Buchla Easel V

West Coast sound design playground.

The art
of sound design

Make no mistake, the Buchla Easel V is unlike any synth you've experienced before. This kind of ludicrous power can be a little intimidating, even to experienced synthesists.

Techno Not 101

Jean-Baptiste Arthus

I was first looking to create a basic techno beat (preset Techno 101) using channel one for the kick and channel two for the percussion. The original sequence is used to trigger the kick and the pulser opens the gate for the percussion. Then I wanted to have a non-regular kick pattern but the 5 step sequencer was too short, so I used the modulation section to modulate the number of steps of the original sequencer : 5 steps then 3 steps, so at the end it makes a 8 steps with the kick on 1 and 4. I also added more modulation on channel two to create more variation.

Jean-Baptiste Arthus - on Buchla Easel V

About JB ↓

The Low Pass Gate, which is one of the most important parts of Music Easel V, is very rare to find in hardware synthesizer except in the original Buchla system or in Eurorack format. It's even more unusual in the software world. By design, the Music Easel acts weirdly, and that's why it's a very unique synthesizer, I think this weirdness translates well in the virtual version.

I was mainly focused on the complex Osc; the AM and folding section are very characteristic and it's a pleasure to have access to this kind of timbre in the software world. Then I adjusted to add more time on the modulation and added effects to the original one, this allows to go further than the original device.

Is it Even Noise

Tom Hall

I wanted to create something on the Buchla Easel V that was equal parts noise and generative but at the same time evolve organically, a counter measure to any argument against originality. What I like about this preset is that it could be used for ambient noise, aggressive noise, studio FX and more. It’s rewarding to just sit and hold down a single note but really starts bursting with flavor when you hold more than one. It would be equally at home as a busted up, crazy lead or as background to something else, but you’ll need to tame it.

Tom Hall - on Buchla Easel V

About Tom ↓

For me, the original Music Easel is all about the Oscillator section, the Modulator and Main oscillators interplay so aggressively, antagonistically and at times in harmony to create a sonic palette that can go in many directions with the slightest turn of the knob. This possibility for ‘happy accidents’ in the studio is something that is really key to my creativity and exploration into sound. Presets and predictability are certainly important, but from first listen I’ve been impressed with the ability of the Arturia Engineers to capture that classic sound, it could not have been easy.

My approach for the Buchla Easel V was to chase after many of the patches I’ve explored over the years with the hardware. It was fun to replicate them, compare and then take them to a whole new world. With the extra capabilities I found myself going into new places sonically, because of the ease of patching faster in the software, leading me to go back to the hardware as well.

Play m7

Victor Morello

This patch explores the combination of the sequential voltage source with the arpeggiator. I carefully set the sequencer voltage values so that the modulation oscillator would alternate between the root note, the fifth above and the two octave above; while the complex oscillator plays the notes that are played on the keyboard in a more straight fashion. As the sequence is five steps long, this creates a real-time reharmonization of the notes which is a super cool way of making it more interesting than a straight arpeggio.

Victor MORELLO - on Buchla Easel V

About Victor ↓

The original Music Easel is a very cool sonic ecosystem. It both shines at making both simple, soft tones and complex atonal madness thanks to the incredible AM and FM possibilities. It is full of little imperfections and approximations that make it a very organic instrument overall.

I knew that if I spent too long making sounds, in Buchla Easel V, I would lose myself forever. I focused mainly on melodic sequences and the duophonic abilities of the original instrument.

RoboBeat SEQ

Laurent Commuter

This was my first experiment with the Right Hand piano roll in the additional panel, so it helped me a lot to achieve this particular rhythm, then the analog delay was the cherry on the cake for this kind of sound.

Laurent (Commuter) - on Buchla Easel V

About Laurent ↓

I think the low-pass gate design is what sets it apart from the more traditional synthesizers with standard VCF architecture. It can be quite disturbing when you’re used to classic synths, but then it can quickly become an advantage, because you are forced to experiment. That's always a good thing, and the same can be said about the Buchla Easel V. The complex oscillator is probably my favorite feature, it can produce such interesting and organic sounds.

I think a lot of people are using the original for bleepy, metallic or atonal stuff, I thought I would also try to make more traditional analog sounds with it. You can do pretty fat bass sounds with the oscillators when used in a more traditional way. With every synthesizers I own, the first thing I do is to create patches or sequences that remind me of my favorite bands and tracks, and that’s a deliberate method to get inspired.

Maxime Dangles - on Buchla Easel V

About Maxime ↓

Buchla architecture is quite far removed from any other synth. It forces you to spend a bit of time on this to understand all the synth's feature, which is important because this is a really open and powerful synth! I love the dual LPG, it’s rare in the VST world. The "Left Hand" functions really makes it incomparable with other synths. I feel like it's the perfect, natural extension of my Eurorack system.

My knowledge from using modular synth systems sure came in handy! I didn't approach this as an expert on the Music Easel, so I use the "Left Hand" in every preset to have the most interesting sound I can. The possiblity of polyphonic sound is something I like a lot, so I did some presets with this idea in mind. I’ve been impressed by the FM and AM, and I get exactly the same kind of result with real analog hardware.


It’s the result of an experimental approach, like most of my work! I never have a precise idea when I start creating. So it was the same for this bank. The multiple possibilities help me a lot on this approach. I did a sort of FM sound at first and with the help of the Left Hand I morphed the FM sound to a more playable and clean sound. I use the same kind of sound in my DNGLS live act, and it sounds like FM bells at first, and then morphs into to a brassy trumpet sound in the end. I love this preset! It’s not the most beautiful sound, but it’s a good example of the power of the synth.


Ed Ten Eyck

Sometimes when starting to make a new sound I will have a specific idea in mind, but a lot of the time the final sound will end up going in a completely different direction. One example of this is the Chiprise preset, I started with the idea for a bass sound but the final sound ended up having a slow to fast modulation, and also made use of the gravity modulations.

Ed Ten Eyck - on Buchla Easel V

About Ed Ten ↓

A totaly unique aspect of the Buchla V has to be the pulse sequencer. I really love the fact that you can use it as a second LFO, or as a clock source.

One of the things I love about the Buchla Easel V is that the new Gravity feature lets me add hypnotic modulations, I found that really useful for adding life and animation to the sounds that I created.

Wait For It

Todd Barton

I wanted to create a Krell-like patch that reminded me of early musique concrete compositions. Basically I’m sending random voltage to a lot of different parameters, the most important one: randomizing the Period rate. In fact, if you can also get horizontal images, it may facilitate the integration in the page.

Todd Barton - on Buchla Easel V

About Todd ↓

It is responsive, easy to patch and navigate.

I love the original Easel for Don Buchla’s brilliant design concept of a true, performable instrument that is non-proscriptive, that is, it is only limited by the user's imagination. The Buchla Easel V embodies that concept especially when paired with a controller. I was surprised and pleased to see the new on board features: FX, extra function generator and 32 step polyphonic sequencer. Oh, and as teacher being able to see and manipulate all these parameters on screen is invaluable!

I purposefully explored simple patches that I had made for the BEMI hardware Easel to compare and contrast. I didn’t use many of the extra features. My hope was to offer accessible patches that would serve as a springboard for the user’s creativity and imagination.

Hypno Play

Stéphane Schott

For this sound, I wanted to create a small sequence on 5 steps with the sequential voltage source, set to control the complex oscillator, the oscillator modulation then adds a nice low-end sound. The particular color of the Buchla Easel V reverb completes the sound.

Stéphane Schott - on Buchla Easel V

About Stéphane ↓

Its tone really conjurs feelings of the 60s and 70s

One of the first strong points of the Music Easel is the sound! It really stands out from all that we used to see in virtual instrument and it will perfectly complement the rest of the instruments in V Collection. Its tone really conjurs feelings of the 60s and 70s, and reminds me of the sound effects that we hear in the piece "Psyche Rock" by Pierre Henry. The visual aspect and ergonomics really help you to become inspired, and the simulation of the spring reverb sounds incredible. I also really like the Gravity section, which is well in the spirit of the instrument.

In my work of sound design, I create a lot of FX sounds, a lot of sequences, and bass sounds. Indeed, between its Sequential Voltage Source, the big sound possibilities of the modulation oscillator and complex oscillator, the semi modular environment, and Gravity, the music Easel offers a lot of possibilities.

Volt-aged Piano

10 Phantom Rooms

This was the result of an “experimental approach”. The mod oscillator modulation over time makes this sound special and organic. It feels like the Easel would be alive!

10 Phantom Rooms - on Buchla Easel V

About Tobias ↓

I’m a big fan of Buchla products and a happy owner of a little Buchla modular system. The sound of Buchla is like no other and well captured with the Buchla Easel V. The additional modulation possibilities in the Buchla Easel V are great and allow creating innovative sounds!

Working with Buchla is always a kind of adventure. Doing sound design was mainly driven by trying out the original and new ‘software only’ features of the Easel V.