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

  1. #1
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    Synthlust! (Or, how to make music without your computer)

    I feel like I was starting to derail the very excellent How To Make Music With Your Computer thread by talking about gear, so I'm starting a new thread, on account of discovering the Cyclone Analogic TT-303, a picture-perfect clone of the infamous Roland TB-303 that sells for $700 (note: at the time of this post, the two TB-303s listed on eBay are going for over $2000). Here's the twist - as much as I feel G.A.S. (Gear acquisition syndrome) when I see pictures of that, I know from tinkering with Rebirth and from borrowing a friend's FR-777 for a few weeks that I do not need this. Those are my five favorite words, they keep me from spending money on things I shouldn't be spending money on. But the devil is in the details (and I'm not talking about the fact that you can get the Devilfish mod on the TT-303).

    You see, the makers of the TT-303 have another device coming down the pike. A clone of the TR-606 called the TT-606. And when news of that arrives, my bank account will not be safe. I will pre-order that thing so fast, you have no idea. A brand new 606 with MIDI? Yes please, very much so. Don't get me wrong, I love my DSI Tempest, and I'm enough of a fan of the Boss DR-110 to not only maintain a 13-year old info site about it, but also emulate a DR-110 with Javascript. But there's a certain oomf the 606 provides, and I would like to have that in my arsenal without worrying all the problems associated with 30 year old electronics.

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    I knew a guy who had the TR-727, the odd latin version of the 707. I'll tell you this: "star-chime" could not have been used more.

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

    FINALLY got micron os updated via sysex. What a massive pain that was. I've now got some of the new miniak goodies on it.

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    This weekend, I was weak. A TR-606 came up on philadelphia.craigslist.org, single owner, with carrying case, for a decent price. I had bought one over a decade ago for $75 (it was non-functioning). With a little bit of solder, it was functioning again, and I sold it a few weeks later for $250. Pretty good turnaround, but I've regretted selling it ever since. That has now been rectified, and also satisfies this stupid want of a shiny silver noise box from the early-mid 80s.

    If Cyclone Analogic releases a decent TR-606 clone with MIDI though, this sucker's going right up on eBay.

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    i got myself a tr707 for an early xmas treat and i can't wait to have a go at it. the 606 is pretty great too, might have to get one as well. only then, can combine the two to fulfill my childhood dream of recreating cocteau twins records.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=teS_ig-6aNU



    otherwise, i need to get started on writing now that i'm bandless and have a lot more free time. i have a bass, a juno 60, and the 707. not sure where to go from here, but going to give it a go...
    Last edited by frankie teardrop; 01-14-2013 at 12:38 PM.

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    I built this baby over the weekend.. It sounds ace and I'm pretty chuffed it actually worked!:

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

    Is that the shruthi you posted earlier? Cool! Got any sound clips up?

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    My hardware is kinda sparse right now. A Korg Poly 800 that's always served me well, and an odd pair of drum machines I got off a friend (we used them long ago in our band): A Boss Dr Rhythm DR-550, and a Yamaha RX-15. Through the right effects pedals/banks they were capable of some pretty cool sounds. Very "Skinny Puppy" at times, as this DR-550 demo shows.

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    Quote Originally Posted by jmtd View Post
    Is that the shruthi you posted earlier? Cool! Got any sound clips up?
    It is indeed. I've barely scratched the surface of the noises, mostly just had a bit of fun with the presets (which are over on the Shruthi soundcloud page here: https://soundcloud.com/mutable-instr...ents-shruthi-1)

    The interface is okay at best... there are a lot of menus buried under those buttons, but I'm slowly finding my way around.

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    Love the sound of the arpeggio that starts at 8:45. It needs a nice warm, high pad to go with it!

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    well, i caved quicker than i thought i would and bought myself a 606 for $300. really psyched!

    also got an interface the other day (an akai eie) and spent a sick day yesterday tinkering around with it. my bass chops are a bit lacking after six months of not playing, but i came up with this in about 2 hours, using the 707, bass with chorus, & a kawaii k4, my wife's old synth from her metal days:

    http://www.soundcloud.com/the-harrow/descension
    Last edited by frankie teardrop; 01-17-2013 at 01:35 PM.

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    Missed a 25 key xiosynth this week. Noticed xiosynth listed as an instrument on Pere Ubu's new album "Lady From Shanghai", or at least the demos: http://www.hearpen.com/hr156.html

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    Was browsing Vintagesynth just now and came across this thing:


    Weird. It looks like something you would use to torture Kirk while he's strapped to a chair... Cackling while you adjust the sliders, the light-screen above his face...

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    If anybody would like to buy this for me I would be very grateful.

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    UNF. Korg's re-releasing the MS-20, but with mini-keys and MIDI (the guts are still analog, however). €600, shipping in February. Must... resist...

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

    That's pretty awesome. the iMS-20 on the iPad is AMAZING. Always wanted to use an actual one.

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    the MS-20 looked really cool and compact.

    Here's a demo of the sub phatty in action. Once they start using the outboard effects it sounds quite good: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=V_kiqQpiVjE

    One thing I quite like is that when he shifts the keyboard octaves, the current pitch moves/fades to the new octave range smoothly rather than snapping.
    Last edited by jmtd; 01-22-2013 at 02:50 AM.

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    OK I plunged and got a novation xiosynth 25. I'm not after an amazing synth, I'm after the equivalent of training wheels on a bike. The fact it's an IO interface, can be powered by USB and batteries and is lightweight and small (25 keys), plus the fact it's very knobby, and there is some rudimentary software supplied by novation, means I think I'll get up to riding a two-wheeled bike more quickly and then get more out of my other kit, more quickly. Plus I can use it in more contexts than my one-desk micron and PC combo, which my SO is often using for her work anyway. Although I might sell my micron now. If I miss it I could pick up the miniak. The micron might bankroll the xio, and I've got a wedding to pay for too No fast decisions until the xio turns up.

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    Quote Originally Posted by jmtd View Post
    the MS-20 looked really cool and compact.

    Here's a demo of the sub phatty in action. Once they start using the outboard effects it sounds quite good: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=V_kiqQpiVjE

    One thing I quite like is that when he shifts the keyboard octaves, the current pitch moves/fades to the new octave range smoothly rather than snapping.
    IT'S SO FAT!!! Gear-lust rising...

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

    I just started reading through sound on sound's old "synth secrets" column, which IMHO is excellent. Lots of theory. 60 odd parts, index here http://www.soundonsound.com/search?u...ll&Summary=Yes

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

    So many analogue synths announced... So little polytimbre the prophet 12 looks the most "sensible" of the namm crop and its still only monotimbral.

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    Yeah, this has got to be the most exciting NAMM for analog enthusiasts since the late 90s. Although, in the same breath, I'm betting Moog's Sub-Phatty going to be hurt by the absurdly inexpensive MS-20. I kind of had my eyes on a Minibrute, and when the Sub-Phatty images started coming out, I thought, mayyybe I'll save up a grand and get one of those -- but the MS-20 mini announcement has me forgetting all that. I realize that, while in reality I probably don't need an analog monosynth, the signal processing options that an MS-20 brings to the table are alone worth the cost of admission. Still, I'm not pre-ordering... I'm going to save up my cash and earn it.

    It's pretty funny/sad to see the (admittedly minority) reactions on some of the synth forums - there are people moaning that you can't store patches on the MS-20 mini. When I posted about the MS-20 mini on Facebook, one of my friends replied "$600 " You can't please everyone. Nonetheless, I think Korg just knocked this out of the park. As much as I bemoan the ubiquity of Microkorgs, I expect the same thing to happen with MS-20s and that can't be all that bad. It's funny this happens the same year some third-party creates a TB-303 recreation. While Roland typically misses the point when these trends pick up, I think it would be really clever (and a bit sad) if Roland sued Cyclone Analogic for their technology and then re-released the TB-303. A better outcome would be to work with Cyclone Analog in some kind of licensing/cooperation deal, but that doesn't seem especially lawyer-proof at first glance.

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    Loving my Yamaha PSRE433

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    While I'm here, I wanted to ask about the Tempest for anyone who knows. Was considering selling some gear to get one, but I read that when it was released it could only play in 4/4 time. Is that still the case? That would be a pretty surprising limitation.

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    They released a patch a few months ago, and you can do all kinds of time signatures now. In fact, at the last Up Your Cherry show, I even programmed out a whole song that's mostly in 7/4, but has a couple of measures of 4/4 (and no, it doesn't sound anything like March of the Pigs). The complaints lately have been that the MIDI implementation isn't great. It is kind of embarrassing that a drum machine with the name of the guy who invented MIDI on it has so many quirks. The main developer (who is very easy to talk to via the DSI forums or via Gearslutz) has said that the next revision involves rewriting the MIDI code from scratch. That's pretty severe. The USB jack didn't do anything for the first six months I had it, and updating the firmware via SYSEX was a slow and delicate task. Now that MIDI USB is working, that's no longer an issue.

    The Tempest is the only drum machine I've ever preferred programming live vs. step programming. Writing beats on it comes quite effortlessly. It is not an Electribe, it's a complicated synthesizer, and although it's easy to work with all the parameters, synthesizing drums that don't suck takes time & practice - and the presets kinda blow. (Except the Little Red Corvette pattern, which is superfluously great) That said, there have been some really great 'how-to' posts on the DSI forums for all kinds of different ideas, and apparently a whole new preset pack is coming out with some upcoming OS update.

    Go sign up to http://dsiforum.org/viewforum.php?f=24 and have a look around (the user named Pym is the main programmer for the Tempest OS), but keep in mind that's like going to ETS - you'll see a lot of people complaining loudly about something they really really like, in amongst the more standard synth forum stuff. And I can't say I blame them - the Tempest was sold as an unfinished product. I've owned it for over a year, and it's still not quite there... however, the 'todo' list doesn't have anything to do with what I use mine for, so, whatever.

    The nice thing about that is you can land a used one and save hundreds of dollars. I kind of regret having pre-ordered, just because I paid the early adopter tax, but in the same breath, it's pretty much exactly the kind of machine I've always wanted, and so I did some extra work on the side and put in an early order to support the very existence of such a device. If it came out of the door with everything it said it had, I think it would be a classic on the level of the Minimoog or the 808 or other such legendary devices (Which, importantly, hold their value). The error-prone year of beta OS releases has dampened the party somewhat. Take advantage of that

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    I'll check out the Dave Smith forum. Thanks, but before I go there if I could ask a question regarding your personal experience with the kit...

    Would you say it's reliable for a live gig? That's probably the main reason we're picking one up, and while I'll still be running my laptop, we were planning on having a Tempest slaved to the computer's clock. Has it just been issues with the USB (we were planning on sync'ing it via MIDI cables)? The Virus TI also launched as an unfinished piece of gear, and while I love the thing to death and would never part with it, I don't think I would rely on it live.

    So far we've been looking at either going with an Elektron Monomachine or Machinedrum, or the Tempest. The Tempest is the most expensive out of the bunch, but it also seems the most enticing, but the most important aspect is how reliable it is as a slaved device.
    Last edited by Jinsai; 03-08-2013 at 05:27 AM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Jinsai View Post
    I'll check out the Dave Smith forum. Thanks, but before I go there if I could ask a question regarding your personal experience with the kit...

    Would you say it's reliable for a live gig? That's probably the main reason we're picking one up, and while I'll still be running my laptop, we were planning on having a Tempest slaved to the computer's clock. Has it just been issues with the USB (we were planning on sync'ing it via MIDI cables)? The Virus TI also launched as an unfinished piece of gear, and while I love the thing to death and would never part with it, I don't think I would rely on it live.

    So far we've been looking at either going with an Elektron Monomachine or Machinedrum, or the Tempest. The Tempest is the most expensive out of the bunch, but it also seems the most enticing, but the most important aspect is how reliable it is as a slaved device.
    The Tempest is, more than anything else, designed to be used live. The way that, in pattern mode, if you press the roll button, it causes the current beat to stutter until you let go, and jumps back in where it should be. The way the knobs can be used to control that parameter across all the drum sounds being played (pitch is fun for that one), the dual pressure-sensitive ribbon controllers, and of course, the MPC style pads.

    But your question is about slaving it to a clock... that's a great question, but not one that I'm not really able to answer myself, as that's, funnily enough, not how I really use it, not yet anyway. For the first time in a very, very long time, I have finally hooked everything MIDI that I own into the MIDI in & out of my Projectmix IO, but I'm using an old Kawai MX8R as a MIDI through box, and I think that's introducing significant lag. At least, I hope that's the case. Anyhow, I think someone at the DSI forum will be better suited to answer your question, if someone else hasn't already asked it. Standalone, it's fucking great live. And yeah, it's definitely pricey. If I add up what I've paid for all the other synth gear I own, and maybe even throw in a guitar and bass, it would come to about as much as I've paid for the Tempest.

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    so since i last posted in this thread i've been on a gear buying frenzy, obviously not necessarily following @Leviathant 's original mantra of i do not need this. the damage so far:

    korg kr55 (so early depeche mode it hurts- used one of these on a frank just frank track last year and love it)
    yamaha rx5 (individual outs- thank god)
    waldorf blofeld desktop synth (will use kawai k4 as midi controller as well as on its own. i bought this primarily to get the samples of an rs09, which costs almost as much as this and can only do the one thing, so this was mostly a logical buy that should open some more synth possibilities without chucking $ away at more space-eating synths)

    and i even got the ol' 606 modded with individual outputs by a friend who's good with things like this. i also have my eyes on a roland r8 mkII, so that's probably next when i get a few bucks. somebody help me.

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    how do you like the Blofeld? For a while I was really tempted to get one of those.

    We've been doing some more research into it, and I think we've decided that we're going to get a (used) Tempest.

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