From Mike Peake
Sent Thu, Jan 1st 1970, 01:00
Contents: AH Post-NAMM party Technosaurus Selector Access Virus Retro AS-1 Mac DSP Synth Software New Sensor Big Briar Waldorf XT Yamaha Gear Endthought Hey Synthgods. First off, thanks to Mike Dvorkin for hosting the AH gathering at his apartment and for spinning a cool ambient/IDM mix, and to both him and Mike Kent for the beer. Attendees: Mike Dvorkin Mike Kent Mike Peake (all night it was "Hey Mike!", and three answers) Doug Masla Dave Longo John Mika Mel Morley Pierre Zarokian Rob 1622 -Rod- There was much trading of thought and experience. Doug, Mike D, Pierre, and Dave played some tracks they'd done; all were very cool. John Mika showed the custom effects pedals he advertises through his site; everyone agreed that the Fuzz Factory and Seek Wah were pretty darn cool. Mail Music Central for more info. We talked about platform wars, Curtis chips Vs. SSM, Wine Country, our setups and effects. I hope more people can make it next year (Justin?) as we had fun until 3.30 am. If I forgot to list anyone, forgive me as I'm burned out from the show. I patched up a Technosaurus Selector system at show's closing last night, and enjoyed it rather a bit. Their LFO goes up to 2kHz, making for some nice FM. Again, their envelopes are damn fast, for those who like snappy, agressive music. It's a versatile system. I would really like to hear a four-pole filter in it (coming soon) as the two-pole filter can't pluck as fast as a four-pole. The triple dynamic resonator module is quite nice, featuring three bandpass filters, each with frequency and Q pots, and individual volumes. They are each voltage-controlled and sum to a single output. They had a patch running utilizing this module; it sounds very nice ('musical'), and can really add a nice boost at any frequency up to it's 8k limit. It's great for boosting a particular bass frequency, which if then patched to a VCA on Exponential, produces extremely pleasing electronic percussion. Randomizing it's Fc's with an S/H creates even more pleasing effects. (The 12 dB multimode Filter 2 also produces a nice resonance that is very useful for electropercussion as above; you can also route an envelope with minimum times to it's audio input for ringing filter tones. Resonance is VC'd as well.) This unit sounds smoother and glossier than a Serge system (Mike D has a decent Serge, which we played with over Monitor Ones, which I'm for better or worse, very familiar with in terms of how things actually sound on.) Selector is very low noise, which helps sounds come out of seemingly nowhere. (I also heard the Doepfer at Mike's; it is a very nice synth with a lot of esoteric modules for a great price, but to my ears, didn't sound as round and deep as even the Serge.) As with any NAMM booth, the surrounding noise and small monitoring system were a hinderance in terms of truly hearing what an instrument sounds like, but from the monitors they'd set up, the Selector sounded nice. The bass popped out in the pleasant, musical shape I'd mentioned yesterday, which is a bit like the exponential audio decay in the Tr808 bass drum. POP! I'd like to hear a four-pole filter using this exponential VCA/envelope setup over my full-range home amplification setup. The Selector did nice FM, both from Osc to Osc and from LFO to Osc. The triangle wave's output sounded best for this; it's sidebands were different than other synths set up for the same patch, and sounded good. This is a sound I'd use the unit for in my own music. It would be nice to have as much (or more) gain in the Osc wave outputs as are present from the LFO, for even wider FM capabilities. Since each Osc waveform has it's own volume control, higher gain wouldn't be a problem when patching to filters etc., as the user could simply reduce the levels at the source (or not, for nice saturation effects!) The filter, when FM'd, created some nice gritty sounds. (BTW, the current Filter 2 is 12 dB, and is switchable between LP, HP, 6dB Band, and 6dB Notch, similar to the Oberheim SEM filter. It's resonance in nice and 'wet' sounding, not whistley like the Moog lowpasses.) The Osc waveforms sounded like you'd expect from a modular synth. The square wave went out to very thin and stable pulse waves, which sounded pleasing. PWM is provided. Sync was as good as any I've heard. The Selector is slightly lacking in terms of trigger versitality: The osc square wave and the LFO square wave aren't high enough output to clock the Envelopes. I mentioned this to them and received a positive response in terms of their being able to mod a unit to achieve this. J=FCrg Oldani and Stephan Hug were very friendly and conmmunicative with me, and I'd imagine any customer of theirs receiving the proper amount of attention when assembling a system, or requesting specific modifications. Yes, I like this synth, and would have bought one had I the money available. Maybe soon. firstname.lastname@example.org Selector System 3: 3VCO, VCF 2, Dual Env, LFO, VCA, MIDI/CV, cabinet and power: $2975.00 USD. VCO: 270.00 VCF2: 270.00 Dual Env: 270.00 Env: 200.00 VCA: 200.00 LFO/Noise: 200.00 S/H with Slow Random: 200.00 Dual Ring Mod: 200.00 Control MIDI: 465.00 Optional DIN-Sync and Clock outs from Control MIDI: 130.00 Triple Resonators: 360.00 Cabinet B: 760.00 Coming Soon: Dual Waveshaper: 200.00 Octal Subharmonic Osc: 360.00 VC Morphing Filter Frequency Shifter Filter 1 (Moog LP plus 303 LP) The Access Virus: This unit sounded better to me than I expected. Nice, fast envelopes, good sounding filter, nice effects such as sync, FM, etc. The sync sounded a bit more digital than an analog synth at certain pitches (read: very high), but that's a good thing, as it's a musically useful sound, not a digital overload. It has slightly brighter harmonics, and would make a cool sequenced bass sound with a bit of bite. The FM sounds good too, but doesn't go out as far as I'd like, into total chaos. They get points for even including it, though! I wish I'd had more time to check this one out, especially the 64 digital Waves. 12 Voices, with 2 oscillators, 1 sub Osc and Noise per voice. The Oscs can also produce 64 spectral waveshapes each. Fully multitimbral. 2 independent 2-pole filters, each featuring the modes: Lowpass, Highpass, Bandpass and Bandstop (notch). 4 filter routing options: Serial 24dB, Serial 36dB, Parallel 24 dB, Split 4 distortion/waveshaper characteristics. Filter/distortion combination achieves the response of a classic cascade (read: Moog etc.) filter. 3 independent LFOs per voice with Envelope operating mode (it can cycle once upon key trigger), Rate keyfollow, Key trigger with variable phase start point and Single mode. Extremely fast ADSR envelopes. Modulation effects (chorus, flanging, phasing) with total stereo processing; individually variable for several sounds in Multimode. Stereo delay effects. 6 individual outputs (3 stereo composites), 2 audio inputs (mono and stereo processing) Flexible internal audio routing for processing external and internal signals and effects via the filters and amplifiers of other voices. Complete parameter control via MIDI with adaptive smoothing for soft parameter changes Extremely fast MIDI processing regardles of voice load. 256 Single and 128 Multi programs Chassis in console form with optional 19" rack mounting brackets Dimensions: WxDxH: 466 x 180 x 60mm I didn't hear it side by side with a Nord, but I can say I like the Virus better (excepting the Nord's great Linear FM). http://www.tsi-gmbh.de email@example.com Who wants an analog modeling synth for the MACINTOSH? Remember the MACINTOSH? BitHeadz do, and have a pleasing piece of software called the Retro AS-1 for the MACINTOSH (okay, I'll let it go.) There were plenty of booths just like theirs, (computer setups with custom software) and I woudn't have even known of it's existence if a friend hadn't seen it and dragged me over. "The first fully programmable, professional quality analog synthesizer for your Macintosh." You select or make a sound on the screen, and play it polyphonically from a MIDI keyboard, and listen to it out of the PPC's output, or an Audiomedia III card, all in real-time. The sliders are mouse-driven; currently, you cannnot play a note and alter a parameter at the same time, but they are addressing this problem now. What you see on the monitor is a window with sliders ensconsed within their related areas (Filter, Osc, etc.) That's the Main page; three other pages are selectable from clicking tabs on the upper left of the window. The other pages include the Modulation page, where you can create a bunch of routings and performance controls, and the effects page. There also appears to be an Arpeggiator page, but I can barely see the text to confirm this. The program worked very well, and had very fast envelopes (Yes, I'm big on that, as I love little tickey sounds. Software envelopes have been absolutely terrible for this in terms of speed and shape until very recently, as you well know). Adding too much resonance blew the model up, but that's being addressed as well. It's just a matter of coding. This isn't a 'drag the patchcord' type interface; the Modulation page is a text list of source/destination routings; you click the text and sliders pop up for editing. There is a Mixer page, perhaps for multitimbral applications. I didn't see this used, so I'm just discovering it in the literature. You can have several patches and their associated display pages on screen at once, tiled and offset behind each other. Select one and it comes to the front. >From the literature: Over 75 parameters per voice, up to 200 values per parameter. up to 16 voices, CPU dependant. Polyphonic and legato modes. Comes with 1000 sound patches. Stereo output. Onscreen keyboard (a MIDI keyboard is not required to trigger sounds). 24-bit, 48kHz fidelity on AudioMedia III cards. Support for Event and other third party audio hardware. 2 insert (serial) effects processors per voice 2 global (parallel) effects processors Multiple stereo reverb and reflection algorithms. Stereo delay, chorus and flange effects. Overdrive and distortion effects. Fully parametric and shelf EQ. Up to 3 Oscillators per voice (does not include LFOs) 8-octave range per Oscillator. 5 waveforms: Saw, Pulse, Triangle, Sine, Noise. Continuous control of waveform symmetry. Sync any oscillator to any other osc of filter 2 assignable filters per voice. 7 filter types per filter. Filter types include 4-pole resonant and variable state band-pass/band-restrict. Multiple inputs for serial and or parallel filtering. Multiple continuous controllers always active on all 16 channels. Unlimited envelopes and LFOs. Unlimited Modulation routings. Four continuous MIDI controler modulation sources available simulaneously. Multiple latch and assignment modes. Imports and exports Standard MIDI Files. 16 MIDI channel multitimbral. Serial port drivers included for direct MIDI input. Full simultaneous MIDI application compatability (OMS and FreeMIDI). It has CPU limiting abilities so you can run other programs, including MIDI applications. System requirements: Mac OS computer with PPC processor. 4 Meg RAM, 5 Meg hard disk space. Sound Manager 3.2 (included). Compatable CD-ROM drive. 800x600 or higher resolution monitor. BitHeadz Inc. www.bitheadz.com firstname.lastname@example.org 408-465-9898 So, how did this sound? Sometimes sweet, firm and plucky like a Jupiter 8, sometimes thinner like a Jupiter 6. They had a really nice plucked triangle/filter sound, and a nice, thinner string pad that I'm referencing for these comparisons. Both of these instruments sit nicely in a mix in their own frequency ranges, and the Retro could do this as well. I hope the competition pushes the code-men into providing us with better and better tools. Last year at the show, nothing like this existed. A lot has happened since; look for it to get better and better. (However, I'm not selling the Moog just yet!) New Sensor had a tiny display with Deluxe Electric Mistress and Memory Man clones, and also their Sovek Small Stone and Big Muff releases, in their large Perestroika cases. No sign of any MiniSynth products, and no way to audition them either. Word at the AH party was that they're re-issuing the 16-Second Delay... Big Briar only had their two Theremins on display, along with the Theremin amplifier. No sign of any analog synth technology just yet. I saw Bob there, but didn't chat him up. Didn't make it to ART, Focusrite (I love their older ISA110 Blue series pres/EQs; very very pricey nowaday), JoeMeek, or Manley. TC Electronic had the Finalizer at booths with CD players and headphones; I checked it out, but found it to not be as intuitive as I'd hoped. It sounded very nice, though. The Waldorf Microwave XT has a brand-new filter algorithm; it sounds nice, and has a very clear and airy high end. You can go deaf from this thing with the filter at high frequency and rez! (No big review for this one, as I want too many things already to add this to my list!) Finally, Yamaha. One hit, one 'okay, what next'. First, the 'smaller' things. The WX5 MIDI wind controller, with saxophone key layout. $749.00 USD. The CBX-K2 MIDI controller: 49 keys, velocity and aftertouch. $349.00. The VL70-m monophonic physical modeling module. $799.00 The QY70 music sequencer. $599.00. The QY700 tone-generator/110,000 note sequencer. $1495.00 The RY8 Drum programmer. $299.00. The RY20 Drum programmer. $499.00. The EX5 76 key, 128-voice workstation. $2,700.00. The EX7 61 key, 64-voice workstation. $2,200.00. The EX5R 128-voice sound module. $2,200.00. The DS2416 Digital Mixing Card, or DSP fatory: $1000.00. The companion AX44 expansion card: $300.00. I played the EX5 for a couple of minutes over headphones. It looks and sounds like an improved SY99, even going so far as to duplicate their layering of PCM with DSP FM for enhancement of detail. The vast majority of patches on the machine were piano-string-brass type. The DSP FM section is from the AN1x, AFAIK, so users of that technology will be pleased. If you are familiar with Dr. Manny Fernandez's style of patch programming from the entire DX/SY line of synths, you'll 'get' how this box sounds. It has some scary features, such as the ability to add up to 64 Meg of RAM and add a SCSI interface. The DSP Factory was a surprise, being a PCI card with 24 channels of 02R mixing, including effects and dynamics, and the ability to stream 32-bit linear audio to disk. If used as a virtual mixer for multi-track hard-disk audio, it's a 24x2 mixer. It can, with the addition of the AX44 card, send out 16 channels of ADAT lightpipe to breakout D/A boxes (Korg has an 18-bit unit; others are sure to proliferate). The Card will probably ship in May or June; Mac versions will be about 3 months later. Check out these specs: 24 channel, 32-bit digital mixer. 10 bus outputs and 6 aux sends. 104 bands of 4-band parametric EQ. 26 dynamics processors. Automatic Kid Ritual Arpeggio Fests. Just seeing if you were paying attention. 2 effect processors equal in quality to Yamaha's REV500. Channel delay on all 20 channels. (20? That must be a typo.) Comprehensive metering. Digital cross-patching for channel ins/outs. 2 channel 20-bit AD/DA converter. Stereo coax input and output. Unlike other systems, ALL the above features are available all the time. Since all the above processing is present on the card, little or no outboard equipment is needed (Sorry, that's not true, especially for us. Needed saying.) Multichannel analog and digital I/O with optional interface hardware. 16-track playback from hard disk, with up to 32-bit resolution. 8-track simultaneous recording with up to 32-bit resolution. Sample-accurate synch between tracks. The recorder is 'hot-wired' to the internal mixer in the digital domain. Synchronization to outside sources via software. A single DS2416 can provide up to 12 external inputs and outputs. Multiple DS2416 cards can be cascaded to create larger systems. The show this year had far more oriented to the dance-music scene than any I can remember. There were far, far less guitar heroes with big hair. The show was not the astonishing noisefest it usually is; we found out why: Convention Center employees were going around with SPL meters hidden beneath show directories. Any booth with over a 70 dB SPL was requested to turn it down. That's not so bad (or am I getting way too old? Noise is undesired sound). Easier, Mike (going to sleep for a few days.) ________ Specifications: Pain means Stop/Something's going to Happen/Master of None Nothing attracts a crowd like and analog synth. Analog Synths: Fun Fun Fun 'till the Electric Bill Comes.