19 June 2010

Recent Apollo Studio Changes

Last week I moved some stuff around in the studio. The ARP 2600 took the place of the ARP Avatar. And I moved the Avatar to the side. I'll probably sell the Avatar soon, since it doesn't add much over the ARP 2600. I can hear you say: Isn't it inconvenient on the floor? Ah well no. Actually I don't mind sitting on the floor now and then and If I want it up higher I can take a synth stand and put in on there when I work on it. I actually did that last week while I was making SFX on it for my upcoming Apollo album.

Then I moved my Juno 106 back over the Juno 60. There was room there since I sold my Juno 6. And in the spot where the Juno 106 was I placed the Prophet VS. The only synth that is not really on its place here is the reversed keys Poly 800. I will find a new spot for that one soon. I also still have to place a Roland JX-10 somewhere that is still standing on its side in the studio. So I'm not done yet moving stuff around. Today I visited Live Music in Arnhem and I found some very small synth stands there that I will use soon.

Here is another example of an extra spot I created. it is now taken by a Alpha Juno 2. Since everything is midi and audio connected in the studio I don't care much where the machines are in my studio. I will play on them from my master keyboard anyway. Ah well sometimes it is better to have a synth in front of you, but like I said before. I can easily pick it up, place it on a synth stand and play on it where ever I want to have it. So I hope this answers all the questions I had by E-mail about synth positions in my studio :) I'm sure I'll be moving a bit more to optimize everything even more. I'll keep you posted of course. And my good friend Chris that always takes pictures in my studio told me that he has a new camera and that he wanted to test it in my studio. So hopefully he will come by soon to take new pictures for the website.

18 June 2010

Apollo Studio Decoration (Part 1)

Maybe you remember from a long time ago that I posted about some plastic model kits I bought to decorate my Apollo studio. Well finally the first of the kits is ready. It is the Eagle Moon Lander (LEM) from the Apollo 11 Mission. I built it partly with my daughters, but like always they don't really have the focus and concentration to finish the project to the end. But they did help me with the painting. They both painted the surface of the moon together for example. Well it was fun to build, but took a lot longer than I expected. I guess the rest will have to wait now, because I'm very busy both with work and with musical projects.

Part of the idea of building these kits was also to get inspiration for the upcoming Apollo album, but that didn't really work. Watching documentaries helped me a lot more. Now I just have to find a nice spot for this Moon Lander. For now it is on top of a speaker, but that is up too high to see. I will have to think about some solution. But now I'd better focus again on the music. I'm in the studio a lot at this moment and I already have 12 tracks for the Apollo album, but I also needed to finish two tracks for two different sampler CD's. And already I'm behind schedule for the planned release date that I had in mind being the 9th of October this year. Well I'll just have to see were I can make up some time again. I'll keep you updated on the progress.

12 June 2010

MS-20 Trade

In my quest to make a little room in my studio last week I traded two big synthesizers for one little one. A fair trade I think in value, but it didn't feel very fair. But that is what they call market pricing. I traded my Roland Juno-6 with build-in midi kit and my Roland RS-202 string synthesizer for this Korg MS-20. The MS-20 is a real classic, but in my opinion a bit overpriced. It is a nice semi-modular synthesizer. The reason I wanted to have one is that I used it on my AtmoSphere album and I liked the sound of it. I had one on load back then from my fried Chris, but now I have one of my own. It doesn't take up much space, so I'm sure I can fine a nice spot for it somewhere. I will use it the coming days to make some sound effects for my upcoming album.

09 June 2010

Quick Demo of GAIA Sound Bank

This evening I moved the Roland GAIA SH01 downstairs to the studio. I made some extra room on the wall mounted rack in my digital corner. First there was one synth less on that same mount, but by tilting the synthesizers a bit less and moving them a bit closer together I could make room for the GAIA. I think it is just right there :) I didn't have any USB port left for it so I put it on a USB hub together with the Korg M3 and so far it seems to work just fine. I connected the audio quickly to the audio in of the Yamaha XS-6. That was the quickest way to get sound from it. I have to patch it in a AD converter though for optimal recording quality. But so far its fine. Since I was playing a bit on it anyway I recorded a little demo of the sound bank I'm making. I just played a bit with the first 8 sounds from bank 1, but it will give you an idea what it can so. As said before recording quality is not optimal. You can download an MP3 here:


Synth.nl Interview on Official Cakewalk Blog

Yesterday I was clicking around on the Cakewalk website to see if there was anything new. And then I also looked on the Official Blog. And guess what they posted about......... Me :) They apparently found the video with the interview I did on the Roland Central Europe website. Well thank you very much Cakewalk for the mention. You can find the Cakewalk Blog here:


Roland GAIA SH01 GM Myth Busting

I have read several rumors on several internet forums about whether the Roland GAIA SH-01 has a multi-timbral General Midi synth or not. Well it is true. It is really in there. So you can play some General Midi file on it and solo along with it. Well tried it and it works. So Myth busted! My wife just made a picture of me when I was finishing my sound bank. Sorry for I was just out of bed ;) But the sound bank is finished. I just put it on a USB stick and put it on my notebook. And after that I have send an E-mail to Roland to ask if they are interested to put it on their website. I will let you know. If they don't I will put it online on my own website. But first I'll wait for answer. I'll keep you posted.

07 June 2010

ARP 2600 Arrived!!

One of the synthesizers that has been on my wish list for a very very long time is the ARP 2600. I have been bidding on E-bay on several, but often got sniped in the last minute or it turned out to be a scam. But a few weeks ago I found one in very good shape and after E-mailing back and forth with the owner I was convinced this was a good deal. But then again I got sniped. So I was quite dissapointed again, but I got an E-mail that the previous buyer didn't want it after all and if I still wanted it. Well yes I did :) So we closed the deal and then I had to wait impatiently for a long time.

It has been standing at the Dutch Customs for a long time. But last week it finally arrived. It was send over in two packages. First I got the keyboard. It looked very good, only a few keys seemed to be replaced with Roland keys since they have a different color. Then a few days later the Synthesizer module itself arrived. And it really looks MINT ! Amazing for such an old machine. I'm really happy with this one and I will use it a lot on my upcoming album for sure. It is from around the same time that the Apollo space missions took place so that is very appropriate I think :)

Later I heard that the original buyer didn't want it because it was not in tune and the slider were noisy. Well those sliders are 40 years old. What do you expect :) When I tried it out today it was actually not that bad. Just what happens with vintage gear. And I noticed as well that when I played the keyboard it wasn't in tune. But I spotted a small switch quickly to switch between fixed or variable tuning. And guess what? ;) Fixed tuning solved the problem right away. When I watched the news today I was also happy that I arranged the payment long time ago. The Euro is plunging against the dollar now. I guess by now it would have been much more expensive. Ah well tomorrow I will start making some sound effects on the ARP 2600 for my upcoming album. I will keep you posted on that later on. For now I'm going to enjoy a bass patch I just made on it :P

05 June 2010

MFOS Sequencer (Part 1)

Since the power distribution in my modular desk is finished now, I started on some new modules again. Here are two PCB's that are the analog and digital boards of a MFOS sequencer. The design is quite straight forward and there are no very special components on there, but still I think it is a very nice sequencer. It has 16 steps with both a coarse tuning and fine tuning potmeters. It can be set to 4-16 steps and also can be put in reversed or random mode. It has a reset funtion and can take an external clock and external start signal. So it might not look much, but in fact it is very versatile.

Thomas White designed a very cool rotary front panel for this sequencer. That was for me one of the reasons to build this one. It looks a bit like the Klee Sequencer I build. I just downloaded the Front Panel Design file from his website and sent it to Schaeffer and got this very nice panel back. After I got it I started mounting the front panel components. Here you see the jacks and the leds from the back. I'm still asking myself though how to fit the PCB's to this front panel. Hopefully Bridechamber has a solution for that soon since they are going to sell this front panel as well.

And here you can see the front. I still need to source a lot of the front panel components, but it already looks like something :) I will keep you posted on the progress as usual. I don't know though when that will be. It can take a while since I'm already building some other stuff as well and soon I really have to focus on my new album again. I haven't signed a contract yet, but I need to stick to a tight schedule to make October. You can find more information on the sequencer on this URL:


03 June 2010

Yamaha CS-30

I found a very nice machine on E-bay that was recommended to my by my friend Hans. It is a Yamaha CS-30. It is a completely different machine from the Famous CS-80/50/60 series. It is a very analog machine with lots of knobs. It especially has a lot of routing options, like an Roland SH-5 and I liked that one a lot for creating sound effects for that reason. I already have a nice place in mind for this machine. I think I can just fit it in somewhere still. Even though I'm going to have to sell some stuff soon to make room. On the other hand doesn't the flight case look fantastic? It is almost a shame to take it out :) The machines I'm still looking for to put in my collection are getting more rare and more expensive by the day though unfortunately :(

01 June 2010

Storage and Virtualisation in BIT-2A Datacenter

A while ago I bought a new Netgear NVX as my main storage device. The reason was that the 3 Intel storage servers that I had ran out of storage, where too slow and I had no way to backup them. This Netgear holds all my important data. All projects files from all songs I ever created and also the WAV exports from them. If I ever want to do anything later on with those songs I will need that data. But of course not only from my old songs, but also the stuff I am still working on. Loosing that data would be very bad as I already once discovered with my Classical project, that I had to postpone for that reason. I have been very busy moving and reorganizing all critical data to that Netgear and some less-critical stuff is still on one of the Intels. The other two Intels I use for local backups that I do every night of some of the data.

But still there was the risk of data-loss. What if my basement floods or the house burns down? So I wanted an off site solution for this. As you might know I run my own company (BIT) for a living where we operate 3 data centers in The Netherlands. Well in one of our data centers (BIT-2A) I have half a rack for myself. In that rack is (from bottom to top) a VMWare cluster with 3 Sun servers and an Intel machine for the management of that and an old Linux box for OOB serial stuff. On that VMWare cluster by the way also my Synth.nl website is running somewhere :) I also have a Netgear in that rack on top to hold the storage for that cluster. And guess what those Netgear support storage replication over the Internet. So now I'm backupping my Netgear at home to this one and the other way around. Kind of neat isn't it? Makes me sleep a lot better now :)

And to make the picture complete here is the back of the rack. There you can also see the two network switches on the bottom. One is a 100 Mbit Cisco that I use for the Internet side and management stuff. The other switch is a Foundry and is a Gigabit switch. There the storage stuff is handled and also the VMotion which makes it possible to move a virtual server from one hardware box (Sun) to another without any downtime. Pretty neat isn't it? You can also see my firewall there which is a Netscreen SSG140. So enough technical mambo-jambo. But if you are ever looking for a hosting company or datacenter in Europe or more specificly in The Netherlands just let me know ;) OK now back to music and synthesizer on this blog again.