Friday, November 20, 2015

The Power of Three

I've long felt that the optimal bass synth was a single oscillator with a great filter. Minimoog enthusiasts threw feces at me for even suggesting that less than three oscillators was an acceptable quantity. I countered with discussions about phase cancellation, tuning irregularities and such stuff.

I finally got around to hooking up three discrete oscillators to the AJH Mini Mod's Moog-like mixer/filter, and my head is twisted. Not by pure bass (which I still think is benefitted by a single oscillator), but by plain ol' awesomeness. Damn, it sounds great, with a little clipping from the mixer, a nice bounce from a combination of the velocity and the key-follow, and a basic triple-unison tuning structure. Sounds a dream.

So, my old friends, I come to you with half a hat in hand. Three oscillators sound really nice. So do other quantities. Now get back in your mom's basement and make some more music! I dare you!


Saturday, November 14, 2015

A New Companion

Yesterday I got a new companion for my system - a brand new Push 2. I'd gotten the Experience Lite on Tuesday at the meetup, and my unit just showed up on Friday. Nice.

I spent about 45 minutes with it last night, and expect to bang on it over the weekend. But my first impressions are:

  • The pads are a huge, huge improvement. The come close to My Favorite Pads Ever (those found on the Maschine), but are different from a playability standpoint: the are nearly flush to the surface, so you can wiggle your finger around the surface and play swiggly melodic lines - something you'd never be able to do on a raised surface like the Maschine. Unlike others, I did jump onto the sensitivity settings, but found that the default was about as usable as any other setting. But the available settings for pad interface (sensitivity, gain and dynamics) are more extensive than any other pad surface I've used. Mega-points for this!
  • Hurry for clear octave up-and-down function keys during note entry!
  • The display is awesome. Just awesome. Inspires you to edit off the screen. In fact, once set up, I think I naturally played without looking at the screen for the rest of the 45 minutes. Super-easy to negotiate almost everything.
  • I've got more to learn on this thing. And somehow it seems like it'll be worth it.
  • The only negative? So far, it is the size and weight of it. But if that's all I've got to complain about, I'm in good shape! More coming up soon.


Friday, November 6, 2015

Aw, Jeez.

Leave it to ol' Chris, my buddy. Wanted to cheer me up. Let me try out his new Roland Boutique JU-06. He knew that I was a 106-guy from way back (I've owned at least one for at least 15 of the last 20 years...), and that I'd be pretty picky about how this sounded and felt. On the other hand, I needed to be cheered up, and I had some time this morning to play around.

Oh my.

I really, really like this thing. It fits conveniently on the corner of my desk (unlike a 106), has a nice interface to my compu-tron (unlike a 106), is super-visible in the dark (unlike a 106) and is cheap (unlike a 106). If I was to be honest, there's a little bounce that is typical for a 106 that isn't quite there on the JU-06, but that could just be my imagination. The level of detail on this thing, combined with the the sound (which is, frankly, excellent) means that I AM A BIG FAN.

I needed a little polyphony in my life. I needed it with controls (sorry, Blofeld...). 4-voice isn't going to kill me, and neither is $299. A nice companion to my little modular rig, but also a nice alternative to completely virtual soft-polys.

More fun to come, I'm sure. You'll be able to hear an example of this as the bumper music for the next podcast (#103).



Wednesday, November 4, 2015

See? I lie sometimes...

(a recent sighting in my rig)

Sometimes it appears that I don't know what I'm talking about. In my "Five Modules That Didn't Work For Me" posting, I pointed to the Tiptop Z4000 as a module that was tough: it had weird scaling on the ADSR pots, some hard-to-get controls for scaling and offset, and a lack of CV attenuators. So I dropped it.

And started looking for an alternative.

No luck.

The fact is, there is no decent VC-ADSR that will fit in a skiff format, is easy to find/attain, and works consistently (and the way I want it to work). So, as a result, I come hat in hand back to the Z4000. And it is fine, especially combined with a CV Tools (for attenuation) and an O'Tool (to make sure my deviator setting is kosher).

I sometimes wish that I was one of those bloggers that was never wrong, had a rock-solid opinion that never wavered, and could carry the day against the hoards of nay-sayers. But, alas, I'm probably a more typical modular guy; never satisfied, always searching, often misguided.



Tuesday, November 3, 2015


Well, as expected, replacing the two encoders (pan and resonance) and giving it a good scrub-down was the key. I now have a fully operational death star ESX-1! I needed to get a good SmartMedia card reader/writer, so that bumps the overall price up a little. The full monty is:

$90.00 - ESX-1 in "as-is" condition
$15.00 - replacement encoders
$18.00 - replacement 64Mb SmartMedia card
$13.00 - SmartMedia reader

Total cost: $136.00