Using ESG3, TBC2, or Chromagnon in HD sync modes: Compatibility with earlier LZX modules and instruments

Here are some guidelines for using ESG3, TBC2, and Chromagnon with earlier generations of LZX modules and instruments:

  • ESG3 has 15 different video sync modes. 2 of those modes are NTSC and PAL. ESG3 is fully backwards compatible with all previous LZX modules, because it retains the NTSC and PAL sync modes. So to use it with older modules, run it in NTSC or PAL sync modes.

  • ESG3 does not add 13 new sync modes to older modules. In order to use ESG3 in HD sync modes with older systems you will need a video scaler / format converter (such as TBC2) to upscale your NTSC or PAL system’s output to the HD path.

  • There are tons of exceptions to the guidelines above! These all fall in the category of analog modules which don’t even rely on video formats or sync – or with some that have such simple needs for their sync inputs, that the NTSC/PAL sync separators are able to decode the HD syncs.

Here is a list of HD compatibility rules of thumb, in the absence of a more detailed compatibility chart:

  • Anything with a video output or input on it: Memory Palace, Vidiot, Visual Cortex, for example – definitely won’t work in HD modes.
  • Something that runs direct off of discrete syncs, like Prismatic Ray, War of the Ants, or Fortress, might be partially compatible with some of the HD sync modes. Try it and see! Post the results here on the forum.
  • If there is no sync input or output on the older module, it likely will work fine in the HD sync modes.

General advice for system building:

  • Keep your NTSC/PAL video synthesizer the way it is, and start a new video synthesizer for HD workflows. Use a module with upscaling capabilities, like TBC2, to send the NTSC/PAL video synthesizer’s output into the HD signal path.
  • Stick to NTSC/PAL if adding Gen3 modules to existing systems.
  • Try out HD if starting a new system with the Gen3 modules.
  • Upgrade your existing system to Gen3. I’d do that by starting a new Gen3 system, and then transferring the older modules to it that are working well for your Gen3 workflow, integrating them one at a time.

I would love to answer any questions.

14 Likes

+1 for a compatibility chart! I think it should be kind of like an emulator compatibility chart… not just “works/doesn’t-work”, but something like “perfect/good/poor/doesn’t-work”, with notes for any status other than “perfect” if necessary. Although I guess it gets a little complicated since there’s so many modes in the gen3 gear, maybe? I guess the notes part might need to be dropped.

@creatorlars Is this a good thread for people to comment about their experiences? Or do you want to keep this thread to a Q&A kind of vibe?

5 Likes

Discussion is great! The purpose of this post: make it easy for other community members to gain access to community knowledge on this subject.

Regarding data structure for a compatibility matrix, it is kind of tricky. Given the number of formats you could test in, and the number of modules, and the obvious benefit of logging notes from multiple user reports in any of these cases, the data is like a cube – and that’s not easy to represent in a single table. Maybe there’s a better way.

We could use the forum’s tagging system, and then perhaps provide an index and “ratings chart” in this thread or one like it. For example, all posts tagged “Navigator” and “Gen3” is a good indication of user reports on Navigator’s compatibility with Gen3’s HD modes. This makes the forum’s search functions more powerful.

4 Likes

Although this is a topic about formats, I think power would be a useful dimension especially for the system building topic.

When building a 2x84HP or bigger system, with mostly but not exclusively Gen3, it seems difficult to get around having 2 types of power supplies (a bus board and a DC distro or cheaper alternative). In that case the potential of Gen3 offering a more affordable power solution seems lost. Especially if we don’t want to introduce any noise form cheap power supplies meant to power only a couple of non-Gen3 (/non-LZX) powered modules.

Curious what you recommend or how others are planning to do this.

2 Likes

I’ve just added a DC Distro to the PSU2/PSU3 cases that I’ve been using. I’m committed to a mixed case for a while because I love the vibrance of the DIY scene and the legacy modules are all fairly distinct from their Gen3 replacements.

5 Likes

I would either have 2 separate cases (one DC Distro, one EuroRack), or a rack case with multiple rows (some rows EuroRack, some rows DC Distro), or if a single combined case was a must, I’d install a EuroRack power supply/busboard with enough 12V DC current to supply both EuroRack and Gen3 modules. It’s also a question of proportions. If you’re just putting a couple of Gen3 modules in your existing case, powering them from the EuroRack shouldn’t be a problem in most cases.

Cheaper input power supplies is only one reason for the Gen3 power distribution scheme, that’s only part of the puzzle. Some of the modules are massive analogue circuits, and just require more power in general. Making them possible as low HP modules is quite a task, and so I don’t think there are any off the shelf EuroRack supplies that could handle an all Gen3 system.

2 Likes

will the LZX euro power supply be coming back at any point?

I’ve got one of the LZX power supplies a 5a dc distro for the big modules and a 3a dc distro for a row of regular gen 3 plus a 4ms black row power that I’ve used for a long time but is kind of noisy. So I think I should be set for the moment to get things rolling again.

the skirting and stairs on our new house should be finished by tomorrow so we should be moving in in the next couple weeks! Then once things are moved in I can start setting the dedicated space up again. I’m so pumped to start streaming with a system again. I should be getting a package from LZX today with a bunch of good stuff.

5 Likes

We could do a combined EuroRack and DC distribution busboard at some point, likely when we offer a new version of Vessel or a new case. But it would be a higher priced variant than the base option, which would be DC distribution only. It would be very good to hear everyone’s thoughts, complaints, desires, etc for all of these solutions as you confront integrated setups. What percentage of a system is going to be Gen3 vs earlier generations of modules, for example? If it’s 90% Gen3, a couple old modules, that could be annoying. If it’s 90% old modules, a couple Gen3 modules, then most Euro supplies should be fine. If a new busboard design (Euro + DC) is something that solves a lot of folks issues in the short term, we could prioritize that.

We’ve tried to engineer a low impact solution that solves basic Euro power vs Video modules issues that have been around ever since the introduction of non linear power supplies and shallow skiff cases into the EuroRack landscape (something that happened in early 2010s, between Visionary and Expedition series.) Even with linear supplies, distributed +/-12V always proved a big problem for us, since any modern (past few decades!) video parts run off of +/-5V.

So high power, ultra low noise, miniature-scale form factor – it’s a tall order! There are of course going to be some integration road bumps – our hope is that our solution is a balanced one, that allows the growth of the format and systems, while still allowing integrated systems rather than ditching EuroRack power entirely.

2 Likes

changing from PAL to 1080i60.

esg as master sync to cortex.

3 Likes

That all looks as expected. Visual Cortex does not support 1080i60 modes (it runs in NTSC or PAL only).

1 Like

More on this point. I don’t think you’ll suffer a decrease to any existing EuroRack power supply performance when using distributed DC 12V in the same case as EuroRack modules. The DC 12V entry never touches the analog signal path – that’s all being powered from the rear power entry board on the LZX modules. On that board is a big EMI filter right at the input, and a power supply topology that produces very low noise +/-5V rails (and those are what power the IO and the rest of the signal path.)

If you are seeing some kind of noise like that with DC distribution, make sure you are using shielded jumper cables and that all modules are secured to the case with mounting screws. If you’re still seeing some kind of noise, give us all the details on your setup so we can try to recreate the issue in the lab.

3 Likes

What I mean is, if next to a couple of Gen3 + DC Distro (or other supply) modules, you also have a non-Gen3 module that is powered by a different very noisy power supply. Maybe I’m misunderstanding but if that noise has entered the patch via one dirty power supply, it will not be filtered by the Gen3 modules anymore, right? Or do all signals you patch go through those EMI filters?

2 Likes

Ah okay, I get you now. And yes, that’s correct. You can’t expect the Gen3 modules to remove any noise from other modules. So it’s best that you always use a lower noise EuroRack power supply, same as it’s always been, to get the best performance out of EuroRack powered modules.

3 Likes

Has anyone used Castle modules in HD workflows? I’m curious how those do.

1 Like

Used caste adc and dac. They work as expected with some rough edges

4 Likes

susynct - thank you for a needed boost of confidence in the upcoming merger

There’s no inherent reason the Castle modules, apart from Castle Clock VCO, won’t function correctly in HD timings.

Castle Clock VCO expects H/V sync on the CV/Gate power connector which is a deprecated standard in Gen3.

To get H/V sync into the Clock VCO, simply take a H or V ramp from DSG’s SUM output (use a dummy cable to disable the other ramp), sum it with an adjustable bias (Passage, Proc, Fox Access, etc.) and plug it into the front panel’s Sync input. Same principle applies for syncing any oscillator that doesn’t have an RCA connector. Cadet IX may be modified for a front panel sync input.

You can use the same H/V ramp + offset approach for any of the other Castle modules with Clock or Reset inputs that can benefit from being locked to H/V pulses.

4 Likes

I am hoping this is still the case, however.

Yes, HV sync outs are available on TBC2, same as Cortex. (The 2-position DIP switch enables HV sync to the CV/Gate bus on the EuroRack power header.)

5 Likes

Very good. That solves a sync problem that’s been bugging me. Thanks.