29 June 2008

My Best Side and Cover design

I recently was at a synthesizer meeting where a lot of people took pictures. I got this pictures mailed from one of the visitors, my friend Matthijs. I didn't want to hold this one from you :) You can see the back of me and the T-shirt that I had made from my current logo that is on the cover of my 'AeroDynamics' album.

I can tell you a little secret now. This will soon change. We are working on the cover design for my new 'AtmoSphere' album and it is almost done. Off course I'll update you as soon as It is done. And I'll explain as well who 'we' is. And I hope that will be somewhere next week, but I'm not sure yet. Busy busy busy :)

Sampling: MotoGP (TT) Assen 2008

Last weekend I did even more sampling. I was invited by a business relation to go to the Moto GP in Assen (Netherlands). The Moto GP is kind off the 'Formula 1' of motorbikes. This motor race is also called the 'TT Assen'. It is quite famous all over the world. I was not really into motorbikes untill now. It was a great experience! They go really fast and look how flat they go in the corners. There were multiple races during the day 125CC, 250CC, 500CC (the main event) but also a rookie race and the sidecars. So it was really a full days program. We were wined and dined very well and we could go anywere we wanted on the circuit. A real VIP treatment :) I did sampling of all the races and also took some pictures as you can see on the left. Well if you want to know what it sound like, here is a sample again:


22 June 2008

Sampling: Air Force Airshow

I did some more sampling yesterday. We went with the kids to the 'Luchtmacht Open Dagen' which is the annual Airshow that our Royal Dutch Air Force organizes. As you might know from my 'AeroDynamics' album I served some time in the Dutch Air Force where I worked as a mechanic on the F-16 fighter plane. My track 'Falcon' is also about this time and you hear some F-16 samples in it as well. In the picture on the left (kindly provided by http://konflikty.pl/) you see this magnificent plane during landing. It is a very fine piece of engineering and though it is getting a bit of an old lady it still performs outstanding. I love the way it can manouvre and off course the sound it produces. Sampling was a bit difficult because the kids were complaining about the noise a lot. And yes it is quite loud :) Here you can hear a sample of a simulated airfield attack that they did during the show. The low bangs you hear were simulated bombs they dropped. Very low and very loud :)


Synth.nl on TDFZ Radio

Yesterday I was played on TDFZ Radio. TDFZ stands for Tangerine Dream FanZone. So this radio station is run by and for Tangerine Dream fans. They play music that was influenced by Tangerine Dream. They played my track 'Synthology' that I wrote for the Analogy 3 sampler from Groove Unlimited my record label. A very nice album I think made with analog synthesizers only. Chris from TDFZ radio seemed to like my track a lot, I hope he will play some more of my music in the future. I did send him my 'AeroDynamics' album as well. Since this broadcast is a podcast you can download it yourself and listen to it. You can find it on there podcast website here: http://www.tdfz.mypodcast.com/

19 June 2008

Roland JX-3P

Another synthesizer I recently acquired for my collection it the Roland JX-3P. You can get these really cheap and actually it is a very nice analog synthesizer. It comes from the same family as the Roland JX-8P I already had, but it sounds very different. Actually no comparison at all. The Roland JX-3P is much punchier. It has 2 DCO's per voice with 6 voices in total and a very nice analog filter. And it has the famous (but a bit noisy) Roland chorus on it, making the sound very special right away. It also has a build in sequencer, that I'll probably never use, but back then I'm sure it was very impressive. The midi implementation is very simple though (only note on and note off) so it isn't midi clock syncable.

I put the Roland JX-3P up a new 3 synth stand in my studio behind one of my racks. It also holds the Roland JX-8P that I recently moved and the Ensoniq ESQ-1 that is back from repair. The Ensoniq ESQ-1 has a new battery and now is running the latest OS version 3.5. This stand uses up about the last space I had left in the studio. So you might ask are you done collecting now?? Well no :) I'm afraid I never will and I have become very creative in finding yet another spot. And I can tell you now that I have big plans to build a new studio in the end of the year. I'm preparing for that big project now and will let you in to these plans very soon. This will be the biggest project so far. But I need to finish my new album first and after that I can focus on that project.

Korg MS2000R

I recently sold the RME Fireface 400 that I used on my notebook in the past. But since I hardly work on my music any more on my notebook I had no need for it anymore. I bought two synthesizer from that money. The first is a nice Korg MS2000R. The R stands for 'Rack' and it is a Virtual Analog Synthesizer. It has the same sound engine as the MicroKorg that I bought before, but I found out (like a lot of people) that it is not very easy to edit the MicroKorg. I do like the sound though. Quite powerful in the low end actually. The MS2000R has a lot of knobs and that makes tweaking sounds a lot easier. The build in step sequencer is also great. I did have some trouble to sync it to midi clock, but I found out that it was running an old OS version. After I upgraded to the latest version it worked like a charm.

I found a nice spot for the MS2000R in my digital corner. Actually it was the spot I reserved for an Arturia Origin, but I heard recently that it isn't coming any time soon. So I decided to fill up that spot. As you can see I now have a lot of knobs up close now that I can tweak. Ideal for creating sounds and recording turning of the knobs real time. Funny detail by the way was that it took me a while to figure out how to turn the MS2000R on ;) The power switch is on the volume knob, like turning on an old car radio. Not very logical in my opinion but, well it does the job. Last night I had a little Korg only jam with the M3, Radias, MicroKorg and MS2000R. Really fun. And as always I thought.... I should have recorded this. Well I didn't. Maybe next time.

16 June 2008

Sampling: Le Mans 2008

As you know I use a lot of samples in my music. Most of them I make myself. I use a mobile audio recorder for that. It is an Edirol R-09. I really love it. It is very small so I can put it in my pocket somewhere. It runs on 2 normal AA batteries and it records on a SD memory card. It has a build in stereo microphone that gives a great natural sound in my opinion. The R-09 can sample in high quality. Usually I record 24 bit WAV's in 44,1 Khz. So this is really CD quality.

The samples you hear in my tracks come sometimes from my daily life, sometimes even my backyard, but also I visit special events to record my sounds. I thought it would be nice to update you on my blog as well on the sounds that I record. You might hear them back later in some track :)

As you might have guessed from the car samples I used in my first album 'AeroDynamics' I like cars a lot. I visit car events regularly to watch some nice race or see and hear some special cars. Last weekend I left with a friend to the 24 hours race of Le Mans. Quite a long drive from my home. It was about 785 Kilometers and took us about 8 hours to get there. You can see the route we took on the map on the left. We avoided Paris because we would pass there around the busiest time of the day. So in stead we drove over Calais. From there also a lot of British car enthusiasts joined us on the highway.

The race in Le Mans is a very special one. It always starts at 15:00 in the afternoon and they literally drive for 24 hours after that. The car that has driver the most laps in this time wins. There are a couple of different classes that drive at the same time and this makes it special too. It is amazing to see how much difference there is in speed between these cars. But the most special thing is off course that they also drive at night. That is the most amazing time to watch this race. You can see the brake discs glow red in the dark and also see the flames from the exhausts when the cars shift down before a corner. Off course it is impossible to watch the race the whole 24 hours so we watched for 3 hours after the start and went back late in the evening and watched another 3 hours in the night.

We had a nice place on one of the tribunes. At night it rained a bit but we didn't get wet. This is also the place where I recorded the sounds and also filmed some stuff. I hope to make a track later with the Le Mans sounds and maybe even make a video with it. I put one sample online for you so you know how it sounds :)


09 June 2008

Trinity and Jupiter 8 in the Studio

Today I finally put the Jupiter 8 in the studio in my analog corner. It literally overshadows the Juno 106 now. But the nice thing is that I can still use them both. I won't use the keys of the Jupiter 8 to play on but I can still reach it well enough to tweak a sound. For the rest it is connected through midi (via the build in encore midi kit) so I can use any remote keyboard that I want. I still have to figure out how the encore midi kit works, since I didn't get to test that at the synth meeting. Time flies when you are having fun! I'll try to do that this week. At least it is connected now and I'm happy that I won't have to move it again for a while. It is still heavy I found out today :)

I also added another synthesizer today. It is a Korg Trinity. I didn't ever really knew this one, but I heard so many positive reactions about it that I wanted to try it out. Well I can tell you it is here to stay! To begin with it looks great :) It is made of brushed aluminum as you can see on the picture on the right. No plastic rubbish here. It also has a very nice touch screen display. I think it was the first Korg synthesizer to have this actually. Its sound is very digital but very great as well. I just browsed through some sounds today and fell in love right away. Just one layered pad sound from it can make a complete track. I know it is the predecessor of the Korg Triton. Well I had a Korg Karma which has the same engine, but I can tell you. The Trinity will blow a triton away!

I also found a nice spot for the Trinity as well in my digital corner. I put it just behind the Korg M3 and the Roland V-Synth GT. It is funny to see 3 synthesizers with a touch screen on a row. Also the Trinity is a bit far away to comfortably play on, but it is also hooked up with midi off course like everything in my studio, so I can play it again on any keyboard I want. I jammed a bit this afternoon on the M3, Trinity and V-Synth GT and I completely lost time :) That is a very good sign! I just should have recorded it :( But you will definitely hear some Korg Trinity sounds on future albums.

I found out while looking for documentation that there also is a Moss board for the Trinity with the sounds of the Korg Z1. As I mentioned before I liked that a lot as well on the synth meeting, but I found out also that this board is more expensive than a used Korg Z1.

08 June 2008

Synthmeeting Zeeland 2008

Yesterday I visited a synthesizer meeting in a town called Goes in The Netherlands. It was about an 2 hour drive for me, but it was worth it for sure. I picked up my Jupiter 8 from Belgium and decided to bring it along to the meeting, since I hardly had time to play with it yet. In the picture on the left you see me playing on it. I really love it already. I hookup up my Boss RE-20 to it for a little delay and a little reverb, but even without any effects it sounds so great. It is one of the most amazing analog synthesizers I have ever played on. I'm so glad that I bought it. I will use it for sure on my future albums.

My good friend MB collects vintage FX equipment. He brought some special phasing and flanging guitar pedals. We hooked them up to the Jupiter 8 to see how that would sound. That was a lot of fun to compare them. Here you see a very old Phaser connected to it. It sounded great on the high end but not so nice on the low end. I do prefered the Elektro Harmonix pedels that he also brought. Put a nice string sounds through them and you instantly have that genuine 'Jarre Oxygene' sound. I alway get instant happiness from that sound :) Well now I'll go and find a nice spot in my studio for the Jupiter 8 and probably I will leave it there. It is quite big and heavy. So not a nice synthesizer to carry around actually.

One of the reasons I went to the meeting is that there was some equipment that I wanted to check out. In the picture on the left
you see an EMS Synthi AKS. Well this is one of the synthesizers that Jarre used a lot for especially sound effects. It is a great modular like concept, where in stead of putting in patch cables you put pins in a matrix to patch. It has 3 really great oscillators and a build in reverb. I actually didn't know that. I really loved it. And that is not a good sign :) I'll have to put it in my wishlist now ;) I really loved it, but they are quite rare and that means hard to find and also expensive. But I think it is worth it.

There were also some very nice modular systems. In the picture you see a very nice Doepfer set. I did see that stuff on the Musik Messe, but never really played with it. Unfortunately time was to short now as well. There was so much to see. And by the time I wanted to give it a go the guy that brought it had left. On the right you see another modular system that was completely self designed. So a very cool DIY project. The SH-101 was used as a CV/gate keyboard. I didn't know you could use it for that. Saves a midi to CV converter. Smart idea :)

This was a nice setup as well from a guy called Peter. Coincidentally I visited his website the evening before, not knowing that he was coming. Well what did he bring? In the wood cabinet on top you see some synthesizers.com modules. I did get a chance to play with them a bit and they sound very nice. This is the same format as the Yusynth modules I'm building. So now I know how it should look. Below you see a DIY project that he did, based on some different designs. He designed the cabinet and panels himself. A very nice project. Look on his website for more on his project: You can find his website here: http://www.attorks.nl. There is also some of his music online which I liked.

But back to more Jupiter 8 :) I tried to play some more on it during the day. And every time it was a delight. I had some very nice reactions on it as well. It seemed to be a crowd pleaser. So I'm glad I brought it. I did find two minor defects on it, but nothing that really bother me. The modulation knob doesn't work and the portamento only works on the upper layer. Probably not complicated to fix. But for now I don't want to bring it away for repair for these minors things. I want to make music with it! The only thing left to test is the encore midi kit that is build into it, but I'll do that in the studio when I put it in its place. Off course I'll post some pictures of that as well here.

Another synthesizer that surprised my in a positive way was the Korg Z1. It has quite a unique sound. Funny enough it was build to emulate acoustic instruments like flute, saxophone, violin etc with a mathematic model of them. It actually calculates these modules. Well actually I didn't like these sounds at all. But I did like the digital pads and leads it can create. They sound very special. I had the Moss board in my old Korg Karma that I had a while ago, but I sold it when I got the Korg M3. So I'm missing that sounds. Well another add for the wish list ;) Every time I'm amazed again to hear how every synthesizer has its own character. And that sometimes they are best in what they are not designed to do :) The last thing I want to share with you is a video that one of the visitors put on you tube.

You can find it here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EqHBHt-McUM.

As you can see it was not a big meeting but it was really nice. I had a great time. Thank you to everyone that was there and of course a big thank you to the organization!

06 June 2008

New track online for Omnisphere Contest

The last weeks I made a new track to enter a contest. This contest was organized by Spectrasonics. They have produced some amazing sample based software synthesizers that I like a lot. But soon they are launching a very exciting new product called Omnisphere. They supplied a set of samples and loops to download that you had to use. I combined these with some of my own samples that I took in the London Underground when we went to the Jean-Michel Jarre concert in the Royal Albert Hall earlier this year. For the rest I only used the existing Spectrasonics synthesizers. The track is called 'Underground' and I put the track online on my website so you can listen to it. The track is mastered by Ron Boots from Groove Unlimited by the way. (Thank you very much for that Ron!) You can find it on this URL: http://www.synth.nl/Tracks. There are some more tracks there that you may have found before. I don't link to them on my website because they are mainly experiments. I hope you enjoy the track and off course I hope Spectrasonics will like it too :)

01 June 2008

Yusynth (Part 3)

Last week I also picked up the first components for my Yusynth modular. I will start working on 4 VCO's. When I got home I studied the parts and found that the 100 nF capacitors are way too big. They are 400 Volt types and 63 Volt would be more than sufficient. Also the Elco's are not right they are axial and on the PCB there should be radial. Also the trim potmeters are of the wrong type. The last thing I found out is that I forgot to order sockets for the IC's. Ah well better next time. I will trade these parts next week and will start what with is right.

Soldering the PCB's we made ourselves is a lot different from the other PCB's I did so far. To begin with there is no fancy silk screen with component orientation or even numbering. So you have to figure our first what goes where and all you have are wholes to look for. Another thing is that the PCB is single sides and the whole itself isn't letting solder trough, so flowing soldering tin is a bit more difficult as well. But hey I did this for a living remember? So I picked up the pace were I left it of long time ago. I started with soldering all the 5% resistors.

Yves has some very nice documentation on his website though. In the picture on the left you see the component orientation and there are also pictures with the values of the components. I did find some minor differences though so for some parts I was not really sure which value to use, but I will figure this out when I go along. Another thing I found out is that I thought I made the BC547 version of the VCO's because I thought the LM394 would be hard to get. In the end we apparently did make the LM394 version PCB's as we probably did find the components, but I can't recall. Maybe we just made the right ones by mistake :)

In the picture on the right you can see how far I got today. These 4 boards will actually produce music some day. Strange idea right? :) Well they will for sure! I will look for the rest of the components next week and try to work some more on them. I still have a lot of PCB's to go, but I just take it easy. I like to solder a bit in between my job and working on my music. It gets my head clear after work and then the result in the studio is way better. So soldering these DIY projects have a double function for me this way. I'll update you again when I have done more work on this project.