Waldorf Microwave 1 vs Microwave 2

Waldorf  Microwaves are top wavetable synthetizers, they are the direct descendents of the awesome PPG WAVE.

Analizing the two models (assuming that the XT is an enhanced version of the 2, but it sounds the same) the most important difference is the fact that the Microwave 1 is a hybrid synth with digital oscillators with VCF and VCA (so an analog 24dB lowpass filter for each voice and a vca) while the Microwave 2 is a fully digital DSP synth.

The differences are evident, the microwave 1 has a more organic and warm sound, sound heavier in the mix and is darker, the microwave 2 is more versatile as the synth has multimode filters, a cleaner sound and a lot more functions, but it sounds colder.
One thing to notice is the envelope clicking.
Both the 1 & 2 have env clicking, but while the 2 can be prevented from clicking with a well programmed env curve, on the mw1 the attack clicks, so this noisy attack cannot be avoided.
here is a demo comparison from Retrosound youtube channel:

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Yamaha PSS 390 mini synth demo


The Yamaha PSS 390 is the “toy keyboard” claimed to have the better and best sounding FM synth engine in the toy range.
It has 100 tones that can be widely modified with the tone controls, instead of button +/- it features sliders to edit the synth parameters.
The only lack is the midi control that however can be added by retrofit.
It can be seen in action in the videos of the band “the Apparat Organ Quartet”.

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Circuit Bending the Casio SA serie (part2)

This is a glitch/random bend by Finlay Shakespeare http://www.futuresoundsystems.co.nr .
The mod was originally done on the casio sa1 but it should work with all the sa-serie.

Casio SA Bends

Here is another random/glitch mod I found in a couple of forums:

Casio SA-7 bend diagram

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Circuit bending the Casio SA-serie

Doing some circuit bending on my casio keyboards I collected some useful schematics to “safe-bend” the casio sa serie (sa 1 2 5 8 10 20 etc).
The main mod is the one from Casperelectronics that adds interesting bends as the “glitch/randomizer” , “feedback” , “5th add”, “pitch shift” and the classic “power crash”.

Casio SA-X

In the forum www.circuitbenders.co.uk I found another scheme based on the casper mod but with some adds.

SA-Xbends

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Zoom ST-224 Sampletrak review

Zoom ST 224 Sampletrak

During the late 90’s started the phrase sampler commercial boom.
All the big brand had their “groove sampler” for the “groove musician”.
Boss started their SP-serie , Korg marketed the ES-1 , Akai had the Remix16 (mid 90’s) then the s-20, Yamaha presented their SU-serie.
Zoom came out with the ST-224 Sampletrack in 1999, a cheap alternative to the Korg Es-1 and Boss SP-303.

The Zoom can store up to 32 samples in memory and has a 3 bank kit with 24 samples in use max (8 samples x 3 kit= 24 samples).
There are 3 sample grades: Hi-fi 32 kHz , Standard 16kHz , Lo-fi 8kHz with 18 bit DAC.
The effect bank is really useful for creative manipulation of the recorded material but even to process audio in signals.
This machine is quite basic but has some really interesting features.

  • It can play samples with different samplerates in the same kit
  • resampling from the main out (it means you can resample a pattern with effects)
  • a bunch of interesting and useful effects that can be used even on “audio in” material, not only on samples
  • A great PITCH function (+/- 36 semitones)
  • pitch scaling (to play a sample chromatically on the pads).

Compared to other samplers of that period the zoom lacked a real sequencer and had no envelope for amplitude modulation.
On the other hand the pitch function is the best found on this kind of sampler, and the sound is really grainy (in lo-fi mode) to be up there with the old ones like the Akai mpc60 and Emu SP1200.
The Sampletrack was targeted to loops sampling/play this is the reason why the sequencer has only 8 songs and only realtime recording.
The good point is that the quantize and shuffle functions are really effective on one shot samples, making the sampletrack a really good beatbox.
The resampling capabilities of resample its own patterns with the sequencer running (not possible on the others loop samplers) together with the effects make the zoom stand up.

There is an application (for Windows users) that can be really handy , ZMF Producer, that let you edit and program all the parameters and samples stored on the smartmedia card and to load .wav and .aiff files on the machine.

This is an all in one great beatbox for hip hop / trip hop production, give it a try!

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Depeche Mode drum processing Live

The drum processing for the live performance on the last Depeche Mode tour.
The main tool used is Ableton used like a rack instrument platform with various plug ins processing the drum elements.

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Studio Electronics SE1 vs ATC1

Usually people look at the ATC-1 as a stripped down SE-1 , in fact looking at the specs the SE1 seems a top featured synth with 3 VCO, 2 filters , 4 envelopes, 3 lfo, ringmod, noise etc… while ATC-1 with its 2 VCO, 3 ENV , 2 LFO and a coloured push-membrane panel with one only knob does not look handy and full featured as its brother.

Comparing the two Studio Electronics side by side let’s get a totally different opinion.

Studio Electronics SE-1

The first thing to notice is the different “sound”, while the SE1 has a kind of boomin’ majesty the ATC1 sounds really snappy and more aggressive with a more “vintage” feel.

The VCOs have different carachters, in the SE1 are regular and full of harmonics on the bass range, the ATC1 VCOs are more angular and grittier on the high frequencies.

Talking about the filters, testing both the SE1 and ATC1 with the MOOG FILTER, the SE-1 has a boomin’rounder sound, very powerful in the sub range, the ATC-1 has a more punchy percussive behaviour and a slightly bigger response in the frequency cut off min-max gap, like if the filter could reach higher frequencies/ get more open.

studio_electronics_atc1_a

The ENVELOPE section is the part that more influences the sound together with the VCA.

The SE-1 has booming env , not really fast but really effective to get the presence and power on the bass frequencies range for basses and percussions and to get the smooth leads that are a part of the carachter of this synth.

The VCA on the SE1 is really warm and smooth, resulting in a really dinamic but always warm and clean sound.

On the ATC-1 the ENVELOPEs are really snappy and fast, and make the synth really percussive sounding, with an awesome power on punchy basses, not as deep as the SE1, but really kicking.

The ATC1 VCA is more raw and vintage sounding, it’s less smooth than the SE-1 but it results in some way more organic and alive.

studio_electronics_se1_filter

The big difference in the synthetizing capabilities is the CROSS-MOD present on the ATC-1 and absent on the SE-1.

This particular function that let the vco2 modulate the vco1 and/or the filter cutoff frequency let shine the ATC-1 in modular-type sounds, and is the main reason that make us understand that the ATC-1 is not the little brother of the SE1 but a totally weird machine with a target towards classic analog sounds but also for experimental stuff, while the SE1 is more on the classic and “safe” side of monophonic type of sounds.

studio_electronics_atc1_c

I don’t mean that the SE1 is a machine good only for simple sounds like basses or leads, it can get on experimental sounds too, but the cross mod on the ATC1 is far more effective and open to experimental sound creation.

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