Mike Walters makes some crazy unique synth toys under the name Mystery Circuits. The Zenotron is his newest and my opinion his greatest creation.
“The case was made from an old modem, the monitor was a small filmstrip viewer I cut in half. Behind the translucent screen is a cut down pipette box. I installed 88 LEDs where the pipettes normally go (perfect fit). The miniature keyboard comes off of an old toy, and I rebuilt the key contacts from little surface mount tactile switches. The sounds on the Zenotron come from a modified BleepLabs Nebulophone kit. A 2-Axis Parallax joystick controls the waveform and arpeggio rate of the Nebulophone. There are only 10 notes on the Nebulophone circuit, so the A# and B of the keyboard are wired parallel to the C and C#. Audio from the Nebulophone is fed to the clock input of a 4017 decade counter, which varies the sequence speed according to the Nebulophone’s audio. Each step turns on two transistors that light an array of 4 to 5 green LEDs. All of the LEDs are wired randomly, though I tried to make sure the spread around the pipette box was even. The LEDs are wired to a DB25 connector inside the Zenotron. For the volume pot, I just replaced the feedback resistor in the last opamp stage of the Nebulophone’s output. The LFO pot is wired the same as on the Nebulophone, but it has an off switch when turned all the way down. If the switch is off, the LFO seems to change according to the joystick. The LFO controls the Nebulophone’s filter, which uses an optocoupler. The color scheme was very much subconsciously inspired by the Kaypro II and the Commodore SX-64.” – mysterycircuits.com
For more info: mysterycircuits.com/projects/zenotron
A person named SammyIAm created Moppy which is a “Musical controller for an Arduino-floppy drive set up.”. He then posted a video of Moppy performing Soft Cell’s Tainted Love. Marc Almond found the video and decided to repost it this time with his own vocals on top!
“Several people showed me the brilliant floppy drive rendition of Tainted Love by Gigawipf here on YouTube so I thought it might be fun to add the vocal! :-)” – Marc Almond
For more info: github.com/SammyIAm/Moppy
A few posts ago I posted a video that Radio Shack ran during the SuperBowl. It showed how their stores are being updated so they were no longer like the old 80s stores. Well the 80s Radio Shack stores were incredible. I had a TRS-80 CoCo. I loved looking through all the small electronics parts they sold. I even had an Armatron. There is a great website that lets you look through old Radio Shack catalogs called radioshackcatalogs.com. While most everything they sold now simple is part of your cell phone it’s an amazing trip down memory lane for nerd like me.
“At this website you will be able to view these old 1939-2011 Radio Shack and Tandy Electronics’ catalogs, sale flyers, brochures, and more…year by year…page by page.” – radioshackcatalogs.com
For more info: radioshackcatalogs.com
Wolfgang Palm the father of PPG and Wavetable synthesis added some 80s videos to his YouTube channel. I really love the one above which shows him at work. You can see the care that went into making the PPGs and it’s in no doubt many are still working today. The accompanying music is also great!
“PPG Company 1984, Production, 10 year anniversary celebration music by Michael Wehr 2009 and from PPG-demo 1983″ – Wolfgang Palm
For more info: wolfgangpalm.com
My favorite synth of all time is the Ensoniq ESQ-1. This maybe only because I do not own a Sequential Circuits Prophet VS. You see there is something amazing about digital oscillators matched with analog filters. In my Eurorack system the best sounds I get are from my Ataraxic Translatron into Toppobrillo Multifilter. When the Prophet 12 came out I assumed it was an all analog affair. I watched a few videos months after its released and fell in love. When I discovered it was digital into analog filters I said, “ah yes of course!!”. So now there is a Dave Smith Prophet 12 module and I am all for it. Give me an 808, ESQ-M and Prophet 12M and see you whenever.
“Introducing the Prophet 12 Module, the same great sound engine of the Prophet 12 keyboard with enough portability to fit in a backpack! At twelve voices, the Prophet 12 boasts the greatest polyphony of any instrument designed by Dave Smith. Each voice features four oscillators capable of generating classic and complex waveforms, a sub-oscillator, resonant analog low-pass and high-pass filters, and analog VCAs. The new Character section adds a variety of wave shaping and sound sculpting options, like Drive, Hack, Decimation, Girth, and Air. Additional features include a tuned feedback path, a four-tap stereo delay per voice, expanded arpeggiator functionality, deep modulation capabilities, and bi-timbral operation. The LFOs, delay, and arpeggiator can all be synced, either to the internal clock or an external MIDI clock.” – davesmithinstruments
For more info: davesmithinstruments.com/products/p12m
My friends over at Sequencer.de mentioned a movie called Elektro Moskva yesterday. It looks amazing so I had to repost the info here. The movie is about the Russian synthesizer world. If anyone knows how I can see the full film let me know. I am excited to go perform in Moscow in a few weeks.
“On a western device, you push a button and get a result. On a Soviet instrument, you push a button and get something.” – Benzo
For more info: elektromoskva.com
I remember watching Depeche Mode perform live during their Music for the Masses tour. On stage Martin Gore would hit some pads that were connected to an Emulator sampler. From that moment on I wanted to turn everything into something that I could hit and have it make a sound. The Touch Board is a Kickstarter from a company called Bare Conductive. They have created a nice device based on Arduino that gives you a bunch of sensor connectors, an MP3 player, MIDI, machine control and more. You can also create and connect hit points using conductive paint. Watch the videos above to get an idea. I think this is pretty cool.
“Now anyone can transform touch into sound (and so much more!) with the Touch Board, an easy-to-use Arduino-compatible device. The Touch Board is a tool to make your projects interactive, responsive, smart or just fun. Use the Touch Board to change the world around you by turning almost any material or surface into a sensor. Connect anything conductive to one of its 12 electrodes and trigger a sound via its onboard MP3 player, play a MIDI note or do anything else that you might do with an Arduino or Arduino-compatible device.” – Bare Conductive
For more info: kickstarter.com/touch-board-interactivity-everywhere
The Therevox is an elegant instrument made in Ontario Canada. I think it’s a sort of mix between a Theremin and slide guitar. Some have MIDI control. Depending on the model these run from about $1500 – $2000.
“Inspired by the Ondes Martenot (1928) and the Electro-Theremin (1950), the ET-4 is controlled by moving a finger along a reference keyboard shaped to provide tactile feedback. Dual pressure sensitive intensity keys control the amplitude of the ET-4’s two independent analog oscillators. Combined with a low-pass filter, white noise generator and internal spring reverb the ET-4 is an expressive and versatile performance instrument.” – therevox.com
For more info: therevox.com
This Saturday there is a free event any musician in the NY area will enjoy. At IMSTA Festa you will see booths and rooms where music tech companies set up. This year Ableton, NI, D16, Alesis, Arturia, M-Audio, Propellerhead, SSL, Steinberg, Celemony and many more will be there. In addition there are panel discussions through out the day. I’ve been on a panel in the past but this year I will just be watch and playing with the new toys on display. Registration is free!
“On September 28th, the International Music Software Trade Association and SAE Institute New York will partner to host IMSTA FESTA, a celebration of music technology. IMSTA FESTA brings a collection of top music technology companies together in an environment where they can interact with music makers face-to-face. IMSTA FESTA is known for bringing heavyweight music industry professionals under one roof for this limited engagement. Our panels bring together an array of industry experts to discuss the state of the music business, technology and much more. IMSTA FESTA is a FREE event open to anyone interested in the art of music making; professional and semi-professional musicians, songwriters, music producers, and audio engineers, as well as music students and educators.” – imsta.org
For more info: imsta.org/imsta_festa_2013NY
I remember when most speakers had metal grill covers. I’ve never dented my own speaker cones but here’s a CNET video showing a few tips on how to fix a dent. I would have used Scotch tape but I’m guessing it doesn’t work?
“Did someone poke in the center of your speaker? CNET’s Donald Bell shows you how to take the dents out of a damaged speaker dust cap.” – CNETTV
For more info: wikipedia.org/wiki/Loudspeaker