Wednesday, December 16, 2015

A New Secret Weapon?

A few weeks ago, I was in Denver chatting with William Mathewson - the man behind the WMD pedal and modular company. As part of the interview, I asked William what his favorite module design was, and he mentioned the Synchrodyne. I'd heard of it, but never tried one, so on the way out of his office I asked if I could take one for a test drive.


I've not yet come fully to grips with this module, but the concept is crazy: use a filter that needs a clocking mechanism, then put that clocking mechanism under the control of a VCO. Then also have a phase-locked loop built-in that can be used to influence (or even drive) the oscillator, with all of the accompanying drift and mis-locking. The result is something I'd never heard, which can vary from a bit-reduced blaster to a buzzing ripsaw. Use the PLL to track a sequence, and the whole thing gets wobbly - and in some ways alive!

Machines can amaze when they seem to have minds of their own. They can also make their makers proud. I understand why William is into this design - it is outright amazing.


Friday, December 11, 2015

Mini Key Attack!!!

While I was gone...

... it appears that minikeys have taken over my studio! In a surprise move - due mainly to the temporary $59 price - I picked up an Akai Key 25 device. This thing is sort of a Frankenstein mash-up of the Akai APC Mini and a cheap-o keyboard. But it's got a couple of things that I like that were left out of the Mini (the keyboard, obviously, but also transport play/pause and record buttons), and it is nice to have a Live keyboard easily at hand.

This is actually a bit of a disappointment with the mini keyboard for the JU-06. There is no way to turn off the local mode of that keyboard, meaning that any use of the keyboard will sound the synth engine of the JU-06. So that keyboard is useful when doing sound design on the 06, but is otherwise kind of useless in a MIDI-based system.

Obviously, there will still be some conflicts (mostly in my head) about using this vs. using the Push, but I'm sure I will cope. Talk about first-world problems...


Wednesday, December 2, 2015

A Different Teaching System

Well, after a few video tests, it turns out that my "teaching system" - a Pittsburgh Foundation 2 system with a few added modules - didn't really work out too well. The main problem is that a 90x1 case system was difficult to track in detail on a non-HD video, and the left-to-right orientation of the modules made it difficult to track the signal and CV flows.

So it was time to rethink. I decided to go in the back closet and bring out the lunchbox case that Chris Blarsky had built for me and give that a try. I just got done loading it with modules, which includes all the basic modules from the Foundation 2 system, but also updated one of the oscillators to a "Waveforms" module, and one of the envelopes to an "Envelopes" module. Now I have all the signal flow on the top row, all of the CV devices on the bottom row, and initial video tests look really, really good.

So, videos coming soon!