Saturday, December 26, 2015

Seductress Roland Juno-106


I have packed a ton of Roland Juno-106 sounds, both original patches and factory presets, into this demo. I have bought and flipped at least four 106s, the one I now have being the fifth? Every time I come across another it seduces me into taking it home, hence the title.

ALL synthesizer sounds originate from the Juno-106. The TR-606 provided rhythm backing, Big Sky and Timefactor for effects. All tracks were recorded direct to Cubase SX3 via E-mu 1616. NO additional production, eq, compressors, mastering, etc. was used. Except the levels were very quiet so I cheated by pushing them up with a plug-in limiter across the output. Happens sometimes.

Sunday, November 22, 2015

Boss DR-110 MIDI Sync Project

**EDIT 01/20/2016 - Well. While it works there is an issue that shows up after 5 minutes. The timing goes crazy. When I turn it off a while, it works again. But after 5 minues problems show up again. I wonder if my shrink tubing insulation on the Arduino is causing heat build-up inside there. I am tempted to re-locate the added circuits to the battery compartment and remove the insulation.**

These past two weeks I have been developing and building a MIDI sync input for the Boss DR-110 drum machine.  This allows my DAW to control pattern Start/Stop and to synchronize the clock timing during recording and playback.

I selected the Arduino Micro to process the MIDI data for its tiny size.  It is relatively affordable and can handle incoming MIDI serial data.
While the Micro was on Order from Mouser, I did initial testing with the Arduino Mega.
I accidentally burned the START/STOP traces, so I had to jumper them.  The wires carry the signal pulse to Start and Stop the drum machine.
I removed the clock wire between the CPU board and the Voice board so that I could add a switch.
The switch can choose internal normal clock, or to use the MIDI sync.
MIDI isolation is critical as host/slave devices can have floating grounds at different potentials.
Close up of the MIDI isolation circuit.
My MIDI isolation circuit comes from a design I did on another project.  This is a MIDI shield I made for Arduino Mega, and proved useful for initial testing on this project.
Close up of the MIDI isolation circuit.
The new MIDI isolation circuit.  It would be powered by the Arduino Micro.
I performed testing at every stage, to ensure I was moving forward and solving problems one at a time.
One of the problems was the Micro needed 9v power, and the DR-110 uses 6v by floating the ground to a different potential.  My solution was to DC bias the 3 control signals CLOCK, START, and STOP using a simple voltage divider and tantalum coupling capacitors.  This way the control signals stay above 0v with relation to the ground that the DR-110 uses.
Final assembly.  The added circuits would be tightly squeezed in together with components and needed insulation.
One final test before everything goes together.  The blue light is the Arduino Micro.
Very careful alterations were made for the switch and MIDI jack.
Finished product.


Saturday, November 7, 2015

Crushing On The Roland Boutique JP-08 Synthesizer



Listen to this and just try not to fall in love with the Roland JP-08 module. I have packed a ton of Roland JP-08 sounds into a demo that demonstrates the JP-08 in action. Most of the patches are original, except a factory string patch.

ALL synthesizer sounds originate from the JP-08. The TR-8 provided rhythm backing, Big Sky and Timefactor for effects. All tracks were recorded direct to Cubase SX3 via E-mu 1616. NO additional production, eq, compressors, mastering, etc. was used whatsoever.

Monday, November 2, 2015

Synth Spotting At Dallas Synth Meet 2015

Some brief sights and sounds at the Dallas Synth Meet in Grand Prairie Nov 1, 2015.

Thursday, October 22, 2015

Setting A Roland Jupiter-6 On Fire



The Roland Jupiter-6 Synthesizer is an absolute MONSTER. Pads, Bass, Arpeggio, Strings, Leads - it's all here. And the JP-6 is my favorite go-to synthesizer for SOUND EFFECTS. I have crammed a plethora of strangely beautiful effects and noise that demonstrates its versatility which is beyond comprehension.

Obviously no actual synthesizers were harmed in the making of this all Roland Jupiter-6 demonstration. The TR-8 provided rhythm backing, Big Sky and Timefactor for effects. All tracks were recorded direct to Cubase SX3 via E-mu 1616. NO additional production, eq, compressors, mastering, etc. was used whatsoever.

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Pittsburgh Modular DNA Symbiotic Waves - Unlimited Possibilities



Follow up to my first video. This one is more about patching in the filter, envelope, the arpeggio feature on the Midi3 module, and some trials with the sample-hold/glide on the Toolbox module.

To put the possibilities into perspective do the math. There are 16 wavetables on OSC1 and 16 processor types. That's 256 combinations right there. Then consider 16 wavetables on OSC2, that makes 4096 different combinations. Then think about tweaking the tuning, balance, and processor amounts to change the color of the sound. It is absolutely mind-boggling.

Sorry the video is shaky, my stand for the eurorack is wobbly. I will probably start shooting these videos on something more stable.

Friday, October 16, 2015

Pittsburgh DNA Symbiotic Waves Module - Digital Insanity



This is the Pittsburgh Modular DNA Symbiotic Waves module. The DNA of the design, if you will, comes from a prototype synthesizer from Spacehardware called the Cygnx. The idea is that two digital wavetable oscillators could be combined using various forms of processing to create a digital super-wave. Each of the two oscillators can be one of sixteen different wavetables. It just gets crazier when you think about being able to detune one of the oscillators, up to an octave, above the other. You can also use control voltages to vary the amount of processing that takes place. In this video I show you how.

The first part of the video I show the basics of how to operate the module. Then after, I punish my Tascam DR-05 direct recorder with ridiculous digital sonic mayhem. Play at your own risk.

Thursday, October 15, 2015

Oberheim Drummer Repair



The Oberheim Drummer is more than a rhythm sequencer, it also includes groove timing variations for a more human feel.

This unit was having some troubles. While it was able to turn on and buttons worked fine, the control parameters were not behaving correctly. Watch and learn how I detected and resolved the issues.

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Roland Juno-106 + Akai S900


Chill out to this little jam. Getting to know my Beatstep Pro, some effects from Strymon you-know-what and Eventide you-know-that-one-too. If the beats sound is familiar, I loaded some TR-606 samples into the S900.

Sunday, October 11, 2015

Roland System-1 Synthesizer Patches by G-Storm


Basses, leads, gorgeous pads, soundscapes, strings, drums, and arpeggios. The System-1 can do it all well so just sit back and chill to these compelling sounds. This video is just a short preview of selected sounds. Opening and demo themes are from my track Superfalling on Soundcloud.

Patches can be acquired here. Make sure to BACKUP all your patches safely before loading. Refer the Roland documentation for how to do this. MIDI Sysex transfer methods DO NOT apply to the System-1. It has to be done over USB using the Roland proprietary file transfer protocol. These patches should work for operating system v. 1.20 and on the System-1m module as well. There are 63 patches in all, the last patch in Bank-8 slot-8 is a blank patch.

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Boss CE-20 Chorus Demo w/ a Synthesizer



How does the Boss CE-20 Chorus Ensemble sound with a Synthesizer? You are the judge. In this video I put the CE-20 through its paces by auditioning all six chorus modes: Rich, Bass, Acoustic, Standard, Dimension, and CE-1. There are a couple of surprises along the way, I don't want to spoil the fun. The synthesizer I am using is a Roland System-1 set to a sawtooth waveform. All recording is direct to a Tascam DR-05 going through a Mackie mixer, absolutely no other effects were used.

Monday, October 5, 2015

Yamaha TX81Z - Getting Started Programming FM


So you know a little bit about synthesizers, and have browsed a few articles on FM Synthesis. Maybe you have seen a couple of really good FM introductions like the one by Inside Synthesis or Dubspot. Now you are ready to dive in.

I'm using a TX81Z to edit a single patch, but what you see and learn here can be carried over to many other FM synthesizers. This is far from a complete coverage of all topics, but meant to help get users started with an intuitive approach.

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

G-Storm Announces release of The Stardust EP


G-Storm Announces release of The Stardust EP. 5 original tracks total including the recent single Escape Velocity. Tracks are free to download on Soundcloud.

Sunday, September 27, 2015

Akai S900: How To Deal With Bad RAM Issues


REMEMBER SAFETY FIRST. To avoid electric shock, injury and death be sure to ALWAYS unplug your sampler before any work.

The Akai S900. Question: Why would anyone want to mess with these dinosaurs that only have 11 seconds of memory at maximum bandwidth?...Answer: because, like the MPC-60 and S950, THEY ARE THE KING OF LO-FI CRUNCHY SAMPLERS. Filthy never sounded so good!

Unfortunately these dirty little gems are taking a beating. Their power supplies are going out, I presume killing RAM chips along the way. When RAM chips develop 'bad ram bit' errors, it can result in nasty little click-and-pop sounds on your samples....and not the good kind either. Replacement RAM chips are hard to find. It sucks because you feel there is nothing you can do about it, all the while your S900 sits in a corner collecting dust.

BUT YOU DON'T HAVE TO TAKE IT ANYMORE. With a little persistence, some electronics tools, and experience you or your technician CAN take your S900 all the way back to a crunchy beat party in no time.

Monday, September 21, 2015

Moog Sub 37 Mega Demo - 64 Patches for download



Doing something a little different this time. I have packed ALL 64 of my original Sub 37 patches into a 4-track MEGA DEMO, a cornucopia of basses, leads, arpeggios, and otherworldly sound effects. Everything you hear is ALL SUB 37, I wanted something true to the tone of just the Sub 37 and nothing else. You may see other effects and things in the background, but NONE are used here.

It took two weeks to compose, film, and edit the video.

The patches are free to download on my download post as a system exclusive file, AKA sysex. If you do, be sure to FIRST backup your own sounds to a computer, and confirm they are saved. If you need guidance be sure to check out my post about uploading sysex patches to a synthesizer using a MIDI utility program like MidiOX.

About the patches. Most of the patch names are self-explanatory.
01-04 Don't Go There, inspired by a Yazoo track.
01-10 Memory Stack, sounds just like the Memorymoog I used to have.
01-13 Dream Electric, inspired by Blade Runner
02-16 Trakker, there are a few patches that make use of FM modulation via the LFO at audio rate. The key is to track the LFO speed across the keyboard. This produced a similar FM sound I've been able to get for the Matrix-12/Xpander.
03-07 DNA Cygnus, the Cygnx was a prototype synthesizer by spacehardware.co.uk. I was fascinated with the demos of this phase-modulated wavetable digital synth. Alas, it never went into production. However they did collaborate with Pittsburgh Modular in a product known as DNA Symbiotic Waves. Fantastic module, this patch reminds me of those kinds of sounds.
03-08 Coinage, Nintendo Mario coin-pop sound
04-03 Hymne, inspired by Vangelis track of the same title.
04-04 Melt With This, I was going for the lead synth from Melt With You.
04-09 Fanfare, ...for the common man.
04-11 TX37Z, more FM tracking fun like on the TX81Z synth.
04-13 Xenophobic Pulse, have you seen the movie Contact?
04-14 So Easy, ...a caveman can do it? Reminds me of a sound I heard in a Royksopp track

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Logan/Hohner String Melody II Repair Project


ELECTRONICS REPAIR HAS THE POTENTIAL TO INJURE, CAUSE FIRE, AND DEATH. ALWAYS TURN OFF AND UNPLUG ANY DEVICE BEFORE ATTEMPTING REPAIRS. Do not attempt electrical repairs unless you are qualified and have adequate skills and experience. ALWAYS exercise safety first. This video was generated for educational learning purposes only. There is no shame in taking your instrument to a qualified professional for peace of mind.

Today I'm repairing a vintage string synthesizer. All the G# notes were dropping out due to some intermittent problem. Intermittent issues, due to their nature of coming and going, can be difficult to track down. Luckily for me the String Melody II is relatively easy to service, even without any schematics, with a little background knowledge in how string synthesizers work.

Normally I would start at the power supply, but I have already serviced that area and know it is functioning properly. Since all of the G# notes are experiencing problems, I begin investigating the Master Oscillator. The Master Oscillator, similar to organs from the 70s, generates all the notes for the top octave. These frequencies are generated all the time regardless if keys are pressed. These top octave frequency voltages are wired to another large PCB located under the keybed, which is responsible for dividing down the notes for all the lower octaves.

Feel free to post suggestions in the comments section. If this video was helpful be sure to click the like button, and subscribe to my channel. Thanks for watching!

Sunday, September 6, 2015

Korg MS-20 Mini Meltdown


Follow-up of the MS-20 mini bass excursion demo w/ some SQ-1 sequencer madness, modulation weirdness, and a patch that will make you wonder if the mini is having a meltdown. With a special appearance from a Boss DR-110 drum machine, the Accent Trigger Out is going to the SQ-1 Sync In. Again I have framed the shots so hopefully you can see all the settings and patch cable connections.

All sound taken raw from the mixer, no additional effects were used in capturing the audio.

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

New Single and Remix: Escape Velocity

Escape Velocity, my new single, is now available for download. It includes the original version from The Stardust EP. It also includes a remix version.


I also have created not one, but two promotional videos.

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.