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January 25, 2006

NAMM 2006 Part 2

Complete NAMM 2006 Picture Set

Jeff Kellem's Picture Set

- I got a chance to check out the JazzMutant Lemur in person. The bantering about on the web doesn't do it justice. It's not just a touch sensitive LCD control surface for DAWs or synths. The unit is programmed with a drag and drop GUI interface on a host computer and offers some really interesting interactive manipulation tools. I was disappointed to learn that the unit does not speak MIDI but only ethernet, which means a host computer is required for live performance. Maybe they'll eventually rectify this, or someone will release an OSC to MIDI converter.

- Robert Rich was demoing the TimewARP 2600 software at the M-Audio booth. It's the first ARP 2600 emulator I've heard that allows high frequency audio rate modulation of oscillators. I was disappointed that sidebands disappeared around 10-12khz, but the software's creator stated that he had used one of the 2600s with bandlimited filters when modeling the 2600. It would be interesting to see switchable 2600 filter types down the road. One really nifty feature of the software is the ability to route velocity, aftertouch, and continuous controllers to any parameter with variable range and amount per parameter. With this amount of flexibility the CS80 finally has some competition for expressive sounds.

- While walking the show floor I stumbled upon the Diamond Guitar Pedals booth. I had recalled seeing these in a boutique guitar shop a while back but hadn't thought much of them. However, Diamond had all their pedals open and available for a peek inside at the booth. They are not afraid to show off the top notch design and construction. I was especially impressed with Memory Lane delay pedal especially in operation. The thing sounds absolutely wonderful and offers tap tempo which few if any analogue delays offer.

- The Pigtronix Envelope Phaser had an interesting sound and is a concept I don't think that's been explored before. Take an envelope follower and use it to shift the phase of the input signal.

- Electro Harmonix announced the 2880 super multi-track looper pedal. It offers four tracks, length quantize, reverse, writes to compact flash cards, and can connect to a computer via USB. Unfortunately, unlike the Digitech JamMan only one loop set can reside in memory at a time, whereas 99 loops can be stored in the JamMan. The JamMan however only supports overdubs whereas the 2880 supports four discrete tracks.

- The new Little Labs LMNOPRE mic preamp was on display at the show. The unit features fully discrete differential topology from input to output, built in IBP phase alignment box, DI input, and some sort of low frequency resonator/EQ circuit which I didn't quite get the full gist of. The unit looks to be a top notch product in the same vein of the John Hardy preamps but with the addition of the IBP this box really stands out. It should be shipping by summertime. I spent some time playing with the stand alone IBP phase alignment box at the show and was amazed at what the box can do to the perception of high and low frequency content. Definitely something I'll be looking at picking up in the not so distant future.

- And finally, the Looperlative LP1 rackmount multitrack looper looked interesting, however the person manning the booth was more interested in playing guitar than demoing how the box works. It offers eight simultaneous stereo loops, full midi control, and ethernet for off-line storage and updates.

Posted by cary at 12:22 AM

January 24, 2006

NAMM 2006 Part 1

Complete NAMM 2006 Picture Set

Jeff Kellem's Picture Set

- Nothing new at the Moog booth, contrary to rumors before the show. I gave the new Voyager 3.x software a whirl. The new data entry knob function is a welcome addition and the octave transpose shortcut is nice as well.

- The Crewjman eurorack format modular stuff looks killer. It's very shallow so you could do a EMS style modular in suitcase sort of thing. Hopefully the production units will have the spelling errors corrected.

- Paul Schreiber's new MOTM frac-rack format modules look great, and existing MOTM owners will be jealous of the looping and manual trigger features on the MOTM-1800 ADSR module. Modules at the show included the MOTM-1490 Moog style ladder filter ($199), MOTM-1485 Yamaha GX filter ($229), MOTM-1190 dual VCA ($249), and MOTM-1800 looping ADSR ($139). Other modules promised for 2006 are the MOTM-1650 MIDI to CV converter ($429), MOTM-1510 wavewarper ($299), MOTM-1475 diode bandpass filter ($249), and MOTM-1300 VCO ($299). The frac-rack modules will the sold through Analogue Haven.

- Jared's new Future Retro XS sounds great. He's put a good bit of effort into the prepatched routing and this synth can do some neat tricks. Target price of $600ish seems high to me compared the great value of his other products but isn't out of line when compared to purchasing individuals modules from modular manufacturers. I really liked the sound and attack/decay accent feature.

- New Buchla modules. The 250e Arbitrary Function Generator (sequencer) with knobs for each step instead of single knob data entry as on the 249e. The 261e Complex Waveform Generator (VCO) is an analogue oscillator with built in audio rate modulation source and voltage controlled waveshaper. I liked the idea of the 256e Quad Control Voltage Processor but was disappointed that is only has a single break point. I would much rather be able to load complex transfer functions (even 7 bit would be fine) from MIDI or USB. And finally, the coolest new addition to the 200e line is the combination Thunder/Lightning module pair. The Thunder control surface is installed in the bottom boat, and the I/O module in the top boat. There seemed to be a good bit of flexibility in assignments and the ability to do two polyphonic groups. I thought it was fun to play and would enjoy checking out a full fledged Thunder now.

- The Metasonix S-1000 tube based modular synth was on display in not one, but two booths. Interesting sounds and textures. A bit more controllable than previous Metasonix synth products with quite a few modulation routings built in. I was even tracking over a two octave range.

- Dave Smith's new mono Evolver keyboard is a welcome addition to the Evolver family. Editing is much easier than on the original Evolver (but not as swift as the poly Evolver) and sequence editing is only a single button press away. I was disappointed to see that the sequencer knobs do double duty with the filter and VCA parameters although in actual use it was effortless to switch between the sequence edit and patch edit mode on the fly. Street price will be around $1200 and I'll likely be selling off my original Evolver to partially finance the

- Korg was showing their new Radias concept synth. It appears to be the replacement for the MS2000 line and had an interesting (although not so well-engineered or sturdy) tilt up panel. The synth itself is a shallow 4U rackmount device, and the keyboard and supporting frame are designed to be generic so as to support other modules down the road.

Posted by cary at 03:23 PM

January 12, 2006

Do It Yourself Akai MPC60 Memory Upgrade

For under $20 in parts (and 2-3 hours of your time) you can max out the RAM in your Akai MPC-60. The following parts are available from Jameco and other electronics suppliers:

Remove the voice board from the MPC60 then perform the following steps:

  1. Desolder the six 514256 DRAM ICs installed on the voice board.
  2. Install IC sockets.
  3. Bend pins 3 and 16 on the new DRAM ICs outward at a 45 degree angle.
  4. Solder the new DRAM ICs on top of the old DRAM ICs leaving pins 3 and 16 unconnected.
  5. Install new double stacked DRAM ICs into sockets.
  6. Connect pin 3 (WE) of all three top DRAM ICs in the left most bank together and to pin 2 of the adjacent 48 pin euro socket.
  7. Connect pin 16 (OE) of all three top DRAM ICs in the left most bank together and to pin 5 of the adjacent 48 pin euro socket.
  8. Connect pin 3 (WE) of all three top DRAM ICs in the right most bank together and to pin 10 of the adjacent 48 pin euro socket.
  9. Connect pin 16 (OE) of all three top DRAM ICs in the right most bank together and to pin 11 of the adjacent 48 pin euro socket.

Reinstall the voice board, boot up the unit, go to Sounds then Sample new sound and verify maximum sample time is now 26.2 seconds.

Pictures of MPC60 memory expansion hack

Posted by cary at 01:55 AM

January 08, 2006

The Biggest Loser

No, not the lame show on network TV of the same name. These losers have spent way too much time fabricating their on-line persona. I give you the winners:

these fourteen motley souls


these 23 "beauty school for the blind" victims

Posted by cary at 08:29 PM