19 April 2008

ASM-2 (Part 3)

A little update on the progress on the ASM-2. I nearly finished mounting the components on the PCB that I got so far. I got some wrong components from the local electronics shop though, so this morning I went there to trade some stuff. I turns out that they couldn't deliver all the parts and they supplied me with some replacements for some parts. But not all off them meet the desired types and tolerances. Some they say they just can't get. So I will have to see if I can get them from somewhere else or maybe from Elby Designs.

I also got all the connectors that will connect the frontpanel components to the PCB. The connectors are pre-wired as you can see. Probably the wires are too short, but it is quite easy to extend the wires. That is easier anyway than soldering the wires to the little pins of the connectors. This reminds me that I need to order more stuff from Elby Designs. They sell a ready to go frontpanel that looks really great and a complete kit with all the frontpanel components like potmeters, jacks, switches and leds. It is a bit more expensive when I order from them I guess but them I'm sure that I will get the right stuff and everything at the same time. I also need to construct a power supply and a midi2CV converter were they also sell PCB's for.

On the left you see all the components I picked up this morning that I need to mount to the PCB now. I got some of the polystyrene capacitors that turned out they had anyway, but unfortunately not all the values. I also changed the trimpotmeters since the pin layout on the ones I got was wrong. I got one missing LM1497, but one TL081 is still missing. I got BC550's in stead of the BC549 that were in the pick lists. They said that the BC550 is the follow up for the BC549. I'll try that ou. For the 7915 and 7815 power regulators we found two heat sinks. I hope they will fit. They ordered the rest they could get for me. I hope to get these next week. All in all it looks like a bit more work to get the component especially compared to the complete PAIA kits. Construction so far is quite easy. But before I have a fully functional synthesizer will take a while I guess.

18 April 2008

3 May Ambience Eperience Wuppertal

The 3rd of May 2008 I will be at a little electronic music festival called Ambient Experience. There will be several artists performing like: Nattefrost Rober Schroeder, Carbobeids, Moonbooter, Stefan Erbe and Uwe Reckzeh. I will be just attending as a guest and listening to the music. Afterwards I will meet some of the artists for a drink. I know them from through the internet, but most of them I have never seen in real life. So this will be a social call. It is about 1,5 hours drive from my home, but I decided to take a hotel near the theater. I guess it will be finished late and I don't want to drive back all tired. I think there will be tickets available when you are interested. You can find more information here: http://www.ambient-experience.de/

Line6 Pocket Pod

I bough ta pocket pod last week. It was very cheap and it looked like fun. And yes I know I already have a Pod Pro XT, but that one I use with gearbox inside of Sonar. I love it, but with the Boss SE-20 I found out how fun it is to insert this kind of small effects units inline with a synthesizer and just jam on it. Also these small units are very easy to take with you. I'm still figuring out how to use it properly though since it has a Guitar input only and no line input, but it does work. I only have some hum when I use distortion. Delays and reverb work fine though.

14 April 2008

E-day 2008

E-day was very nice. I was home at 2:00 AM last night. As you can see I had my own stall, where I sold some CD's and the new T-shirts. I talked to a lot of people also that already bought my CD. Always nice to speak to people and get some feedback. Luckily all very positive :) I also had a notebook with me with 3 tracks from my new CD. I was good to get some feedback on that as well. I still have a lot of work though on the album, but a day like this really motivates me to get me going on. The concerts from Ron Boots and Edgar Froese were very nice as well. I really enjoyed them.

I forgot to mention that my wife Marina and my very good friend Hanz were also on the stand on E-day. Especially my wife was there all the time also during the concerts. She had a very long day. I appreciate it a lot, since this way I could watch the concerts myself and walk around a bit. The picture you see on the right was made by a Dutchman called Marco, who visited the stand and bought my album there. (Marco I hope you will enjoy it!). The next event by Groove will be on the 11th of October and is called E-live. I will be present for sure.

10 April 2008

ASM-2 (Part 2)

Today I also started working on the ASM-2. Most of the components arrived. You can see the stack of components in the picture on the left. Yes this will actually become a synthesizer :) Sorting out all the components was the first task and checking if I had everything. I knew some resistors were missing since they were in backorder. But probably I will find out along the way what I'm really missing. I put all the components in plastic bags, so I can't loose them. But from the amount of resistors only I know that this will be a lot of work to build.

I started soldering the first resistors today. First only the 100K and 10K resistors because these were the most. Actually my oldest daughter helped me to find the resistor numbers on the PCB. She really enjoyed helping me. Since all resistors are 1% tolerance reading color codes on the resistors is a pain in the ass. So I took my multi meter and actually measured the values on there. I expected that to be much more work than reading the codes, but I found out that this way is even faster. So something learned for the future :) On the right you can see how far I got today.

Not so far is seems and still I was busy for two hours. On the left you see all the components that are still left in the plastic bags. But I'm not complaining. Soldering is something that helps me relax. I'm very busy at work at the moment and this helps to get my mind clear, because I don't have time to think about anything else. I hope I can find time during the weekend to work on it some more. Off Course I will post an update here when I have accomplished something substantial. But I guess it will take a while before the whole PCB is finished. I will keep you posted :)

Cwejman S1 MK2 Arrived

Finally the Cwejman S1 MK2 arrived. I ordered it a long time ago and this is my first serious go at modular synthesizers. Actually the S1 is a semi-modular which means that without patching you can already use it. Without patching it just acts as an analog synthesizer with a predetermined signal path, but you have the ability to change this. You can also hook it up to other modulars. It uses mini jacks so I can hook it up already to the PAIA 9700S. I tried it out and I must say it sounds great! One of the first things I noticed is that you can put both of the filters in self oscillating mode by turning the knobs all the way to the right. I had never seen that before on a synthesizer.

As you can see in the picture on the right I found a nice spot for the S1 in my analog corner. Doesn't it look great next to the Moogs? I will have to study this synthesizer a bit more than I'm used to do though. I might even have to read the manual :) Usually that is only in last resort, but I really want to understand what all the inputs and outputs do before I start patching. I will use this semi-modular especially for nice space and ambient effects. You will hear a lot of them on coming albums. Maybe I will post some sounds examples later. If I can find some time.

Extra Monitoring Headphones

I bought an extra pair of monitoring headphones next to my Sennheiser 650. I really love the sound of the Sennheiser but they are open headphones. A lot of times I do listening of my tracks on my notebook in the living room and then my wife complains that she hears it as loud as I do and I set them louder than usual because she is watching TV. So I decided to look for some closed monitoring headphones. I listened to a lot of them and decided to go for the AKG K271. The sound is really good and a bit different in character than the Sennheiser which I think is a good . It is always wise to judge mixes on different kinds of speakers and headphones. Another advantage is that I don't have to keep carrying my headphones around between the studio and the living room. These ones stay in the living room now. Even having them on without music is nice, because it damps the noise of the kids :) but usually I listen to music anyway.

05 April 2008

E-day in Eindhoven on 13th of April

I will be present at E-day in Eindhoven on the 13th of April. E-day and E-live are two very nice event that is organized by Groove Unlimited every year. There are always some nice artists playing concerts and also some stands where you can buy CD's and stuff. Last year on E-live my album was released. This time Edgar Froese (Tangerine Dream) and Ron Boots will perform. I will be present with a stand where you can buy my AeroDynamics album, Analogy 3 and I will have a limited amount of Synth.nl T-shirts for sale. I will also have a notebook with me where you can sneak preview some tracks and the artwork of my forthcoming album. So if you are going there (sorry it is sold out already), don't forget to visit my stand. More information here: http://e-day.groove.nl/

AtmoSphere Studio Tech (Part 9)

In the previous posts I focussed mainly on the input side of my audio PC, but off course it is also quite nice to hear the output somewhere. I work a lot at night in my studio so for a large part I rely on my headphones. Most mixing I do on a Sennheiser HD590. I really love the details you can hear on these. The only thing that is hard to judge on headphones is the low end (bass) of a mix. For that I use a surround setup of Behringer Thruths. They are not the best monitors you can buy, but they are very nice to just listen music on as well. So more Hifi graded. I still want to buy a decent pair of stereo monitors to do my mixing on, but I haven't heard anything that I really like yet.

I also use two monitor controllers in my studio. The most important one is the Presonus Central Station. I really love this one. You have two headphone inputs and it also has a very good AD converter build in. So I can directly put SPDIF in there. In the picture on the right you see again a simplified version of my studio schematic. You can see that two SPDIF signals go to the central station. The other Monitor controller is a SPL surround controller. My Behringer Thruths are connected on there. But I route the front stereo speakers from the surround setup throught the central station now temporary until I find new stereo monitors, but I will wait with that until my new studio is ready? Again a new studio??? Yes :) I have some nice new plans that I will unravel soon here on my blog. So keep watching this blog for news.

04 April 2008


I added an UAD1e PCI Express card to my audio PC. It is a DSP card that offloads the CPU of the audio PC. I use it to run special VST effects in Sonar that are actually run on this card. It works about the same as the PowerCore X8 I already have. The difference is that this card is internal and off course other VST's are with it. I got a voucher to download extra plugins and I especially loved DreamVerb (a very nice reverb) and the Space Echo emulation. It sounds way better by the way than the Boss RE-20 that I bought and offcourse it is syncable to the host tempo and also you can save presets with the project. So this one is better to use in productions, but the RE-20 is nicer just to jam with, without me having to boot up the PC and start a Sonar project. So Both of both worlds :) You can find more information here: http://www.uaudio.com/products/index.html

02 April 2008

Jarre in Royal Albert Hall

The trip to London was great. Me and my wife had a great time. Off course for me the Jarre concert was the highlight of the trip. Directly after we arrived in the hotel we looked where the Royal Albert Hall was exactly. I turned out that we could walk it easily from our hotel. We decided to go there in the morning to make sure we wouldn't walk wrong. And that was a good decision afterwards, because that is exactly what we did. After we found it we went back to the hotel and took a little nap. We left early to go back again and ate at a nice Indian restaurant that we found on the way back.

Entering the hall is a very special moment. The ambiance there is really great. You can just feel the greatness that has happened there in the past. The hall was completely sold out we heard, but lots of people were late. So the concert started a little later than planned. Jean-Michel Jarre did a nice introduction before the concert and told that he was there not so long ago with Arthur C. Clarke who recently died. He said he would think about that during the concert. A scary moment was when during this presentation a iron chain fell down from the ceiling of the hall. Luckily it didn't hit Jean-Michel Jarre nor the equipment on stage. And what a nice stuff there was standing on that podium. Lots of vintage synthesizers :)

We had very nice seats as you can see from the picture on the left we were pretty close. Row 15 right in front of the podium. Great for a good stereo image :) You can also see some of the nice synthesizers that were on the podium like: Arp 2600, MemoryMoog, EMS Synthi, Jupiter 8, Moog Modular, Theremin, Eminent 310, Moog Liberation etc etc. Before they start the concert they even need to tune them last minute. Actually that tuning session sounded quite nice :) It is really a playing museum on stage.

The concert itself was great. However different from the other Jarre concerts I have seen. They were more about the show with lots of light, video and lasers etc. this concert was definitely focussed on the music itself. I really loved it and it was really live. Jarre made some mistakes on the solo's, but I don't mind. It was really cool to experience the greatness of the Oxygene album live. Something really cool was a big mirror array above the podium. You could look on top of the stage this way. Great idea.

After the concert we waited for a while in the hall in the hope that Jean-Michel Jarre would do an autograph session, but it looked after a while that this wasn't going to happen. So we went out to the stage door. There a pile of fans was waiting Jean-Michel Jarre up. A bit scary. We didn't want to stand between that and watched from a distance. I brought my CD with me because I really wanted to give it to him, because Jean-Michel Jarre is the reason I started making music. He is my big inspiration. Suddenly my wife recognized the assistant of Francis Rimbert coming out of the stage door. We met her (and Francis) at E-live in Eindhoven last year. We talked a while to her and she promised to get my CD to Jean-Michel Jarre. So he should have it now :) Now lets hope he will listen to it some day. If he ever does then it would be great to get some feedback from him. I can only hope for that. I gave Francis Rimbert a copy at E-live. I heard that he didn't have time to listen to it yet, but still has it. But they did look at my website already :) I was very happy to hear that. Well if something ever comes from this you will hear for sure.

All in all a great experience I wouldn't wanted have missed for anything. The rest of the trip was also very nice. We (me and my wife) had nice dinners, went to The Museum of Natural History, The Science Museum, Madame Tussuads, The London Aquarium and we saw a nice movie (10.000 BC).