Love

::: Finally, a book all about Drum Machines! :::

In keeping with the Movement CMS Drum Computer post i did, here's a full blown book about all the special drum machines that have been! Beat Box

Also posted here

food for addiction!

::: IF :::

::: Operational Transconductance Amplifier :::

The Elusive OTA ( Operational Transconductance Amplifier ).  The mythic discontinued current amplifier of the late 60's early 70's.   Used in several early synths and guitar pedals of the past and even modern modular filters and pedal kits today! Operational Transconductance Amplifier 1969

Picture by Jpoo

References:

Fascinating OTA story

Muffwiggler

OB filter clone OTA style

STE440 modular Filter

::: IF :::

::: 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 :::

::: Cocaine is a hell of a Giorgio Moroder Song :::

I don't often quote but here is a quote worth reprinting. It's from here:

 

MILES DAVIS

Used to call Nile Rodgers on the phone every night, saying “Write me a ‘Good Times.’” Nile’s point being we all want mass success.

Nile used to be a jazzer, but then his mentor said “You’re too good for pop?” If millions love it, it can’t be bad. And Nile went home and wrote “Everybody Dance,” mashing up jazz and dance.

DRUGS

Nile gave them up because he heard a recording of a live show where he thought he was killing it, and found out he sucked. He loves drugs, but he loves music more.

DAVID SMITH

You probably don’t know him, I certainly didn’t. But I know his products and so do you, the Juno! He’s one of the original synthesizer innovators. When asked for advice, Smith said you have to have fun doing it. Too many people focus on the end goal, mass acceptance, fame and riches. But if the journey there is gonna bore you, do something different.

TIESTO

Said they were trying to turn Ibiza into St. Tropez, that there’s been no innovation and the prices are too high, that’s why he skipped the season and went to Vegas instead, where everybody can get in and have a good time.

CURIOSITY

It’s the key to Giorgio Moroder’s success. He’s always wanted to try new things.

BLACK PANTHERS

Nile was one. He’s friends with Bobby Seale to this day. He said the black panther was actually the Esso tiger! Just painted black! His section leader’s dad had created the mascot for the oil company and the Panthers repurposed it!

BURNING MAN

That’s where Mikhail takes all his potential investors. To bond as people before he pitches them. Because humanity comes first.

SALESMANSHIP

It’s the hustler’s currency. It’s the essence of the entrepreneur. You’ve got to learn how to tell a good story. I was sold by some of the best today.

ELECTRONIC MUSIC

Is about the beat, not the words, and therefore it’s international.  Shailendra said it was booming in India, where you reach your audience via social media on mobiles.

BICYCLES

Have their own special lane in Amsterdam. Keep your eyes and ears open, otherwise you’ll get mowed down, cyclists brake for no one, and wear no helmets.

BAKED GOODS

Are better here than at home. Or maybe it’s just the weather, everything tastes better on a gray autumn day.

TALL PEOPLE

They say it’s the milk and cheese. It builds better bodies.

ROXY MUSIC

Was the inspiration for both Nile Rodgers and Stephen Mallinder of Cabaret Voltaire. Nile was playing in a soul band but after seeing Roxy Music in London, he went home and started Chic. You think you want to imitate, but really you want to innovate.

PRODUCING

Musicians are generous, when it comes to skills. See something you admire and its propagator will tell you how he did it. Nile learned to be a producer by picking up tips in the studio. Luther Vandross taught him how to record vocals, Quincy Jones instructed him. To the point where when he was in the studio and somebody was doing something wrong, he’d speak up and say “No, this is how you do it…” Do that enough, and they put you in charge.

HITS

Are outnumbered by Nile’s failures. People only remember the hits. And if you’ve got the chops, you know the failures are only momentary blips.

HEARING

Is not easy for Giorgio Moroder. Too much loud music or old age, I don’t know. Protect your ears.

TWEETING

Tiesto does most of his own, because the public can tell the difference.

MOANING

Donna Summer said she couldn’t, didn’t wanna try. But Moroder sent her husband out of the studio, turned down the lights, and she got into it for ten minutes, which Giorgio cut up and inserted into “Love To Love You Baby.”

THE OHIO EXPRESS

Inspired Giorgio Moroder, he sang a few bars of “Yummy, Yummy, Yummy.”

COCAINE

Made Giorgio’s studio musicians blow out the monitors on a regular basis, not when they were recording, but when they were playing back after hours, when they were high and Giorgio was home eating and sleeping.

COCAINE 2

Refused to allow Nile Rodgers’s heart to keep beating. They had to restart it eight times in the hospital before it would keep going. Nile swore off the marching powder…for two weeks.

 

::: 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:::

::: 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 :::

::: 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 :::

::: Synth kids in the 80's :::

There's a blog i love called internetkhole. They mostly post family photos from the 80's a la FFFound but with the added twist of generally focussing on music, partying, and all things earnest about cloths, cars, style in the 80's.

Imma post a few of my faves here because i just dug through a few pages and there was some good old synth band shots :

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Happy Summer!

I.F.

::: 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...

:::

:::

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 :::

::: Welcome to the Summer-Dome :::

XBS has been busy... jammin... fixin... jammin' n fixin'... Still totally obsessed with some of the Midnight Starr, Deele, etc etc...

::: Thanks Don :::

So, this is what came out this week when we fired up the synth army.  The original idea was to get some David Frank style bleep bloops a la Beat Street going:

http://youtu.be/9pMzUcB-QoU

...But it ended up being slower and more groovy which is still fun by me.  It's more summery and less on the John Carpenter tip we've been on too.  Usual suspects include Oberheim DSX Sequencer, Arp 2600, SCI Pro One, Mirage sampler ( OB-DPX-1), Linndrum LM2, Oberheim DX Stretch, Simmons SDSV, Roland JP-8...

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[soundcloud url="http://api.soundcloud.com/tracks/51223006" iframe="true" /]

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One of these days i'm going to just get a talk box and become Roger Troutman and drop some really beautifully vapid loves jams all over the ground. Zapp is great in the summer time.  I love running to some Roger jams.

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PS, D.F. has content on his site now:

David Frank | music production

COOL!

::: 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 :::