As most know, there has been a strong resurgence of interest in virtual analog synths, trying to recreate the analog hardware beasts of the past via software. As software synths have become more developed, designers have attempted to produce accurate copies by analysing specific design characteristics of the "real thing", and mimic them in software modules.
For Creamware (and now Sonic Core) Scope users, this has produced the standard complement of oscillators and filters, as well as some special modules imitating the Juno and Waldorf oscillators, as well as a Juno Filter module, plus several other generic varieties of filters.
To have access to these in a musical device, one had to depend on Creamware or 3rd party designers to produce a dedicated device containing the desired modules, or delve into the Modular system provided with each Scope board. The more recent Modular II/III system has enhanced that experience significantly, yet a problem with a modular system remains, in that it can become "user UN-friendly" in terms of the user interface and how the various parameters are presented and adjusted, simply because of the 'screen real estate' required to display a large modular configuration ('patch' in Scope terms).
Synth designers know that there are two critical 'sections' in designing a synthesizer - the sound SOURCE (oscillators, noise, external signals), and the sound MODIFIERS. I like to further separate the MODIFIER section into two sub-sections - things like FILTERS, and the MODULATION capabilities that modify these (source & filter), and modules that are considered EFFECTS & EQ, which can significantly enhance the sound (though not at the 'core' of the basic sound's structure.)
The frustration for many has been that they want the flexibility of something like a modular system, but in a more compact and easy-to-use layout. And, the devices that ARE easy to use often times don't have the exact selection of sources, filters, or effects that the user wants, when he has certain sound design goals in mind.
Enter the Red Dwarf EX Semi-Modular system, first introduced by me in January, 2001. This concept provides a basic 'synthesizer shell', into which the same variety of oscillators, filters, and effects modules as mentioned above can be put together by the user, within certain structural limitations.
Using a basic outline of modulation and signal routing, the user can insert any two sound sources and any two filters in the SLOTS provided to create his own 'custom' design. Even more important, EACH preset can be contain different modules for these slots, as well as for the effects, providing for a much more flexible device.
Of special note for SCOPE/SP owners - ALL of the effects in the SP package can be used with the Red Dwarf, and not limited to the effects racks.
Zarg Music has introduced several other synthesizers that have this 'semi-modular' capability. In addition to the Red Dwarf EX, there are Ambient RD, Dark Star v3.0, Rotor 48RD, Rotor Jr., and Solaris.
Since the Red Dwarf concept is similar to the Modular system (in fact, many of the "atoms" are the same as used in the Modular 2), I have kept the same names for ease of identification. However, there are a few enhanced and "special case" modules as well, and it's also important to know that there are some major 'ease of use' differences with these modules. Also, the RD Module Pack is sold separately (currently EUR 65.00 - now updated to series II), as the modules can be used with any of the semi-modular devices from Zarg Music.
Here is the RD Module Pack series II list:
Despite the overwhelming flexibility of the Red Dwarf Semi-Modular system, there are some restrictions to the current design. For example, at the moment, oscillator sync between the two osc slots is not possible (but is available in some oscillator pair modules). Also, use of any of the FM modules from the Modular 2 series is not possible.
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