Thursday, August 20, 2015

Roland JX-8P Sounds II

JX-8P bank #1 with 30 original patches are now available on my download page. The bank includes all the sounds from demo part I and II. Be sure to backup your own patches safely before loading mine.

Patch List
01 Spacy Rez - resonant pad
02 Bass
03 Eventually - very slow pad
04 HP Stabby - High Pass short stab
05 Sub Outlaw - gratuitous sub bass
06 Novatech - Novation Supernova synth sound
07 String Bed - Nice JX Strings
08 Hollow Pad - Square wave pad
09 Heroics - 80s style bass
10 Fatter 5th - muscular 5th pad
11 Fat Saws - Big Saw pad filter wide open
12 Dark World - dark resonant brooding synth pad
13 Staccat-oh - Synth Staccato
14 JX8PString - Another nice JX string pad
15 StabNRetro - Stabby Arpeggio
16 Euphoria - Arpeggio
17 Melodrama - pad
18 Want2Arp - Arpeggio
19 Sunriser - Sweep
20 Voice Plus - Choir similar to VP-330
21 EasyGlider - pitch glide synth monster
22 Askew - dissonant sound
23 EP - Rhodes type electric piano
24 90s House - Big Fat Square bass
25 SH-Bass - JX8P has some of the SH-101 DNA?
26 ReleaseMe - Short chops produce forever sustaining sounds
27 String-RS - Not so much RS-202 as it may be Solina?
28 Flagship - Brooding Sci-fi film score
29 Plucky Arp - Arpeggio
30 SkyWriter - Big Pad
31 Basic Saw Patch - blank patch

Simple Synthesizer Patch Backup and Loading

This is a simple overview on how to backup and load synth patches to a computer using system exclusive. I am using a MIDI utility program called Midi-Ox that is free online and works very well. The actual steps required to send and receive patch data will vary with different synthesizer manufacturers and models, please refer your product documentation for specifics.

The background music is a clip from my forthcoming track Escape Velocity.

Sunday, August 16, 2015

Ensoniq VFX Transwave Synthesizer Dark Soundscapes and Raw Waveforms

BE WARNED, at 3:24 I start to audition one-shots of the raw waveforms in order to demonstrate the timbral nature of the VFX. This will probably sound disconcerting to most people, again YOU HAVE BEEN WARNED....just tune out at 3:24 if necessary and everything will be ok.

The first half of this demo are some original patches I created on the Ensoniq VFX digital transwave synthesizer. This is not a virtuoso performance, just a quick vignette of what the VFX sounds like as an instrument. As mentioned, during the second half of the video I audition the various raw waveforms, transwaves, and the master wavetable called ALL-WAVES.

0:00 Original Patches of dark soundscapes At 3:24 I start auditioning basic waveforms, 3:42 transwave type waveforms, 4:47 more of the basic waveforms, 5:26 a one-shot of the ALL-WAVES wavetable

Monday, July 20, 2015

Polysynths play well with Euro

Been a while since I posted anything. Working away on the new album and all. Here's an improvisation.
Polysynth: Roland Juno-106 for sweeps
Euro: Pittsburgh System 10.1+ with DNA Symbiotic Waves Arpeggio
Delay Effect: Eventide Timefactor

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Korg Arp Sound Odyssey

Some analog sounds for your listening pleasure. Picked up the Oddy to quell my desire for some of the 2600 mojo, you know, quirky droid sounds and the like. But also Carpenter style bass pulses, simple strings, wacky Sample-Hold tricks, and not forgetting Ring Mod.

Recorded directly, mostly free of external effects. My shots try to show the settings for each sound best as possible, little thought given to my banal performance on those dreadful slimkeys. Some instances of LFO auto-repeat, very useful for patch creation without playing the keys. At the end I hook up the Beatstep for sequencing fun.

Friday, April 17, 2015

Roland System-1: Six New Waveforms

Did you know update version 1.20 was released? And did you know this update ADDS 6 brand new waveforms to the System-1 arsenal? I myself was caught unaware, thanks for the heads up Zibbybone. And thank you so much Roland for extending patch memory in this one!

With the update 1.20 we get the waveforms Noise Saw, Logic Operation, FM, FM+Sync, Vowel (a formant wave), and a 909-style Cow Bell.

The first half of the video auditions these new waveforms with a basic patch. The second half puts these waveforms to use in patch examples. I tried to watch the volume levels, a couple may have gotten away from me...sorry!

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Studio Update Feb 2015

Been a while since I posted. Hope you are doing well at this moment as I am. Many things happening here.

Synth demos in the works: Ultranova and VFX. Wavetable and transwave synths are becoming more interesting to me. And I narrowly missed a chance to get a Blofeld unit locally. Initially I balked at the Ultranova as simply a virtual analog with nothing new to offer. But I came into one recently for a fractional price and wanted to dig into the wavetables, of which there is absolutely no demos of this aspect. The Ultranova has really deep modulation capability, and an audio-slicer strangely titled Gator. My first patches are mind-bending. The VFX was the follow-up to the ESQ-1, and superseded by the SD-1 and Fizmo. I shudder to think I sold my Fizmo some years ago. The VFX came to me not being able to save sounds after turning it off. I went in and discovered a botched coin battery replacement job, the solder pads were destroyed and small blobs on the end of the coin-holder pins doing absolutely nothing. So I went in and took care of that by jumping the pins with wire. Anyway the VFX has both transwaves and one master wavetable containing all the waveforms. Transwaves are like wavetables, but with very smooth timbre changes between the waves. That doesn't stop you from choosing a modulator that will jump around in that transwave for more abrupt, albeit subtle yet, changes in sound. OMG and the strings sound very nice, too. The VFX can also have alternate pitch-tunings by employing a custom pitch table. The sonics I am getting from this cheap old synth is absolutely preposterous and I cannot wait to share.

New album under way. Currently working on my third, and so far, most-challenging track. Unlike Displays, I will not be releasing each track as they are completed (a la Dickens' Tale of Two Cities). I am going for something generally more analog and lo-fi. And as always pushing into new territory. The VFX being able to do alternate pitch-tunings will be very interesting to experiment.

Saturday, December 27, 2014

Roland JX-8P Sounds

These are some of my original patches made for the Roland JX-8P synthesizer. Bass, dark string and synth pads, arpeggios and stabs.

There are some realtime patch edits in this demo without the use of the external programmer, so go ahead and give that EDIT slider a nice workout. Would have been nice if the edit slider had a pass-thru data function, that is why you will hear some edit jumps in the audio.

In addition to utilizing the Beatstep for sequence duties, there is gratuitous amounts of delay and reverb added to most sounds.

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Moog Sub 37 Tribute Edition Sounds

Sub 37 Tribute Edition Moog Synthesizer. I am smitten. Basses, arpeggios, and some FX weirdness. No external effects applied to the synth sound, just a backing track by the trusty Volca Beats.

Sunday, October 26, 2014

Burning EPROMs for Old Drum Machines in Windows XP

Many old drum machines like the Sequential Drumtraks, Oberheim, E-mu and Linn use sound that is stored digitally on microchips called EPROMs. It is possible to change the sounds by swapping out the factory EPROMs with ones that have our own custom data burned into them.

EPROM is an acronym that stands for Erasable Programmable Read Only Memory. We can write memory onto these chips using a programmer only if erased properly. EPROMs are re-usable devices, where ROMs are not.

1) I make use of an older Windows XP desktop computer with a serial connection cable. Back in ye olden days dot-matrix printers were connected to the computer using the serial cable.

2) To erase the EPROMs I use an ultraviolet light erase machine with a timer that is easily available on ebay for $10 or $20.

3) I also use an old Willem Programmer from ebay for around $30 or $40. The programmer should come with a software disc, if not just go to their website and download the needed drivers.

4) A 12 volt DC power adapter like those from radio shack. You can also find used power adapters for really cheap at common thrift stores.

You can find many files you need on the internet. I use .bin files, which stands for binary. As long as the .bin files contain the appropriate sample data or operating instructions for your objective there should be no problem. Make sure the memory size of the chip matches the device it will be installed. I'm burning a 32kb chip today for an MMT-8, so I'll be using a 2732 EPROM where 27xx is the type of EPROM and xx32 is the memory size of the chip. (EDIT: I didn't have the MMT-8 in front of me and it turned out to be the wrong chip. I try to check all facts before I post, but I must have looked at the wrong thing on my schematic. Sorry for any confusion.)

The programmer and the EPROM chips are sensitive to electro-static charges. Ground yourself by touching something metal to ground like a sink faucet to dissipate static charges that build up in your body to prevent damage to the devices. I also wear an anti-static strap that draws out static charges in my body and dissipates them safely.

Connect the 12 volt power adapter to the programmer and make sure the lights come on. Connect the serial line cable to the computer and the programmer. USB cables only provide 5 volts of power so I do not use it for this purpose. Before I can burn the EPROM I need to make sure the EPROM chip is completely erased, then resolve a couple of nagging issues with Windows XP.

Erasing EPROMs is simple. First make sure the clear window on the EPROM is clean. When you look down through the window of the chip you will be able to see the actual microchip inside. Then put the EPROMs into the drawer, close it and set the time for 5 to 10 minutes. The UV eraser uses ultraviolet light that will nullify data residing on the chip. As a safety note do NOT stare directly into the ultraviolet light, it can have serious consequences to your eyes.

You may encounter input/output errors when trying to use the programmer the first time. To burn EPROMs we want the software to have instant and direct access to the programmer but Windows does not allow this. As a workaround we will need a little application called userport, do not worry - it is safe to use because this little app is recommended from the Willem Programmer website. I open the userport program and 'add' addresses 0-378 to be direct control enabled. I am not sure the exact address the serial connection will be using, but enabling a whole set of addresses will ensure things will go smoothly. I leave the userport application running in the background. When I am ready to start the Willem Programmer Application, I right-click its program icon and set compatibility mode to 'Windows 98'.

The programmer I am using can host a large variety of microchip devices. Which EPROM I am actually using will require that I make the proper jumper settings to the programmer. Jumpers are simply a set of small bar contacts that slide over small pins to create electrical connections. In this way we can change the circuitry to fit our needs for different situations. Do not sweat this, because the programmer application will actually show you which jumper settings to use once you have selected the appropriate chip from the menu. Next you need to set the DIP switch to match what the program shows. The program also shows you the correct position of the chip in the programmer. Take special note of the correct position of chip PIN #1 which is indicated by either a notch on the top edge of the chip or a small dot next to the pin itself.

Install the EPROM chip in the programmer and, using the computer software, do a 'Blank Check' to see that it has been completely erased. Even if one single data location does not return a null value you will receive a 'Device Not Empty' message and will need to put the chip back in the ultraviolet light eraser.

At this point the userport app should be running in the background and have the direct control still enabled. Using the computer software that came with the programmer, browse to find the .bin file to load its data into the buffer, and burn the chip. Once you have burned the data, you will need to verify the data. If anything unusual happens, the application will tell you, and you will have to erase the chip again and start over. Or try a different chip if you have erased more than one at the same time. When you are satisfied the chip has been burned properly, put a piece of acid free tape over the clear window to prevent accidental data corruption. Once finished go back to userport, select the addresses specified earlier, and click the 'Stop' button to deactivate direct control. Then exit the application.

This process is what works for me. You may or may not have the same experience or face the same issues. But hopefully this will give some insight into how burning EPROMs could be done and what issues you might face. Hopefully newer EPROM programmer designs have resolved some of these issues. Happy programming.