Utilities: Doepfer Precision Adder

Precision adders are great. If you have one, it is likely you already know this. If you don’t have one, you may think “yawn.” You might say, “I’d rather put the money toward the new Death-rattle Complex Wavetable VCO Sonic Destroyer with CV Seizure Induction.” But, I dare to suggest, that a precision adder could bring a lot of awesome to your system, perhaps even more awesome than the Death-rattle, etc., etc.

There are a number of precision adders out there. One of my favorite eurorack companies, Mutable Instruments, was kind enough to stick one in the middle of their wonderful Links module. But I think you can do better than that! WHAT!? Yes, if you want a precision adder, you want a Doepfer A-185-2 Precision Adder. But why should we choose this ungainly 6hp module over one of it’s sleek, sexy 4hp sisters? Glad you asked.

  1. This precision adder has four inputs. Not just two, as some others. That’s a lot more possible modulation of our CV.
  2. It’s not just an “adder” it can do subtraction as well. This is important with those four inputs. Too much CV added together can result in an outgoing voltage that will simply “bury the needle”. Being able to subtract voltages maximizes your modulation possibilities.
  3. Each input has an off position on the corresponding switch. You can switch modulation sources in and out of your signal!
  4. The top channel has a built in attenuator to help tame unruly CV’s. Or to dial in a static voltage.
  5. Each of the four inputs is normalled to 1v. This means you can plug a sequence into one channel and transpose it up or down, by up to three octaves, without the need for any other devices.
  6. It’s has an inverted output.
  7. It’s a buffered multiple! It outputs three buffered signals of your summed voltage (not including the inverted out).

What makes all these features so great? It’s the brilliant combination of them into one module. It’s not just a random mish-mash either. It’s not a rally to the battle cry of, “lets do all the things!” Putting all these little components together this way is thoughtful and powerful. What is one of the key reasons to have a precision adder? To add voltages together for the transposition of a sequence. We have built in octave switching at our fingertips. We can bring modulation sources in and out of the sequence, literally, at the flip of a switch. This little guy gives us a lot of power and control over variety in our sequences. And what is one of the primary uses for a buffered multiple? We use them for CV’s going to the v/oct on our oscillators. Because passive multiples will not get the job done, the tuning will drop and destabilize. Do you want to play three oscillators together, to create sounds that could rend the very fabric of time and space? The buffered mult lets you drive them all, without compromising tuning. Yep that’s all designed into this 6hp monster.

I went looking for a buffered multiple one day, and stumbled onto this little guy. The A-185-2 is an absolute beast. You feed it sequences (or other control voltages) and listen to it mangle them for your pleasure!

Oh, by the way. I heard you have an SQ-1 (maybe 2). Yeah, you need to feed that SQ-1 to the beast!

  1. Play an eight-step sequences into one channel of the A-185-2, and feed a second 3/5/7 step sequence into another channel.
  2. Play an eight-step sequence into one channel, create a range of notes on the bottom channel. Turn off all active steps on the bottom channel. Switch the SQ-1 to step-jump, and use it to transpose your sequence like a keyboard. Or hold down a couple notes at once to create a sort of arpeggiated transposition of your sequence.

This track was transposed in a couple ways using the Doepfer Precision Adder:

SQ-1 #1:
Channel A: Main Sequence
Channel B: All steps deactivated. Step Jump used to play it like a keyboard.

SQ-1 #2:
Channel A: Seven step sequence (random pattern) clocked by Tides Low output.


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Honorable Mentions:
Doepfer A-185-2
Mutable Instruments Links