PAIA 9700 Modular Synthesizer - www.paia.com

Something that I think all electronic based musician would like at some stage in their lives is a modular synthesizer. I am one of those people. But they are REALLY expensive. But I think I have found one that seems to work fine. The PAIA 9700 designed by the Late John Stayton Simonton Jr. My method of composition seems to work really well with the PAIA 9700. Again this is a unit that can be constructed using the kits that contain all the components and hardware or you can go the other option and buy the boards, instructions and hardware and find the components yourself. I went for the second option.

This was quite a challenging construction for me. It was and still is the biggest thing I have done and again took upto a year to complete from first decision. On reflection I should have chosen the complete kit as some components were quite a challenge to get in Australia. The reason for not using the complete kits is the freight costs from the USA is quite high. I thought I would manage to find the parts at Australian prices with Australian dollars. In some cases similar components have been used which may have lead to some annomolies in the operation of the unit.

The instructions for building PAIA kits have to be the best available and are highly comprehensive. You have to be very patient with this sort of project though. It's going to take quite a long time to build. I had problems with one of the modules not working correctly. The VCO module had conflicting waveforms being produced of which I could not fix. Luckily for me I have a electronic engineering firm that repairs pro gear nearby who can fix anything for a flat rate of $75 which is fantastic. They had found a fault in the board design which I still feel wasn't the case but it works as described now.

I also built the MIDI converter for the unit as seen in the picture but I find that the majority of things I do with it aren't chromatically related sounds so I have hardly used it. It's a shame I now longer have my SH-5 and SH-101 as I could finally control them via MIDI - oh well.

There are many compromises with the 9700 like the use of 3.5mm mini jacks for patching (keeps the size of the unit down). Many of the modules are multi-function eg. all the envelope generators can double as LFO's. The Attack and decay control the up and down of the waveform time.

Originally I had planned to put the unit in a customised case but due to the complexity of the wiring I decided to fork out the money for the designed case.