31 May 2010

Roland GAIA SH01 Review

At the moment I'm testing the new Roland GAIA SH01. And I must say I was instantly hooked to this little one. I unpacked it in the living room and started playing on it and it hasn't left the living room yet :) The sound reminded me a bit of the Roland JP8000 them to be. The are 3 oscillators that you can layer and they each have their own LFO, filter, AMP. It is nice that you can select just one part and edit it, but you can also select all three parts at the same time and do editing on all of them. Sound design is a real breeze on this machine. In fact I started to build my own sound bank already. Maybe I'll even submit it to Roland or put it on my own website later on.

Here you can see the layout of the synth. You can click the picture for a larger version of course. I also like the effects section on the right. It has delay, and reverb, but also distortion, frequency shifting, phasing and flanging effects. They are actually vwith a tad of V-Synth GT as far as the VA part. The layout is great. The envelopes have sliders and are right where you wanted ery useful. You get 64 factory presets with it and you can also store 64 presets of your own. As I said I'm building a nice bank with 64 sounds of my own now. All more ambient pads, leads and sound effects. I'm really amazed how versatile this machine is.

On the back is a USB connection to hook it up to your PC and of course the midi and audio connections. There is also a spot for USB memory. I guess you can store more sounds on there, but I must admit that I haven't read the manual yet ;) So I'm sure there is more to discover. I just plugged in my headphones and started playing around. I have been at it for two days now and I'm still not bored by far. I'm very surprised about the filters, they are quite nice actually and also do a nice job in auto oscillating.

And then the part I love the most. You can put batteries in it :) That was mainly the reason I bought it. I have to go on some trips soon where I want to take a little synth with me to play a bit. It is quite small and light so you can easily take it with you. I think this little one is very suitable for leads, pads and basses and I will certainly use it on some upcoming productions. I have heard people complain that it is not multitimbral, since it has more than enough power. Ah well I don't mind. I think it is more than worth its money. Be sure to check it out! Hopefully I can tell you more about my sound bank soon. I'm almost done with it, but it would be nice if Roland would put it online somewhere. I'll keep you posted.

27 May 2010

Synth.nl Interview on Roland Central Europe Website

A while ago I did an interview with Roland about my studio, synthesizers, music and especially the Roland V-Studio 700 I use. I'm very happy with this so I didn't mind helping them to promote it a bit more. It is the ideal companion for Cakewalk Sonar. I did the interview in English, but they also put Dutch and French subtitles under it. I was very nervous as you can see. Sorry for not sitting still on my chair :) Well it was fun doing it and it is nice that it is finally online. You can find it here: http://www.rolandce.com/nl/nl/producten/computer-music/audio-recording/vs-700-cs/. You have to click the video tab on this page to view it. I will also put a copy of the video on my YouTube channel later. I guess Roland won't mind because it is free publicity for them as well. The music playing in the background is the title track of my latest 'OceanoGraphy' CD by the way.

Yusynth (Part 26)

Yesterday I visited my old employer Bird Electronics again. We made some more YuSynth PCB's long time ago already, but I still needed to drill 0.8 mm holes in them. So that is what I did using the drill you can see in the picture. It was about 4 hours of work. After that I cut the PCB's to the right size. Usually there is always some excessive material around it to be able to hold it better and you don't want to loose the print on the edges when etching. After this is also drilled some 3mm holes for fastening the PCB's later on on the mounting brackets.

After that my former colleague Marcel helped me to wash the PCB's. There is a small layer of etch resistant material still on the copper that wasn't hit by the UV light. The material has to be washed of with thinner. And after drying from the thinner Marcel sprayed on a protective layer that also helps the solder flow better. And then the batch was layed outside to dry in the sun. While waiting we had a nice lunch over there and talked a bit about a lot of stuff. It was good old times again :)

And here is the end result. There are some PCB's on there that I made before like VCA's and Envelope Generators (ADSR's), but most of the stuff is new. Mainly logic modules like frequency dividers for the sequencer clocks, but I also made the PCB for the CV standards module that Yves made. I already have the front panel and everything for that, but I forgot that PCB in the last run. Well for now I have more than enough, because I guess this won't even fit in my modular desk any more. I'm looking into howto make some modules in Eurorack format now, because that saves a lot of space and I still have plenty of room left in the right 19 inch modular desk extension.

AeroDynamics played on Elektroland #108

Bjorn Jeppessen played the title track from debut album 'AeroDynamics' on his podcast Elektroland. It is very nice that he chose this old track again, as you can hear the style on this track is quite different than my later two albums. You can still listen to the podcast and even download it on this URL:


and more info on the album here:


24 May 2010

Modular Power Distribution (Part 2)

This morning I did a lot of work on the power distribution in the modular desk. Here you can see the power distribution board in the left part of the desk. As you can see there are quite some cables already attached. And all of those were hand made. By now I used about 200 meters of wire already and I'm about half way I think. On the right you can just see once of the YuSynth VCA modules I build. This gives a clear picture I think how everything is mounted and connected. It is really great that things a finally taking shape.

On the other side of the cabinet I still need to do a lot of work. You can see this also on the picture on the right. But I cannot continue at this moment because I ran out of black wire. I did calculate that black would go twice as fast as the other colours because all ground wires are double on the connectors, but it seems that twisting the wires takes up a lot of meters as well and then there is always some waste of course and you cannot go in a straight line sometimes from the modules to the power distribution boards. So I'll have to get some more cable to be able to continue.

So after this I started to create some patches to test if all modules that I connected also worked properly. I have tested them all prior to mounting them in the cabinet, but sometimes a wire can come loose of course when you pull them through the cabinet. But so far it looks like everything works. Not everything has a led either by the way, so for some modules you can't even tell if they are on or off. It was fun doing some patching on this big modular. I'm already working for a long time on the project, but was never before able to do this. So I'm starting to get excited about the whole thing now and can't wait until I can use it usefully in a track. That might even be the case on my upcoming album already. I'll let you know when I do of course :)

Prophet VS in the Studio

I found another synth that I have been looking for a long time. It is a Sequential Circuits Prophet VS. It is a digital synthesizer and it uses a method called Vector Synthesis. It sounds really great, it has a lot of metallic sounds with a great filter and of course the joystick where you can go through the different parts of the sound. This makes it very useful for soundscapes that you can alter/modulate with this joystick. I have been playing on it for a while last night and I sort of understand now how it works. Now I need to find a nice spot for it, which is getting quite hard ;)

OceanoGraphy now also on Itunes

Even more good news. OceanoGraphy is now also available on Itunes. You can buy the whole album or individual tracks. You can find it by clicking this link: http://ax.itunes.apple.com/nl/artist/synth-nl/id270538980#

If the link doesn't work just search for 'Synth.nl' or 'OceanoGraphy' in you Itunes application. And here you can find the other sales links:

21 May 2010

MOTM-300 VCO's (Part 1)

I started building 3 MOTM-300 VCO's. They are supposed to be very musical and accurate. I bought the PCB's from Synthesis Technologies, but unfortunately they don't sell complete kits anymore, but they do sell special components kits with the hard to find parts. So I had to source the components myself. I did not have trouble finding the rest at all. By now the PCB's are all done. I also ordered the front panels from there and the brackets that mount the PCB to the front panels.

The only thing I forgot to order is something they call a 'hardware kit'. It holds the nuts and bolts you need to screw everything together. I thought I would have that myself, but all nuts I had didn't really fit. It just took a long time before it was here, because I ordered them together with the power distribution boards and those were out of stock. So I had to wait for shipment until everything arrived there first. But I must say it is a very nice way to mount the PCB.

The only thing I'm missing now are the potmeters. MOTM uses other types than I'm used to. Spectrol potmeters I think the same as I had in my Oakley modules, but they sell those as kits as well. I have been looking around which types I need, but I'm lost. So if anyone reads this and knows order nr's from Farnell or Mouser I'd be more than happy :) I'm also sending Scott from Bridechamber a message. Maybe he has them to. Well as soon as I got the potmeters I can finish them of and start testing en calibrating them. For now they already found a place in the modular desk.

20 May 2010

Modular Power Distribution (Part 1)

Yesterday evening I started work on the power distribution in my modular desk. This is the inside of the modular extension. On the bottom you can see the three MOTM power supplies that I've build and on the top right is another power supply that I will use to power the Synthesizers.com modules that I bought. I calculated that the MOTM-950 doesn't have enough power to take on all my modules. Especially the Q960 sequencers take 240 mA together on the +15V and the MOTM-950 only has 400 mA on the +15. On the top left is a power distribution board that I will use to convert the MOTM format connectors to the synthesizers.com power connector for some modules that go in the extension.

From the power supplies I am going to do cabling to a terminal block inside the big module. From there I'll wire the power distribution boards. The only problem I ran into is that I'm out of cable. So today I'll get some new one so I can continue. I'm very happy by the way that I can make those MOTM style twisted cables myself now. It looks really neat actually. After this I started removing modules from the cabinet to make room. And I needed some good spots to mount the power distribution boards.

And here is how I mounted them On the vertical support struts that are in the main modular desk. The boards you see here on the bottom is the same as in the extension before. It holds 3 synthesizers.com connectors, but also some MOTM style bigger 6way connectors. Those are also on the MOTM-950 power supply. The next problem I ran into was that I was short of synthesizers.com power cables. I did have connectors but no suitable cables, so in the end I cut existing cables in half and made new connectors on them. The cables I got were too long any way. All synthesizers.com modules are now connected and hopefully I can power them up tomorrow. I also ordered new MOTM connectors since I'm going to have to produce a lot of MOTM power cables for the rest. I'll keep you posted on the progress :)

19 May 2010

OceanoGraphy now as CD and MP3 on CDBaby.com

I have some pretty good news. As of this week my latest album OceanoGraphy is now available on CDBaby.com. You can buy it as a download in high quality MP3 so that you don't have to wait for it to ship and of course it is cheaper too. But also when you are overseas (from my point of view) you can order the CD here with a lower shipping cost. CDBaby ships from within the USA so when you live there this is a very good option I guess. Do order quickly because they have a limited stock of CD's. Please let me know if you need any help. So far I've heard very positive feedback from CDBaby.com. You can find the album on this URL: http://www.cdbaby.com/cd/synthnl1. My other two albums are also available on that website. Thanks for your support!

Moog Taurus 3 in the Studio

From the moment Moog announced they were going to do a reissue of the Moog Taurus I was very interested in it. The deep bass sounds of the original Taurus are really earth shaking. And now they made a version with midi, LFO and arpeggiator. So I decided to get one. I didn't to the down payment as they asked for, but I asked I4 Muzique to get one for me. And yesterday I picked it up. I couldn't resist hooking it up right away and play on it. Well this one is still earth shaking :) The bass coming from it is really amazing. And I do love that low end. I found a nice spot for it right under my main desk right below my master keyboard. So now I can use it as an sound engine, but also as a midi controller since it also sends out midi signals. Do go and check it out!

Back from Holiday

The last two weeks it has been very quiet on this blog. It was because I was on holiday. Like last year we took a cruise with the kids. This time on the Mediterranean. We visited Venice in Italy, a very special place I can recommend it, we also went to Split and Dubrovnik Croatia and we also visited Turkey and Greece. We were on quite the same boat as last year only not 5 days now but 14 days. We had 2 full days at sea, but the other days we saw only nice places. Here is a picture of the view I enjoyed the most. It is great waking up to :)

I listened to a lot of music on this holiday. I had my Ipod full with music that I didn't have time before to listen to. So now I'm completely up to date again. I always get a lot of music from other artists, but normally I just can't find the time. My wife is very good taking these kind of action pictures of me by the way ;) But we went on this holiday to rest, because it has been so busy last year. And it will be busy again, since I'm both busy with work as I have a lot of music projects to finish and also a lot of work to be done still in the studio. So I needed this break.

And here is another action picture my wife took ;) Well I have slept a lot, since I normally do that as less as possible I had to catch up a bit. Last time I really used this cruise for inspiration for my OceanoGraphy album, but since my next album is about the Apollo Space program to the moon, we looked for a cruise to the moon, but couldn't find it. I did take a lot of documentaries about these missions with me for inspiration though. So now I'm really in the mood to finish this album. I have some great images in my head to compose the music to now.

But I want to finish up with another very nice picture we took just from our balcony. Those sunsets are always something special I think. Well enough about this holiday. I'm back and it is business as usual now. I was busy the last days to answer a lot of E-mail. It is amazing how things can pile up in just two weeks. And from now on it is a lot of studio time. Both still finishing up cabling jobs (yes it is still not finished), some DIY projects on my modular and of course music. I really wish I had more time for all this. Ah well that is life :) I'll keep you posted as always.

Synth.nl with Artico on A Ultima Fronteira Podcast

A track from my OceanoGraphy album was played by Roberto on the Spanish podcast 'a Ultima Fronteira'. It was the track 'Artico' and it is about the Arctic Ocean. This track is not in my normal play lists so if you want to hear it you can still download the podcast here:


Of course the comments are in Spanish, but the music speaks for itself I guess :)

18 May 2010

Synth.nl with Stall at E-day Festival

Next weekend I will be present with a stall at the E-day festival in Oirshot (NL). At my stall you can meet me of course and I will sell my music there with a discount. So if you are in the neighborhood be sure to drop by. It is a very nice festival where several musicians play. Gert Emmens will also play and he will actually not be playing synths but drums :) I'm looking forward to that. You can find more information about the festival on this website -> http://e-day.groove.nl/ or ask me if you want to know more.