Buchla 200 Series Classic Reissue: Definitive West Coast modular
Buchla has brought back the classic 200 series modules with some redesigning help from Roman Filippov of Black Corporation. This is complex modular at its finest.
Buchla 200 Series
Buchla called them “The Electric Music Box” which drew together complex ideas of digital and analogue modular synthesis with colour coded patch cables and deep level programming. It brought the Buchla sound and way of working to a much larger audience and formed the basis of everything that came along after.
With the reissue, Buchla worked with Black Corporation’s Roman Filippov to redesign the modules with more readily available parts to fit with modern production. Roman also acknowledges the help of Malekko’s Josh Holley in getting these modules into production; this is truly a “Buchla & Associates” endeavour.
The result is extraordinary.
The first 7 modules (there will be more) are the Dual Oscillator Model 257, Quad Function Generator Model 281, Quad Lopass Gate Model 292, Source of Uncertainty Model 266, Dual Voltage Processor Model 257, Triple Envelope Follow Model 230 and Mixer/Preamplifier Model 207. Everything you need for a bit of dual oscillating West Coast modular bliss.
While the 200 series made with TipTop Audio were scaled down to Eurorack sizing and compatibility the Classic 200 Series are in their original 4U size with banana cable patching.
The pricing places them in a different league to most other modular systems with modules ranging from $799 to $999. These are premium modules, hand made in the USA in very limited quantities. It’s the sort of system most of us can only marvel at, maybe hope to see at a synth show and try to feel content with the Arturia Music Easel VSTi. Although the TipTop Audio series is an authentic and great-sounding alternative.
In a post on social media Roman also states that he’ll be donating some of his profits to help Ukraine.
I’ll also be donating part of my own profits to help Ukraine with a fight against aggressors. Putin’s politics were the major reason why I left Russia 10 years ago, but now he becomes a problem for the whole world.
The modules will start shipping in March.
This is confusing now. A few months ago, Tiptop Audio came out with most of the same modules in Eurorack format in conjunction with Buchla. Those are all about 1/3 the price of these. So, other than form-factor, what’s the difference? Are these more expensive since they fit into a rack of other expensive Buchla modules?
The Tiptop-Buchla module series have been reengineered to be compatible with Eurorack specifications. The Tiptop modules are 3U tall. All the patch cables are 3.5 mm TS style. The CV and pitch voltages are compatible with Eurorack specifications. And, ironically, the modules themselves are more flexible than the 4U 200 series in that in Eurorack CV and audio signals are interoperable (to some degree). Lastly, Tiptop is mass producing their series of Buchla modules in China. And a set of them will probably cost about $1500. (Final pricing on all of the Tiptop modules has not been set.)
These new and other 4U 200 series modules are designed for a different, incompatible “non-Eurorack” rack system with different voltage levels for CV, pitch and even different cable wiring. There are different jacks for CV and audio. (They aren’t interoperable.)
These new 4U modules cost 5 times the price of the Tiptop Eurorack modules. A set of one of each of them would cost $7000!
Obviously, these modules are being made for a different market. Maybe they are for the market of musicians who already have other 4U Buchla modules. (Although, I would think those people already have these core modules either as clones of the originals or previous Buchla US products.) Maybe they are for rich dentist and collectors with a lot discretionary funds.
It’s a bit of mystery to me.
I just watched a video interview with Suzanne Ciani. She says that some of the recent Buchla 200e modules diverged quite a bit from the original 200 designs.
It seems like these new “classic” modules are an attempt to re-establish the standard implementation and own control of the Buchla intellectual property. This very much follows the models of the way Gibson or Moog have tightened up their ownership and control of their brand IP. It may not be that Buchla expects to sell many of these units. But these units will now be out there as the definition of what a Buchla 200 system is rather than letting that standard be controlled by clones.
I guess there is also projects that have created archives of the original designs and documentation. Fluxmonkey and the MEMS project are two that I’ve encountered.