Novation’s latest videos “hack” advanced features out of their synths

I know a lot of the folks at Novation on a personal level well enough to say – they’re synth lovers, day job and after hours. What’s great about their latest video series is, some of that comes out.

Of course, yesterday we saw at least one user really hacking a Novation product, the Launchpad Pro, by modding the hardware using a firmware release from the company. And as one frustrated developer shouted at us in comments, that requires a bit of effort. (Not so much for you – you can download a file and use this easily – but modifying real-time firmware of hardware takes some practice!)

Hack a Launchpad Pro into a 16-channel step sequencer, free

This isn’t quite that. These “hacks” have more to do with creatively abusing some features to push the hardware synths to the limit – Circuit, Circuit Mono Station, and Peak. The Circuit in particular has a user community that proved surprisingly advanced, squeezing everything they can out of this budget-priced hardware. But lately the more recent Mono Station and Peak are finding an equally devoted following.

Here’s the whole playlist, which covers sound design techniques (like oscillator sync – okay, that’s more a conventional technique than a ‘hack’), approaches to performance (patch change), working with clock and CV, and other features.

This raises a question, though – these are recent Novation products, so it’s pretty easy to get the manufacturer to do some hot tips.

But which instruments would you like to see covered – new or old – and in what way? What’s missing in tutorials? Let us know in comments. (I realize I just self-selected the answers to that with people who own these Novation synths, so I’ll keep asking this … but also curious what other stuff you Novation lovers own, too!)

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7 Bob Moog images that say a lot about electronic music history

The story of electronic music making is ultimately a human one, even as those humans work with machines. So as the Bob Moog Foundation plans a Moog museum and expanded education, we share seven images from the archives that follow a thread through that history.

The Bob Moog Foundation is a non-profit American organization dedicated to continue the legacy of its namesake. And now they’re expanding their educational project for kids, the Dr. Bob’s SoundSchool, which uses sound technology to teach engineering and science as well as culture. Plus they’re raising funds to create a physical Moogseum. And to do that, they’ve got some classic instruments to give away as fundraising items in a raffle (details below).

There are tons of amazing images and artifacts now in the foundation archives. But let’s examine a few that capture a set of moments across that history. Thanks to Bob’s daughter and Moog Foundation Executive Director, Michelle Moog-Koussa, for sending these to CDM. (Captions also courtesy Michelle.)

1974.

Roger Powell and Bob Moog with custom modular controller designed by Bob for Roger, at Radio City Music Hall.

Roger donated this controller to the Bob Moog Foundation, and it is now part of their archives and will be present at the Moogseum.

1975.

Bob Moog fixing Patrick Moraz’s Polymoog in Switzerland.

1978.

Bob Moog and Less Paul with the LAB Series Amp.

1984.

Bob Moog, Suzanne Ciani, Roger Powell, UIW.

1988.
(date unconfirmed)

Bob Moog, Herbie Hancock, Will Alexander, NAMM.

1989.

Bob Moog lecturing at University of Michigan about Alwin Nikolias’ first commercially available Moog synthesizer.

1992.

Chick Corea and Bob Moog, Asheville Civic Center.

About that raffle:

A Memorymoog, Moog Source, and Moog Rogue will be offered as first, second, and third prizes, respectively. The Moog Trifecta Raffle marks the first time in the Foundation’s history that it is offering more than one raffle prize.

The raffle begins on August 27, 2018 at 12:01am EDT, and ends on September 24, 2018 at 11:59pm EDT, or when all 5500 tickets sell out, whichever comes first. Tickets are $25 each or five for $100, and can be purchased here: http://bit.ly/MoogTrifectaRaffle
Funding raised from the raffle will be used to expand the Foundation’s hallmark educational project, Dr. Bob’s SoundSchool, and to help fund its newest project, the Moogseum, which was announced last week. The Moogseum, a planned interactive, immersive facility that will bring Bob Moog’s legacy and the science of sound and synthesis alive for people of all ages, will be located in downtown Asheville, NC. It is expected to open in April 2019, with an online Moogseum to follow later that year.

All three synthesizers were built in Moog Music’s Buffalo, NY factory in the early 1980s, have been fully restored, and are in excellent technical and cosmetic condition with minor flaws typical with vintage instruments.

The Memorymoog, serial number 1460, has an estimated value of $7,500. It combines six voice polyphony to create a unique polysynth with three voltage controlled, articulated oscillators. Each voice has its own 24dB voltage controlled filter. It is often referred to architecturally as six Minimoogs, and is renowned for its rich sound.

The Memorymoog being offered has been retrofitted with a sequencer and MIDI capabilities, normally found only in Memorymoog Plus models. It has been meticulously serviced by vintage synth specialist Wes Taggart, a lauded technician for Memorymoog restoration.

The Moog Source is a 37 key, two oscillator synthesizer with unique features such as patch memory storage, flat-panel membrane buttons, single data wheel assignment, and more. It has two voltage controlled analog oscillators and the legendary 24 dB Moog filter. The unit being offered is serial number 2221 and has an estimated value of $2,400. The Source has been used by such legends as Tangerine Dream, Jan Hammer, Depeche Mode, Devo, and Vince Clarke.

The Moog Rogue is a compact, two oscillator monophonic synthesizer often referred to as “small but mighty” for its legendary powerful bass sounds. Versatile and user-friendly enough to be used as the Taurus II Bass Pedal synth, the Rogue has been used by Will Butler of Arcade Fire, Vince Clarke, Peter Gabriel, Jonny Greenwood of Radiohead, Howard Jones, and more. The unit being offered, serial number 4462, has been restored by acclaimed restoration house Tone Tweakers, and is valued at $2,000.

https://moogfoundation.org/

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Roland und Studio Electronics – neuer polyphoner Synthesizer in der Pipeline?

Roland Studio Electronics

Es kursieren keine Bilder, jedoch ist seit dem SE02 alles etwas anders. Denn die Kooperation ist insgesamt anders als bisher und lässt daher Spekulationen zu.

Anlass ist ein harmloses Foto von Studio Electronics, welches den Code zeigt. Den gibt es schon lange, und er ist ein hochwertiger analoger polyphoner Synthesizer, den man jeweils über Voice-Cards auf 8 Stimmen erweitern kann. Nun wird wohl kaum ein Sinn bestehen, diesen genau so als Roland SE zu bringen, und in ein Boutique-Gehäuse passt er mit Sicherheit nicht. Außerdem ist speziell Roland ziemlich gut in Marketing und zeigt solche Dinge, wenn sie gezeigt werden, immer dann, wenn sie fertig sind mit Videos und nicht in dieser Weise.

Roland und Studio Electronics – eher nichts neues, oder?

Daher – mein Tipp ist, dass es sich wirklich bestenfalls um eine Reparatur oder Pflege der Serie handeln wird. Leser posten bei Instagram: „Bring noch mehr davon wie den SE02“. Ziemlich naiv, und es wird schnell zu einem Gerücht. Aber – das ist gar nicht so schlecht und falsch, denn polyphone sind noch nicht so überlaufen wie monophone, und daher wäre eine solche Kooperation sinnvoll. Nur,  in welchem Format würde man so etwas bringen können? Vermutlich hat Roland eher die Produktionsstraßen, und man kann anders herstellen als SE. Sie haben eigentlich primär das System 8 im Programm. Beim System 1 halten sie sich merkwürdig zurück mit Updates.

Die beste Idee wäre also, diese Technik in neuerer Form in einem attraktiven Angebot zu bieten. Vielleicht auch im klassischen 5-Oktaven-, oder noch besser  3-Oktaven-Synthesizer-Format wäre das aktuell recht besonders und mit Knöpfen auch platztechnisch machbar. Das Teil wäre gut vollgepackt, oder das Design würde komplett neu sein – davon ist auszugehen. Wie viel hier wer gemacht hat beim SE02, ist schwer zu sagen. Jedoch könnte man trotz der Vergangenheit Rolands vermuten, dass sie diese Kooperation machen, weil sie es nicht selbst machen wollen oder die Leute nicht mehr dafür haben. Ein solches Produkt würde sogar am System 8 knabbern – weniger an den anderen, schon wegen der Preise, die sicher noch immer hoch wären, aber sicher nicht so wie bei SE selbst.

Deine Meinung?

Was denkst du, sollte kommen und was würde fehlen? Jetzt, wo wieder alle Curtis-Chips bekommen und andere Fertigung möglich ist, wird es preislich sicher nicht zu Behringer-Preisen und Ideen laufen, sondern Handling und Übersicht typisch Roland sein. So ein Gerät ist zwischen 4-8 Stimmen denkbar. Weniger lohnt sich nicht und mehr ist zu teuer.  Sinnvoll kann es ab 5-6 Stimmen sein. Split, Sequencer und Co. – das wäre alles drin. Was fehlt, wäre Multitimbralität, etwas, das in dem Bereich sehr selten ist und daher wieder „neu“. Kleiner und handlicher ist interessant und wegen der Besonderheit kann es eher nur ein Modell geben, nicht zu viele.

Es kann auch genau so gut gar nichts passieren. Roland ist mit den Boutiques eher wenig Risiko eingegangen. Es gibt in der Menge eher so wenige, dass sie eher zu knapp sind. Mal schauen, wie das „firmenpolitisch“ angelegt wird.

Obwohl der Aufhänger ganz gut ist, so wirkt er etwas zu sehr an den Haaren herbeigezogen. So ein Gerät wird jedenfalls anders sein, wenn es kommt. Wenn in einem Jahr nichts passiert ist, kommt vermutlich gar nichts mehr aus der Ecke. Roland und Nichtroland-Sound ist übrigens eh untypisch. Der Synth könnte aber ein Wechselfiltersystem haben – oder 2-4 Filter eingebaut haben, was aber noch ein weiterer Aufwand wäre. Wenn sowas kommt, würde es sicher eher 2 feste Filter haben, Oberheim und Moog im Typ oder eben auch mal Roland.

Wenn man sich da einbrächte, könnte auch ein neuer MKS80-Jupiter entstehen, der aber anders klingen würde. So wie ihn SE bauen würde, mehr als ob Roland ihn bauen würde. Technisch wäre ein Gerät mit den wichtigsten Komponenten im Roland-Klangspektrum machbar, der SE02 deutet aber nicht darauf hin. Andere Welten würden aufgehen, wenn man einen Jupiter-4 bauen würde, der 8 Stimmen erlaubt und mit 2 Oszillatoren ausgestattet wäre, FM hätte und so weiter. Denn er ist einer der charaktervollsten Synthesizer mit interessanten Eigenschaften dann. Aber so etwas haben sie eigentlich schon in digital fast genau so realisiert – fast…

 

Elka Synthex Nachbau von Black Corporation – Xerxes

Black Xerxes

Deckards Dream, Kijimi und Xerxes – nie gehört? Das sind Clones des Yamaha CS80, dem RSF Polykobol und jetzt neu als Bild und immer in Rack-Form: Der Elka Synthex.

Eigentlich wollte die Finnische Firma, die Elka aufgekauft hat, den Synthex neu auflegen. Das hat aber mittels Crowdfunding keine 3000 Leute begeistern können, so hat nun der Xerxes eine gute Chance, diese Lücke zu füllen. Auch Mario Maggi, der Macher des Synthex hatte einen Synthex 2 angekündigt, von dem wir bisher aber nichts weiter als ein Rendering sehen konnten.

im Rack

Wieso also nicht einen Synthex im Rack anbieten? Er ist dann auch nicht so unfassbar ausladend und vermutlich hat er auch nicht zwangsweise einen Lüfter an Bord wie das Original seinerzeit. Der Synthex ist wohlbekannt für den Laserharfen-Sync-Sound bei Jarre und den gleichen Sync in Depeche Modes „Agent Orange“. Kräftig und intensiv und mit spitzer Resonanz und zwei Bandpass-Modi ist er durchaus ein interessanter Kandidat, der jedoch nicht ganz den großen Ruf von Jupiter 8 und Prophet 5 erreichen konnte … sein Hersteller war eigentlich für Orgeln bekannt. Es gab auch noch weitere Elka-Synthesizer mit FM und digitale sowie analoge, mit der Bedienung des Korg DW8000 (Zahlen eintippen).

Erste Bilder, Preise noch unbekannt

Der neue Synthesizer wird sicher nicht allzu günstig sein. Black Corp. scheint eher so etwas wie der neue Studio Electronics zu sein. Aber durchaus realistisch für das Gebotene. Noch sind keine Preise für den Xerxes bekannt. Die gab es auch noch nicht auf der Show in Moskau zu hören.

Kijimi und Deckards Dream konnte man bereits auf der Superbooth testen, wobei der Kijimi noch im Prototypen-Vorserien-Status war und noch nicht komplett funktionierte, während der CS80-Clone bereits angeboten und ausgeliefert wird.

Mehr Information dazu

A simple, classic channel strip, Mr. Putnam’s mic collection, and more

Universal Audio have dropped another of their semi-annual releases of high-end digital sound toys. And this one is revealing of how studio production is becoming more accessible. Plus, you get to steal Bill Putnam’s mic collection. Well, virtually.

A handful of players in this space always stand out – the likes of Universal Audio, WAVES, Eventide, Softube, Soundtoys, and more recently Slate Digital are all competing to give you clever digital emulations of studio gear. These tools command premium prices, at least compared to the stuff bundled with your DAW, but they also deliver results that can match massively expensive studio access or used equipment. UA’s value proposition has always been tying its stuff to hardware. And on audio interfaces in particular, that has advantages, like real-time tracking (no latency!) and gain behaviors that act more like the real thing.

The thing is, while these things aren’t terribly cheap, they’re also not outside the budget of a lot of producers. So developers now find themselves appealing to both seasoned producers and engineers – even those with a fair number of hours on the original equipment, or maybe a Grammy or two in the closet – alongside musicians who have decided to pretend they know what the knobs do. (Trust me, I’ve been in that latter category – I feel you.)

This could go horribly wrong. You could get a giant knob that says “make more loud.” But oddly enough, if you maintain a commitment to sound and ease of use can make both groups happier. The absolute beginner still wants stuff that sounds like their favorite records. And the person who produced those favorite records is the least likely to have time to deal with unfriendly user interfaces. (We’re all getting older. Yeah, those producers even often use presets – of course, because they know what the presets actually do and how to adjust them to taste.)

So, all of that is to say, I have to notice the Century Tube Channel Strip looks a lot simpler than a lot of high-end channel strips.

Century Channel Strip – hardware-style controls and behavior, simple UI, classic sound, and works in real-time with UA’s audio interfaces.

One singular channel strip

It’s actually ridiculously simple. But funny enough, that simplicity comes from UA’s experience with modeling decades of vintage gear, which in the days of analog circuits and higher per-component prices (to say nothing of real knobs instead of computer screens), tended to economize.

So it just looks like one channel strip with a vintage-style tube microphone preamp, equalizationfor sound shaping, and dynamics control (a compressor/limiter). It’s skeuomorphic – sorry Jony Ives – but with the general effect that things are easier to see and relatable in a general sense to hardware you may have used before.

One plug-in just does the bulk of what you need, in one interface. This contrasts with Arturia’s (completely excellent, by the way) “Preamps You’ll Actually Use,” which have sprawling UIs – here, the model is still vintage gear, but the controls are far simpler.

UA wants to do more than say you can use this with their real-time tracking. They want to tell you why:

You’ll use real-time tracking so you’re more likely to get the sound you want on the first take, as you play/sing, and then keep that take without second-guessing it.

At EUR/USD 149, this looks like an instant hit for UA owners, and with the Apollo Arrow a lower-cost, more portable hardware entry, I think the combination could be grand.

Vintage mics, in the box

The other nice news in this update is the Bill Putnam microphone collection. That’s Bill Putnam, Sr., the legendary engineer without whose contributions modern recording is hard to imagine. And yes, apart from being the guy who founded UA, Mr. Putnam worked with the likes of Frank Sinatra, Nat King Cole, and Ray Charles.

So, here’s the cool part: now you can track through models of his actual mics, including the Telefunken Ela M 251E, AKG C12A, Neumann U47, RCA 44, and others, with all the controls over proximity and pattern, before or after the fact.

Again, UA have a case for making you spend more on their software and combined hardware, because the payoff is that you can get near-zero latencies and hear the effects as you work. Computers could pull that off, but until they do so reliably, you’ve got this.

The magic of this working is all the work of the Townsend Labs Sphere L22 microphone. Short, non-engineering explanation – that mic picks up everything, so that then software can model the unique frequency and spatial response of a particular mic.

Just get ready: the list price of the L22 is US$1,799. Hey, you want a bunch of classic mics, you’re going to have to pay for one good mic.

That UI means you can choose the behavior of the mics, virtually. Just don’t smoke, kids. Bill Putnam, Sr. (pictured at right) smoked, and he’s not alive any more.

https://www.uaudio.com/bill-putnam-mic-collection.html

And the rest

Also out in this release is a Suhr PT100 amplifier. That’s notable not only for the Suhr moniker, but also plug-in effects capabilities included – syncable lo-fi delay, noise gate, tight and smooth filters and power soak, plus a preamp. And yes, there’s a bypass switch – thank you. I’m… mostly eager to try this one on drums. I’ll get back to you on that! US$149.

https://www.uaudio.com/suhr-pt100-amplifier.html

Suhr amp emulation, also from Brainworx.

Plus, from Brainworx, there’s the rather nice all-in-one analog-style mastering chain bx_masterdesk, at $299. Also notable for Arrow users, the DSP usage on this will work on just one DSP chip. Brainworx makes some great stuff; there’s a ton of competition for mastering, but this still looks like a solid option.

https://www.uaudio.com/brainworx-bx-masterdesk.html

All of this is part of UAD Software 9.6 – download directly:
www.uaudio.com/uad/downloads

UAD Powered Plug-ins

Previously:

UAD for everybody: Arrow sound box is Thunderbolt, PC or Mac, $499

The post A simple, classic channel strip, Mr. Putnam’s mic collection, and more appeared first on CDM Create Digital Music.

Kiwi 1000 – Oberheim Matrix 1000 aufwerten, editieren, Arpeggiator …

Kiwitechnics 1000

Der Matrix 1000 von Oberheim ist ein sehr gut klingender analoger Synthesizer, aber man kann ihn nicht direkt editieren ohne einen Editor und Software. Das kann man ändern!

Er war immer irgendwie ein Geheimtipp, es gab aber auch Zeiten, in denen er lediglich 250 Euro kostete. Heute ist er wieder bei 500 Euro gelandet. Zu Recht, denn er klingt hervorragend. Er hat 6 Stimmen wie ein Matrix 6, ist jedoch mit geringfügig anderen CEM-Chips ausgestattet und muss eben auf die echten Bedienmöglichkeiten eines Matrix 6 verzichten.

Kiwi 1000 – Editor  für den Oberheim Matrix 1000

Der Kiwi 1000 Aufrüst-Satz ist ein Frontpanel und ein neues „Betriebssystem“, um dem Matrix einen Sequencer, einen Arpeggiator zu sepndieren  und ihn am Gerät editierbar zu machen. Neben diesen sehr wesentlichen und bereits sehr interessanten Funktionen behält der umgerüstete Matrix seine Sounds ohne Batterie im Speicher. Es sind dann 1.000 eigene Klänge anstatt nur 200 editierbare Klänge direkt im Gerät!

Die Oktavlagen können weiter eingestellt werden als am Original, nun geht das von 2′ bis 64′, was enorm ist. Außerdem kann das Gerät SysEx- und MIDI-Controller-Daten verarbeiten und ist damit für die heutige Zeit besser geeignet. Es gibt neue Stimmenzuordnungsmodi, außerdem wurden die drei Hüllkurven verbessert und es gibt mehr Modulationsoptionen.

Zudem sind jetzt 3 (drei!) LFOs an Bord. Die Modulationsmatrix wurde entsprechend aufgewertet und erweitert und es gibt zusätzlich noch einen Chord-Mode.

Das alles kostet knapp 295 US-Dollar plus Fracht aus Neuseeland. Vermutlich die sinnvollste Investition für einen optisch nicht sonderlich interessanten, aber klanglich tollen Synthesizer. Die Fracht kann allerdings durchaus etwa 50 Dollar kosten, in die USA zumindest ist dieser Preis angegeben.

Infos

  • Mehr Information dazu gibt es auf der Website

Vectors are getting their own festival: lasers and oscilloscopes, go!

It’s definitely an underground subculture of audiovisual media, but lovers of graphics made with vintage displays, analog oscilloscopes, and lasers are getting their own fall festival to share performances and techniques.

Vector Hack claims to be “the first ever international festival of experimental vector graphics” – a claim that is, uh, probably fair. And it’ll span two cities, starting in Zagreb, Croatia, but wrapping up in the Slovenian capital of Ljubljana.

Why vectors? Well, I’m sure the festival organizers could come up with various answers to that, but let’s go with because they look damned cool. And the organizers behind this particular effort have been spitting out eyeball-dazzling artwork that’s precise, expressive, and unique to this visceral electric medium.

Unconvinced? Fine. Strap in for the best. Festival. Trailer. Ever.

Here’s how they describe the project:

Vector Hack is the first ever international festival of experimental vector graphics. The festival brings together artists, academics, hackers and performers for a week-long program beginning in Zagreb on 01/10/18 and ending in Ljubljana on 07/10/18.

Vector Hack will allow artists creating experimental audio-visual work for oscilloscopes and lasers to share ideas and develop their work together alongside a program of open workshops, talks and performances aimed at allowing young people and a wider audience to learn more about creating their own vector based audio-visual works.

We have gathered a group of fifteen participants all working in the field from a diverse range of locations including the EU, USA and Canada. Each participant brings a unique approach to this exiting field and it will be a rare chance to see all their works together in a single program.

Vector Hack festival is an artist lead initiative organised with
support from Radiona.org/Zagreb Makerspace as a collaborative international project alongside Ljubljana’s Ljudmila Art and Science Laboratory and Projekt Atol Institute. It was conceived and initiated by Ivan Marušić Klif and Derek Holzer with assistance from Chris King.

Robert Henke is featured, naturally – the Berlin-based artist and co-founder of Ableton and Monolake has spent the last years refining his skills in spinning his own code to control ultra-fine-tuned laser displays. But maybe what’s most exciting about this scene is discovering a whole network of people hacking into supposedly outmoded display technologies to find new expressive possibilities.

One person who has helped lead that direction is festival initiator Derek Holzer. He’s finishing a thesis on the topic, so we’ll get some more detail soon, but anyone interested in this practice may want to check out his open source Pure Data library. The Vector Synthesis library “allows the creation and manipulation of vector shapes using audio signals sent directly to oscilloscopes, hacked CRT monitors, Vectrex game consoles, ILDA laser displays, and oscilloscope emulation software using the Pure Data programming environment.”

https://github.com/macumbista/vectorsynthesis

The results are entrancing – organic and synthetic all at once, with sound and sight intertwined (both in terms of control signal and resulting sensory impression). That is itself perhaps significant, as neurological research reveals that these media are experienced simultaneously in our perception. Here are just two recent sketches for a taste:

They’re produced by hacking into a Vectrax console – an early 80s consumer game console that used vector signals to manipulate a cathode ray screen. From Wikipedia, here’s how it works:

The vector generator is an all-analog design using two integrators: X and Y. The computer sets the integration rates using a digital-to-analog converter. The computer controls the integration time by momentarily closing electronic analog switches within the operational-amplifier based integrator circuits. Voltage ramps are produced that the monitor uses to steer the electron beam over the face of the phosphor screen of the cathode ray tube. Another signal is generated that controls the brightness of the line.

Ted Davis is working to make these technologies accessible to artists, too, by developing a library for coding-for-artists tool Processing.

http://teddavis.org/xyscope/

Oscilloscopes, ready for interaction with a library by Ted Davis.

Ted Davis.

Here’s a glimpse of some of the other artists in the festival, too. It’s wonderful to watch new developments in the post digital age, as artists produce work that innovates through deeper excavation of technologies of the past.

Akiras Rebirth.

Alberto Novell.

Vanda Kreutz.

Stefanie Bräuer.

Jerobeam Fenderson.

Hrvoslava Brkušić.

Andrew Duff.

More on the festival:
https://radiona.org/
https://wiki.ljudmila.org/Main_Page

http://vectorhackfestival.com/

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Immerse yourself in Rotterdam’s sonic voltages, in the WORM laboratory

It’s dubbed a “Waveform Research Centre” – and Rotterdam’s gear-stuffed WORM laboratory is a science fiction playground for voltages, making music and visuals alike. Let’s go inside.

Dennis Verschoor is a mainstay of the Rotterdam experimental electronic scene, with some decades of artist experience to his name and the legendary Noodlebar performance series. Filmmaker Steve Guy Hellier joins Thonk’s Steve Grimley-Taylor to produce a short film about him and this amazing space: (thanks, Sonic State, hat tip)

From the description:

I first met Dennis whilst I was in the WORM studio on an artist residency in 2017. The WORM studio is like a geological trip through electronic music’s history but I was about to travel even further back. Strange ghostly tones emanated from the old vocal booth next door, it was this space that Dennis had filled with mid 20th century audio test equipment, going back to the roots of audio electronic experiments before commercially available instruments from Moog or Roland, before keyboards, back to Stockhausen, Else Marie Pade, Daphne Oram, Raymond Scott and the like. Why now? is this the logical conclusion of Mark Fisher’s cultural hauntology? do we end up back at the source? the sound of past futures? For Dennis it seemed more a way to dodge the hipsters, and invite collaboration.

Dennis and I had a friend in common Steve Grimley-Taylor, a lover of all things electronic and sound related (founder of Thonk.co.uk). When I expressed the idea of making a film about Dennis, Richard Foster from WORM kindly agreed to let us. This is a short film about Dennis, his journey and his room.

Steve Guy Hellier 2018

You know what time it is, kids? It’s gear pr0n, time. Some waveform pics to get your Friday night started right.

WORM Rotterdam is also a great all-encompassing event venue.

The WRC has its own Facebook page:

https://www.facebook.com/Waveform-Research-Centre-1157781711025359/

Information on the Sound Studio:

https://worm.org/spaces/sound-studio/

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The retro-futuristic Apparatum draws from Polish electronic music history

It’s equal parts Polish Radio Experimental Studio and starship control panel. The Apparatum by Warsaw’s panGenerator proves that not only can everything old is new again – maybe it’s even newer.

Take a look:

The Apparatum is a new installation that reboots Communist-era work from the space age, bringing visual and optical and magnetic concepts into a playful synthesizer concept. It’s the latest work from interactive/media shop panGenerator from Warsaw.

In the early adventurous work in electronic music, there was nothing to take for granted. So it makes sense that Polish pioneer Bogusław Schaeffer would imagine an entirely new visual language to accompany the new sounds humans were hearing from their circuits. His Symphony – electronic music cued the engineer with those hieroglyph-like visuals, and inspires the sounds and visual language here.

But maybe that’s what modernity is now: now that we’re no longer wowed by digital, we’re sophisticated enough to see new potential for magnetic and optical techniques that had been discarded in the march to the new. Artists/researchers like Andrey Smirnov, who delve into the world of Soviet optical synthesis and Theremin, have regularly wondered what an alternate future would be like if radical optical and electro-magnetic techniques had continued to develop. Now, in works like this (and work by artists like Derek Holzer) make that alternate reality our own.

The work also draws from the design aesthetics and the engineering of the original, legendary Polish studio:

The physical form is inspired by the general aesthetics of the Studio’s famous “Black Room” designed by Oskar Hansen. The electroacoustic generators and filters were arranged in a modular fashion inside two steel frames – the construction element that we’ve referred to in our design.

Magnetic tape was the primary medium used in the Polish Radio Experimental Studio. We’re also using two types of “tape samplers” – two 2-track loops and three one-shot linear tape samplers. To obtain noise and basic tones we’re utilising purely analog optical generators based on spinning discs with graphical patterns.

This may just look like digital tech aping the original, but they’ve genuinely made a hybrid. DC motors spin discs made of plexiglass, covered in opaque black foil on one side, with an LED and photoresistor. That optical detector feeds an analog signal, fed directly to the mixer. They’re real, opto-analog oscillators.

The magnetic part is real, too. 2-3 second tape loops record samples, with variable-speed playback, on top of 3 one-shots that move the magnetic head along the tape (with in turn varies pitch). So you have digitally-controlled magnetic tape and opto-analog synthesis – a fusion of past and present tech. It takes the historical sound techniques, but produces a more accessible, dynamic interface with the computer – digital input, analog output.

And visitors to the exhibition get real recorded results, too – just as they would if they stepped into the historical electroacoustic studio. There’s a printout of the score, plus a digital record uploaded to a server.

The historical use of tape is reimagined with real, digitally-controlled magnetic tape sampling.

The historical gear that inspired the new invention, side by side with the results.

Visual scores accompany the sonic creations.

The Apparatum will make the trip this weekend to Karlsruhe, Germany, where it will accompany an exhibition on now through the start of next year on the historical Polish studio:

Through the Soundproof Curtain. The Polish Radio Experimental Studio

Apparatum is there from the 4th to the 12th:

https://zkm.de/en/exhibition/2018/08/apparatum

If this has picqued your interest, you can learn a lot more about the studio in this series of articles:

Polish Radio Experimental Studio: A Close Look

And the design aspect specifically:

Spatial Music: Design and the Polish Radio Experimental Studio

Now let’s check some more pr0n of the installation:

This work nicely echoes what curator Natalia Fuchs argued in our interview earlier this week – that media archaeology could lead artists to new innovations:

Between art tech and techno, past and future, a view from Russia

Previously, panGenerator on CDM:

FEEDBOXES are autonomous sound toys that play along with you

MICKEYPHON is a terrifying giant robot head that’s also a musical instrument

http://pangenerator.com/projects/apparatum/

The post The retro-futuristic Apparatum draws from Polish electronic music history appeared first on CDM Create Digital Music.

Take a tour of the dreamy ACL modular synthesizer system

Part of the appeal of modular systems is there in the name – modularity. But as the modular market grows, there’s increasing demand for modulars that are again designed as coherent systems. The ACL System 1 is ready to serve as a synth on its own, or the centerpiece of a larger modular rig.

The ACL System 1 launched this week, available here in Berlin from Schneidersladen (and shipping elsewhere). And here’s a look at how all those pieces come together:

The Audiophile Circuits League do their assembly in Berlin – joining a growing number of boutique makers, including Koma, MFB, Jomox, and Verbos, just to name a few. With a direct-order price of 3930 EUR, it’s not exactly a budget synth. But figure that even pretty recently, digital workstation polysynths were going for near this … and a whole modular rig is a lot more fun. (The price of modular synths as a category, meanwhile, have absolutely dropped – this high-end model is far less than the historical instruments that inspired it, calculating for inflation, to say nothing of prices that drop down to literally zero if you go to software).

Okay, so what’s in there?

6U 84HP Eurorack configuration in their EVZ-1 case
Two Variable Sync VCOs, linear and exponential FM
Dual State Variable VCF
Gate Mix for summing up to four sources
VC Panning Amplifier
M/S Matrix (for mid/side processing)
Three ADSR envelopes (Envelope X3)
Dual Delay
QLFO with phase-shifted sine waves

Basically, you get a synth that’s very inspired by Roland’s System 100M. (Roland, for their part, have also been resurrecting the Japanese modular lineage – something I hope we’ll look into soon.)

So you can make freaky synth sounds, lots of effects, and (of course) precise, thumping kicks. And the whole thing feels really nice, including some really luxurious knobs (they’re “Vernier dials” for anyone interested).

But… if you don’t know what the above means, then this probably isn’t for you.

There’s also an audio interface module and nice touches like a low impedance headphone jack – all the sorts of things that sometimes get overlooked by odd DIY modules.

Also, in a nod to the fact that this is a modular, they did leave a little (tiny) space for expansion, though those 4HP aren’t going to accomplish a whole lot! Most of the people I’ve seen buy these kinds of systems, though, already own a smattering of modules and are upgrading to an integrated instrument that sits at the center of it. (Yes, for those people warning of “Eurocrack” addiction, it’d look like that.)

I’m not personally in the market for something like this, but I always find them interesting to play around with and as a demonstration of how designers approach building a modular system. Nice stuff:

www.audiophilecircuitsleague.com

These folks being in Berlin, they’re neighbors to CDM, so if there’s anything you’d like to know or see, tell us and we’ll find out!

The post Take a tour of the dreamy ACL modular synthesizer system appeared first on CDM Create Digital Music.