Studio Technology

::: The Oberheim that never was :::

I swear i saw one in a dream.  The Elusive OB-Xpander.  Not the Oberheim Xpander.  A ghost of the Polyphonic Past... :::

OB Xpander Vintage Synth book

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I got this pic from the Vintage Synthesizer book.

::: IF :::

::: Sequential Circuits Pro One MIDI Upgrade :::

So here we go, it's part 2 of the Sequential Circuits Pro One CPU/MIDI upgrade!  I had ordered some parts and was waiting for them to arrive when I left off in the previous tech post here.  I got the cables I ordered and they worked out just as I had hoped.  I broke this tech project into 2 parts because I had some intense and somewhat stress inducing decisions to make about the second half of this affair.  The CPU upgrade was pop and drop and non destructive but the MIDI part of the project required drilling! I believe the saying goes something like "measure twice, cut once".  I tend to  measure by eye 3 times and then cut later after measuring one last time.  It seems to work for me this way.  Here's a breakdown of what it entailed:

1, Holes were drilled in the bottom plate of the synth to add the MIDI daughter board.

2, Holes were drilled in the back ( this is the scary part! ) of the synth to add MIDI in out and through jacks.

3, I made a wiring harness out of RC servo cables to attach the MIDI board to the new CPU and to the MIDI in out and through jacks.

4, The wiring harness was done so that there's connectors between all the boards which makes future work easier to accomplish.

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I was most concerned with making the MIDI jacks I was adding look good on the back of the synth.  I also wanted to mount them on the 45 degree angle so that they would underline the Pro One logo.  I used a small drill bit to make pilot holes for the 3 jack locations and a larger stepped drill bit to enlarge them to the final size.  The MIDI board was placed on the opposite side of the instrument to keep it away from the audio path and closer to the power section.  I flipped the orientation of the RC cable harness wires so they wont get confused if the synth is disassembled in the future.

PS: In case you are wondering why I only attached 3 of the 5 connections for the MIDI jacks, The only connections actually used on a MIDI cable are 2/4/5. 1/3 don't do anything!  I believe that under the original MIDI specifications there was 5 cables allotted for future implementations.  There was probably supposed to be a MIDI II convention that never got written or adopted.  Those last 2 wires could have allowed faster parallel data transfer or maybe a separate sysex / note transmission bus implementation.  Many manufacturers like Motu made MIDI interfaces for computers that would stream MIDI much faster between the software and the interface than the interface would stream to the MIDI devices.  This allowed individual MIDI in/outs to actually be more in time with each other as the MIDI interface multiplexed the data stream from the computer to the individual hardware outs.

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Resources:

MTG

Winecountry

Vintagesynth

::: IF :::

::: Larry Fast Synergy Reprise :::

Another dollar store find from my friend Alvan of this Linndrum fame.  I wrote up some background on Larry Fast previously here but today I am listening to another LP by Synergy called Sequencer.  Here's a youtube video for one of the pieces on this rather enjoyable electro symphonic treat!  There's some good synth spotting in the gallery, there's an Emulator II, Prophet 5, Memorymoog, Moog modular, Roland MSQ 700 Sequencer.  I'm not sure what Moog that is under the mixer at knee level... :::

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There's a great wealth of info regarding Synergy and Larry Fast Here

::: IF :::

::: Sequential Circuits Pro One CPU Upgrade :::

This is part one of a two part series on the Sequential Circuits Pro One.  The Pro One is a classy sounding and nicely laid out mono synth from the same lineage as the SCI Prophet 5.  It was released during the era of Big Expensive poly synths and their more compact Mono brethren of the late 70's and early 80's.  Its sound is versatile and can cover any ground between Lead and Bass and all the way to great drums and percussion. :::

There's a limited CPU on board that can record basic, i mean BASIC, sequences and a decent Up/Up Down arpeggiator that is fun to use.  I happened upon a site for MTG, Music Technologies Group, that offered a replacement CPU that adds MIDI note in out plus other controller input to this classic synth.  This is the first part of the process.  I plan to complete the MIDI in outs and other CPU routings later but i found that i wanted to get some extra parts first.  The MTG kit includes the CPU, MIDI in out jacks, a MIDI daughter board, and some connecting wires.  I felt that i wanted to have connectors to and from the jacks and MIDI board so that the Pro One would remain easy to service and modular in layout.  I decided to get some RC servo extensions as they are 12" long and have 3 conductors in a nice small package with male and female receptacles.  I will complete this project as soon as I have all the parts from Amazon!

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While i had the machine apart i found that there was a broken pot that had been carefully repaired.  I re-repaired the shaft of this pot and cleaned the others to help improve the function and performance of the face plate controls.  It looked like someone had used superglue the first time.  I used epoxy this time so it will last longer!  I also noted that this unit has the power transformer mounted to the chassis and not the board.  In early versions the board mounted transformer tended to snap off and destroy the inside of the synth!

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Many people lament the construction of the Pro One and accuse it of being flimsy and shoddily made.  I think it could be better as well, but i have seen worse too!  The pots are all plastic shaft and are prone to breaking off if you abuse the instrument.  Especially because they are not secured to the faceplate.  I think that the faceplate is a cool design, but it is plastic and tends to flex more than it should considering it is the support for the board that is underneath it.  I have considered attaching a bar of some kind under the front lip of the top plate to strengthen it for the future but i don;t have a clear idea as of yet on how to make that happen.  Maybe for a future post!

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The CPU just pops in and it's ready to go.   Here's a list of features from the site: Features:

  • Plug-n-Play! No soldering required!
  • Supports the original functionality including the sequencer and arpeggiator.
  • Each sequence can be up to 256 steps (compared to total of 40 steps on the original).
  • Sequences are retained in memory even after power-down. The CPU module does not use a battery.
  • Power-on settable parameters for clock start mode, arpeggio up/down end notes, arpeggio down mode and arpeggio gate time.
  • Sequence Tie mode allows for a variety of note lengths.
  • Sequence End mode lets you chain the two sequences.
  • Optional: If you want to make your own MIDI interface, instructions are in the manual. If you want MIDI hardware included, see CPU+MIDI.

::: IF :::

::: Oberheim DMX auxiliary parts :::

Many days I find that it's the little things.  I've been meaning to do this for a while and as i was at the hardware store today i happened to remember this plan so i finally got it enacted. The Oberheim DMX and DX have hinged lids for adjusting certain sound parameters,  In the case of the DX you can lift the lid to change eproms to achieve different drum kits and percussion.  In the case of the DMX you can change the pitch of each voice under the hood and also interchange voice cards as seen here to achieve different sounds with different sized eprom samples.  Every time i am under the hood on either of these i find myself wishing that the thumb screws used to secure the lids had gaskets to keep them from damaging the paint on the lid.

So i got some rubber washers at the hardware store to put in between the screws and lids to protect them better.

It's the simple fixes!

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::: 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:

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"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:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fairlight_CMI

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"

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:::IF:::

::: 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.

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On to the work!

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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 :::

::: So this happened : The Fabled Simmons SDS 6 In the Wild :::

Today in the shop i have a Simmons SDS 6.  This one is serial number 105.  Seeing as there was only 109 of these ever made i'd say this is practically a Chupacabra! It was shipped to the US from Europe so the power supply had to be changed to see 110 volts.  The transformer has two primary coils that were hooked up in series for European voltage but once they are changed to a parallel configuration it should be fine!

The manual also says to use a 1A fuse in the US.

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There's not much info on these in the world ( google ).  I have the manual and schematic here with this one which is helpful.  The circuit boards are riddled with modifications that were probably done on the production line.  This one doesn't have MIDI but supposedly a few had been updated to support it.  There's a few videos on youtube that show off how utterly awesome this is to program and watch:

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I doubt i'll ever see another!

Here's an add for the Simmons SDS 6 ( thanks Simmons Museum! )

Other Resources:

Simmons.net

Simmons WIKI

::: IF :::

::: Sequential Circuits Max Firmware Upgrade :::

It's a tech kind of weekend! A while back I met a guy named Bob Grieb on the sequential circuits yahoo group who was working on a firmware and memory upgrade for the Sequential Circuits Max.  I am a huge fan of the SCI Multitrak as posted here and the Max is basically the same synth in a smaller package with less programming capability ( no editing grid on the faceplate ), performance features ( arpeggiator and wheels ), and an even less colorful color scheme! ( I'll have one totally 80's football font on grey sparkle please!!! )

As soon as Bob had kits available i had him ship me a set so i could do some tech work on the weekend.  It consisted of a PCB, a new larger ram chip, an eprom with updated OS features, some chip sockets, and a few diodes, resistors, caps, and wires to assemble.  He posted instructions on his site to assist in the process as well.  Its not too complicated but there's several steps that are pretty hard if you are not comfy soldering multi pin chips.

1, First i needed to remove the 2 old non writable ram chips from the mother board.  Thats right, the original OS didn't allow you to rewrite the basic patches, although they could be edited via midi and were remembered while the unit had power.  The same went for the sequence memory: lost at power down.  This was the hardest part of the process.  The memory chips are right next to the CPU and had a very tight space between them for desoldering.  I chose to use a liberal amount of solder wick to pull the solder from the joints.  it took a while but finally the two chips literally fell out without damaging the board!

2, I then assembled the new PCB.  Theres a socket for the new ram and the new OS eprom as well as a set of pins on the bottom that sit in the old eprom socket.  I then added the other components to the board and checked to see if it fit into the socket on the mother board without touching anything.  It looked good and i actually attached a small bit of foam to the bottom of the PCB to relieve the weight of the whole assembly resting on the eprom socket.

3, after attaching the 5 wires for os, ram addressing, and power to the new PCB i was ready to start the Max up!  That wasn't too bad once i got past the chip removal!

At startup the max loads it's basic patches and default sequences from the new ram location on the new chip. Then it goes through the voice tuning routine as it always would.  Pretty smooth actually!

I also did a few other maintenance things while i was inside the max:

1, I gave it a thorough cleaning.  30 years can leave a lot of dust!  I also noticed that the metal supports for the mother board were totally untreated metal and they were corroding.  They were covered in a fine dust of rust and it was gross.  So i scrubbed them in the sink and let the whole bottom plate dry in the sun for a while.  I then used a can of Rust-Oleum clear enamel to coat them.  This will hopefully help keep them from corroding more in the future.

2  I also removed and cleaned the small red window that covers the led display.  I re-taped it on all four sides so it will keep dust out more effectively and look better.

So, the Tauntek SCI Max firmware upgrade adds many features.  Here's a list of them:

1) 100 downloadable programs (Max had 20 that could be downloaded)

2) Storage for ~3200 notes in two songs (Max could store about 500)

3) Unison mode (Max did not support Unison mode)

4) Battery-backed storage of downloadable programs and songs

5) MIDI chan and a few other parameters are also non-volatile

6) Three sets of programs in EPROM, loadable on request:

a) Max orig 80 programs plus Six Trak Unison programs

b) Six Trak orig 100 programs

c) Multitrak orig 100 programs, without chorus and velocity sens parameters

7) Current voice parameters, including any CC changes, can be stored in program #99

8) Program #99 can be copied to any other program.

9) MIDI receive buffer increased from 64 bytes to 128 bytes

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Pretty RAD!

:::IF:::

::: Hit Designs Dynamic Equalizer :::

Today i have a tech post.  A special one at that! I found this piece of gear in a surplus sale a few years back and i have never seen another.  Its a really special device as few of these types of designs exist in the analog world.

The Hit Designs Dynamic Equalizer is a multi band dynamic equalizer and Limiter.  Each of the 10 bands has a VCA expander and limiter for the left and right channel.  The gain and limit threshold for each band is controlled on the front panel controls to the right.  On the left you can control the input / output gain and look at a real time analysis of the audio spectrum.  Pretty amazing really.

After using this unit for a while I felt like a recap could really help bring the noise floor down a bit and match the response of the left right channels better.  Since i was unable to find the original manufacturer or a schematic i took many pictures so i could double check my capacitor orientation and values.  One stop at Mouser got me the many caps i would need.

And it was a lot!

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::: IF :::

::: Roland Jupiter 6 Europa Replacement Power Switch :::

The title says it all!  So i went to turn the JP6E on the other day and i got nothing.  After freaking out and thinking i must be doing something extremely stupid for a few minutes, i decided to get out the volt meter.  To my surprize, the power switch on the JP6E was not working.  How often does that happen>?  Well, At least they are findable on the web thanks to Doug @ Synthparts! And this synth is so well designed you don't even need to heat up the soldering gun to do this work!

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Sometimes i need an easy fix so i can get back to the MUSIC!

::: IF :::

::: Roland Filter Comparisons :::

So, there's a lot of confusion around what classic Rolands sound like other Rolands.  And on keeping with my previous post on The History of Roland I figured i would put a concise thread together. First there is a master chart:

ROLAND FILTERS

There's also a short cheat sheet jpeg for the big boys of Roland fame borrowed from here::

roland-chips

So, in my experience the Jupiter 6 and MKS 80 are very similar in sound ( i've used an MKS80 rev 4 ).  not particularly 'deep' but capable and very useful.

But the Jupiter 8 sounds DEEP.  Like DISCRETE transistor DEEP.  It's beautiful sounding no matter how ugly a sound you make.

This is something the Juno 60 can do too in it's own way. Tight Big Clear Fast.  But it's oscillators aren't as big feeling and they are DCO so they don't drift in any real musical way.

The JX 8P / MKS 70 / JX 10 are in a separate category all together.  They are a bit grungier in sound and vibe and you sometimes have to work harder to get them to sing but it is in there.  It's just not obvious at first or easy to squeak out.

The Juno family is split into two groups.  The Juno 6 and 60 are almost identical.  The Juno 106 / Alpha / and MKS 50 are thinner and less deep than the jupiter 6 and 8.  The Juno 106 kicks ass above the others in this class though because it has all the tactile control and good MIDI implementation ( MKS70/MKS80 have decent implementation, the Jupiter 6 has barely any and the Jupiter 8 had none! )

So, you pick your battles with old hardware i guess.  I happen to love the JP6 Europa because it's more MIDI slick than a Juno 106 and sounds way better.  Plus you can do great interfacing with it!  For instance, you can trigger the arpeggiator from an external analog source and the Europa JP6 will transmit the arpeggios created via MIDI.  this is really fun for creating bass lines and other bouncy 80's bits on multiple instruments rhythmically generated from an 808 for instance...

food for thought...

::: 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...

 

::: David Frank interview from 1986 :::

I Stumbled upon this posted on gearsluts.  Its a great interview with David Frank from 1986! Synths of interest:

Yamaha TX-416

Yamaha DX-1

Moog Minimoog

Emu Emulator

Oberheim Matrix-12

Oscar

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01 david frank keymag1-2002 02 david frank keymag pg 46 03 david frank keymag- pg 47 04 david frank keymag- pg 50 05 david frank keymag- pg 140

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PS: I love the discography at the end.  Attitude  is in constant rotation as well as howard johnson

::: IF :::

::: Drum Machines and Swing The Linndrum way :::

I read this article and i had a few thoughts:

Roger Linn Drum machine and timing Interview

Speaking of the old school boxes specifically.  The linndrum is moderately reliable as to sync and very good with internal timing.  It has such a cool pocket to it that i love.  The main problem is that you simply can't record and overdub parts while it's synced to other devices and in context.  Oh sure you can try.  But as soon as you touch any of the drum pads while in record it slips out of sync and gets way out of time with the other instruments.  I often solo the Linndrum or stop everything else to change drum parts because it simply sucks to do this in context.  It's funny because we have an Oberheim DX and DMX here that are basically the same technology as the Linndrum.  They both are 8 bit sample playback systems on a Z80 type processor.  The Oberheim machines NEVER lose sync.  You can overdub, spot erase, and change swing and other parameters on the fly and they stay locked on target.  I asked Bruce Forat about this and he said they were always like that so it wasn't just my specific machine...

The Linndrum feels just slightly more organic though...

It's magic i guess!

I also liked a few other articles on the Attack Magazine site.  There's one 'top ten drum machines' one which is informative.

The Roland TR-808 has quite a tight clock and feel as well.  It is very solid but can feel 'swingy' in a great stand alone way.  I use the swing term loosely because there is no swing built into the TR 808. But the snare on mine is always a little LATE while the hats are tight. This makes this machine feel very bouncy.  There's no adjustment for that either.  It only has Roland TR 808 pocket.  I know the internet says it has no intentional swing.  But something makes that snare late, i mean swing...  Hmmmm...

Nice though.  but it can be hard to get pocketed with other machines.  Luckily it has several trigger outs so you can port it's swing to other sounds in other machines!  As to the Roland TR 808 This page looks great for mods and sync / memory upgrades

PS: I do like Roger Linn's statement about engineering.  The Linndrum was Designed to sound very tight but very specifically swingy when called for.  I suppose this is why they put less priority on staying in time while you input notes.  As long as it sounds great when you hit play again.  You win!

 

::: IF :::

::: 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"

:::

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!