::: Band of Arp Synthesizers :::

Presented without comment.. Well, the interview is hilarious...

But it's not quite the epic failure that is Susan Ciani on Letterman ( everyone must have done a huge bong hit before the show )...


Vintage footage of Michael Brigida on the Good Day show demoing Arp synthesizers. "Take the A Train".


Susan Ciani on Letterman:


After Suzanne's huge success of creating sound effects for the disco version of "Star Wars," she appeared on the David Letterman Show when originally broadca...

::: IF :::

::: Garfield Electronics Mini Doc :::

While we are on the subject of Garfield Electronics gear... I have been trying to get this one going for a little while and i haven't quite figured it out.  I got it as 'completely working' from Ebay and of course its not.  Luckily i have another one that works great to compare it against.  As with most topics i discuss on this blog, it's impossible to find a manual let alone a service document for these.

Upon receiving this unit i noticed that the triplet triggers weren't firing but the straight divisions were.  When i opened it up the arpeggio trigger wiring looked completely different from the other unit i have.  So i reconfigured the wires the way i assume they are supposed to be and it didn't fix the problem.  I also replaced some caps that were leaking and obviously bunk.

At this point i decided maybe one of the chips had failed.  They are all cheap and easy to find so i bought one of each and plan to start at one end and hope to fix it before reaching the other!  These multi pin chips are a pain in the butt to pull so i am socketing the replacements...

More to come...


::: if :::

::: Garfield Electronics Master Beat :::

I picked up this Garfield Electronics Master Beat on a whim.  I was hoping it was capable of generating tempo internally so i could sync some gear with it and use it as the master tempo source. It looks like it will do that which is great!  I also wasn't expecting it to show up with the manual but it did.  Total bonus as there's not much info about these availible on the web.  I think i will scan the manual in to add it to 'the google'.

Sadly, the shipper did a terrible packing job and all of the rack ears are bent.  So i figured i would do a little straightening before i cleaned it up.


::: IF :::

::: Crumar Bit 99 : Part One :::

What an odd beast.  I remember seeing one back in the 90's at a local music store.  Remember those!?  Although the price was right I didn't buy that one because it had lost it's memory and was full of nonsense patches.  This type of problem makes many of these old instruments seem catastrophically scrambled. But upon inspection the scramble has a surmountable solution.  You can replace the battery and either sysex dump or tape dump the patches back in and often you are good to go.

The real issue with the more rare instruments like this one is availability of service info.  For instance it's easy to find ( almost ) any Roland service manual to trouble shoot a synth but Crumar and many rarer instruments can be mysterious about their ailments.

What are the power supply voltages supposed to be?

What was the final OS version?

How do i calibrate the voices so that they match and perform properly?

These are the mysteries that lie beneath the hood of this Crumar Bit 99.  It's built like a tank. The metal chassis is rugged and fully hinged like old Roland synths.  The voices are all firing ( nonsense at the moment ) and the display is working.  There are some messed up keys that i am still sorting out.  Some were broken but i used epoxy and toothpick pieces to reattach the hooks and re enforce them.  The other key problems have to do with triggering properly and triggering with velocity.  That's right!  this synth has VELOCITY on the keybed.

That my friends is why this is an awesome instrument.

It's much like the old Ensoniq Mirage keybeds which i have fixed many times in the past.  There's a spring that is stretched through a window at each key.  The spring moves from one contact to the contact on the other side when a key is pressed.  The CPU determines what the velocity of the key press was from the way the spring travels across the divide.  Pretty raw and clunky but it does work as long as the contacts are clean and the springs are not mangled.  Several of the springs are really mangled and barely working on this keybed so i am going to go scavenge an old parts Mirage keybed for springs.

But i have been unable to get the tape dump to take.  It fails half way through.  There are error codes that come up but without the service manual i don't know what they are!  The manual doesn't list any user issues or troubleshooting info.  It's otherwise a fairly well laid out user manual though!  I do have a sysex dump of the patch info and i will probably resort to that.  I read somewhere on the net that people have issues with the tape inputs on these so maybe this one suffers from that too.  I imagine it's lumpy power or old capacitor related interference.

There will be updates!


::: IF :::

::: Oberheim OB-8 Auxiliary Info :::

There's a lot of mystery beneath the hood of the Oberheim OB-8. From the hidden page two parameters to the OS B5 DSX / Midi parameters and Reassignable Mod / Pitch bender orientation.  I figured I'd put a post together to cover a few of these and repost some arcane knowledge about Oberheim's almost most advanced synthesizer.  Consider this my first Synth-wiki-dump:

Article one:




The OB-8 has many functions that a user would never guess existed from

looking at the control panel labeling.  This is a cheat-sheet to avoid

constant reading of the manual.  Most of these functions are hidden by

virtue of requiring some combination of simultaneously held buttons,

or some other such thing that doesn't seem obvious.

*  Change split point:

Pressing the SPLIT button normally takes you in and out of keyboard

SPLIT mode, but you can also hold down SPLIT while pressing a key to

change the split point.  Split points are non-volatile, and will

survive patch changes and shutdowns.  However, they are also stored

with split patches, so selecting a new stored split will recall its

stored split point as well, overriding whatever is currently set.

*  Transpose keys on LOWER keyboard:

The keyboard may be transposed by any interval, but the "lower" part

in a split/layer can only transpose upward.  (Nevermind that in a

layer, both patches cover the whole keyboard -- there's always one

patch that is assigned through the UPPER button and one that's

assigned with the LOWER button.)  The reason the "lower" patch can

only go upwards is because the interval is selected on the keyboard

relative to C0, the lowest C.  Press and hold down SPLIT or DOUBLE

(as appropriate) and LOWER at the same time, and select the upward

interval above C0 on the keyboard you'd like to transpose to.

*  Transpose keys on UPPER keyboard:

This is the same, except transposition can go up or down because the

reference point is now Middle C (C3).  It's true even if you're

transposing a layer ("double"), and both patches are covering the

keyboard.  Hold down SPLIT or DOUBLE (as appropriate) and UPPER at

the same time, and select the interval above or below Middle C.

Transpositions of both the UPPER and LOWER components of a split or

layer _are_ stored with a split or layer patch!  Recalling a split

or layer that was saved with transpositions active will also recall

the transpositions!

*  Detuning one side of a split or layer:

The "lower" side (the patch assigned with the LOWER button) in a split

or layer can be detuned relative to the upper one by holding down the

LOWER button and turning the OSC2 DETUNE knob at the same time.  This

control is only active for LOWER.  (You can't hold down UPPER.)  Like

the other special hidden settings of splits and layers, this one too

is actually stored with the patch.  Recalling a split or layer that

had a relative UPPER/LOWER detuning in effect will also recall that

detuning interval.

*  Reset all split/layer settings to defaults:

To reset the split point to Middle C, cancel all traspositions,

relative detuning, etc.), hold down whichever button applies

currently (SPLIT or DOUBLE), and press the MANUAL button.

*  Recalling/writing splits and layers:

Contrary to the way patch selection normally works on Oberheims when

not in split or layer mode, in this case, the GROUP buttons (which

are similar to Roland's concept of "bank" buttons, to select a bank

of 8 patches) now behave just like regular patch buttons.  That is,

they don't select a bank of patches, they just select a single patch,

and have equal weight to any of the eight regular patch buttons.

This means that in split or layer mode, rather than having as many

possible patch storage locations as there are GROUP button combinations

_multiplied_ times the regular patch buttons (which on Rolands would

typically be 64), here you only have the 4 GROUP buttons _plus_ the

8 regular patch buttons, for a total of 12 patches.  In split or layer

mode, a GROUP button is just another patch button, and it selects a

split or layer all by itself, not in combination with a button from

the regular buttons.  However, your 12 splits and 12 layers do not

share slots, and you always have 12 patch locations of each (12 stored

splits and 12 stored layers).

To recall a stored split or layer hold down SPLIT or DOUBLE as

appropriate, and press one of the GROUP or regular patch buttons,

keeping in mind that any of them is just a patch button as far as

splits and layers are concerned.  (There are no "groups" or "banks".)

To write one, do the same thing, but hold down the WRITE button until

its light comes on first, and then do it.  All transpositions, detunes,

split points, etc. will be stored with the split or layer.

*  Modulation lever peculiarity:

The modulation lever on an Oberheim has a spring-loaded center

position like a pitch wheel, but does nothing if you push it away

from you.  That's just normal Oberheim behavior.

*  Pitch bend lever peculiarity:

Contrary to the norm adopted by every other synthesizer company, on

Oberheims, pushing the pitch bend lever forward makes the pitch drop,

and pulling back on it makes the pitch rise.  This is completely

backwards, but it can't be changed without rewiring the potentiometer.

That's also just normal Oberheim behavior.

*  Modulation lever's LFO waveform selection:

This is perhaps the finest example of hidden control panel functions

the OB-8 has to offer!  First off, the RATE and DEPTH knobs near the

pitch/modulation section of the keyboard _pull up_.  Yes, that's right,

you can pull up on the knobs like the headlight switches on older cars,

which turn but also pull out to turn the headlights on.  (Bet you would

have never even thought of trying that...)  Naturally it's not labeled.

And here's now you select LFO waveforms for modulation:

Triangle Wave Push down the RATE knob while doing

doing nothing with the pitch bend.

If it was already down, pull it up

first so you can then do it.

Square Wave Pull up on the RATE knob while doing

nothing with pitch bend.  If it was

already pulled up, push it down first

so you can, and then do it.

Rising Sawtooth Wave Pull up on the RATE knob while pulling

back on the pitch bend lever.  See

above for if the knob was already up.

Falling Sawtooth Wave Pull up on RATE knob while pushing the

pitch bend lever forward.

White Noise Push the RATE knob down while pulling

back on the pitch bend lever.

Sample & Hold Push the RATE knob down while pushing

forward on the pitch bend lever.

This is really how you select waveforms for modulation lever LFO's.

Okay.  You can stop laughing now.

*  Setting non-zero amounts of modulation all the time:

Since Oberheims have a spring-loaded lever for modulation rather than

a non-spring-loaded wheel like everybody else, it's not possible to

just park the modulation setting at a non-zero position and leave it

there while playing on the keyboard like it would be anywhere else.

However, there's a DEPTH knob, which if turned up, will let you set

how much modulation you'd like to have running all the time, even when

you're not pushing the lever.  The trick here is, it doesn't do

anything at all when it's not pulled up like a headlight switch.

(That's why I'm filing it under non-obvious.)  The advantage to this

is supposed to be that you can find a setting you like, and jump to it

immediately by just pulling up.

It may be worth noting (though it's not as unconventional -- lots of

synths have this feature), that there is a third source of modulation

control possible, beyond the lever and the pullable depth knob, if you

have a variable pedal connected to the MODULATION jack on the back.

In that case, you modulation amount would be a sum of the current

lever position, the DEPTH knob position (if it's currently pulled up),

and the pedal.

*  Setting pitch-bend range:

The vaguely labeled "AMOUNT" button near the pitch bend lever is a

toggle that can run in one of two modes, depending whether it is lit

or not.  When it is off, the pitch bend range is fixed, and is always

a whole tone up or down.  If you turn AMOUNT on, the pitch bend range

is programmable.  Doing that is, of course, another hidden function.

Hold down AMOUNT, and at the same time play any key in the lowest

octave of the keyboard up to C1.  This will let you set the pitch

bend range anywhere from a semitone up to a full octave.  The setting

becomes non-volatile, and will take effect whenever the AMOUNT light

is on.  Pressing the AMOUNT button again takes it back to its fixed

nature, which is always one whole tone up or down, and you can toggle

between the fixed setting and the user-defined one that way any time.

*  Accessing the arpeggiator controls:

The buttons and knobs that control arpeggiator funtions are mostly the

same buttons and knobs that control pitch bend and modulation lever

functions.  The MODE button switches the meanings of those controls

between the two roles; when the light is on, you're looking at the

arpeggiator settings.

*  Keyboard HOLD function with the arpeggiator:

You might not think to try this, but the KBD and HOLD buttons can be

made to come on at the same time.  This way, the arpeggiator will

arpeggiate notes held down by the HOLD function _AND_ notes being

held down manually on the keyboard, both.  You must hold KBD and HOLD

down together, because normally pressing one makes the other go off.

*  Arpeggiation types:

The UP and DOWN buttons do individually what you would expect -- UP

makes the arpeggiator play upward, and DOWN makes it play downward.

Less obvious is that you can have them both on to make it play up

then down, and having them both turned off puts it in random mode.

Also, random mode tries to give slight preference to the first note

played, on the presumption that it may be your tonic.

*  Using arpeggiation ranges:

Another wonderfully obscured function, the OB-8 arpeggiator can

memorize and recall any of five programmable transposition settings,

which then become used only in the arpeggiator.  (They have nothing

to do with regular keyboard usage.)  Also, there is a sixth mode for

not using any arpeggiator tranposition, which is the default.

It's hard to explain what this does.  Obviously, when you're in the

default mode, the arpeggiator plays what you played.  This is selected

(if you're not already in that mode) by holding down MODE and pressing

the LEFTMOST of the six buttons below the pitch/modulation levers.

(That's the one labeled HOLD, the first button in that row.)

Ignore the labeling on the buttons; these functions are totally hidden

and have nothing to do with any of those six buttons labeled functions.

But if you hold down MODE and this time press the SECOND button in that

row (labeled KBD), you enable the first tranposition.  Since the OB-8

comes with all the transpositions we're talking about here set to

octaves, that means the arpeggio will spread out over an octave beyond

the spacing at which you actually played it.  However, that interval

can be user-defined (see below) to whatever you want.

If you hold down MODE and press the THIRD button in that row (the one

labeled OSC2 ONLY, but disregard that label for this), you've enabled

TWO arpeggiator transpositions -- the one described in the last

paragraph, plus this one, and the two intervals combine.  So now if

all your arpeggiator transpositions are still set to octaves as they

are at factory settings, your arpeggios are spreading out over two

octaves beyond what was actually played.  If they're something user-

defined though, then it's your first user-defined interval plus this

second one.

Hold down MODE and press the FOURTH button (labeled, irrelevantly,

"AMOUNT"), and you enable the first THREE transpositions for the

arpeggiator -- the two described above, plus this one.  At factory

settings, that makes your arpeggios span three octaves further than

actually played.  You get the idea.  It goes this way for all six

buttons below the pitch bend and modulation levers, without regard

to their labeled functions, so long as you hold down MODE while

you're selecting them, and so long as you remember the leftmost

one is the one that turns these transpositions off (its programmed

interval is NO INTERVAL), which means pressing that combination

makes the arpeggiator play your arpeggio unmodified.

Almost makes you wonder why they bothered labeling the control panel.

Half the functions on the OB-8 have nothing to do with anything it

says, and are accessed by holding down this and this and pressing

that while you play something else.

*  Programming arpeggiation ranges:

As mentioned above, although OB-8's came pre-programmed with all five

of the user-definable arpeggiator transposition intervals set to one

octave, giving up to a five octave spread to a played arpeggio pattern

(remember the first of the six buttons turns the feature off, and is

not an interval), those intervals can be changed individually to

something other than octaves.  To do that, hold down the MODE and

ARPEGGIATOR buttons at the same time, and then play five notes on the

keyboard, one at a time, not as a chord, while holding down the two

buttons.  Those five notes will become the new transposition intervals

for the arpeggiator, and will become non-volatile, and independent of

any currently selected patch (i.e., a global setting of the keyboard).

*  Pedal sustain time:

It is labeled on the control panel (at least on OB-8's that have their

PAGE2 funtions labeled), but it's still worth noting that unlike every

other keyboard's sustain pedal policy, on the OB-8, the time that a

note will sustain while the pedal is down is a programmable parameter

of a patch.  On any other keyboard, holding the pedal down is simply

equivalent to holding the note down indefinitely.

*  Arpeggiator sync:

The arpeggiator sync jack on the back of the keyboard is completely

undocumented in the manual.  I have heard from one source that it

expects a +5V trigger, and I have also heard that sending a loud

note from a drum machine into that port will suffice.  Although the

OB-8 can support MIDI, there is no function to sync the arpeggiator

to MIDI clock, and that continues to be true even if the factory

MIDI is replaced with the Encore retrofit.  (The Encore retrofit for

the Roland Jupiter-8 _does_ sync the arpeggiator to MIDI clock though.)

*  Waveform selection:

When setting the waveforms for oscillators 1 and 2, selecting sawtooth

or pulse is done as expected with the buttons so labeled.  However, it

should be noted that turning both SAW and PULSE off selects a triangle

wave, and turning them both on creates a composite wave from both the

sawtooth and the pulse wave.

*  Square waves:

Square waves can be obtained by selecting pulse wave, and turning the

PULSE WIDTH knob fully to the left.

*  Individual oscillator control of pulse width:

More unlabeled joy!  You can change the pulse width of OSC1 or OSC2

individually by holding down the PULSE button of the oscillator you'd

like to change, and turning the PULSE WIDTH knob while it's held down.

Normally, the knob changes pulse width for both oscillators at once

(provided they both are set to a pulse wave as far as waveform

selection for each oscillator goes).  Once the two oscillators have

been given differing settings this way, they can be made them same

again by turning the PULSE WIDTH knob all the way to the right or

left while _not_ holding down anything.

*  Switching oscillators on and off:

The buttons to turn oscillators 1 and 2 on and off (allowing you to

create simpler one-oscillator-per-voice patches if you'd like) is in

a rather confounding place -- in the FILTER section.  Don't ask me

why they're not in the OSCILLATOR section.  Also, OSC2 has the option

of being on at either HALF or FULL volume.  (Don't worry, there are

labeled buttons for that.  You don't have to hold anything down.)

Also, there's a white noise generator, and it's turned on in the

FILTER section too, right where you'd expect a noise generator to be.

*  ATTACK settings:

This isn't related to the control panel, but is an important fact about

the OB-8 nonetheless: The factory documentation distributed by Oberheim

for calibrating the envelope generators is _WRONG_, and if followed,

will result in the OB-8 being incapable of generating fast punchy

attacks.  The OB-8 has actually gotten a reputation for having slower

attack than its predecessor keyboard, the OB-Xa, because of the number

of OB-8's that have been incorrectly calibrated _following Oberheim's

own instructions_.  In the service manual, where it says to calibrate

the EG's to as close to 0.000 volts as possible, that should actually

read "as close to -0.256 volts as possible."  That is because there is

a 0.256 volt difference between the reading your voltmeter will get

while the system is running in calibration mode and the setting it

will have after the calibration is finished and it is returned to

normal operating mode.  That will manifest itself as sluggish attacks.

This only affects the calibration of the EG's (i.e., the ADSR).  All

the other calibration instructions should be followed literally.

*  Envelope reset:

In a bizarre but nifty feature, the ADSR cycle of any sound can be cut

short as it fades out (the RELEASE stage) by hitting the WRITE button,

the button normally used for writing patches.  If pressed quickly and

not held down, that button serves as a cutoff for still-dying sounds.

*  Sampled Vibrato LFO

The LFO's aren't too badly labeled, but on thing that's not too obvious

is that all three of the waveform selectors can be on at once, and in

that case, it will do sample & hold from the separate LFO generated by

the modulation lever (rather than from noise as normal S&H would do).

For regular noise-derived S&H, turn the bottom one on as labeled on

the panel.

*  Portamento bend:

In PAGE2 mode (which is itself an alternate control panel mapping,

before we even start talking about hidden stuff), there is a button

labeled PORTAMENTO BEND, which makes all notes gliss from a

programmable interval above or below the actual note played to the

actual note.  Naturally, programming that interval requires holding

the PORTAMENTO BEND button down (while in PAGE2 mode) and playing

the desired interval on the keyboard, using C2 (the third C on the

keyboard) as a reference point.

*  Reset all PAGE2 parameters:

If your PAGE2 settings have become simply mad, you can reset all PAGE2

parameters to defaults and retreat to the relatively simple world of

the OB-Xa (which had no PAGE2 mode) by pressing the PAGE2 button twice,

holding it down the second time, and while it is held, pressing the

button (for this purpose, irrelevantly) labeled F-ENV, which in this

context functions as a PAGE2 parameters reset.

*  Loading cassette dumps made on other OB-8's

Some of the calibration settings on an OB-8 are handled by the CPU, and

are thus actually non-volatile software settings rather than physical

positions on trimmers on the circuit board.  Because of this, those

parts of the calibration that are done that way are lost when the

battery gets replaced.

Oberheim wanted to save keyboard techs from having to go through a

calibration just to replace the battery, so they made it so that every

cassette dump also includes the non-volatile calibration parameters in

the dump.  Since every tech already knows to save the customer's

patches before replacing the battery (if it's not gone already), it

makes getting your CPU-managed calibration settings back afterward

happen more or less automagically.

The bad part is that anyone wanting to use the WAV files on the

Internet which contain recordings of the binary tape leader tone and

data from an actual cassette dump of the OB-8 factory patches to get

the original factory patches on their OB-8 will also be loading the

calibration settings of whoever that OB-8 belonged to.  That probably

will not sound very good.  It also strongly discourages trading of

patch banks between users using cassette dump as the medium.

If you ever do load someone else's cassette dump, you will want to

review all parts of the calibration procedure that are not made with

a physical trimmer adjustment (i.e., all software-driven settings)

after you get the sounds loaded.

It is probably a much better idea to trade sounds with sysex dumps,


a)  Not all OB-8's had MIDI at all, from any source.

b)  The original Oberheim MIDI could only sysex dump single patches,

and had no function for sending a whole bank in one dump.

c)  The Encore retrofit can send whole banks, but it was undocumented

in earlier versions the printed manual, and you might only know

you can even do it if you've looked at the PDF file manual now

available on Encore's web site.

So cassette dump is the only way of saving patch banks that all OB-8

owners can do, but you still probably don't want to do it unless you

don't mind checking your calibration afterward.

Article 2:



Status Data Bytes  Description

1000  xxxx 0kkk kkkk  Note off. (See notes no. 1-2.)

0vvv vvvv   0vvv vvvv = note off velocity: always 40H.

1001  xxxx 0kkk kkkk  Note on. (see notes no. 1-2.)

0vvv vvvv   0vvv vvvv = 40H

1011 xxxx 0ccc cccc   Control Change. (if enabled).

0vvv v000   0ccc cccc = Control number (01=mod lever).

0vvv v000 = control value.(range 0-78H. Lowest

3 bits are ignored).

1011 xxxx 0ccc cccc   Control Change. (if enabled).

0vvv vvvv   0ccc cccc = Control number (40H = Sustain


0vvv vvvv = control value.(0 = off. 7FH = on.)

1100 xxxx  0nnn nnnn  Program select. (if enabled)..

0nnn nnnn = 0 through 77H.

1110 xxxx 0vvv vvvv  Pitch 0end change LSB (see note 3).

0vvv vvvv  Pitch Bend change MST TRANSMITTED DATA -- SYSTEM MESSAGES

1111 0000 0H     System  Exclusive Oberheim I.D. no.

0ddd dddd   Device number. OB-8 = 01H

01H   Command Byte 1 : Program data dump follows.

0ccc cccc  Command Byte 2  : Program number.

data    Program data.     (see note 4)

F7H    End of System    Exclusive Status Byte. OB-8 MIDI Implementation Version B-5 August 15,1984   Page 2


Status Data Bytes  Description

1000 xxxx  0kkk(kkkk  Note off. (See notes no. 1-2.)

0vvv vvvv  0vvv vvvv = note off velocity: ignored

1001 xxxx  0kkk kkkk  Note on. (see notes no. 1-2.)

0vvv vvvv  0vvv vvvv = 0: Note Off.

0vvv vvvv not = 0, velocity ignored.

1011 xxxx  0ccc cccc  Control Change. (if enabled).

0vvv v000  0ccc cccc = Control number (01=mod lever).

0vvv v000 = control value.(0-78H. Lower 3 bits

are ignored.)

1100 xxxx  0nnn nnnn  Program select. (if enabled).

0nnn nnnn = 0 through 77H

1110 xxxx  0vvv vvvv   Pitch Bend change LSB (see note 3).

0vvv vvvv  Pitch Bend change MSB


1011 xxxx  0111 1011  cccc cccc = 123 (7BH) : All notes off.

0000 0000  vvvv vvvv = 0. The OB-8 turns off all notes that

were turned on by MID!.

1011 xxxx  0111 1100  cccc cccc = 124 (7CH) : OMNI mode off.

0000 0000  vvvv vvvv = 0. The OB-8 turns OMNI mode off and

turns off all notes that were turned on by MIDI.

1011 xxxx  0111 1101  cccc cccc = 125 (7DH) : OMNI mode on.

0000 0000  vvvv vvvv = 0. The OB-8 turns 0MNI mode on and

turns off all notes that were turned on by MIDI.

1011 xxxx  0111 1110  cccc cccc = 126 (7EH)   MONO mode on.

0000 0000  vvvv vvvv = 0. The OB-8 has no M0NO mode. When

this command is received the OB-8 switches to

OMNI on  / POLY mode and turns off all notes that

were turned on by MIDI.

1011 xxxx 0111 1111  cccc cccc = 127 (7FH)   P0LY mode on.

0000 0000  vvvv vvvv = 0. The OB-8 is always in P0LY so no

mode change occurs. All notes are turned off that

were turned on by MIDI.

OB-8 MIDI Implementation Version B-5  August 15,1984  Page 3


1111 0000  10H    System Exclusive   Oberheim I.D. no.

0ddd dddd   Device number   OB-8 = 01H

01H    Command Byte 1 : Program data dump follows.

0ccc cccc   Command Byte 2 Program Number

data    data (see note 4 for data format)

F7H    End of System Exclusive Status Byte.

1111 0000  10H    System Exclusive   Oberheim I.D. no.

0ddd dddd   Device number   OB-8 = 01H

00H    Command Byte 1 Program data dump Request.

0ccc cccc   Command Byte 2 Program Number

F7H    End of System Exclusive Status Byte.

1111 0110 -   System Common Message : Tune Request

OB-8 MIDI Implementation Version 8-5  August 15,1984   Page 4


I. xxxx : Basic Channel number minus I. i.e. 0000 is CH.1. and 0001 is CH.2.

range : CH.1-8.

2. kkk kkkk = note number. Range 24H-60H

3. Sensitivity of the pitch bender is selected in the receiver. Center

position (no pitch change) is 2000H, which is transmitted ExH-00H-40H.

Maximum transmitted value is 7F40H. (The 6 lsb's are not looked at by the



Sent as 4 bit nibbles, right justified, LS nibble sent first.

:  BIT 7  :  BIT 6  :  BIT 5  :  BIT 4  :  BIT 3  :  BIT 2  :  BIT 1  :  BIT 0  :


BYTE 0 :  VCF REL (6 BITS)            :    LFO WAVE   :

:                :   2               1  :

-------------------------------------------------------------------------            :----------

BYTE 1 :  VCA REL (6 BITS)      :            :UNISON:

:        :   0        :          :

---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------                                                           BYTE 2 :  VCF DCY (6BITS)    :  FILTER: OSC 2:

:        :     FM   :   FM   :



:        :    I        :      0   :



:        :    I        :       0   :


BYTE 5 :   VCA ATK (6 BITS)   :  OSC 2 : OSC  1 :

:        :   PWM  :  PWM   :


BYTE 6 :  VCF SUS (6 BITS)    :  NOISE : 4 POLE :

:        :       :  :


BYTE 7 :  VCA SUS (6 BITS)   :  OSC 2  :  OSC 2 :

:        :    ON     :  HALF  :


BYTE 8  :  VCF M0D (6  BITS)   :  OSC 1  :  TRACK :

:        :    ON     :             :


BYTE 9 :  VCF RES (6 BITS)    :    PW1   :   VC01   :

:        :   180 '    :   180 '   :


BYTE 10 :  VCO 1 PW  (6 BITS)   :   VCA    :  F-ENV  :

:        :   MOD   :              :


BYTE 11 :  LFO FREQ (6 BITS)   :  SYNC   :   OSC 1  :

:        :              :   FM      :


OB-8 MIDI Implementation Version B-5 August 15,1984  Page 5


BYTE l2 :  FM AMNT   (6 BITS)  :              :              :

:        :     5        :       4     :

-------------------------------------------------------------------------        VOLUME      --

BYTE 13 :  PWM AMNT (6 BITS)  :              :              :

:        :     3       :        2     :

-------------------------------------------------------------------------                            --

BYTE 14 :  PORT AMT  (6 BITS)  :              :              :

:        :      1       :       0     :


BYTE 15  :  VCO2 DETUNE  (6 BITS)  :      VCO 2 PW        :

:        :      5       :        4     :

--------------------------------------------------------------------------             :              --

BYTE l6  :  VCF FREQ  (6  BITS)  :               :              :

:        :      3       :        2     :

--------------------------------------------------------------------------             :              --

BYTE l7 :  VCO2 FREQ  6 BITS)  :               :              :

:        :       1       :       0     :


BYTE 18 :  VC01 FREQ (6 BITS)  :  SPARE   : LEGATO :

:        :               :     PORT. :



:        :       2       :      1       :

--------------------------------------------------------------------------              :--------------

BYTE 20 :  PEDAL SUSTAIN (6 BITS)  :                :    PORT   :

:        :       0       :    BEND   :


BYTE 21 :  FM VIB RAISE (6 BITS)  :     LFO    :  FM DLY  :

:        :  TRACK   :   INVERT  :


BYTE 22 :  PWM VIB RAISE (6 BITS)  :    PORT   :  PORT      :

:        :   QUANT  : MATCH    :


BYTE 23 :  FM  VIB DELAY (6 BITS)  :    180 `     :      90 '    :

:        :                :                :


BYTE 24 :  PWM VIB DELAY (6 BITS)  : PWM DLY :    PWM    :

:        :   INVERT   :  QUANT  :


BYTE 25 :  VOICE DETUNE (6 BITS)  :    EXPO    :   CONST  :

:        :    PORT     :   PORT    :


BYTE 26 :  BEND AMOUNT (6 BITS)  : LFO RATE :     FM     :

:        :    DELAY   :  QUANT  :

---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- OB-8 MIDI Implementation Version B-5  August 15,1984  Page 6 MODES

The OB-8 defaults to 0MNI ON upon power up. If the OB-8 is a receiver, it will receive on all channels. If the OB-8 is the transmitter, it will transmit on one channel. (selectable)

The OB-8 may also be operated in OMNI OFF mode. If the OB-8 is a receiver, it will now receive ONLY on the selected Basic Channel. If the OB-8 is used as transmitter, it will now transmit the upper half of the keyboard on the Basic Channel, and the lower half will be transmitted on the Basic Channel + 1. Pitch bend, progam select, etc. will be transmitted on both channels. The Channel Split Point is the same as the regular Split Point. (default is middle C.) THIS MODE IS INDEPENDENT OF SPLIT MODE.


NOTE: Functions must be enabled on source AND destination machines to work.

Switch Function

A  Enable/Disable program change and program dump.

Power-On default: disabled.

B  Enable/Disable Pitch bend and modulation controls.

Default: disabled.

C  OMNI ON/OFF. Toggle OMNI status. Power-On default is OMNI ON

(led is lit.) (see MODES)

D  Channel display/select. Press and hold down D button to display

or select the Basic Channel.

WRITE Dump current STORED program to MIDI. NOTE: SWITCH "A", "PROGRAM


TRACK Sequencer Re-Enable / Turn off MIDI Notes.

IMPORTANT: The OB-8 cannot RECEIVE MIDI info and be run by the

DSX sequencer simultaneously (due to hardware design.) So, to

prevent MIDI data errors, the sequencer is DISABLED upon

receiving any data from MIDI IN. This condition is displayed by

the TRACK led on page 2. When you no longer wish to use the OB-8

as a receiver, and you want to use the DSX, disconnect MIDI IN

and press the TRACK button. The led will go out, the sequencer

will work normally, and any notes turned on by MIDI will be turned off.

Power-On default: TRACK light off, Sequencer Enabled.

Article 3:

OB-8 Revision B5 Software

Operation Guide

8/15/84 This revision of OB-8 software (version B5) has been made to improve the operation of the OB-8 with the DSX, as well as to add some new MIDI features.  For a complete explanation of the OB-8's existing features, please refer to the OB-8 Owner's Manual and the OB-8 Revision B3 Software Operation Guide.  To verify the software version number of an OB-8, press the PAGE 2 button twice and hold it down the second time it is pressed (the PAGE 2 led should now be lit).  Wile holding down the PAGE 2 button, press and hold the SYNC button.  While holding both switches down, the PROGRAMMER leds will display the OB-8's software version number.  If the B led in the GROUP section and the 5 led in the PROGRAM section are now lit, the software version is B5. This version has all of the features of version B3, as well as the following NEW FEATURES: 1. The Sustain Footswitch on the OB-8 has now been added to the MIDI interface.  This means that when two OB-8s are connected together through MIDI, the Sustain Footswitch on th MASTER OB-8 (the one using MlDI OUT) will also control the Sustain on the SLAVE OB-8 (the one using MIDI IN).  This feature can also be used by other synthesizers that transmit and recieve Sustain Footswitch information on MIDI.

2. When an OB-8 with MIDI is connected to a DSX Digital Sequencer, the MIDI output of the OB-8 will send out the notes played by the DSX through the MIDI output.  This allows additional synthesizers with MIDI to play the same thing that the OB-8 is playing from the DSX.  Now with version B5 (and a DSX with version 3.00 or above), it is possible to have the DSX control the OB-8 AND a synthesizer connected to the OB-8's MIDI OUT INDEPENDENTLY. By assigning the DSX's CV outputs to the OB-8 MIDI (see "DSX REVISION 3.00 INSTRUCTIONS"), the DSX will send whatever the DSX's CVs are playing to the OB-8's MIDI OUT without the OB-8 playing it.  The notes that the OB-8 are playing will NOT be sent to the MIDI OUT, so that the two synthesizers can play completely independently.  This also means that when this feature is used, and the DSX is not playing anything on the CVs, no notes will be sent to the OB-8's MIDI OUT regardless of what is being played on the OB-8.

3. The overall speed of operation on the OB-8 has been increased to allow the DSX to communicate with the OB-8 faster, resulting in increased accuracy of the timing of notes played by the DSX.

4. The range of vibrato lever has been changed for better compatability.

Article 4:

Oberheim OB 8 Improved sound mod!!!!

This is from the archives of Haible Juergen

As I posted before, the main difference in sound between the

OB-8 and the OB-Xa is a bass loss of the OB-8 due to a 22Hz

highpass in the signal path.

While 22Hz don't look that dramatic, remind You that the phase

is fucked up at much higher frequencies. You can see the saw

wave distorted to an exponential slope instead of a linear one

for the entire low octave. The pulse has extreme overshots

(differentiated), and the triangle is hard to describe, but not a

triangle at all anymore.

In my earlier posting I suggested increasing coupling capacitors,

but this affects the autotune routine which is optimized for speed

and will produce errors with the enlarged time constants.

Last night I tried an alternative method: Compensating the phase

shift of the voices in the output stage (after the autotune loop).

The "bad guy" actually is the coupling between the VCF and VCA:

it's a 75kOhm resistor in series with a 100nF capacitor.

To compensate for this, we have to put a similar network into the

feedback loop of an opamp.

To avoid additional stages, I decided to change the frequency

response of the opamp that converts the final VCA's output current

to a voltage.

Now here's the way to go:

(1) Replace the resistors R505 and R506 (100k) with 1M resistors

on both voice boards (4 resistors in total). If You stand in front

of Your open OB-8, these resistors are located near the right

edge of the board, next to a TL082 opamp. Cutting them out

is easier than desoldering them on the 2-sided pcb.

(2) Now build a small network of a 120k resistor and a 56nF cap

*in series* and connect the whole network *in parallel* to the

new 1M resistors (solder it right on top).

That's all. If You want to do an A-B crosscheck, modify one voice

board first and cycle thru the voices. You will hear the difference,

and You will also see it at a scope.

If You find the original OB-8's sound more pleasant, just short the

four 56n capacitors. Or solder 4p1t switch across the caps to have

immediate access to both sounds.

For my part, I have the change hardwired, without a switch. If I want

less bass, I can do this with the mixing console ...


Though this works fine on my OB-8 (and I don't know any reason why

it shouldn't ob Yours as well), I guarantee for nothing.

Article 5:



::: IF :::

::: Boris Blank Rules :::

This is going to be a large quote of a post.  I love the band Yello.  So much so as to have all of their records on vinyl! Apparently Boris Blank's Fairlight III is for sale.

Totally refurbished to boot!

Here you go:


"Every Fairlight Computer Musical Instrument has a story behind it. Hugely expensive when new, their unique sounds and legendary user interface were used by music pioneers who changed the sound of music forever.

At a cost around $65,000 in 1985 (which could have bought you a very nice house) the list of Fairlight III owners reads like a who’s who of musical innovation of the time. Peter Gabriel, Tears for Fears, Kate Bush, Thomas Dolby, Hans Zimmer and Pet Shop Boys were owners in the UK, with many studios catering for those who didn’t own one. For a complete list take a look at:


The particular system being offered here belongs to Boris Blank, the musical part of Swiss band Yello. One could argue that during the 1980’s Yello used the Fairlight more, and more interestingly than virtually anyone else. Every hit single they had (and there were quite a few) used the Fairlight CMI extensively..

So, if you ever lusted after one of these legendary instruments, here’s a chance to acquire one with some serious street cred!

Yello Fairlight III. Signed front panel. There will be Boris's sounds included, as well as all the libraries listed below, in 4 x hard drives. Boris is on holiday at the moment, however his assistant has promised some more photos and goodies when he returns!

Offered for sale is a very rare, vintage classic Fairlight CMI III computer musical instrument workstation in excellent condition. The system is a late model, in three rack units which are 8U, 8U and 5U for the hard drive enclosure. It has the latest and best in technical innovations, whilst still retaining the classic legendary sound of the CMI. The system is switchable for 110, 220 or 240V so will work ANYWHERE in the world.

The system has the latest 9.34 music software, has 16 voices, mono graphics card and monitor, and 24 output router.  Instead of the usual 14 Mbytes RAM memory fitted as standard from the factory, this unit has a brand new 32 Mbyte card, which is the maximum possible in these systems. It also has a digital sampler module and a Turbo-SCSI card: It is therefore fully optioned with the last and best revisions of both hardware and software. There is no music keyboard, however any MIDI keyboard or external computer/sequencer will work brilliantly. I can supply a colour graphics card at additional cost if desired, to enable the system to run with many flat LCD screens. If required, the original mono graphics can be re-installed in minutes..

There are four hard drives installed. Three are original, with Boris's sounds, and the forth is "My" collection of libraries I normally include with my systems for sale. These are as follows:
 Complete Fairlight library, Prosonus Strings, Brass, Percussion, Sound 
Genesis strings, plus many libraries collected over the last 25 years 
dealing with top producers and musicians. These include libraries from: Pet 
Shop Boys, Trevor Horn, Hans Zimmer, Frankie goes to Hollywood, Art of Noise and many, many others. The complete Fairlight IIX library is also included.

The floppy and WORM drive work intemittantly, however these were only used in the 1980's before more reliable and cost-effective storage emerged. Therefore there is no warranty on these parts. The only other points of note are that some of the keys on the alpha-numeric keyboard are beginning to lose their legends (see picture), and the graphics pad is worn in places. I have however adjusted the keyboard so that the worn spots on the pad doesn't cause problems.

The system has been serviced, will have a full set of manuals on CD, all leads, latest firmware, and come with 3 months warranty (apart from the two drives mentioned above).

Please note you’ll see other Fairlight systems advertised, and some might be less expensive. However, do some research before you buy. What may look like a bargain might not look so appealing when its obsolete parts finally give up. This applies specially to earlier systems.  This system is complete, fully functional, and will work straight out of the box. I worked as product specialist and studio manager at Fairlight in Sydney during most of the 1980s, and have been involved in re-building Fairlight CMIs for over 25 years. I have sold and supported well over 45 of these classic samplers. If you are in any doubt, please type “Peter Wielk Fairlight” into the worlds favourite search engine and see what comes out.

You might be apprehensive about owning a big piece of technology, however the Fairlight CMIs were designed to last – no new technology comes near it for build quality. All the cards and modules of a series III are plug-in which makes servicing a breeze (and also helped push the original price up). In the unlikely event of a board failure, this can simply be swapped out for a replacement from me, to either repair or replace. I have a huge amount of spares, since I bought most of the factories old stock and spare parts. I also do repairs at board level, and re-manufacture parts when unavailable. I have been supporting these incredible systems for many years, and hope to continue this for many more…

I have tried to describe this system as accurately as possible. However, please feel free to ask any questions, or if you’re passing through Sydney, you would be very welcome to have an extensive demonstration. Lastly, these systems were designed and built with no compromises, reflected by their US$75,000 price tag when new. The sound is completely awesome. You might buy a sample CD of the Fairlight sounds, it will sound NOTHING like the real thing.

Also, only about 200 systems were built, and they were sold to the most influental musicians and producers in the world. The sounds of the Fairlight CMI formed the soundtrack of the 1980s. So, if you’ve always lusted after one, here’s your chance to own a part of music history!

Please note price is in Australian dollars, and excludes freight. I have an account with TNT couriers here in Sydney and ship many systems every year. I will ship for my cost. Please mail for more exact figures to your location. All shipments can be tracked through TNTs own site. IGNORE EBAYS SHIPPING PRICE CALCULATORS: THEY ARE WORSE THAN USELESS !!!!!!!

There are many currency conversion sites online. Australian residents please add 10% GST.

Lastly, due to the number of frauds and scams on ebay, please contact me if you have less than 10 positive transactions. I won't even consider shipping until funds have cleared this end, so please don't ask. I am sure any honest bidder will not resent this precaution.

Extra information:

This system is multi-timbral, in that it can produce 16 different sounds at any given time. It also has dynamic voice allocation, meaning that although the device is 16 channels, one could play for example, 16 voices of piano in one bar of music, 16 voices of brass in the next, 16 of vibraphone in the next, and so on. Each sound is output through it's own dedicated router output, of which there are 24. A loom will be provided to interface the first 8 "routputs" with your mixer. This differs from the earlier CMI IIIs, as they had only one monophonic output per XLR. As producer and Fairlight programmer extrordinaire Andy Richards (look him up for credentials) once said: "Having a router is like having a Fairlight and a half

Horizontal Productions in sunny Sydney"



::: Roland Juno 106 Restoration :::

I always enjoy trying to improve the functionality and or update / repair the instruments i own but recently I have been in the process of taking on more repair work for other people.  This can be intimidating but i like the challenge and i always learn something. Some friends of mine had a Juno 106 that finally died after  years of touring and gigging.  Apparently this Juno 106 was a frankenstein made out of 2 previously corpse-d Juno 106's that the band had been using previously.

Amazing and yet common story for the Roland Juno 106 as they have parts that are bound to fail and there's many of them in circulation.

When i received the Juno it was totally deceased.  It wouldn't even turn on.  As i started at the beginning ( the power supply ) i began a long journey that took me to every board in this beast.  As will many Rolands of that era, the Juno 106 is nicely made and laid out inside.  it's relatively easy to work on and retains the Roland style of sophistication and simplicity.

On to the process:

The AC wires from the receptacle to the PSU were rotted out so i replaced them.  After that step i noticed that the power transformer was toasted.  Once i sourced a replacement transformer from a parts machine ( Roland HS-60 that someone had pulled the voice chips from previously) i at least had some voltage!

But thats where i met my next obstacle.  The regulators on the supply were down.  This an easy fix and i soon had AC to DC conversion at all the required voltages from the PSU.  When i reconnected all the other boards the regulators immediately started overheating .  This was a bad sign and meant that the other boards had problems yet to be deciphered.  I reconnected each board one at a time and found out that the Voice Module board ( the most important one! ) was shorting out the power supply.  A little research informed me that when the 'Voice' chips in Juno 106's fail they sometimes become a short that persists.  It doesn't cause the unit to shut down or the fuse to blow.  It just goes supernova!  Based on how hot it was getting within minutes i can see what had brought this instrument down.  The short had occurred in the module board and the power supply allowed so much current to pass that the regulators and the power supply were destroyed!  Pretty catastrophic!  This probably didn't take long either and it was only minutes from when the synth stopped making sound at a gig until it had melted itself to death.

Side note, There were several problems i eventually addressed to bring this baby back to club awesome.

1, The bender assembly was trashed and just sloppily banging around inside the bender housing.

2, There were 2 sliders on the ENV / VCA section that were broken off and had screws jammed into them ( they still worked apparently! )

3, One of the voices was dead.  And once i got that sorted the CPU on the voice module board was toasted and wouldn't trigger voices properly.

4, The power supply and transformer were dead.

5, The jack board where the outputs live had issues too as there was no audio from the main outs but the headphone jack had been working.


On to the work!



So it took a lot of research and work but this instrument is now rockin' again!  I've burned it in for 24 hours and it still sounds great so it's time to release it to the wild!

Here's a list of all the work i ended up doing:

1, The power transformer was blown and replaced.

2, The voltage regulators in the power supply were toasted and replaced.

3 The CPU on the voice board was toasted and has been replaced.

4, The bender assembly was broken and has been replaced.

5, The 2 broken sliders have been replaced and have original matching caps as well.  i also lubed all the faders with teflon fader grease so they feel less gritty and more similar.

6, There was blown parts in the jack board that were replaced ( hum and dead outputs ) and all the outputs are now making music!

7, The power cable input could not be switched to IEC 3 prong because there is not enough room to put a deeper receptacle in without being dangerously close to exposed AC points.

8, The main culprit of this catastrophe was a dead 'voice' chip ( Roland 80017A ).  When these go they sometimes become a short.  this is what took down the power supply and many of the other parts that needed replacement.

9, lastly, i replaced the end cap chassis screws so this synth will be more structurally stable and hopefully last another 30 years!

I forgot how specific the 106 vibe was.  Too bad they are so prone to failure.

As always, thanks to Doug at synthparts for synth parts!

::: IF :::

::: Synth Pron of the Day :::

In Line with the David Frank interview i posted last week.  Here's Steve Roach's setup from 1987...

OBERHEIM SYSTEM!!!! ( LOL 2 Xpanders!!!! )

and an E-Max...

and an SQ80...

...Steve Roach Setup


borrowed from this flicker stream...


::: History of Roland in Synthesizers :::

I have some good in depth tech posts to come including a complete restoration on a Simmons SDS V ( another one! ). But to tide you over i would like to present : The Roland Synthesizer History Chronicle.

I quoted and edited from their site as i prefer to start at the beginning and not the end...  And I lose interest after L.A. Synthesis.  I really enjoy the descriptions on this list.  Classic Roland manual writing has a special kind of 'Engrish' and it's in full force on this list!



Standouts are ( and this list is intentionally on the short side! ) :

JD800 : Because it looks awesome.  Just amazing with tons of realtime sliders at cool looking angles .

SH5 : Great source and modulation capabilities.  Similar to the more advanced Yamaha CS series synths.  I like the blue more than the SH7 green.

Jupiter 8 : This is a beautiful machine.  Sounds great.  Built like a tank.

JX8P : This one makes the bucket list way before the JX3P which is more popular.  It can make gritty yet classy analog love and is capable of seriously complex tonality.

Juno 60 : Again, it's simple and classy.  Cooler to me than the JX3P with the arpeggiator and doesn't need a programmer. Plus you can save patches unlike it's predecessor the Juno 6.

System 100 : SEMI MODULAR! And it has that awesome 70's piping with tolex look!  Sexy.  More straight forward and cost effective than the System 700

SH101 : It COMES IN MULTIPLE COLORS!!!!!  And it's super popular with techno / dance and electronic crowds.  I take one in red with the keytar hand grip please.

JP 8080 : This looks great and packs a wallup!  If i saw one cheap i'd pounce.  Decent layout for a box that does too much and its much easier on the eye than the JP8000.

On to the List!


Here Goes:

1973 SH-1000

1973: SH-1000

This 1VCO analog synthesizer’s claim to fame is being the first mass-production synthesizer made in Japan. It had a selection of preset tones to choose from, and control functions to give the user freedom when producing sounds. It carried a price tag of ¥165,000 in Japan (roughly $600).

1974 SH-3

1974: SH-3

1VCO analog synthesizer making full use of control functions. There are two types — the SH-3 and SH-3A (photo) — which differ slightly in terms of appearance and internal construction. Additive synthesis oscillation creates a distinctive meaty sound.

1974 SH-2000

1974: SH-2000

This preset-only analog synthesizer (1VCO) is equipped with aftertouch. Although Roland analog keyboard synthesizers have 1V/1oct VCOs, this one uses Hz/V.

1975 SH-5

1975: SH-5

Roland’s first 2VCO analog synthesizer. The huge one-piece case blew away keyboardists at the time. This synth was also the first to have pitch bender levers.

1976 System-100

1976: SYSTEM-100

This system consisted of a small 2VCO synthesizer, expander, mixer, analog sequencer, and a pair of speakers (photo showed the basic model 101 synth). It was possible to purchase each unit separately.

1976 SYSTEM-700

1976: SYSTEM-700

The first — and only — modular synth to be made in Japan. It included 9VCO, 4VCF, 5VCA, 4ENV, 3LFO, mixer, analog sequencer, effects processors, and more. The full system was priced at ¥2,650,000 in Japan (roughly $9,000).

1978 SH-1

1978: SH-1

A 1VCO analog synthesizer with a basic circuit design derived from Roland’s System-700. In addition to being the first synth to incorporate a sub-oscillator, it was also the first to use a molded plastic case.

1978 SH-7

1978: SH-7

This 2VCO analog synthesizer was released as the successor to the SH-5. The case was made somewhat smaller, and it could play two voices, taking advantage of the two VCOs.


1978: SH-09

A number of cost-cutting measures were applied to the SH-1. The result was this 1VCO analog synthesizer, the first to sell for below ¥100,000 in Japan (roughly $450). This synth played a major role in popularizing synthesizers in Japan.

1978 SYSTEM-100M

1978: SYSTEM-100M

A version of the System-700 aimed more at the general consumer. This compact modular synthesizer was made up of various modules and a rack with built-in power supply (a 32-key and 49-key keyboard was available).

1979 SH-2

1979: SH-2

The meaty sound of 2VCO + 1 sub-oscillator made this analog synthesizer quite popular. As with the SH-09, a price of under ¥100,000 in Japan (roughly $450) propelled this synth’s popularity. It’s a coveted classic.

1979 Jupiter-4

1979: JUPITER-4

Roland’s first polyphonic analog synthesizer (4 voices). The 4VCO sound in unison mode is superb, and it also has built-in user sound memory function. The synth carried a price tag of ¥385,000 in Japan at the time (roughly $1750).

1981 JUPITER-8

1981: JUPITER-8

A deluxe 8-voice polyphonic analog synthesizer with 64-sound memory. Its smorgasbord of features, including key split, patch preset, and auto arpeggio, earned this synth global praise and legendary status.

1982 JUNO-6

1982: JUNO-6

This 6-voice polyphonic analog synthesizer used a DCO per voice to generate sound. Built-in chorus effects increased the range of sounds that could be produced. This synth also had a key transpose feature.

1982 SH-101

1982: SH-101

A 1VCO analog mono synth available in three color variations; modulation grip was also an option. The synth could run on batteries, allowing it to be slung on a shoulder strap and worn like a guitar.

1982 JUNO-60

1982: JUNO-60

A Juno-6 with newly added memory functions for 56 sounds. Roland’s proprietary DCB interface standard was used for exchanging control information with external devices.

1983 JUPITER-6

1983: JUPITER-6

Scaling down the Jupiter-8 to 6-voice polyphony, coupled with creative tweaking by Roland’s engineers, allowed the Jupiter-6 to hit the market at half the price of the Jupiter-8. It also made news with its highly stable oscillator and MIDI terminal.

1983 JX-3P

1983: JX-3P

This MIDI-capable, 2DCO per voice, 6-voice polyphonic analog synthesizer was released at the same time as the Jupiter-6. A PG-200 sound programmer (could be placed on the upper right on the panel) was also available.

1984 JUNO-106

1984: JUNO-106

This 1DCO per voice, 6-voice polyphonic analog synthesizer was the successor of the Juno-60. Equipped with 128-sound memory and MIDI, it would become a favorite of dance and techno artists.

1984 MKS-30

1984: MKS-30

A 2U-rack vesion of the JX-3P. Although the JX-3P’s MIDI receive channel was fixed to ch. 1, the MKS-30 has programmable channels. The PG-200 sound programmer for the JX-3P could also be with this model.

1984 MKS-80

1984: MKS-80

2U-rack size, 8-voice polyphonic version of the Jupiter-6. Nicknamed the Super Jupiter, it stood out for its ability to play a wide range of sounds, from musical instruments to special effects. The MPG-80 sound programmer was also available as an option.

1984 JX-8P

1984: JX-8P

An upgraded version of the JX-3P, the JX-8P analog synthesizer featured 6-voice polyphony and two DCOs per voice. A separately sold PG-800 sound programmer was also available.

1985 JUNO-106S

1985: JUNO-106S

This JUNO was equipped with stereo speakers; other than that, the specs were completely identical to the JUNO-106. As a common feature in this time — internal sound memory could be backed up to a cassette tape.

1985 ajuno1

1985: α JUNO-1

Pronounced “alpha JUNO-1″, this was a low-cost model in the JUNO series. It had 49 keys, and a specially designed sound-generator IC. Although it had 6-voice polyphony and 128 sound memory, it was below ¥100,000 in Japan (roughly $420) – quite an appealing combination.

1985 alpha juno 2

1985: α JUNO-2

A step up from the α JUNO-1, the α JUNO-2 had 61 keys. The JUNO series was always popular for its string and bass sounds, and still is to this day. The PG-300 programmer, common to the α JUNO-1 and -2, was also available.

1986 JX10

1986: JX-10

This 76-key, DCO-type analog synthesizer incorporated 2 JX-8P sound generators. With 12-voice polyphony, this synth was nicknamed the Super JX. The PG-800 sound programmer could be used with it.

1986 mks-70

1986: MKS-70

A rack version of the JX-10, this model could also use the same PG-800 sound programmer as the JX-10. Equipped with three different effects — portamento, delay, and chorus — it also had a memory cartridge slot.

1986 mks-50

1986: MKS-50

This rack-mounted model of the α JUNO series made it possible to add portamento, detune, and other parameters to patches. It was equipped with chord memory, and could also use the PG-300.

1987 D-50

1987: D-50

Equipped with the Linear Arithmetic (LA) synthesis, this was Roland’s first digital synthesizer. It also had a digital filter/effects processor. One of Roland’s best-selling models, this synthesizer also excelled at analog-style sound.

1988 D-550

1987: D-550

This rack-mounted version of the D-50 synth also had an LA sound generator. Creating sounds was made simply by using a PG-1000 external controller that enabled manipulation of edit parameters in real time.

1988 D-10

1988: D-10

Although this digital synthesizer was reasonably priced, it borrowed the D-50’s LA sound generator, and also had multitimbral capability and rhythm machine functions. It had seven types of digital reverb, and the first built-in ROM player.

1988 D-110

1988: D-110

A stand-alone version of the D-10 sound generator, this sound module fit in a 1U rack. In addition to its main stereo output, it also had six individual outputs.

1988 D-20

1988: D-20

This model contained the same basic features of the D-10 but added a sequencer capable of 9-track multi-recording and a 3.5-inch floppy drive. The sequencer supported real time recording method.

U-110 Roland Synthesizer

1988: U-110

A simple-playback sound module with a DC-PCM sound generator. In addition to a wide range of built-in musical instrument tones, it could hold up to four memory cards at once. By combining these, users could create custom sounds.

1989 U-20

1989: U-20

This keyboard used the RS-PCM sound generator, which retained compatibility with the U-110′s tone data. It was distinguished by a unique system of operation, with sound patches that managed tone data, and keyboard patches that managed MIDI data.

1989 D-5

1989: D-5

The greatest feature of the D series was an onboard LA sound generator. With a chase function and arpeggiator at a price of ¥99,800 in Japan (roughly $725), this synthesizer offered outstanding cost performance.

1989 U-220

1989: U-220

Employing the RS-PCM sound generator system, this upper model of the U-110 aimed at even higher sound quality. Preset tones were increased from 99 in the U-110 to 128 in U-220, and an onboard effects processor provides built-in chorus and reverb. 1990 D-70

1990: D-70

This synthesizer used Advanced LA synthesis, which is an evolved form of LA synthesis. It had a built-in DLM function that could generate a variety of wave data for synthesizing. This innovation created an infinite range of sound creation possibilities.

1991 JD-800

1991: JD-800

This digital synth employed a large number of sliders on the panel to allow real-time control of all parameters with an analog feel. Each Patch could consist of up to four Tones for creating fat sounds.

1991 JX-1

1991: JX-1

While low priced, this playback keyboard had the ultimate selection of preset sounds, from acoustic instruments to analog synthesizers. It also had an edit function with eight parameters. 1992 JV-80

1992: JV-80

With eight paramaters sliders, this PCM synthesizer could be operated with an analog feel. This was the first synth compatible with the best-selling SR-JV80-Series expansion board.

1992: JV-30

The lower model of the JV-80, this 16-part multitimbral synthesizer captivated users with its 189 high-quality, built-in PCM tones and ease of operation. Editing filter, envelope generator, and vibrato was possible.

1992 JV-880

1992: JV-880

This PCM sound module, with the high-quality sound and functionality of the JV-80, was made to fit into a compact 1U rack-size. In addition to four main and sub outputs, the module has a Preview function that allowed users to check tones without using any other equipment.

1992 JW-50

1992: JW-50

This workstation had an onboard GS sound generator with a built-in 16-track sequencer. In addition to a backing function as a composition-support tool, the JW-50’s ease of editing tones made for an appealing instrument.

1993 JV-1000

1993: JV-1000

This workstation featured a refined version of the JV-80 sound generator, with a built-in MC-50MKII sequencer engine. Expansion boards made this workstation expandable up to 993 patches, and 56 voices.

1993 JV-35

1993: JV-35

This model offered superb cost performance. While low priced, it allowed expansion boards to be installed, adding extra sounds and voices The separately sold VE-JV-1 provided the synth-engine equivalent of the JV-1000.

1993 JV-90

1993: JV-90

The JV-1000 synthesizer with the sequencer removed, the JV-90 was based on the concept of expandability. Expansion boards could be used to expand the number of voices and sounds as needed.

1993 JV-50

1993: JV-50

This model featured the same functions as the JV-35, with a built-in SMF player. As with the JV-35/90, it was based on the JV-series concept of expandability, capable of up to 56 voices.

W-50 Roland Synthesizer

1993: W-50

Intended for Professional Use / Church Environment (Complete library of rich Organ sounds,etc). This keyboard was a collaboration with Rodgers Organ (a Roland subsidiary).

1993 JD-990

1993: JD-990

This sound-generator module achieved the operability of the JD-800 via a large-screen display. In addition to enabling ring modulation and oscillator sync, it was equipped with an FXM function and eight multi-effects processors.

1994 JV-1080

1994: JV-1080

This synthesizer module featured 64 voices and 16-part multitimbral specs. Nicknamed the Super JV, the module could carry four wave expansion boards simultaneously, enabling up to 1,741 patches that spanned a wide range of music genres.

1995 XP-50

1995: XP-50

This workstation featured the sound generator of the JV-1080, and a sequencer with loop recording and quick play. It also featured Realtime Phrase Sequence (RPS).

1995 XP-10

1995: XP-10

This XP-series model was aimed at the more affordable price range. Equipped with 16-part multitimbral GM/GS sound generator, it also incorporated a newly developed arpeggiator with 30 different styles, a Combination Palette, and more.

1996 XP-80

1996: XP-80

The top model in the XP series, this synthesizer was based on the XP-50 with many refinements added on, plus 76 keys with weighted action. The sequencer memory could hold about 60,000 notes, three times that of the XP-50.

1996 JP-8000

1996: JP-8000

This 8-voice synthesizer offered an impressive array of knobs and sliders to manipulate its analog modeling synthesis engine. It had a built-in Motion Control function that allowed operations on the panel to be recorded and played back.

1997 JV-2080

1997: JV-2080

This sound module became so popular, it was considered a world standard. With features such as 640 patches and 16 multitimbral parts, it represented the pinnacle in sample-playback synthesis at the time.

1998 XP-60

1998: XP-60

This model compressed the features of the XP-80 into a compact 61-key body. All operations conformed to the XP-80. New expansion boards went on sale at the same time, increasing the appeal of this instrument even further. 1998 JX-305

1998: JX-305

The playability of a keyboard was added to the functionality of the MC-505 Groovebox, which was a hit product at the time. The main appeal of the model was easy operation with inspiring realtime operation.

1998 JP-8080

1998: JP-8080

This rack version of the JP-8000 sound generator upped the power even more. Built-in Unison and Voice Modulator, an increase in polyphony from 8 to 10, and external audio input were some of the features that distinguished this module.

1999 XP-30

1999: XP-30

The last model in the XP-Series. Although the sequencer was removed in order to lower the price, it boasted a full lineup of features, including 1,406 patches and an arpeggio function.

1999 JV-1010

1999: JV-1010

This compact half-rack module inherited the rich preset sounds of the JV-1080 and 2080. Able to hold one SR-JV80-Series expansion board, it could handle up to 1,151 patches.

2000 RS-5

2000: RS-5

While reasonably priced, this synthesizer contained the same high-quality sounds as the JV/XP/XV series. It was also easy to operate, with knob controls for LFO, filter, and other parameters.

2000 XV-88

2000: XV-88

The XV-88 was the full-sized keyboard model of the XV series. This 128-voice synthesizer was equipped with an 88-key, hammer-action keyboard. It could hold up to four expansion cards (two SRX series and two SR-JV80 series).

2000 XV-3080

2000: XV-3080

This 2U-rack synthesizer module had the same sound generator as the XV-88. It could hold up to two SRX-series and four SR-JV80-series sound expansion boards.

2000 XV-5080

2000: XV-5080

The top-of-the-line XV module, it had the highest-performance sound generator of its time, as well as a smorgasbord of attractive features, including Matrix Control and sample playback via SIMM.

2001 Fantom

2001: Fantom

A new breed of workstation with a large graphical LCD and centralized control of its numerous functions. This 76-key workstation featured professional XV-5080 quality sounds and a wide range of realtime performance functions.

2001 XV-5050

2001: XV-5050

This 64-voice, 16-part sound module fits the high sound quality of the XV-5080 into a 1U-rack size. Editing software is also included that allows all parameters to be controlled via computer.

2001 SH-32

2001: SH-32

After 20 years in retirement, the “SH” prefix was revived. This ambitious product integrates the traditional panel interface to evoke images of the first SH-series, plus programmable arpeggiator and many other new features.

2002 XV-2020

2002: XV-2020

The XV-2020 synthesizer module put Roland’s acclaimed XV sounds in a half-rack unit with USB and GM2 compatibility. It offered two SRX expansion boards, 16 multitimbral parts, and three effects processors.

2003 V-Synth

2003: V-Synth

The V-Synth integrated Variphrase technology, allowing realtime control of waveform pitch, time, and formant for organic and animated sounds. It also offered analog-modeling synthesis, COSM filtering, and the unique TimeTrip Pad.

2003 Fantom-S

2003: Fantom-S

This 61-note workstation keyboard offered seamless integration of audio and MIDI with advanced sampling features such as realtime time-stretching and Skip Back Sampling, plus a Dynamic Pad Bank, mastering effects, and USB file exchange.

NKB 03

2003: RS-70

With a fresh collection of quality sounds, a Loop Sequencer, and friendly Direct Access buttons for instantly selecting patches, the RS-70 introduced a new level of performance power for live or song production at an attractive price.


2003: RS-50

A scaled-down version of the RS-70, this live-performance synthesizer provided great Roland sounds and performance-friendly features including Phrase/Arpeggio Generator and Multi Chord Memory to the entry-level market.

2003 VariOS

2003: VariOS / VariOS-8 / VariOS 303

Thanks to its open-ended hardware/software system, VariOS could emulate Roland’s most popular synths. VariOS 8 emulated Roland’s vintage Juno and Jupiter, and VariOS 303 emulated the classic TB-303, without draining the host computer’s CPU.

2004 Fantom-X7

2004: Fantom-X7

The Fantom-X Series were the first “Giga-Workstations,” providing nearly 1GB of wave memory when fully expanded with four SRX cards. They also offered 128-voice polyphony, eight stereo audio tracks, and a large color LCD.

NKB 03

2004: JUNO-D

Budget priced yet big on features, the Juno-D offered 640 of new patches, a world-class array of expressive multi-effects, realtime performance controllers, and tools for groove creation and composition.

NKB 07

2004: Fantom-XR

The stunning sound of a Fantom-X workstation in a 1U rack module, the Fantom-XR provides room for over 1GB of sounds when fully expanded with six SRX cards and DIMMs for user sampling.

2004 Fantom-Xa

2004: Fantom-Xa

For musicians who craved Fantom power, but wanted a more cost-effective way to Fantomize their rig, the Fantom-Xa was the answer — a multifaceted sampling workstation with a 16-track sequencer and affordable price tag.

2006 SH-2012006: SH-201

This 49-key analog-modeling synthesizer provides the famous Roland Super SAW waveform. It also has an External Input for manipulating audio, a D Beam, and plentiful knobs and switches for realtime control.


2006: V-SYNTH XT

Named the “Synthesizer of the Year” at the 2004 MIPA Awards, Roland’s groundbreaking V-Synth now has a travel-friendly offspring. The XT is a portable new V-Synth with some spectacular tricks up its sleeves — and with enough synthesis and audio-processing power to make heads spin.

2006 JUNO-G

2006: JUNO-G

For songwriters and performers, the JUNO-G synth offers a 16-part MIDI sequencer with four companion stereo audio tracks, plus a powerful Fantom-X-quality sound engine, 128-voice polyphony, and SRX expansion.


2007: V-Synth GT

Onboard dual-core engine supercharges Elastic Audio Synthesis with revolutionary Articulative Phrase Synthesis, which models the performance behavior and nuance of acoustic music instruments, plus Vocal Designer.

2007 Sonic Cell

2007: SonicCell

With its dual SRX expansion bay, built-in USB audio interface, and ability to play SMFs and WAV/AIFF/MP3 files, SonicCell puts the power and legendary sound quality of a Roland hardware synthesizer on the desktop.



Decked out with an extra-large display, USB backing-track functionality, a Click output for drummers, performance knobs, hands-free patch select, master MIDI control, and more, the 76-key JUNO-STAGE offers onstage power at a great price.

Fantom-G6 Roland Synthesizer

2008: Fantom-G6

The Fantom-G6 is a dream instrument that redefines the boundaries of playability and creativity with its advanced sound engine, revolutionary ARX SuperNATURAL™ expansion bay, large-sized color LCD, powerful new audio/MIDI sequencer and more.

2008 Fantom-G7

2008: Fantom-G7

The Fantom-G series redefines the boundaries of playability and creativity with its advanced sound engine, revolutionary ARX SuperNATURAL expansion bay, large-sized color LCD, powerful 152-track audio/MIDI sequencer, and more.

Player for larger-than-life performances.

2009 AX-Synth

2009: AX-Synth

The battery-powered AX-Synth is an eye-catching 49-key remote keyboard with a high-quality sound generator onboard. It’s self-contained and equipped with powerful, solo-oriented sounds from Roland’s latest generation of synths.

2009 JUNO-Di

2009: JUNO-Di

A traveling musician’s dream, the JUNO-Di is lightweight, can run on batteries, and is easy to use. It’s packed with 1,000+ great sounds, has a friendly control panel for easy editing, and a Song Player for larger-than-life performances.

VR-7002010: V-Combo VR-700

With a legendary Virtual Tone Wheel organ and dedicated harmonic bars onboard, plus banks of essential ensemble sounds, the V-Combo melds an entire rig into one convenient instrument for easy transport and fast setup.

2010 AX-09

2010: Lucina AX-09

This 37-key ultra-light synth is designed to fit all musicians — even kids. It’s loaded with 150 excellent sounds, all easily selectable with the onboard category buttons, and features a USB Audio Player function for jam-along fun.

2010 SH-01

2010:  GAIA SH-01

Affordable yet powerful, the GAIA SH-01 is a high-performance value with old-school charm. The triple-stacked engine provides massive virtual-analog synthesis under the control of hands-on knobs, sliders, and buttons.

JUNO-Gi Roland Synthesizer

2010: JUNO-Gi

What propels this power-synth into another realm, however, is its supercharged feature set with over 1,300 fresh sounds, an onboard eight-track digital recorder, and pro effects created by BOSS. Write, record, mix, master, and perform anywhere with the new JUNO-Gi.

JUPITER Synth Legends Vol. 1

The emulations in JUPITER Synth Legends provide you with a large selection of authentic vintage sounds to use alongside the advanced acoustic and synth capabilities already in the JUPITER-80/-50. Featured synths include:

  1. JUPITER-8
  2. SH-101
  3. TB-303
  4. JUNO-60
  5. JUPITER-6
  6. JUNO-106
  7. D-50

2012 JUPITER-80

2012: JUPITER-80

A live-performance powerhouse that pays homage to its legendary namesake with road-proven hardware and massive sound, yet blasts into the future with advanced SuperNATURAL® technology.

2012 JUPITER-50

2012: JUPITER-50

By combining the supreme expression of the JUPITER-80 with the travel friendliness of the JUNO series, the new JUPITER-50 brings SuperNATURAL® sound and pro performance to every stage and studio.

2012 INTEGRA-7

2012: INTEGRA-7

The powerhouse rack comprises a “greatest hits” collection of sounds from Roland’s flagship keyboards and V-Drums modules, plus a coveted lineup from the legacy SRX library. It also introduces a new technology called Motional Surround, a 17-part ambience engine that lets you graphically control the distance and position of each part within 360-degree sound field.


2013: V-COMBO VR-09

Travel-ready, affordable, and outfitted with top-level Roland sounds, the V-Combo VR-09 is the ideal all-in-one solution for performing keyboard players. Dedicated piano, organ, and synth sound engines—organized in three intuitive blocks on the front panel—provide all the essential tones you need, right under your fingertips.


Source :  The Roland Synthesizer History Chronicle

::: I.F. :::

::: The Unibomber's 909 ?!? :::

I can't pass up the chance to share this hilarity.  I've seen this Roland TR 909 come up on Ebay in the past and now it's popped up on Craigslist in Denver.  I wanted to  memorialize it in all it's glory before it's gone for ever!  Be sure to check out the gallery.  It's just crazy.  The TR 909 looks like it was brought into a burning house to play a DJ set by the fire department! TR 909 Fire 1

Direct Quote from Craigslist :

Roland TR-909 Drum Machine - $1500 (Longmont)


Roland TR-909 Drum Machine... Original owner. Bought it new in late 80's. First $1500 buys it. Everything works, but tarnished from being stored in a studio that was heated with wood stove.Totally clean in the inside other than very little dust.When I plug in with speaker... all seems to work. All instruments sound perfect and work, including the loud and soft keys. I didn't notice any scratchy sound on knobs other than when the main volume is turned almost all the way down. I think minor cleaning would solve that.Now... I bought this new in the Mid 80's... they JUST came out when I bought it. I played around with the programming of it, and I either am not remembering how to clear written programs, or it might have a internal battery that needs replacing. Or, maybe it has issues. My point is that I know everything works, but I don't know 100% if the programing memory thing works. Probably does, but I don't have time to re-learn this unit. It's not supper use friendly.
Any in 100% perfect shape are over $2500 Will sell this as is for $1500. Cash only... no pay pal.NOTE: I personally think an old item like this is better viewed in person. No returns, sale is final, so you get what you get. Cash and carry, no shipping offered.
::: IF :::

::: Simmons SDS-V of the Future :::

I've promised these and so fresh for 2013 here they are!  Extensive photos of the inner life and workings of a Simmons SDS-V with the MFB SEQ-01 sequencer built in. But first, a little background.

Simmons electronic drums were developed by Richard James Burgess and Dave Simmons.  Burgess' idea was to make a fully electronic drumset that could be played  by a real drummer or a sequencer.  He pioneered this idea while working on the first Landscape album From the Tea-Rooms of Mars... To the Hell-Holes of Uranus ( a great soundtrack styled listen BTW ).  In 1981 he produced the Spandau Ballet hit, "Chant No. 1 (I Don't Need This Pressure On)".  It was the first breakthrough hit with a real drummer playing the now famous hexagonal pads and the first production Simmons SDS-V brain.

They offered a Kick drum, Snare drum, Toms, and even High Hats and Cymbal modules although the Cymbal and HH ones are super rare.  Seven of any combination could be housed in one brain and triggered via octagonal pad, sequencer, and even acoustic triggers attached to drums.  There was even an open/closed HH pedal input to trigger 2 different variations from the HH module.  You could program your own sounds via the front panel of each module with full controls for 3 presets on the front and one 'factory' set inside that are all adjustable.  The Brain did double duty of allowing trigger inputs while offering basic mixing of the internal sounds via a stereo and mono output ( with individual out as well ).  These brains quickly became cult like in their status and were used in everything from jazz bands by Bill Bruford to rock groups like Def Leppard ( by the one armed Rick Allen ) and of course funk and dance groups like Prince.



And i never get bored of this song:



I had picked up an SDS-V brain with a Kick, Snare, and 3 Tom modules.  But there was those two empty slots at the end... hmmmm... Then it occurred to me, What if i turn this Brain into a full DRUM MACHINE!!! Lo an behold, a few Googles later yielded my plan of attack.  I could fit a modern modular sequencer into this old brain and make an instrument of the future past! There's some technical hurdles to surmount in adding a sequencer to the SDS-V brain.

1, The MFB SEQ-01 is designed to work in a modular synth case.  the SDS-V case is of equivalent hight but the mounting holes are not lined up. So, more accurately, the MFB fits vertically and horizontally but the mounting holes don't line up.  To avoid damaging the original mounting setup i opted to temporarily put  washers over the adjacent screws to hold the sequencer in.

2, The MFB SEQ-01 needs to be routed to the trigger or sequencer inputs on the SDS-V cards. I had a few options here.  One was to connect the sequencer outs to the Simmons' native sequencer inputs.  The other was to hook it up to the trigger or pad inputs.  I opted to use the trigger inputs ( counter intuitive, i know! ) because this gave me a gain adjustment on the face plate of the brain for each trigger from the sequencer to the drum module.  The SDS-V drum modules are very dynamic and it's useful to be able to hit them with sequencer trigger more or less to taste.

3, Lastly, The MFB SEQ-01 needs to be powered and it runs at a different voltage than the SDS-V. I had MFB modify the Seq-01 to run on 15 volts in the SDS.  Then i connected the power from the +/-15 volt rail in the Brain to the power input on the MFB edge connector.  Pretty straight forward!



Photos by J-poo.


Future plans for the SDS-V:

1, So, there's one quirk in the Simmons SDS-V design i'd like to point out.  The audio outs are wired pin 3 hot.  This is the XLR wiring convention used by many old British companies and it's the opposite of the US convention of pin 2 hot.  Reversing this would be great to more easily interface with other equipment.

2, I'd eventually like to disconnect the back panel sequencer jacks from the SDS-V modules and instead wire them to the MFB SEQ-01 outputs.  This way the sequencer outs  could be used to drive more than just the Simmons modules.  there's actually 12 sequencer slots and the Simmons SDSV can only hold 5 cards with the sequencer installed. Maybe someday!



Simmons SDSV with MFB SEQ-01

Simmons SDS-V - Wikipedia

Simmons Synth

::: IF :::

::: There's more to the studio than instruments :::

Every end of year we try to allot a few days to do tech work at the studio.  This includes basic cleaning but also wiring changes, gear upgrades, and basic maintenance on gear that gets used all year long.  This year there was only one piece of gear that needed immediate attention.  It was a pair of Pultec equalizers made by Amtec.  Pultec is a shortened version of Pulse Techniques, the company that made all those classy old eq's with the big bakelite knobs. More than that though, Pultec came to represent a style of equalizer design that is classic and still in demand today.  The basic idea is that each channel of eq would have a few basic filters placed at musical points in the audio spectrum.  For instance the pair we use has a low shelf that can be set at 100, 60, 30, 20hz coupled with a high pass filter, a mid frequency bell that has a range of frequencies between 1000 and 20000hz, and a low pass filter with settings at 5, 10, 20, and 40khz.  This allows us to add thickness to a mix or instrument focussed around the bass guitar, kick drum, or even lower while adding a focussed point or wide push in the mids or highs while potentially mellowing the super high frequencies.

It seems limited in features when compared to a fully parametric or digital equalizer, but where this design shines is in the sound it achieves.

Pultec eqs, were originally designed and used to add life and musicality to a recording that needed help. They offer exceptionally natural equalization for highest and lowest frequencies and a unique sound.  They achieve this by the use of multiple audio transformers in the signal path and passive methods of filtering or eqing.  Passive equalization is achieved by using inductors ( coils ), resistors, and capacitors to affect the sound to avoid active amplifiers that tend to add more distortion to the signal.  Furthermore the output amplifier is based on two classic amplifier tubes which adds back gain that is lost in the passive equalizer stage and also adds level of harmonic richness to the output.

All this gives a very smooth, almost velvety sound. This is the perfect device for processing individual instruments and the whole mix  or even master!

In the gallery you can see the old schematic for a Pultec style eq.  Clearly noted in the upper left is the passive equalizer section.  This is shown as a block because at the time they were using proprietary designs so they 'potted' them.  This means that they seal an important part of a circuit in a casing so no one can see what is inside.  Below the eq section on the left is the power supply.  This is to power the make up gain section of the eq that is on the upper right with the tube amplifiers.  Lastly there is an output transformer ( also see one at the input ).  Part of the great sound of these boxes is the sheer amount of iron used in each channel, that in combination with the passive eq design and simple tube amplifier add up to a big deep sound that is full of life.

On to the work,  I noticed the mid frequency bell bandwidth potentiometer on one of our Amtec's was crunchy feeling.  The knobs are big but the pots are somewhat delicate.  Luckily the company is very nice and sent me a new matched pair of these at no charge!



::: Korg MS-10 Power Upgrade :::

Hello! It's tech time again, Today I'm performing an IEC power receptacle upgrade on a Korg  MS-10.  It's a similar but easier process than the one I did for the Moog Rogue previously.  The MS series is often equated with the MS-10's big brother the MS-20.  But the 10 has it's perks as well.  First off, it shares a similar semi modular design which became popular in the mid 1970's.  This allowed basic sounds to happen easily without patching but also allowed more complex routing to be patched as well.  This one has been moded slightly as you can see by the green wires that go from the mod wheel to the patch bay.  It came like this and I never felt the need to change it.  The wires connect the mod button to the patch bay in more places than it would have stock.  Secondly, the Korg MS-10 sounds HUGE.  The low frequency extension on this single oscillator synth is Awesome.  I think it's far 'warmer' and 'deeper' than the Korg MS-20.  I always assumed this was due to the fact that it only has a LPF and not a HPF/LPF.

There's actually a pretty extensive article about the old Korg filters here.  It even covers the newer Korg Monotron filters as well.  The MS series started in the 70's with a proprietary chip usually referred to as the Korg35.  Later they went with a more off the shelf design that people think sounds different but not worse or better.

On to the details:

1, We aren't adding a transformer as the step down is already inside the unit.  So the IEC will better protect you and the instrument by adding a better ground and a more physically robust power input as the hard wired power cables on instruments like this inevitably get dodgy at one end or the other.

2, We will be making a hole in the shell of the Korg.  This is always scary but it gets easier with time, and having The Nibbler helps too!

3, This Korg also has a dodgy low F# key that i want to replace.  I bought one from Synthparts. Thanks Doug!

As always: Be Careful!  120 volts is enough to hurt you!

On to the pics:


I am glad that worked out!  I will be doing this with a few more instruments in the coming months...



::: IF :::

::: Roland Juno 60 Re-MIDI-visited :::

It's time, and i'm in the mood for the sweet smell of solder! The Juno 60 we have has had a basic MIDI retrofit for a long time.  It was made by a company called engineersatwork.  They make a lot of cool interfacing gadgets etc and their Juno 60 MIDI kit was cheap and easy to install, so back in the day that's what we did.  The kit replaced the DCB port on the back panel and required NO soldering.  It literally just replaced the port and did all the MIDI interface work.  It is very basic and only supports MIDI notes in and out on the MIDI channel of your choosing. The notes generated by the internal arpeggiator are as sent well.  This is an AWESOME feature. But it's been a long time and i noticed many more MIDI retrofit options popping up for various old instruments.  A while back i found this site where they are selling an 'almost' non destructive MIDI upgrade for Roland Juno 60's and Jupiter 4's. It's called MIDIpolis.

Why do this you ask>?  Well, the MIDIpolis upgrade allows the Roland Juno 60 to send and receive almost EVERY SINGLE PANEL CONTROL  via MIDI.  This is wicked!  Like a Juno 106 but sounds better and has an arpeggiator!  And yes that syncs to incoming MIDI too!  Specs are on the page, MIDIpolis.  The only thing it doesn't do is transmit the pitch bender.  But it does receive  pitch bend via MIDI!  BTW, What is with old Rolands of this era that makes it so hard to get them to transmit pitch bend info from the bender board?

And on to the guts;

So, there is soldering with this kit but it's designed in an ingenious way.  The new chip socket is soldered in piggy back fashion to the underside of the Panel Board B processing chip.  Roland Juno 60 Service manual here.  In this way it is allowed to mirror all the information coming in and out of that chip to the MIDI bus BUT if you remove the daughter board and MIDIpolis chip the Juno 60 works just as it would have originally.  Since i never removed the DCB port from my Juno ( it's bagged and tucked into the wiring harness inside ) it could still be returned to DCB factory functionality (( if you would ever really want to :-D )).

I put a lot of pictures in the gallery of the socket that holds the new board.  It's got 'forks' on one side that literally fit over the solder side tabs for IC 14 on Panel Board B.  It took serious care to make sure this was all lined up and seated nicely over all 40 pins. That's correct, 40 pins worth of  tiny cramped soldering.  Whew, i got it done though,   I actually re-soldered about half of the original IC 14 pins to make sure they were narrow and straight enough to fit into the 'forks'.  Take a look!



PS:  Be careful!  If you finish and it looks like this, RUN!!


::: WIKKID! :::

::: IF :::

::: To Oberheim DSX or not to Roland MSQ :::

Today i will compare two old but very useful hardware sequencers.  The Oberheim DSX and the Roland MSQ - 700.  I've posted a lot of ASCII about the DSX before so this post will focus mainly the Roland MSQ - 700. Previous Reading on the Oberheim DSX:

In or around 1983 while Oberheim was refining and updating the DSX Roland released the MSQ-700  It was the world's first MIDI-compatible sequencer!

This is not to say it's better.  The DSX kicked the MSQ - 700's bottom in the features department.  But the MSQ - 700 offered some great features in it's own right.  Here's a run down:

1, 8 tracks of full MIDI Data or DCB recording and playback. ( only one or the other sadly not both simultaneously! )

In MIDI mode Each track could have a full 16 channels of data and all associated controllers.  Very inclusive and very cool.  You could have a full multipart song sequence on each track for live performance purposes. You could also mix or merge from one track to another and quantize tracks after they are recorded non destructively via quantizing while bouncing them to an open track.

2, The MSQ - 700 can sync internally or externally via MIDI, DIN Sync, or from time code on a tape.

3, It's built like a tank, solid steel all but for the side panels which are plastic but painted silver!

Roland fails is in a few serious ways, and these are where i prefer the DSX in all it's non MIDI glory.  There is no facility on the MSQ for real time sequence manipulation so you can't play and mute tracks while a sequence is playing.  Nor can you transpose or edit on the fly like the DSX can.  This is a total bummer for those who like to let the basic structure loop and drop things in and out and transpose the whole thing for fun on the fly.  The MSQ- 700 also lacks CV Gate compatibility in lieu of Roland's proprietary DCB.  The problem with DCB, besides it only being implemented on a few Roland instruments like the Jupiter 8 and Juno 60, is that it is so limited in comparison to MIDI that it's not worth the effort to use it since Jupiter 8's and Juno's can be easily Midified to a level where you can transmit via MIDI all the front panel controls for each like the Juno 106 ( which doesn't sound nearly as good ).





Roland MSQ700   ( This is a great article about the MSQ - 700 )

MSQ - 700 FAQ 1

MSQ - 700 FAQ 2

::: IF :::

::: Computer World ::: Computer Love :::

I (james) being one of 3 members to post on this blog have a problem. The problem consists of listening to suggested music and treating it with the same respect as the music I already love. Respect is probably not the best word choice, but the point remains the same. I love what I love and anything that comes into my field of hearing usually ends up being scrutinized too heavily and never given the chance it deserves.

Kraftwerk managed to bob and weave their way past the Wilco, Stereo Lab, Talking Heads, fortress and plant themselves into an unexpected place apparently reserved for them already. Computer World is the first record I had a chance to sit down with. I love it. It has all the things that make me feel as though I should be on a highway driving towards some unknown destination. Ambient electronic pop, whatever description you apply it's great. There are people who can describe them much better than I (Nick Z, XBS Blog master) but that wasn't really the purpose of this post (sorry, feeling lazy). More than anything it's a suggestion to go out and give them a listen. They are assuredly not for everyone, but if you've never listened than it's well worth it. "Computer Love" is one of my favorite tracks. If it sounds oddly familiar there's a reason. Listen and find out.