Minimoog clone VCF + VCA (AMORE)

The prototype version of the board. There are a few differences compared to the final board.

This AMORE module combines clones of the Minimoog VCF and VCA on one board. The core circuits are the same as my previous Minimoog clone VCF and VCA. On the VCF, On this new version, I added a Vactrol type optocoupler to make the resonance voltage controlled. Additionally, I changed the front- and back ends to match the AMORE specifications.
The core of this filter is almost exactly the same circuit as in the Minimoog. Only a couple of minor changes had to be made, to be able to run it on +-15 volts, instead of +-10 volts. These changes were developed by René Schmitz, and you can find the schematics
on his web site.
To get the best performance, I matched all transistors and capacitors in the transistor ladder. Of course, the transistors for the differential amplifier were also matched.
This filter really sounds sweet. It has the classic Minomoog sound and noise is quite low. I don't have genuine Minimoog to compare, but maybe my filter is a little quieter thanks to the BC550C low noise transistors.

The Minimoog VCA is using only discrete transistors as active components. It has two cascaded stages that can be voltage controlled individually. After that there is a discrete buffer amplifier.
In the Minimoog, the first stage is controlled by the envelope generator and the second stage is controlled by the footpedal. I reversed this, as having the EG on the second input gives much better signal to noise ratio. The footpedal input is used for amplitude modulation in my module.
To get the best performance, I matched all transistor pairs. I also used polyester caps in the signal path. There are no electrolytic caps in the signal path in my version of the VCA. The Minimoog has electrolytic output DC blocking caps.
I changed some of the resistor values so that the VCA would run as well as possible on +-15 volts supply.

This is not a very high fidelity VCA, but the noise level is quite low. There is some distortion, but not more than most other good VCAs, I suppose. There is also some CV feedthrough that causes a slight click when very short attack times are used. This is normally masked by the input signal. Maybe it even adds to the punchiness of the sound.
I have trimmed the offset to get no DC shift before the DC blocking capacitor. But there is some AC-coupling of the CV signals anyway.

Bill of materials

You should have access to the parts in the general bill of materials.
In addition, you need the following less common parts:

STL 32SR3 Optocoupler (1)
20 ohm trimmer (1)

Trimming

There are two trimmers, marked balance 1 and 2, for nulling the DC offset of the VCA. Measure before the DC blocking capacitor at the output and adjust the trimmers so there is minimal change in the DC voltage when you sweep both CVs.
The VCF has three trimmers. ”Regen cal” adjusts the maximum resonance. Adjust it so that the filter just starts to oscillate at some fairly low cutoff frequency. This adjustment is done according to personal taste. "Scale" sets the volts per octave scaling of the filter. Set the filter to self oscillation and feed connector pin 1 with exactly 1, 2, 3, 4 volts and measure the frequency. Trim until you get a doubling of the frequency for each volt's increase. "Range" adjusts the cutoff frequency and can be set to taste, so the cutoff knob on the front panel covers the range you want. 

Skill level required: MEDIUM

This module needs matching of transistors, using the Moog transistor matcher (schematics available on the web). Otherwise there are no particular difficulties and the circuit uses no hard to find parts.

Circuit board layout (PDF-file)

Component placement (PDF-file)

VCA schematics

Connector pin

signal

 on this module

1

1 oct/V

VCF keyboard tracking 

2

in 1

VCA input

3

CV 1

VCA AM CV

4

CV 2

VCA envelope CV

5

CV 3

not used

6

-15 V

-15 V

7

out 1

output from VCA

8

-1 V

-1 V

9

gnd

gnd

10

key

-

11

switch 1

bypass VCA

12

switch 2

bypass VCF

13

out 2

output from VCF

14

+15 V

+15 V

15

+10 V

not used

16

aux output

not used

17

in 2

 VCF input

18

CV 4

VCF cutoff CV

19

CV 5

VCF emphasis CV

20

CV 6

not used