Today just some Roland TR-606


http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DLnf_gtBZtg

This morning I had to scan about one hundred energy audit survey sheets collected from our salespersons. Even though I have a nifty (fast!) ScanSnap S1500M I still have only a few minutes for Wire to the Ear before it’s off to the races. I have nothing important musically related in my head so I revert to one of the best things in the world: an analog drum machine. The good old TR-606 is a metal looking and tight sounding box that unbelievable can still be found on eBay for a reasonable price. YouTube and cheap video camera compression works well on the 606′s sound. Someone please tell my wife to throw one of these under my tree this year.

A cool little box! So primitive and cute! The 606 was the percussion side-kick to the TB-303. It even looks like the 303. It stores up to 32 patterns and 8 songs. The 606 allows switching between Pattern Play and Write mode while running – making the 606 the only drumcomputer in the X0X series that can be edited while performing and switching patterns. It is also possible to link up to 4 consecutive patterns in Pattern Play mode. There is only a mono audio output, however there are mods from Kenton Electronics and Analog Solutions that will add individual outputs for each drum tone. The 606 has seven analog drum sounds which are simple, yet great! Kick, Snare, 2 toms, open hat, closed hat, cymbal, accent. The hi-hats are a very tinny electronic sound…” – vintagesynth.com

For more info: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Roland_TR-606

This entry was written by Oliver Chesler, posted on December 10, 2009 at 6:32 am, filed under hardware and tagged , , , . Leave a comment or view the discussion at the permalink and follow any comments with the RSS feed for this post.



TR-808 Classics recreated on an Electribe SX


http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oCa8prvT9yM

I’ve said many times the Roland TR-808 is the king of all drum machines. It has the sharpest deepest kick with the most attack, snares and hats that sound like lighting and a sequencer that makes any beat sound incredible. I love this machine so much I think I subconsciously liked songs because they had an 808 on them (all before I even knew what a Roland TR-808 was!). I love this video above where a bunch of classics with 808 drums were recreated on an Korg Electribe SX. I own everyone one of these songs on 12″.

Here’s a few ways into 808 land: AcidLab Miami (German recreation) $1399, GoldBaby The Tape808 (samples) $24, D16 Nepheton (virtual plug-in recreation) 139 EUR

“Recreations, again by ear, of some classic early 80s beats that were originally made on a Roland TR-808 drummachine. This became the signature sound for freestyle music and later for house. Mantronix – 808 Beats, Shannon – Let the Music Play, Freeez – IOU, Man Parrish – Hip Hop Bebop, GLOBE & Whiz Kid -. Play that Beat Mr. DJ, Nineteen – Paul Hardcastle (iTunes link), C.O.D. – In the Bottle, Marvin Gaye – Sexual Healing” – Harlem Nights Music

For more info: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Roland_TR-808

This entry was written by Oliver Chesler, posted on November 16, 2009 at 6:21 am, filed under hardware, live performance, music and tagged , , , , , , , . Leave a comment or view the discussion at the permalink and follow any comments with the RSS feed for this post.



Old Roland Hardware Tricks


http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vhy2dU1hZOY

My studio in the early 90s was full of hardware mixers and long patch cable strung all over the place. Before computers with fast CPUs the way to get an original sound was simply plugging hardware boxes into each other. Electrocomp-101 synthesizer into a Boss Pedal into a Korg Digital Delay and so forth. I always felt like a pioneer pushing the equipment to unintended limits.

My favorite trick that I never actually heard anyone else do was something I called the “Wicked 106″. I created 16 slightly different patches on a Roland Juno-106. Next, I would create a 16th note pattern in Dr. Ts KCS. Here’s the trick: I would then put a different Program Change (number) on each of the steps. You never heard a Juno-106 sound so interesting. It really made the 106 sound like a modular going through a step sequencer.

“What most don’t know about the original TR-808, aside from it’s original voices (sounds) there is a “pulse” sound that you can hear when plugging a cable from the ACcent trigger out, it generates a metallic “zap” sound very similar to a Hi Q (sound from the Roland R-8) This sound was used in “Egypt Egypt” and “Funkbox” from Masterdon. THIS IS HOW THE SOUND IS DONE!!!!” – intromix

Do you remember an old hardware trick you used to do?

This entry was written by Oliver Chesler, posted on October 16, 2009 at 4:43 am, filed under hardware, sounds, synthesizer and tagged , , , , . Leave a comment or view the discussion at the permalink and follow any comments with the RSS feed for this post.



D16 Shioitor brings back the Roland SH-101

D16 Shioitor

I don’t know how to pronounce D16′s new synth Shioitor. However, I clearly know how to say Roland SH-101 (Wikipedia link) and that’s the target of the Polish crew this time. I used to own a red Roland SH-101 with a handle and it was always the first thing anyone made a comment about when they entered my studio. A few months ago D16 asked me to make some presets for Shioitor so I’ve heard this synth in action. If you liked the original you won’t be disappointed.

“D16 spent many hours analysing analogue synthesisers and creating DSP code to replicate the hardware in software. As a result, Shioitor has a very true sounding analogue filter with constant Q and a very warm character. Resonance is constant across the whole frequency domain which makes the filter sound totally authentic – especially when controlled using envelopes or an LFO. Turning resonance to maximum and turning off all oscillator volumes will produce a pure analogue sine wave as the filter self-resonates. Innovative oscillator algorithms developed by D16 make Shioitor sound like the hardware synth which inspired it. There is no aliasing in the oscillators – even at 22kHz from the note’s base frequency. The level of aliasing around the highest produced frequency is about -70dB.” – d16.pl

D16 Shioitor Colors

Besides presets you get a few niceties the original didn’t have including arpeggiator shuffle, polyphony and key zones. You also can choose your favorite color!

For more info: www.d16.pl/shioitor

This entry was written by Oliver Chesler, posted on September 17, 2009 at 5:46 am, filed under synthesizer and tagged , , , , , . Leave a comment or view the discussion at the permalink and follow any comments with the RSS feed for this post.



Diabolical Devices Roland TR-707/727


http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LoaNgWraGOw

James Gramling is the technician behind the name Diabolical Devices who circuit bends drum machines and other noise making boxes. I’ve always loved the Roland TR-707. It’s the super tight kick in so many late 80s EBM and New Beat records. The Roland 727 is the 707′s latin cousin and her sounds are all over mountains of Freestyle tunes that still grace NYC radio. I think it’s really interesting that Big City Music, a traditional music retailer is selling James’s bent machines.


http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6iMrx76ey1k

Diabolical’s custom modified TR-707/727 drum machines are capable of producing a whole range of new sounds. We add a bending patch-bay and hard-wired toggle switches which activate different ring modulated, filtered, distorted, and delay/doubling type effects. What “makes” these machines is the added multi-stage pitch oscillators…” – circuit-bent.com

If you don’t want to burn yourself silly with solder check out these drum machines at Big City Music: click here

This entry was written by Oliver Chesler, posted on August 11, 2009 at 2:38 pm, filed under hardware and tagged , , , , . Leave a comment or view the discussion at the permalink and follow any comments with the RSS feed for this post.



Another TR-808 clone.


808 drum machine clone test
from Danjel van Tijn on Vimeo.

There’s no drum machine like the Roland TR-808. It has kick that goes from a sharp click to boom and snares and hats that sound like chrome lightning. Since Roland never released the 808 and used prices are up and up it’s no wonder clones are arriving. We already have the Miami from Acidlab and as you can see above the MB808 from intellijel could be coming our way. I say yay.

More info: intellijel.com

This entry was written by Oliver Chesler, posted on July 1, 2009 at 5:33 am, filed under hardware and tagged , , , , , , . Leave a comment or view the discussion at the permalink and follow any comments with the RSS feed for this post.



D16 Nithonat and Devastor samples.

D16 Nithonat

D16 have released their Roland TR-606 clone called Nithonat. I love all the D16 drum machines because they sound fairly close to the original hardware they emulate and also have terrific internal sequencers. My favorite feature is the random function. It is well worth reading the manual if you try/buy any of the D16 drum machines so you get the most out of them. Here is a set of samples I created from the new box:

D16 Nithonat & Devastor by thingstocome

Related post: D16 Drumazon and Devastor video.

This entry was written by Oliver Chesler, posted on June 27, 2009 at 5:22 am, filed under plug-ins and tagged , , , , , , . Leave a comment or view the discussion at the permalink and follow any comments with the RSS feed for this post.



In memory of my Roland Juno-106.


Get To Know Your Gear: Episode 1
from Blorp Corp on Vimeo.

Sometime around 1996 I was living in Sheepshead Bay, Brooklyn (actually I was in Midwood). I came home from a European gig to find myself locked out of my apartment. My keys wouldn’t open the door as they did many times before. I quickly realized someone had tried or possibly succeded in breaking in. I called the police and six officers entered my small one bedroom. I was told to remain in the hall. The female officer of the group came and and told me, “It’s not pretty in there. You’re going to be a little upset.”.

That was the understatement of the year. Everything was gone except my DAT (Wikipedia: DAT Recorder) tapes and Electrocomp-101. Now when I mean everything I mean everything. They took my food, underwear, soap and bed too. Gearwise two TB-303′s and a ton of other pieces you would find in a typical 90s techno guy studio were gone including a loved Roland Juno-106. So this morning I smile knowing I’m safe, I have my old tunes on DAT tapes and my Electrocomp is still as large and heavy as ever. Needless to say all my studios since have been armed and alarmed.

Related post: Secure your recording studio from thieves.

This entry was written by Oliver Chesler, posted on May 4, 2009 at 4:14 am, filed under business, hardware and tagged , , , , . Leave a comment or view the discussion at the permalink and follow any comments with the RSS feed for this post.



Wire to the Ear’s Winter NAMM 2009 picks.

Ableton Live 8

Ableton Live 8. My passion Ableton Live has reached number 8. Once again the Berlin coding masters give us new features that fit nicely into the Live interface and workflow. So what’s new? Add grooves to clips using the new Groove Engine. Adjust grooves in the new Groove pool. Extract grooves from existing clips with simple drag & drop. Enhanced warp modes and a new warp engine that auto-assignes handles to transients. A new plug-in called Looper: Create endless layers of loops in a live performance jam with auto tempo recognition. Five new effects: Vocoder, Multiband Dynamics, Overdrive, Frequency Shifter, Limiter. Workflow enhancements: Crossfades, Enhanced Midi Editor, Collapsable and easy to create Group Tracks, Multi Parameter Manipulation (adjust several volume faders at once, etc.. (yay!)), Screen Magnifier, Audio & Midi Browser Previews now have a waveform display and scrubbing. Share: Built into Live 8 is a new way to share and collaborate over the internet. A new option in Live’s file menu called Share Live Set will send your song to Ableton’s servers. The song gets it’s own webpage and link. You can set the privacy settings. Songs files can be shared anywhere such as MySpace or Facebook. Suite 8 also got an upgrade: All new Library, new version of Ableton’s FM Synth Operator, Collision a creative percusion synth that uses physical modeling. link

Max for Live

Max for Live. Full integration with Cycling 74′s Max. Create your own audio and midi effects inside the LIve interface. Building and editing of new effects and instruments takes place in real time. Check out the video on the Ableton website of the step sequencer created with Max for Live. I can’t wait to see what people come up with! Luckily there are built in tutorials. link

Akai APC40

Akai APC40 Ableton Live Controller. An official hardware controller for Ableton Live from Akai. Clip launch section with buttons that change color to show if a clip is playing or not. Dedicated clip stop and stop all buttons. Dedicated scene launch buttons. Multiple banks and bank selection methods help you quickly and intuitively jump around a large session view. Mixer section with faders, mute, solo buttons, cue and arm track buttons. A track control section of 8 knobs for pans and sends. Tap tempo and sync buttons to match external turntables or devices. Assignable Crossfader. Transport and record controls for studio work. Make this an extension of your arm and your live show will be a lot better.  link

Waldorf Largo

Waldorf Largo. I’m going to quote the Waldorf press release on this one because it says it all, “Many producers and synthesizer enthusiasts asked for a full-blown Waldorf Synthesizer for their virtual rack. We listened, and now we proudly present Largo. Largo mirrors the technology used in Blofeld and Q hardware synthesizers.” If it has the sound of the Q it’s a great win. link

Native Instruments Maschine

Native Instruments Maschine. A controller built by Berlin’s NI with a companion software instrument perfectly matched to it. It can run stand alone or in your DAW. Maschine can also be a standard midi controller. link

Motu BPM

Motu BPM. Don’t let the Groovebox look fool you because the new BPM from MOTU is purely software. 15 gigs of sounds, multi-effects including convolution reverb, Step and Note Sequencers an internal mixer and more. I bet some producers will make their full songs all in this software. Could it gain a cult following? Just like Propellerheads Reason I can see this on my laptop for an alternative view every now and then. AU, MAS, TRAS, VST, MAC/PC, in your DAW or Stand Alone.   link

Roland AX-Synth

Roland AX-Synth. Finally, the return of the “Keytar” from Roland. You get keys, you get a Ribbon, D-Beam and modulation bar. The new AX-Synth also touts 6 hour battery life and MIDI over USB. I like it but why isn’t this wireless? link

All the above I want in my possession. Some other interesting things that peaked my interest at this year’s NAMM included the Celemony’s Melodyne Editor with DNA, Arturia’s Minimoog V 2.0 and the Moog Etherwave Plus Controller Theremin.  Some of you maybe happy about Cubase 5, Novation Automap 3 and the newest Virus TI synth? The weekend is just getting started so I will update this post when I find more goodies that peak my interest. What’s getting your goat going?

This entry was written by Oliver Chesler, posted on January 15, 2009 at 7:05 pm, filed under Ableton Live, hardware and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Leave a comment or view the discussion at the permalink and follow any comments with the RSS feed for this post.



Icey rain and two nice synthesizer videos.

It’s some sort of ice raining today in New York so this is perfect “stay in the studio time”. If you’ve been following my life through this blog or Facebook (my profile) or Twitter (follow me) you know my studio is in a container somewhere on the Atlantic Ocean coming from Berlin. Therefore, I can only daydream, watch videos of other people’s studios. Luckily, Vimeo always has something for me to gaze at when it comes to synth gear. Here’s two videos I found this morning I think are tasty…


Patch Tutorial 1 from Elan Hickler on Vimeo.

“The envelope controlling the lowpass filter is set with high attack, decay, sustain, and release. The pitch VC to the lowpass filter is inverted but heavily attenuated. I used no resonance and the notch filter was turned all the way down.” – Elan Hickler


stop_motion_synthesizers from Alex Inglizian on Vimeo.

“671 still frames shot with Nikon D70. Sounds made with Roland Juno-60, TR-909, Omnichord, Yamaha CS-5, & hand made synth.” – cliplead.com

I’m fine making music with my Macbook Pro and Ableton Live but I can’t wait to get my fingers on some real knobs again. Which one of these videos did you like the most?

photo credit: 1Sock

This entry was written by Oliver Chesler, posted on January 7, 2009 at 10:17 am, filed under Uncategorized and tagged , , , , , , , , , . Leave a comment or view the discussion at the permalink and follow any comments with the RSS feed for this post.



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