (though I tend to drown it in delay and reverb). Its introduced me to a whole new world of music making and creativity. I honestly thought I’d be returning the Subharmonicon after 14 days but its the guitars that are gathering dust at the moment.

Subharmonicon lead me to the Digitakt (via a blackbox 1010 that really wasn’t for me). Loving the control of the Digitakt, the workflow and all the trigs/probability/control. So now I’m thinking, sell the moog and get a Digitone. The @OscillatorSink thread on droning the Digitone really caught my eye.

EDIT: Ordered a Digiton :smile:

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Just been told that my Subharmonicon is waiting for pickup from Elevator Sound. I know what I’m doing this weekend :grinning:

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Mine was due this week but now I’m told mid September…wahhhhh.

I’ve had my eye on both SubH and Digitone so looking forward to your thoughts after you get the DN.

The DN does Acid thread was yet another eye-opener for me. Maybe there are limits to getting to sound like a Moog, but it seemed convincing enough to me as a stand-in for a 303.

I’m sure the two will complement each other well.

I just picked mine up :sunglasses: If any UK-based ‘nauts want one, Elevator Sound have one left in stock from this batch.

i am still on the edge to decide getting a DN or SH. in favor of DN as I have no FM synth and in favor for moog as I like the new concept and its modular patchbay.

Well Digitone due tomorrow but just had the most amazing jam with the subharmonicon :rofl:. Not sure I can sell this now. Was not the plan. Was not the plan at all. Digitakt triggering the subharmonicon really helps move it along a bit. Moog into Zen delay is pretty damn good too!

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yea im in a similar boat.
torn between the Digitone keys & SubH.
went with the keys cause its so suited to my music I can write complete tunes on it really quick,
but SubH still might be my next purchase cause its so wicked in its own way :slight_smile:

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Well I’ve had my SubH for about a week now and have been playing it with quite a bit. Here’s a jam session with it, a DFAM, and an Analog 4 (providing a kick and other percussion, FX, and sending clock)

I really like it, it’s very meditative just messing around with it and seeing what comes out. That said, I don’t think it’s likely that it will end up in much of my music – to use it with other instruments takes quite a bit of fiddly setting up tuning of the oscillators and the sequencer steps with a tuner (unless you have perfect pitch), whereas the fun with it it just twisting knobs and dialling pleasing sounds in by ear. So it might become my go-to after-work jam box – it does make me feel like I’m kind of experimenting, maybe a bit like the early synth pioneers who built the stuff the SubH is based on, which is fun.

A few notes from my experience:

  • Messing around with it is fun but it’s easy to make everything fall apart and then find it hard to get back to the good spot you were in just before.
  • Polyrhythms are great, but unless backed up by some on-the-beat kick or percussion or something else, I find they can feel messy, especially for shorter, more percussive sounds (so the A4 provides the kick in the jam above). I dunno, maybe my brain just can’t handle them :slight_smile:
  • It really lends itself to being performative. The buttons to send the sequencers to the main osc and subs can really add some nice variety, even if the sequencers are only 4 steps.
  • The patch bay is great, but it would have been nicer to have a few more inputs (especially for the mixers)
  • Being able to send polyrythmic clock is super nice. The DFAM is being clocked that way above.
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