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Thread: Synthlust! (Or, how to make music without your computer)

  1. #61
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    Finally got my Virus TI working again... I've missed this synth so much. It seriously feels like I've reunited with an old friend I haven't seen in years.

  2. #62
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    so... does anyone have any recommendations for a vocal processor to use live, one preferably with BPM syncable FXs via midi, and not a Kaoss pad?

  3. #63
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    I'm afraid I can't help there. Every band I've been in has had pretty straightforward vocals. Did you end up going with anything in particular, @Jinsai ?

    On my local Craigslist, there is a Virus B desktop for $400 and a Virus Indigo (also B) for $700. They call out to me at night. Am I foolish for ignoring their siren cries?

  4. #64
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    Quote Originally Posted by Leviathant View Post
    Did you end up going with anything in particular, @Jinsai?
    So far the best option I've found has been the Kaoss Pad, which is a little disappointing. I have a handful of complaints about each model I've tried out. EDIT: Actually, the TC Helicon VoiceLive Touch looks pretty damn cool.

    Also, if I didn't already have a TI, I would absolutely buy a Virus B for 400 bucks.
    Last edited by Jinsai; 12-09-2013 at 05:09 PM.

  5. #65
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    has anyone here gotten into building their own modular setup? I've been looking into starting a eurorack, but it all seems really daunting (and expensive)

  6. #66
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jinsai View Post
    has anyone here gotten into building their own modular setup? I've been looking into starting a eurorack, but it all seems really daunting (and expensive)
    I've deliberately avoided that rabbit hole. I would spend too much time collecting finicky gadgets that make weird noises than I would spend making music... and don't even get me started on the price. There are more than a couple forums out there with modular advice (Electro-music comes to mind) but given how many people don't make music on the simpler instruments they own, even fewer people who go the route of modular synths actually do anything with them that is both listenable and not something you do similarly on existing performance hardware/software for a lot less.

    I'm not knocking it, but I feel like it's more akin to restoring an old car. If you're ready to accept an expensive hobby because you know it'll be something you enjoy doing, go for it. If you want to better your music-making arsenal for actually making music, I think there are smarter options.

  7. #67
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    Cortini posted this awesome clip on his youtube, I think you guys might enjoy it:

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vFB0Hil5Qpk

    Now my question is, is it possible to play around and create sounds like that without spending hundreds of dollars on an analog synth?

  8. #68
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    Of course. There's plenty of cheaper keyboards out there to play around with or mod, like the "Moog Slayer" mod for the Korg Poly-800. It requires a little soldering know-how, you're basically attaching a pot to control the VCF (I think) in real-time.

    But yeah, there's always a way to make cool noises without spending a shitload of money. Consider trolling flea markets and craigslist for dirt-cheap effect pedals and running a synth through a bunch of them at a time, for example.

  9. #69
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    Quote Originally Posted by Fixer808 View Post
    Of course. There's plenty of cheaper keyboards out there to play around with or mod, like the "Moog Slayer" mod for the Korg Poly-800. It requires a little soldering know-how, you're basically attaching a pot to control the VCF (I think) in real-time.

    But yeah, there's always a way to make cool noises without spending a shitload of money. Consider trolling flea markets and craigslist for dirt-cheap effect pedals and running a synth through a bunch of them at a time, for example.
    Thanks! Well, I have no experience with that at all. I guess playing around on my macbook with some synth software would be the best start. Can you recommend something? I have a Raspberry Pi if that helps :P I saw some cool videos on youtube where someone has Pure Data running on his Rasp and creates cool sounds with a cheap MIDI controller.
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=G90SyKPVT1k

  10. #70
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    Propellerheads "Rebirth" is available for free these days, it's a TB-303, TR-808, TR-909 emulator from a number of years ago... Their program "Reason" is good as well. Software synths/effects/drum machines with a sequencer.

  11. #71
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    Has anyone had experience trying out/buying any of the Korg Volca line yet? I was in a music store today and asking about it. The guy said Korg's assembly process is totally fucked, so they're not building them near as fast as they should be, hence, at Long And McQuade locations across Canada, there is apparently ONE Bass, in Regina, and a ton of back-orders. Hopefully they start showing up, I'd like one please.

  12. #72
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    Quote Originally Posted by Leviathant View Post
    I've deliberately avoided that rabbit hole. I would spend too much time collecting finicky gadgets that make weird noises than I would spend making music... and don't even get me started on the price. There are more than a couple forums out there with modular advice (Electro-music comes to mind) but given how many people don't make music on the simpler instruments they own, even fewer people who go the route of modular synths actually do anything with them that is both listenable and not something you do similarly on existing performance hardware/software for a lot less.

    I'm not knocking it, but I feel like it's more akin to restoring an old car. If you're ready to accept an expensive hobby because you know it'll be something you enjoy doing, go for it. If you want to better your music-making arsenal for actually making music, I think there are smarter options.
    pretty much nailed my feelings on the modular craze. it just seems like it's the hip thing to do right now, and while there are certainly some great artists using this technology in cool ways, most of it just comes off as expensive trend-chasing hobbyists' delight. plus, with few exceptions, i haven't heard anything that's really blown my mind outside of what a smart, standard synth rig could do.

  13. #73
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    @screwdriver Over here! What questions did you have about the ER-1? I actually had two for a while, because I really liked what Korg did there. That's also the first piece of gear I bought new. I suppose it's vintage now, eh?

    As to music I have online, the Tears for Agnes album I recorded in 2004/2005 had some Electribe in it. Definitely on Downside, the first part of which was a mic hanging over the living room I was in at the time, recording my friend playing a strat while the Electribe played out of a shitty Crate amp. You can hear our front door closing. I think that's the only synthy music I have online. Up Your Cherry is a thing my wife and I do with a Mandocaster and some drums, and War Film is a heavy rock band I'm in, but we haven't put much online yet. Here's an early version of one of the songs we play. Also not synthy.

  14. #74
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    Quote Originally Posted by Leviathant View Post
    @screwdriver Over here! What questions did you have about the ER-1? I actually had two for a while, because I really liked what Korg did there. That's also the first piece of gear I bought new. I suppose it's vintage now, eh?

    As to music I have online, the Tears for Agnes album I recorded in 2004/2005 had some Electribe in it. Definitely on Downside, the first part of which was a mic hanging over the living room I was in at the time, recording my friend playing a strat while the Electribe played out of a shitty Crate amp. You can hear our front door closing. I think that's the only synthy music I have online. Up Your Cherry is a thing my wife and I do with a Mandocaster and some drums, and War Film is a heavy rock band I'm in, but we haven't put much online yet. Here's an early version of one of the songs we play. Also not synthy.
    whoa, how did I miss this area of the forum! (or maybe I forgot about it!)

    I'm listening to the Tears for Agnes stuff now and I really like it -- beautiful stuff, man.

    I guess with respect to the ER-1 I'm always curious about how people work the Electribes into their workflow. I've only ever sort of built patterns on it and then sampled those into Live and then sort of used it as loop fodder. Are you sequencing on the machine and then chaining patterns together into arrangements? If so, are you building the arrangements in the box and just slaving to midi clock, or are you changing the patterns from a sequencer? Or something else entirely?

  15. #75
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    MY computer recently died. I managed to get in there with an ERD disc and move over some project folders but other than that it is kaput. Windows repair is a no go, system restore is a no go, safe mode is a no go.

    Trying now to scrape some cash and get something powerful. I am looking at Dell since I heard they let you customize.


    Any recommendations from you folks?

  16. #76
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    Quote Originally Posted by mfte View Post
    MY computer recently died. I managed to get in there with an ERD disc and move over some project folders but other than that it is kaput. Windows repair is a no go, system restore is a no go, safe mode is a no go.

    Trying now to scrape some cash and get something powerful. I am looking at Dell since I heard they let you customize.


    Any recommendations from you folks?
    Follow DellOutlet on Twitter, and wait until they announce a coupon, and then buy your computer from the Dell Outlet using that coupon code. It's usually 15% off the already discounted prices available there. It's easily the best bang for the buck, and so long as you don't delve too far away into weird territory (all-in-one PCs, small form-factor PCs), it's pretty hard to go wrong. I've only had two major Dell failures. One was the Dell Zino, which looked neat, but it burned up hard drives. I had them replace the HD three times under warranty. The other failure I had was with my current computer, which is a beast, but had a weird glitch in the BIOS that made it incompatible with the line of Nvidia video cards I wanted to use - in nearly any other BIOS, you can enable and disable the onboard video manually, but for whatever reason, the Nvidia card wasn't sending the right PCI signal to the motherboard, so it wasn't automatically disabling online video, and ... long story short, they removed functionality from the BIOS and I couldn't run three monitors off my computer until a similarly spec'd AMD card was released.

    Other than that - I've been buying Dell Outlet laptops and desktops since 2002.

  17. #77
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    Quote Originally Posted by screwdriver View Post
    I'm listening to the Tears for Agnes stuff now and I really like it -- beautiful stuff, man.
    Thanks. Definitely a product of its time, but I'm still pretty proud of what we did. There are bits where I would have preferred live drums, but I sucked at drumming and certainly didn't have nice enough equipment. We are actually working on new stuff this year. It's been nine years, but we've learned a lot since then

    I guess with respect to the ER-1 I'm always curious about how people work the Electribes into their workflow. I've only ever sort of built patterns on it and then sampled those into Live and then sort of used it as loop fodder. Are you sequencing on the machine and then chaining patterns together into arrangements? If so, are you building the arrangements in the box and just slaving to midi clock, or are you changing the patterns from a sequencer? Or something else entirely?
    I always programmed on the ER-1. When it came out, it was the only modern drum machine with a TR-style interface. I found that so much more conducive to writing out ideas than the sequencers of the time. In the case of that Tears for Agnes album, we actually used next to no MIDI at all - it's all Reason and outboard gear. We certainly didn't use MIDI clock signal. I recorded everything into Sony Vegas, which I used more like a tape machine than a sequencer-oriented DAW.

    With the ER-1 in particular, I'd set up a few 4-measure patterns and basically run through the sequence live. If I did a particular variation, that'd be a copy of the sequence, which I'd record and then cut & paste the audio into place. Kind of archaic, but I'm of the mindset that it's less how you do something, and more that you actually are doing something. Oh, you've got gigs of samples, thousands of dollars of pirated plugins, and a Macbook pro? That's great, where's your album? Here, listen to the hours of music I made

    I've never learned how to use "Song Mode" on any of my machines except for the Tempest.

  18. #78
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    Quote Originally Posted by Leviathant View Post
    Follow DellOutlet on Twitter, and wait until they announce a coupon, and then buy your computer from the Dell Outlet using that coupon code. It's usually 15% off the already discounted prices available there. It's easily the best bang for the buck, and so long as you don't delve too far away into weird territory (all-in-one PCs, small form-factor PCs), it's pretty hard to go wrong. I've only had two major Dell failures. One was the Dell Zino, which looked neat, but it burned up hard drives. I had them replace the HD three times under warranty. The other failure I had was with my current computer, which is a beast, but had a weird glitch in the BIOS that made it incompatible with the line of Nvidia video cards I wanted to use - in nearly any other BIOS, you can enable and disable the onboard video manually, but for whatever reason, the Nvidia card wasn't sending the right PCI signal to the motherboard, so it wasn't automatically disabling online video, and ... long story short, they removed functionality from the BIOS and I couldn't run three monitors off my computer until a similarly spec'd AMD card was released.

    Other than that - I've been buying Dell Outlet laptops and desktops since 2002.
    Much obliged.

  19. #79
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    Quote Originally Posted by Leviathant View Post
    Thanks. Definitely a product of its time, but I'm still pretty proud of what we did. There are bits where I would have preferred live drums, but I sucked at drumming and certainly didn't have nice enough equipment. We are actually working on new stuff this year. It's been nine years, but we've learned a lot since then
    Rad! looking forward to hearing it.

    Quote Originally Posted by Leviathant View Post
    I always programmed on the ER-1. When it came out, it was the only modern drum machine with a TR-style interface. I found that so much more conducive to writing out ideas than the sequencers of the time. In the case of that Tears for Agnes album, we actually used next to no MIDI at all - it's all Reason and outboard gear. We certainly didn't use MIDI clock signal. I recorded everything into Sony Vegas, which I used more like a tape machine than a sequencer-oriented DAW.

    With the ER-1 in particular, I'd set up a few 4-measure patterns and basically run through the sequence live. If I did a particular variation, that'd be a copy of the sequence, which I'd record and then cut & paste the audio into place. Kind of archaic, but I'm of the mindset that it's less how you do something, and more that you actually are doing something. Oh, you've got gigs of samples, thousands of dollars of pirated plugins, and a Macbook pro? That's great, where's your album? Here, listen to the hours of music I made

    I've never learned how to use "Song Mode" on any of my machines except for the Tempest.
    Very interesting -- your process on the ER1 doesn't sound too far off from mine; a few times now and then I'll just put together a beat and then do a few variations and that will become the basis for a song, like on this: https://soundcloud.com/aion412/55expl

    I've never really gotten around to trying out the song mode on anything yet though its on my list of new years resolutions; I'd like to do an entire composition it, which I'll then inevitably sample into bits anyway. the idea comes from the same impulse as what you're saying about "actually doing something." Creativity comes from limitations.

    Have you heard of weeklybeats.com? I'm going to try and do it this year -- I managed to make the first week deadline, so we'll see. (All while I'm trying to record my band's album and also helping record other bands and trying to have a job….)

    That Tempest comment just threw me into an insane fit of jealousy ;-) Does it live up to the reputation? I thought about getting one but opted for the octatrack as sampling is more where my headspace is these days

  20. #80
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    Quote Originally Posted by screwdriver View Post
    Very interesting -- your process on the ER1 doesn't sound too far off from mine; a few times now and then I'll just put together a beat and then do a few variations and that will become the basis for a song, like on this: https://soundcloud.com/aion412/55expl
    Yup. The appeal of the ER-1, to me, was #1, the x0x style programming interface, and #2 the tweakability of the sounds. My first drum machine was a DR-660, which just sounded so sterile and dull, no matter what I did with it. I don't remember if there was step programming, it seemed to assume you'd play the beat overtop the metronome, which - really, a big reason why I liked drum machines at the time was because I am not a drummer. (That has since changed.) I got a Yamaha RY10 later, which had x0x style programming and actually had a really great digital drum sounds. By digital, I mean, they were these really terse drum samples of various origins (acoustic or synthetic). It didn't sound like an Alesis Sr-16 or a Boss anything. It's very 90s, for sure. But then the Electribe came out, and it was as close to what I wanted as there would be until the Tempest came out.

    I've never really gotten around to trying out the song mode on anything yet though its on my list of new years resolutions; I'd like to do an entire composition it, which I'll then inevitably sample into bits anyway. the idea comes from the same impulse as what you're saying about "actually doing something." Creativity comes from limitations.
    Absolutely! There was a recent interview with Trent I'd read or heard where he talked about how started working on Hesitation Marks, and speaking specifically about Came Back Haunted, he said something along the lines of, "I wrote it on this little analog synth, it doesn't even have a keyboard, it's got a ribbon controller" and I was like, he's totally talking about the Monotribe. Maybe the Monotron, but probably the Monotribe, because he's very often talked of starting songs out with drums and bass, which, there you go, Monotribe. And that got me to dust off my Monotron and noodle with it.

    That's also why I stick with the gear I have. I went through a cycle of buying and selling different drum machines, synthesizers, and you get sucked into that whole process. Now? I've got PLENTY to make music. Do I need an Access Virus? NO. If I'm making a song and there's a hole that only a Virus can fill, I'll think about it. But I've got more than enough to make music with, so I should damn well use it.

    Have you heard of weeklybeats.com? I'm going to try and do it this year -- I managed to make the first week deadline, so we'll see. (All while I'm trying to record my band's album and also helping record other bands and trying to have a job….)
    That's awesome. Stick with that, it's going to be so good to do. I haven't heard of it, but I know that's something I can't pull off this year. I've got a few musical things going on this year that will make me feel not so bad about that, but forcing yourself to write something new every week is really fucking great.

    That Tempest comment just threw me into an insane fit of jealousy ;-) Does it live up to the reputation? I thought about getting one but opted for the octatrack as sampling is more where my headspace is these days
    The Tempest is phenomenal, there is nothing else like it, I don't think there ever will be anything else like it. I've used it for a couple of live performances, which is where it truly shines. This isn't a great example of a Tempest beat, but the first thing I did with it was build some sounds, make a beat, and then just explore how you can modify a single beat in realtime. I put that up on Soundcloud. That's straight out of the back of the Tempest. The only edits I did were to remove more tedious tweaks I'd done, condensing the 'jam session' down to just a few minutes of the more demonstrative sounds.

    The synthesis engine is reaaaally deep, with great modulation paths, but it takes time and planning to build drum sounds from scratch that are usable. Frankly, the preset beats just aren't that great - but I didn't buy it to use presets. If I want sweet preset analog sounds, I turn on my TR-606 or DR-110. Bringing it back around to Came Back Haunted (which, honestly, is among my least favorite NIN songs), the cover done on a Tempest (by a guy who works at DSI) is a much better indicator of how flexible and performable it is.

    I usually buy my gear used, on the cheap - but I pre-ordered the Tempest, even knowing that it would not be feature-complete on release date, because I wanted to put my money behind such an awesome concept. My serial number is less than 250 - but I have no idea how high Tempest serial numbers go, either. There was someone in September 2012 who had #1909 (apparently faulty), so they've gotta be up past 2500 by now. I love it and am glad to have adopted early - worth every single penny. So much so that the wifey and I put together the best hardshell case a DSI Tempest will ever know. (I'm not normally one to brag, but I have to flaunt that.)

  21. #81
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    I understand why people are bashing the modular craze here, but having played around with some amazing racks, I guess I'll just leave this here and say that you're avoiding (or at least missing) something in your dismissal guys:

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=S5DUQCaS1rY

    I haven't put a dime into this money vampire, and I'm hesitant to do so, but if you love synths and "electronic sound" I don't get how you can just say "fuck it" to the possibilities here.

  22. #82
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    AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAH, back, foul temptress!!

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    whilse I'd love to get into the whole modular thing, I like sticking with things like the Shurthi-1 and Meeblip.. cheaper.. same DIY pleasure, but also small and easy to manage. The Shruthi XT looks lovely though.. and the the other Mutable Instruments stuff... I've been trying to put together a little micro-music case which mixes DIY synths, a Raspberry Pi and some other bits.. so far I've been a bit slack on making it actually work. (http://instagram.com/p/d9b46OrvMv/)

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    i just picked up a novation bass station 2 today to supplement or replace the live bass guitar on certain tracks. made a few decent buzzing low end patches, but hoping to keep fiddling to find something more warm. either way, digging it so far.

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    just bought me one of those on ebay:




    The FB-01 is simply an inexpensive, 8 part multitimbral digital FM synth module. It's only a 4-operator synth which is less than, say a DX-7. This simply means its sounds are not quite as good. You will need an external MIDI system exclusive editor to edit the patches. This can be accomplished by a dedicated editor program like Unisyn, or by creating SysEx control messages within your sequencing program. The FB-01 has a lot of organ, piano, brass, bass, guitar, percussion, and lead sounds. Basically this is a good source of typical FM-sounds at a low price.

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    Quote Originally Posted by frankie teardrop View Post
    i just picked up a novation bass station 2 today to supplement or replace the live bass guitar on certain tracks. made a few decent buzzing low end patches, but hoping to keep fiddling to find something more warm. either way, digging it so far.
    Innnnteresting. So many great bass synths have come out in the last couple of years, and the Bass Station 2 came seemingly out of nowhere. I've heard a lot of great things about it - people generally saying "don't believe the hype about those other things, Novation's got it going on."

    Out of curiosity, have you tried running your bass through a Boss SYB-3? (Just googled, I guess they're up to SYB-5, whatever that means.)

    On an unrelated note, even though I really have no need for one, I'm really anxious to see and hear a demo of Roland's new drum machine. It appears to be more ER-1 and less 808, to me, but that's not necessarily a bad thing. Buuuut between my ER1, 606, 110, and Tempest, I'd be a fool to buy the TR-8... unless it's stupid cheap, and sounds good enough to replace my ER1. But I'm doubting that'll happen.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Leviathant View Post
    Out of curiosity, have you tried running your bass through a Boss SYB-3? (Just googled, I guess they're up to SYB-5, whatever that means.)
    i've tried a few synth/bass pedals, and was even considering the electro harmonix bass synth reissue, but in the end, as much as it makes things simpler on stage, i don't like the sound of them as much. i either like really post-punk/chorus-y bass or really deep, drone-y synth bass that only a keyboard can provide. the pedals just seem too pew pew pew/blip blip etc. i even had a moogerfooger bass murf, the holy grail of bass synth pedals, and i sold it with no regrets.

    Quote Originally Posted by Leviathant
    On an unrelated note, even though I really have no need for one, I'm really anxious to see and hear a demo of Roland's new drum machine. It appears to be more ER-1 and less 808, to me, but that's not necessarily a bad thing. Buuuut between my ER1, 606, 110, and Tempest, I'd be a fool to buy the TR-8... unless it's stupid cheap, and sounds good enough to replace my ER1. But I'm doubting that'll happen.
    i just heard about that, and that's promising... but as you say yourself, between my modded 606, the 707, and r8mkII (which has the best 808/909 samples out there), i'm probably set. they're really all about reissuing drum machines synths lately, so it seems. i'm dying for a more compact version of the classic juno series (60/106), or at least, a more portable polyphonic synth with a classic rs09 sort of string sound, but i'm not holding my breath.

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    Quote Originally Posted by wizfan View Post
    Psst, look at the post above you

    AIRA appears to be the name of the line of equipment, the drum machine is the Roland TR-8, and synth nerds speculate as bad as NIN fans. The best sourced/thought-out rumor is that it's going to be a virtual analog, using the "superNATURAL" synth engine that they've used in the Jupiter 80. There are dubious sounding claims that it'll have some kind of Wifi MIDI scheme to communicate with the other DJ-focused AIRA items, of which at least four will be debuted at NAMM. The VT-3's already been leaked, and supposedly reliable sources are saying there's a TB-3 to go with the TR-8.

    If the TR-8 sounds and functions good, and costs, say, $450 or less, I might sell my ER-1 and replace it with the Roland box. And then desolder all the green LEDs from it. Maybe. But at this point, all we have is a photo from a weird angle. The proof is in the sound. Maybe the beats in the background of the promo video are from the new drum machine. They're focusing on less interesting stuff now, and are obviously waiting for NAMM to do a proper unveiling of the AIRA line.

    Clearly, I've bought into the hype a bit. They have my interest, but I know from experience that Roland is usually a let-down for me.

    On the other hand, I still have my Korg catalog from 2000. Those guys were firing on all cylinders even back then.

  30. #90
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    Quote Originally Posted by Leviathant View Post
    Psst, look at the post above you
    Crap! And I did search the previous posts to see if it had been posted before. My bad. Anyway, I wonder if they're actually trying to do something innovative with the new drum machine, or simply cash in on the fame the 808 has been getting in recent popular music.

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