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środa, 29 stycznia 2020

Rene Ubachs-Rebach Interview '' Here a conscious choice was made for a minimal design but maximum sound''

Rebach is a company founded in 2017 by Rene Ubachs in the Netherlands.
by then Rebach had already released two full series of synthesizer Full Voice modules, one is the GR Series distinguished by its beautiful silver appearance with VCO, the wild-sounding filter and mixer the other is the blue and recently introduced black series Catch A / B VCO based on CEM 3340 chip such as in the famous prophet synthesizers, and VCF, ADSR, LFO, VCA, Noise Generator, attenuator and utility modules like multi and S trigger converter.

So we asked Rene about his whole series of modules, inspirations and how Rebach is currently developing.

Hello Rene, can you say something at the beginning about Rebach company?

I started ReBach in 2017 after years of being active in electronics, studio facility and music production. In 1980 I built my first synth. At the end of the 1980s I opened a studio that was in use until the beginning of 2000. In this Studio period I bought a lot of analog synth, of which I still have a lot. they needed a fair amount of maintenance, which I did myself. that's how I ended up in the synth repair and restoration world. In that period, interest was also raised for building an own synth again. because building a whole synth is quite expensive and the market in eurorack modules looked good three / four years ago and grew strongly in popularity, I decided then to take the first steps in this eurorack market, so ReBach was born.

In a fairly short time you build whole series basically one after the other, what motivated you to such fast action?

The rapid development was possible because I already had a lot of experience with designing, had made some basic designs long ago and I wanted to create a fairly complete line. The approach of the CATCH line, for example, is based on many modules for little money to create a flexible system.

On the website ’’about us’’ it is written that you are not the only person in the Rebach what is your team now like?

With ReBach I am the only one on the payroll, but of course I cannot do that alone. That is why I have hired people temporarily or outsource certain activities. These people are within my network of specialists and I see them as a team because we help each other.

Both series are quite different, not only in appearance but in the very sound, can you tell something about them?

The GR series and CATCH series have a different approach. The GR series is based on designs from 20 years old and therefore has an experimental character. Because the basic sound of the GR series is very full and deep and I really like it so I chose to convert these old designs into a Eurorack format because they can do very nice things. The CATCH line has been newly designed and has a strong refinement compared to the GR line. Here a conscious choice was made for a minimal design but maximum sound. With the CATCH series, function is minimal to keep costs down. It also has an epoxy front because of the costs. However, component level has not been cut at all to deliver a very reliable module that lasts a long time and with a huge sound. The mission on the CATCH is to provide modules that are affordable for the user so that he can buy more modules and get a much larger and more flexible system, so that there are more sound options than with a few expensive modules. the only thing he needs more are extra patch cables.

Your VCO GR 11 is a SAW core oscillator, why did you choose it based on SAW Core, does it matter for sound?

The sawtooth core of the GR11 is a common way of an oscillator that has been widely used in the past. My approach to the core was a little different, so that a slightly different sound emerges which gives more depth. The basis for this VCO is therefore very old and I made it a long time ago. In addition to this "old core", it has a unique SUB section with a kind of divider so that you can generate a square wave whose wave amplitude can be adjusted in four time segments, which gives an extra layer if you mix it in on one of the other wave forms, but you can also very good use for modulation of other modules or even a simple four step sequencer. Not the finest polished VCO but a great module for experimental sounds or thick bass lines.

Also your VCF GR 21 is quite Rough, did you also want to introduce something strong to the character of the sound, or was it designed specifically to be a massive guy for your oscillator?

The GR21 VCF is (as mentioned earlier) based on a 20 year old design from me but has been developed alongside the GR11 VCO, which means they complement each other well. The sound is deep and rough which gives a lot of character on bass lines and is very tasty. It also has its sharp edges on the attack and resonance so you have to learn to use it. If you know how to use it, you have a huge addition to your sound. So it was not a deliberate design, but because I use it myself and I think it is a wonderful filter, I have put it in a Eurorack format. This filter is not applicable to every sound or in every situation, but a rich addition in certain areas. Once you have tamed it, it will give your production an enriched extra layer.

Great , so let's move to the CATCH series, it was a blue series distinguished by color, but also VCO is based on CEM 3340 as in the prophet, was it an inspiration to get a similar sound and transfer it to your modules?

I love the sound of the old CEM based synths such as the P5, T8, SH101 etc…..  and now that the components are available again it quickly became clear to me to do something with these ICs. In addition to the good sound, the CEM3340 is also very temperature stable and has a very good CV tracking. Because of this, it fits well in the mission for the CATCH line to make a good sounding, high quality and affordable module. The VCO is limited in function but with some Patch / modulation fantasy you can produce amazing sounds that are the same as very expensive classical synths, but even though the basic sound is rich and beautiful sounding module. 

Filter Catch VCF-A is also very crazy especially in 
resonance, can you approximate some stories of its creation?

With the CATCH VCF-A the intention was to make a very warm but simple filter, but which goes further than most others in the market. The design produces a warm and deep character and this remains intact if you increase the resonance, which is not the case with all other filters. In addition, the resonance goes very far, so that you not only release a beast in the filter if you turn it up, but also get your own instrument. You also have to learn to use this module, after which you also get a character boy!

The whole series also has VCA, ADSR, LFO and other mpduly like Multi are these important modules for you?

Due to the low costs and minimal function of the CATCH line, it is necessary to have some extra modules such as an attenuator or a distributor. As an example, the VCO-A has no input control for the PWM input, you can partly do this with the PWM control on the front but this is not a real input-adjustment.  You can overcome this by the separate ATN attenuator module from the CATCH series. This approach during design saves a potentiometer on the VCO, but if you do not need PWM modulation for a while, you can apply the attenuator to another functions or modules. This is the saving on the functions that I mean but also the extra flexibility that you get.

You are not just making Eurorack modules, you are also involved in repairs, maintenance of classical synths, is this also another reason to learn from them and offer more and more functions of these old analogues?

The Eurorack market is a small part of what I do. The repair and restoration activities started on necessity years ago on my own gear and ended in repair and restoration for external customers. Custom-made electronics is also an activity. Of course I use the experiences of each activity to another.

You also made side wooden panels for Korg Polysix, was that what you couldn't find yourself to renew your old synth? are you going to break these side panels further?

The side panels or entire cases were created purely for personal restoration. I use them to do my own restorations. Because I do not make them myself and it is cheaper if I order more, I also offer them for others who restore a P6. Whether the range will be expanded depending on the developments within my restoration needs or external demand. Everything is possible. 

Are you also a huge fan of playing synthesizers?

I have more than 50 classical synths myself and I like to play with them, but also sound design on these old synths is my thing. 

And You also have quite a long history of publishing on vinyl, is today's music still as much fun for you as in the years when you released music?

I have done a lot in the music production scene, a lot for other artists as support or producer and also for myself. And this in all possible directions of electronic music such as Trance, Ambient, Dance etc. In the mid 90s the dance scene was strongly present in my productions and that is where you get most of my productions. In the current scene there are certainly things that appeal to me, and in all directions of electronic music I find something that I like.

Was it also created on synthesizers by you?

Everything that was made by me at the time was produced on analog synths. The only digital gear is used back then was the NORDLEAD 1 and later the KORG MS2000.  Largely made my own sounds for these productions. In addition, sampling was also used for mostly drum sounds etc, but I have rarely applied loops for drums, so everything was programmed one by one and step by step in my ATARI 1040 and later the MEGA-ST4.

Are you also planning to make modules available in the DIY version, do you see this as a potential for people to build your modules themselves?

The DIY market is a possibility that I am considering. The first steps have already been taken and successfully. The current designs are based on SMD technology (and are assembled by machine), which makes it difficult for the average DIYer but not impossible. We are now considering launching partially assembled kits, but possibly completely unassembled kits in the future and if enough demand maybe we convert the current SMD designs into trough-hole. 

What do you think about the current DIY scene in eurorack modules, is there something that you particularly like?

The DIY market is fun! In the past I did a lot of DIY and learned a lot. This adds an extra experience to the eurorack scene modules, making users / creators more involved in a product that creates an extra dimension to play with eurorack or other DIY projects, becoming more part of you if you build it.

You also announced the Wolfram series, is this something you can expect in 2020?

The WOLFRAM series is a high-end series where some products have already been developed, but we have not yet launched this because it is busy on the market and the products have to add something special to the market. With this series, we have to create a distinctive product because production costs are high and a certain amount of sales must be guaranteed in advance. As a result, I take more time to assess whether the WOLFRAM line meets commercial and technical expectations. It is possible that we will come to a launch in 2020 with something in this series.

Finally, what do you think about the Eurorack scene? and what would you tell new and old users to try Rebach modules on their systems?

The current modular scene is fun and experimental and there are many good patchers in the scene. I sometimes miss the individual character of individual patchers because they often work with the same modulles that have a specific instand sound and therefore have limitations. I therefore prefer to work with a lot of simple modules instead of a few expensive ones because you do not impose any restrictions on yourself and this is really not more expensive but possibly much cheaper, and your sound spectrum is much larger!

For existing and new eurorack users I can say "Start with yourself, first discover what you can do yourself, and not what a module can do because then you can only do what a module can do. If you then know what you can do yourself, you will grow above the modules and improve yourself " If you understand that, you can do much more with less.

The ReBach CATCH line has therefore been created to do a lot with low costs. Create an experimental noice set or thick classical synth sound, it's possible. Once you understand the CATCH, you have an affordable system with more flexibility and yet that character sound ! 

More info about modules Rebach here:

See also Matthew Skala North Coast Synthesis Interview ''I try to make every module unique''

several demos with Rebach modules:

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