Posts Tagged 8bit

Yamaha VSS30 Glitch Percussions

I’ve done this video to show the Yamaha VSS30 in the sample editing territory…
A simple plick made beating two pens together near the onboard mic can be transformed in a rhythm…

Something like the bouncing ball by Aphex Twin…

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Casio SK-5 review

Casio SK5

Casio SK5

The Casio SK serie started with the SK-1 (one of the best selling toy keyboard of the period) and the target was a the consumer market.
The little sampler was technically far from the professional counterpart like Emu or Akai, it was just a toy with a tiny memory of few seconds and no memory retain.
Soon after the SK1 the SK5 followed.
The sK5 was an upgraded version of the SK1 with more sampling time, the capability to sample 4 sounds and to retain the sound in memory even with the power swithed off (if the keyboard run on batteries).
The sampling specifics were the same as the SK1 (8bit- 9,38KHz) quite low even for the time, and apart from didattic use by children, the sk seemed at that time just a toy.

The cheap prices of second hads SK and the “Anti Theory” of Reed Ghazala made the fame of the little sk grow.
The interesting circuit bending capabilities of this instruments made them popular between the circuit bending community as a “must have” together with the  “Speak & Spell”.

The Antitheory statement , by Reed Ghazala, is that you don’t have to know anything about electronics to do circuitbending.
A circuitbend is like an energy flow thru shortcircuits…
A circuit is not designed to have shortcircuits , so you have to “think different” !

The SK5 is now a well known and is now considered  a “real instrument” , not just a toy, after many more or less inportant, famous or trendy artists used it.
Just to name a few…Autechre, Bjork, Portished, Nine Inch Nails , Blur, Aphex Twin, but the list is long…

The heart of the instrument is a 8 bit sampler with a very lo-fi sound and 4 voice poly.
It can samples 4 sounds and play them together with the rubber pads or with the keyboard.
The performance can be registered with the onboard sequencer, with no quantization (you cannot correct the timing).
Every sample can be edited with the “envelope shapes” that adds crescendo, sustain, vibratos etc., can be looped or reversed .
The sample memory can retain the samples if the keyboard has batteries.
There is also the possibility to choose a “long sample” time (it occupies 2 samples slots) to sample a loop for example.

The strenght of this keyboard is without any doubt the sound, because the samples are totally mangled and they sound really different , like pixelated…
This is really great for lo-fi sounds.
The second point is that the SK 5 is an easy instrument to circuit bend and the mods add a great variety of  “tools” to shape new sounds with the twist of a knob or a simple switch, a variation not known, an aleatoric change, that’s why Ghazala called his mods projects “aleatrons”.

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Back home from holidays…

Hello!
I’m back home from holidays, I’ve spent some really nice time playing with the Nintendo DS on the seaside.
So in the next days I’m going to share some tips & tricks about the DS music applications, they are really interesting!

This is a famous Daft Punk song played by a friend of mine (Gattobus), using only a Nintendo DS lite with Korg DS10 (software) and a Korg Microkorg (reverse keys).
Simply amazing!!!

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Yamaha VSS-30 (8bit sampler) review

Yamaha VSS 30 - 8bit sampler

Yamaha VSS 30 - 8bit sampler

Cheap is not always bad, and toy keyboards are not always and only toys.
This is the case of the Yamaha VSS30, a toy keyboard from the late 80’s, that’s today a widely used musical intrument for experimental musicians and not a child/school keyboard.

The reasons why the vss3o is so appreciated for particular musical genres are its sound and the manipulating capabilities.
The engine of the keyboard is an 8bit sampler with synthesis capabilities, that can sample and resample layering sounds.

All the edit is done with buttons on the front panel without any menu , and the variations are realtime effective.
There is :

  • ADSR Envelope fore the volume of the sound
  • Loop function
  • U-turn (plays the sample fwd and rew)
  • Reverse (to reverse the sample)
  • ECHO (is a”envelope effect”, like a long decay-release)
  • Fuzz
  • Frequency Modulation
  • Amplitude Modulation
  • Vibrato

There are 12 preset sounds that can be manipulated with efx (adsr, echo, fuzz, fm, am , vibrato):

  • Piano
  • Harpsicord
  • Banjo
  • Vibes
  • Marimba
  • sample
  • Crystal
  • Strings
  • Jazz organ
  • Brass
  • Clarinet
  • Galaxy

The preset sounds are samples of DX7 presets , I presume, from the sound that is quite synthetic and not natural.
But the more gorgeous power is in the capability of mangling the sample with the efx/synthesis.
Every effect is editable with the data entry buttons.

So as the adsr can shape the loop and u-turn can create some really particular loop textures if used as pads, and the FM and AM can go from low tremolo/articulated low pitchmodulation , to fast tremolo and vibratos/FM sounds.
The overwrite function layer the sample in memory with incoming audio material creating a new sample.

All in all this is a little but awesome LO-FI experimental machine, as it’s the only toy keyboard that can do all these things without modding (as the VSS200, a larger version of the VSS30).
The sound is warm, “pixelated”, lo-fi, and every sample sounds really different from the source.
It’s perfect for IDM, experimental music, but also for pop or mainstream as many professionals use it in their recordings like Sigur Ros, Portishead, Trent Reznor, Autechre, Bjork.

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