TH48

From Francois.Buat
Sent Thu, Mar 30th 1995, 10:21

Good morning everybody,  good morning Tom -

Some persons have answered me if my friend is Chris Youdel.  No,  it's
wrong !  I only know Rubens Fernandez who is only the RSF Kobols
creator. I send to all of you the document of this device.  I am sure
you will find faults in this document.  I have used an OCR Software,
so I am Sorry,  and if someone is agree to invite me to have a 1 month
stay in US, GB or Australia to practice English Analogue & Music, I
will provide less mistakes in this way.  I have to take holidays!




--text follows this line--

We have had the analogue
synth revival; now it's the
turn of the analogue

sequencer! GORDON REID
checks out Analogue
Systems' brand-new
16-step analogue
sequencer and explains
just why you might want
such an apparantly
obsolete device.


Analogue sequencers, it seems, are a bit
like policemen and Number 25 buses
you can never find one when you want
one, and then a whole bunch of them
come aiong together So, is 1995 going to be the year
of the vintage seguencer~ Doepfer Musikelektronik
stanten the ball rolling in 1993 with the MAQl6/3
(although that is, strictly speaking, a MIDI sequencer,
and on~y analogue in style) and Analogue Systems,
braincnild of vintage synth expert Bob Williams, are
now following in their footsteps. With more British 16-
step sequencers already in development, maybe it's
time to look again at why these obscure pieces of
equipment, built from relatively primitive electronics
to obsolete principles. can still attract such devotion
- ard such significant wads of money After all,
look what you can get for 700  a round-trip ticket
to Colombia, an Atari, colour monitor, hard drive
and squillion event 100-channeI MIDI sequencer
or, a 3-channel 16-event analogue sequencer in a
2U box But which is the right one for you?

         




QUALITY STREET

In a svorld where British synthesizer products nave
traditionally exuded the unmistakable air of "cottage
industry" manufacturing, the first impression you
get when taking the TH48 from its box is one of
uncompromising quality. No doubt far more
expensive to manufacture than necessary, it looks
good, it feels qood, and  well. we'll see.  The custom-
built knobs are exact copies of original ARP25CO
hardware, the swilcoes are expensive 'rocker' types,
and the 15 chromed socket-nuts are ail aligned
exactly the same way Equal care nas beer taken
internally, proving that beauty can be more than
skin deep This is a box built to look goon, arid to last
        The TH48 is supplied wit a mains 'ean, three
3 Smm patch leads, and an Allen key for removing
or replacing knon heads A nice touch, that
Unfortunately, the review unit had no manual,
hut not to worry - operation is easy and intuitive,
so let's get sequencing

IN USE


Sixteen steps has oecome something of a norm for
analogue sequencers, and Analogue Systems have
not seen fit to beak with tradition However, instead
of the usual s~nqle or dual row of voltage controls,
the TH48 offers toree Since Rows A and B l'iave

associated sem~tone Onantisers, these are clearly
the ones designed for traditional pitch sequencing
duties. On the otner hand, Row C has a zero to
two-second 'Slew' control for pontamento and other
voltage-controlied effects Each Row features an
independent 'range' control, offering i7 5 volts for
a maximum of 15 octaves on a volt/octave synth,
while all three Rows share the reset/run?trigger
toggles found unoerneath each step
        Setting up basic sequences couldn't be easier
first, decide which row to use, and connect the
'CV Out' and appropriate 'Trigger Out' ('SJrig' for
Moogs, and the conventional 'Trig' for almost
everything else to your syritli Don't torget to use
the quantiser or there'll be tears1 Next, decide
which steps you are going to use ('run'), which will
send triggers ('trig') and where the sequence will
loop ('reset') Then work your way through the
sequence, using the Step button, and set the
pitches using the small but accessible knobs Finally,
adjust the Speed of the internal clock betvveen one
step every four seconds and 25 steps per second It's
instant 'Karn Evi 9' or 'Love to Love Ya Baby',
according to taste Finally, leave 'Random' Off for
conventional sequences, or switch it On for quasi-
random selection of which step plays when
        But this is only where the fun begins Using an
ARP26OD as a test bed, it was possible to create

8LGUENG~R

',i~me supero mi.sical effects quite impossible
without the TH4R For example, conned Row C's CV
Ocit to the ARP's filter pitch control, and direct white
noise into the audio input to re-create some seriously
acidic Oleeps and bloops Next, feed two different,
but harmonically related, sequences to the CV inputs
of oscillators ~ and 2, and direct them through the
filter to add a pulsating musical backing Yoci're
now ready to patch oscillator 3 directly to the ARP's
on-hoard mixer, and play melodies from the
keyboard Hold on  a 4-part polyphoniic ARP2600~
Damn right Now we're cookin'

THE FUN GOES ON...

The TH4R was designed by a vintage syoth enthusiast
for the benefit of like-minded vintage syntn
enthusiasts, and I've yet to explore fu~iy some of its
more exotic features These are accessed using the
remaining knobs and I/O sockets Trans In, Quantiser
A In, Quantiser B in, Clock Int/Ext, Fxt Clock In,
Shape, Shape Out, Shape CV In, lot Clock Out, and
lot Clock CV In Isee box 'Exotic Features' for more
details Clearly a close relative of the voltage control
modules of the late '60s and early '70s, toe TH4B will
sit happily alongside Roland System 700s, ARP25Dds
and 2600s, ano Moog Modjlar Systems
Consequently, an open mino and some free
experimentation can yield startling results There's no
room within this review to do more than scratch
the sudace, but see the separate 'VCF' nox for some
idea of what the TH4S makes possib~e

CV VERSUS MID
It's tempting to compare the TH4B to the Doepfer
MAO 16/3 reviewed Sound on Sciund, July '93)
After all, both products are designen to prodcice
repetitive sequences and effects triat can easily oe
modified in real-time But, woilst a MIDI sequencer
like the Doepfer can look like its analogue
counterpart and offer many additional facilities, it
lacks one important facility inherent to v~tage
control you can't add multiple MIDI controllers and
audio signals together to create new effects
Consequently, you can't realistically compare a MIDI
sequencer (the Doepfer) to a computer-based MID
software sequencer, or to the TH4(R and its vintage
brethren If you need an analogue sequencer, you
need an analogue sequencer Period.







VCF- Voltage Controlled Fun:

Set up a sequence and apply an LFO to the Int
dock Cv In. This, of course, modulotes the speed at
which the sequence runs.

Apply keyboard Cv to the Trans (transpose) In
socket, and play the keyboard to modulate the
sequence in real time.

Apply heavily filtered noise o rSampe&hold to
any input for random pitch or temporal modulation.
Modifvtheshapeofthegate pulse (Shape) to
alter the amplitude and/rn filter envelopes on the
synth. This results in more human sounds and
sequences. Apply noise to the Shape Cv In for
random envelope modulation.

 Drive the Ext Clock In at audio frequencies, and
use the 16 steps to define a complex waveform.
Direct this back to the synth Os an independent
oscillator. The shape is multi-stage and heavily
quantised, so it's sorsof digitol. And it sounds it.

 Use the Ouantiser Ins and Outs to quantise
changes in control voltages, such as the
synthesizer's initial filter frequency. Synchronise
and process an analogue drum machine through
the ARP in this way far pure techno.

 Shortages of patch.Ieads and inputs
notwithstanding, try all or as many as possible of

the above simultaneously.


OMISSIONS AND IMPROVEMENTS

I can see some users complaining about the small
knobs and compact styling of the TH48. After all,
faders give far better visual feedback than knobs ever
car  But I'm not one of the whiogers Analogue
Systems have obviously made a conscious decision
to keep the TH48 as small as possible and, whilst 2U
is a very tight space into which to cram so many
controls and interfaces, I never once found myself
nudging the wrong knob or knocking an interface
lead Maybe I've just got lovely petite fingers.. ~
        Despite all of the above, the TH48 could be
iniproved, although three modifications would
make it very difficult to criticise. The first would be
the ability to step through Rows at different speeds,
making it possible to create more musical poly-
sequences by modulating one Row from another
Toe second would be a method of creating
simultaneous sequences of differing lengths, and
the third would be the capacity to chain Rows
together for sequences of up to 48 steps Mind
you, no other product, current or vintage, offers all
these facilities. Indeed, none combines all the
existing abilities of the TH48. Still, one can dream

CONCLUSIONS

There will be many players in this MIDI-dominated
world who can't imagine why anybody should
want to spend 700 on an analogue sequencer
But you can't dismiss the genre Second-hand
units from ARP and Korg, far more limited than
the TH48, sell for hundreds of pounds Indeed,
you'll be lucky to get change from a grand if you
want a genuine Moog sequencer Consequently,
if yocl're after a true analogue sequencer, the
TH48 deserves to be the first, and until more
competition appears, may be the last unit to check
out Alternatively, Bogota can be nice at this time
of year The choice, as they say, is yours. .


PROS
        Excellent construction and attention
        to detail.

        Lots of Ins and Outs for flexible
        signal routing.

        Clear, simple and quick to use.
        15-volt range.

CONS
        Mains On/Off switch inaccessible
        on theback panel.

        No way to step through Rows at
         different speeds.

        No way to chain Rows together.

CONCLUSION
A well-built, simpIe use, yet flexible
analogue sequencer with little (if any)
current competition. The Germans will
love it.  


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____________________________________________________________________
     
  Francois Buat                  email   : xxxxxxxx.xxxx@xxxxx.xx      
  Rank Xerox Research Centre     Phone   : (+33) 76 61 50 28              
  6, chemin de Maupertuis        Fax     : (+33) 76 61 50 99              
  38240 MEYLAN FRANCE                                                     
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