A-198 Trautonium Manual / Ribbon Controller

The A-198 Trautonium / Ribbon Controller originates from Doepfer’s Trautonium project, which attempted to recreate the components of a Trautonium using modern A-100 modules.

Compared to the console of the original, the ribbon controller is playable with significantly less nuance: the original was a fine metal string with several centimeters of pressure travel. Of course, a foil sensor cannot keep up with this, but it is considerably more durable, practically maintenance-free and cheaper to produce.

The module contains the control electronics, to which the actual controller is connected using a USB cable.

Even if the connection is mechanically equivalent to a USB port: In terms of the connection assignment, this is NOT a USB port and no USB devices should be connected to it either!

The manual that is connected to the A-198 module.

The controller provides separate signals for position and pressure – accordingly there are two sections “Position” and “Pressure” on the module itself.

User interface







Not only for the Trautonium

Of course, the controller can be used to control a Trautonium, but also almost any other module in the A-100. Due to the length of the sensor (about 50 cm), the control voltage can be manually dosed very sensitively.

A nice “instrument” uses an A-188-1 BBD whose frequency is controlled by the position CV. The feedback can be controlled with the pressure CV via an A-131 VCA.

The A-198 Ribbon Controller simultaneously controls frequency and feedback of the A-188-1 BBD.

Quantization tricks

To play “cleanly” you can install an A-156 quantizer between the A-198 and the VCO. Unfortunately, the nice smoothing of the tones is gone and you always have a glissando between the tones. This is where a voltage-controlled A-171-1 slew limiter comes in handy, which you control with the (inverted) pressure CV: the lighter the pressure, the slower the transitions between two notes.

With the help of the A-156 Quantizer and A-171-1 VC Slew Limiter, tones can be hit with pinpoint accuracy, but still be “ribbon-characteristic”.

Sound examples

  • A-104, A-113, A-198 / Mini Trautonium

    Setup: An A-110-1 VCO is controlled by an A-198 Ribbon Controller. The control voltage is quantized with an A-156, but is then smoothed with an A-171-2 VC Slew Generator according to the pressure on the controller (portamento).

    The square output of the A-110-1 controls an A-113 subharmonic generator, the predefined presets are controlled by two tracks from an A-157 trigger sequencer. The mix of the triangle output of the A-110-1 and the A-113 is processed with an A-104 Trautonium filter, the filter frequencies are controlled manually.

    Finally, the output of the filter is amplified with an A-131 VCA, which is controlled by both the A-198‘s pressure and the envelope of an A-142-1 VC Decay. The A-142-1 is triggered by the A-198‘s pressure.

    Plenty of delay and reverb from the DAW at the end.

    Trautonium in modern A-100 Setup.

Technical specifications

Width8 HP
Depth40 mm
Power requirements40 mA (+12V) / -20 mA (-12V)