Tech

::: Berlant / Concertone Series 30 Preamps :::

Another day another project!  today my friend Jon from New Alliance Audio and i are cleaning up a pair of 50's era Berlant / Concertone Series 30 Preamps.  I have had these for 10 years or so and they worked when i got them!  I was impressed.  So i didn't even give them a serious clean.  But since jon was looking into replacing some now tired tubes, we decided to do a first level scrub down of the innards. Berlant / Concertone History

These were made between 1955 - 1958 and would have come with a reel to reel tape recorder.  You often see them used as stand alone Mic Preamps in modern studios as they are built like tanks and have a lot of vintage vibe to offer.

There's a few things to keep in mind if you are thinking about getting a pair of these to use.  They are designed to be used in a 50's era home hifi setup and often don't have the input and output transformers needed to work as stand alone mic preamps.  This is surmountable in two ways.  First, you can track down the original transformers with 11 pin octal sockets.  Second, you can remove the sockets and mount any transformer you want inside!

We took a hybrid approach with this pair when i got them.  I tracked down an old broadcast veteran on the Ampex list who had a pair of 11 pin Langevin Mic Transformers for this unit.  They are big and hefty as you can see in the photos and offer a wide range of mic impedance choices.  For the output we decided to modify the socket and mount a pair of UTC A27 transformers.  They do the impedance matching to interface with any modern line level equipment we will use the Berlants with.

On to the photos!  So these probably came from the estate of a serious smoker.  They were sticky with gunk inside.  We used rubbing alcohol and some gentle house hold cleaners to remove the gunk.  It was a delicate process because it's easy to remove silk screen paint and even chassis paints on gear this old.

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So, these may get another round of cleaning once we get the tube situation sorted.  But they look a lot better!  I have the manual somewhere and i need to find some replacement meter bulbs to get these puppies fully back to glory.

PS: The last picture is of some custom attenuators we made for these preamps.  The Berlants have a lot of gain.  Too much in fact for most modern microphones.  So we devised these in line style XLR pads to bring the source level down 20dB before the preamp sees it.  They live plugged into the mic XLR inputs.

PPS: One really cool feature of these units is that they have an input and output level control.  This is great because it allows you to control how hard you hit the input tubes and output transformer individually.

PPPS:  I have the schematics and product catalog for these somewhere, I'll be sure to scan them when i locate them.  Home stereos were so much cooler back in the 50's and 60's...

::: I.F. :::

::: 808, 303, 909 on the BBC :::

The BBC just did a great program on the use of Roland 808, 303, and 909 machines in he history of rap and electronic music. :::

Excerpt : "Listened to much hip-hop or dance music? If so, then you would have undoubtedly heard the sounds of either the Roland 808, 303 or 909 - but what are they and what do these numbers mean? BBC Radio 1's Kutski discovers how three small electronic boxes from the 1980's sculpted the sound of both Hip-Hop and Dance music. He makes it his mission to track down the team that worked on the Roland 808, 303 and 909 machines to see if they had any idea their inventions would have such a massive influence on contemporary music. He plots their integral role in the development of hip-hop, house and techno; and the myriad of sub-genres that have spawned from these. Kutski chats to DJ Premier, Richie Hawtin, Seth Troxler, The 2Bears, Flostradamus and Pete Tong amongst others as he founds out why producers around the globe continue to be obsessed with these sounds, more than three decades after they were first created"

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Here's the page link, but the program is no longer available for streaming.

808s, 303s and 909s

BUT, Someone captured it and put it to the synth list so here it is:

BBC Radio 1's Stories 808s, 303s and 909s 11-03-13

ENJOY!

::: $1000 Caviar and Criminal Cigars :::

A friend of mine did a remix album of several Mat Maneri jazz records.  The music is simultaneously jazzy classy post Aphex Twin glitchy.  It makes for a stimulating listen. He uses a Kurzweil K2000, Access Virus and lot's of LoFi bit reduction software in the remix!

Side note: Those old Kurzweil samplers are something else, they have an internal synthesis engine called V.A.S.T. synthesis.  Great modulation sources and great overall sound.  The internal processing sounds very hifi and the sampler version came with 2 analog inputs, 4 analog outs,  and 2 digital ins /outs.

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::: 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)

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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.

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And i never get bored of this song:

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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!

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Photos by J-poo.

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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!

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References:

Simmons SDSV with MFB SEQ-01

Simmons SDS-V - Wikipedia

Simmons Synth

::: IF :::

::: A LinnDrum of Distinction :::

The Linndrum we have has a long and illustrious lineage!  It was originally owned by a good friend of mine who is now a great painter ( Alvan Long )!  He is also a drummer and was in several boston bands long before my time!  Here's a Pure No Wave Gem from one of those bands called  The November Group: :::

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So, some of the people involved in that band started a studio called New Alliance Audio.  After several years the Linndrum was packed up in it's road case and put into storage.

And it sat there for almost 15 years.  Those years took a toll too.  The batteries leaked, the capacitors went bad, and the foam from the road case became a rubbery dust that permeated everything!

When we pulled it out of storage i decided to send it to Bruce at FORAT for a refurb. He's the Linndrum expert!  He fixed the batteries, power supply, sliders and pots, EVERYTHING!

I love this machine and use it all the time.  It's built like a tank, has the OG JL Cooper Midi interface installed ( so it can sync to anything ), and it sounds great!  The Linndrum also had a great 'pocket'.  The shuffle is sexy and if you tweak the hi hat decay while it's playing you can create a great human feel.  It's a great middle ground between the bright and open Roland 808 / 909 drum machines and the darker Oberheim DX / DMX 8 bit eprom machines.

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Linndrum VSE

Linndrum WIKI

::: IF :::

::: Korg VC-10: A diamond in the rough Part 1 :::

This week i am going to start an extensive series of mods on an old Korg VC 10 Vocoder.  The Korg VC 10 has a reputation for being flawed in some ways but i think it has a lot of potential despite this.  I always felt that it had an ill defined sound over all.  It lacks a clear robotic synth vibe and also employs it's noise generator in a not always useful way. The demo is pretty dorky and kitchy but someone posted the original korg demo for this box and i think it clearly demonstrates the design limitations i'm referring to.  It wants to sound cool but it comes across sounding mushy and muddled to me...

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So, i did some research and found a good amount of info as to possible modifications, this first post will pertain to two major sound quality related modifications:

1,   There's a quirk in the way the 20 sound generators are treated. Channels 17 to 20 have their carrier input connected NOT to the generator/noise/external mixer, but rather to noise only. The problem here is that this noise signal is attenuated by the generator/noise mixer, resulting in that there will be no carrier to channel 17 to 20 if you turn the generator/noise mixer knob to the generator only position! (which you may often do). Yes, the four highest channels will be quiet! Performing this mod will increase the speech recognition and add the missing edge to the sound.

2,  The bias signal for the sound generator does not affect channels 15 - 20.  By routing the bias signal to all the channels you get a brighter and more well defined vocoder output as all the channels will behave together.  This will also increase the effect of adjusting the bias.  This requires adding a few resistors that are not there for channels 15 and 16 and rerouting the 100k resistors for the remaining channels 17-20.

*** On to the dangerous part! ***

1,  The process:  Locate and release PCB KLM-134 (the filter board).  Locate the wire attached to header H3-1 (noise in).  Cut or unsolder the wire.  Now locate IC1 on the same board.  Find pin 1 and follow the trace to channel 16.  Connect from this point to the (now unconnected) corresponding point of channel 17.  The channel numbers and the traces pretty easy to locate on the PCB.  That one was easy!

2,  The process:  On KLM-134, find IC1 pin 7 (bias).  Follow this trace to R2414 (100k).  Now locate Q115 (channel 15 VCA).  Solder a 100k resistor between bias and the base of Q115 (R2315 is connected to the base).  Then locate Q116 and solder a 100k resistor between bias and the base of Q116 (R2316 is connected to the base).  Channel 17 to 20 already have the 100k resistors you need, but they are connected to ground.  Find R2417, R2418, R2419 and R2420.  Connect them to bias instead of ground.

Both of these mods sound complicated but are very easily seen in the schematic here:

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Korg-VC-10-Channel-inputs-s
Korg-VC-10-Channel-inputs-s

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gallery columns="4"
gallery columns="4"

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While i was inside the VC-10 i found a few other curious things that i will be discuss in a future post. I had to order more parts to do these bits!  It was filthy in there too, so i disassembled the bottom plate and did a thorough clean below the key bed.  It's sounding way better to me with the first round of mods.  I should have done a before / after recording to reference...

To Be Continued!!

PS: These are the main sites i used for reference, technical info, and modification ideas:

Korg VC-10 Flaws & Features

Korg VC-10 Modifications

Vocoder Historical Notes

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It's a Cat's Universe, and we are merely playthings...
It's a Cat's Universe, and we are merely playthings...

::: IF :::

::: 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:

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

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::: 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!

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

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::: 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 ).

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[slideshow]

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References:

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

MSQ - 700 FAQ 1

MSQ - 700 FAQ 2

::: IF :::

::: Moog Rogue Power Upgrade :::

It's a tech kinda week.  We have a few communal instruments that we have bought as a band over the years.  This is one that has been all over the place.  It's seen many US shows, East and West Coast, and even to the UK ( TWICE! ).  You should have seen the insanely ugly power adapter from European to US power duct taped to the awful moog wall wart.  We probably went through 3 of those crap power supplies over the years as they always get munched on stage.  I guess thats why everyone eventually does the internal power supply mod for the Moog Rogue. Here's the breakdown:

1, This mod adds a standard IEC jack so that you can just PLUG IT IN!

2, We are adding a 120VAC to 24VAC transformer ( BONUS: the DC rectifiers and other power supply elements are actually in the Rogue already )

3, We are adding a fuse to protect the peeps and the circuit as there will now be 120VAC in the box ( i settled on a 200ma slow blow or mdl fuse ).

4, The transformer is wired to the place on the board where the power input jack was so you can still turn it on and off.

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All Photos by J-Poo!

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Here's a little background and some other resources i referenced while doing this mod:

Basics:

Moog Rogue - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

This site posted a wealth of info in the mod:

Moog Rogue Power Supply

And once that is done this is an interesting resource for getting your Rogue up to speed again:

Moog Rogue Trim Pots

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::: IF :::

::: Fully Upgraded and Updated Roland Jupiter 6 Europa :::

This is an exciting post!  I have been working on this project for months in baby steps and it's finally ready!  So here's the deal, I bought out a guy's analog collection basically to get a Roland Jupiter 8.  Included in the deal were a Roland TR-909 which i already posted about here: (  ) and a Roland Jupiter 6 which is todays post! This is quite a specimen!  When i received the JP-6 it was mostly working and very updated.  It has the Europa mod which brings it's brains up to 21st century MIDI capabilities.  The previous owner made wood sides to replace the stock metal ones, which i'm glad he also held on to.  The body went to  customsynth.co.uk  and was totally repainted and re-screened.  There was one large knob missing.  I tracked one down and did a course of the Retr0Bright process to get them all back to the original grey as some had yellowed due to sun damage.  The 2 prong power receptacle was replaced with a 3 prong IEC style one.  All of the sliders and pots have been replaced.  All the voices tune and STAY TUNED ( I burned this JP-6 in for 5 days in the studio and it was still in perfect tune at the end ).

In fact, when i looked under the hood the only functionality issues were in the Bender Board where the LFO 2 was non functional.  There were just some bunk components that were in need of replacement.  It's sweet to look at and is probably the most pimped out JP-6 i've ever encountered.  On a side note, the previous owner painted the bender board caps blue which is cool but i tracked down some of the original white ones to see if they looked better.  I actually settled on a mix where the 'Wide' and 'LFO 2' buttons are blue and the 'VCO' buttons are white but still have the others just in case.

::: Have a look at the pics :::

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I promised myself i would sell this piece and i'm sticking to it!  I have an identical O.G. JP-6 ( this earlier version MIDI In and Out/Thru only ) that this originally was and i'm too emotionally attached to it to sell it. :-D...

It will be offered up soon on the AH list.

and or Ebay!

Analogue Heaven

eBay

THANKS!

::: IF  :::

::: Oberheim DSX ( Part Deux ) :::

So i finally organized the Oberheim DSX photos i've been intending to post for a while. It's a pretty slick design for a Z80 world.  And it's a nice size as well as it matches up perfectly with all the other Oberheim kits of the era. I've already discussed it's functional attributes here:

So, it's totally RAD! on a historical note, MIDI came out just after this unit ( 1981 ) and Tom Oberheim was one of the synth designers on the american side ( along with Dave Smith of SCI ) to convince other manufacturers to adopt MIDI...

Here are some pics:

I have the DSX clocked to a Garfield Electronics Dr. Click II ( Thats the red cable connected to the clock in within the gallery! ) which is a topic for another post!

As ALWAYS, Thanks Paul!

Electrongate Products

::: IF :::

::: Oberheim OB-8 Innards :::

I've been meaning to post these for a while!  The OB 8 is the main instrument i play when making music in the cave.  It is interfaced with the DSX and they together form the basis for all my sequences.  The OB is usually pretty happy but once in a while it goes haywire and loses it's mind for a minute.  I've found that if i change the keyboard mode from whole to split to double and then retune the voice boards it comes back on line pretty swiftly.  It's definitely an electrical connection or solder joint somewhere.  I did a bunch of touching up when we took these pics and it's been much happier since.  i never did locate one ' bad spot ' but i poked and prodded until i was pretty sure it is somewhere on the top voice board in the control section to the left.  Pics mostly by J-poo!

Other Info:

The OB-8 ( much like the previous Oberheims ) was a work in progress.  Many didn't have factory midi or were retrofitted ( often midi I/O was cut into the left wooden side panel.  Later versions had a different silk screen on the front that denoted two sets of control features referred to as 'page two'.  This one has factory midi but no page two screen.  The voice two boards were configured with 4 voices each and communicated to one central CPU.  The boards were designated in an upper and lower fashion much like Roland's polys of the era. Each board could have a unique patch for sophisticated layering and more dense tonalities!

The left side wood panel had 8 pots that were used to pan each voice left to right.  This seems strange at first but can be very useful.  It allows you to have two patches at one time mapped to different outputs or lets the two cards be moderately panned or hard panned for a wide thick stereo spread with one or two patches.

More on the web:

Oberheim OB-8

Electrongate Products

I'll do pics of the DSX in the next post...

::: IF :::

::: TR **DR** [[ 909 ]] :::

XBS has been making an effort to do more tech related stuff this month.  In for repair today is a Roland TR-909 in messed up shape.  Someone had tried to refurbish it and made most of it's age and design  related problems worse! 1, The main drum switches were replaced which is nice but they were installed sloppily and so out of true that the buttons don't fit in properly.  On further investigation the problem was often the fact that too much silicone was used to glue in the drum switch LED's so that the switch didn't fit flush to the switch board PCB.

2, The ribbon cables were re-soldered and rendered non functional because the ribbon cable ends were not trimmed evenly prior to soldering ( anyone familiar with multiconductor cable work knows that the trimmed end lengths of all parts must be exactly correct or else they break off immediately due to imbalanced strain distribution ).

3,  One of the new drum switches was actually bad so it was replaced with one of the original ones that was removed.

On another note, the previous owner did manage to get the Roland TR-909 OS v4.0 chip in and it works which is a huge relief as that would be hard for me to troubleshoot.  Also, the pots and small switches were done well when they were replaced and all seem to be working. =D

So, I have to say that this is one of the most annoying designs ever conceived by man from a standpoint of repair and maintenance.  The boards barely fit in on top of each other inside the case with some long shaft pots going through the switch board from the voice board.  Everything needs to be taken apart to get to the switch board and that's the one that gets the most abuse!  The switch board is also where the CPU and OS live, right next to the buttons all the 'house music' dudes are banging on.  The ribbon cables are soldered to the PCB on one end and have connectors on the other.  I wish they were connectors on both ends so you could replace a cable or work on a board without having an octopus of cables to be mindful of.  They also barely fit in the case around the boards that are barely in there to begin with.  The drum switch caps are so flimsy i don't know how they were ever on there solidly in the first place.  And the OS is pretty clunky and unintuitive to make music with.  Nothing like the OB or Linn ideas in language or execution.  It does sound Great though.  I just wonder how this was designed when all the Roland synths of that era that i've been inside are immaculately designed and completely modular for maintenance purposes!  Who knows!

::: IF :::

::: DSX :::

Well, XBS was thinking about it and realized that we have our first ever sequence made on the DSX.  This was done right after we did the Electron Gate upgrade.  This replaces the old volatile RAM system witha a Static MRAM system to negate the need for a battery... I later figured out how to calibrate the DAC system for the CV Gate outs on the back.  They have a polarity switch for +/- gates and a simple trim that adjusts the scale for all 8 CVs simultaneously.  pretty simple actually provided no components are bad.  There is supposedly an Oberheim calibration cassette that you can load into the DSX memory that has programs instead of sequences to test the functionality of the unit.  I haven't found a copy yet but it must exist somewhere!

[soundcloud url="http://api.soundcloud.com/tracks/31929260"]

The Poly parts are the Oberheim OB-8 ( of course ) and the JP 6 via midi...

The bass is ARP 2600 and the mono synth lines are on a SCI P-1 I believe ( it was a while ago ).

Its got a LinnDrum and the Simmons SDS-V chasing it!

I was surprised when i got the DSX going and it actually worked!  I figured i'd make a song right away before something went wrong!  The scaling on the CV outs was a little out of cal so i didn't do ant real leads or move too far out of 'in tune' range!

::: IF :::

::: It's Passion :::

XBS loves getting new Vinyl.  Especially if its really old and was never played!  We just scored an original Mirage Records copy of It's Passion by The System  for one dollar and it RULES!  This reminded me that there have been no XBS posts on The System yet.  It's a travesty!!  XBS will do more we promise!  XBS will post that performance from MIAMI VICE at some point as well...

XBS owes a lot of art time inspiration to this band.  More than making some fun jams back in the day, they also inspired our love of Oberheim and the pre midi sequencing capabilities of  'The System'.

So, The DSX is the sequencer and it can control a DX or DMX drum machine and one Oberheim poly at the same time.  It can do 10 tracks of polyphonic ( 16 voices ) to an OB X, Xa, SX, or 8  via 'computer interface' and 8 CV / Gates on the back panel for mono synths simultaneously ( US scaling and polarity ( invertible! )).  It could record up to 6000 notes, record patch and controller type changes on a dedicated data track, and do real time transposition and track track muting!

So much fun!

Our OB-8 has midi so the DSX can actually control anything in the studio!  We upgraded the brains with some help from, you guessed it, Paul at Electron Gate!

http://www.electrongate.com/dmxfiles/products.html

::: [[START]] NERDY DANCING ZONE :::

::: [[END]] NERDY DANCING ZONE :::

We've been saving that dry hump macintosh gif for ever, now it has a raison d'etre...

Here's an awesome jam from the first System record. Note they have a PPG in the video for no reason i can guess other than they are dancing in space!!!:

http://youtu.be/FqeQ_PfKMAo

David Frank  is a Special and Visionary dude.  Thanks dude!

::: IF :::

::: Operation P-5 Style :::

XBS lovz this jam!  It's so good at being a crossover between the robot funk and well, ROBOT FUNK!!! I kid though, the 4 Sequential Circuits Pro 5 synths lined up in a row just BLOWS THE MINDPIECE!!!

http://youtu.be/Lz7nSkFhBP0

Love it and then LOVE IT AGAIN as an ANIGIF!!!

Also a screen grab of the P-5 party in mid jam:

NEW YEARS PARTY JAMMIN'

I.F.