Yesterday I received the newsletter from Schallwende E.V. the German Electronic Music club. It looks like the new SchallPlatte XII CD is finally released! My track 'Mercury' is on that CD and you have been able to listen to it already a couple of times on the radio. I'm very happy to be on the CD since a jury selected 11 tracks from 35 entries. You can read more about the CD, what the track is about and listen to a preview of my track on my website at this URL: http://www.synth.nl/SchallPlatteXII. If you are interested in this CD you should become a member of the music club I guess since they only send this CD to all their members. More information on Schallwende E.V. is at this URL: http://www.schallwen.de. Enjoy !!
Last weekend I visited the Electronic Circus in Bielefeld. I had a really great time there. Here you see a picture of me together with Stefan Erbe (on the left) who did the moderation already for the third time and Hans Herman Hess (in the middle) who is one of the organizers. The concerts were very nice. I especially liked the Morpheusz concert where Ron Boots, Eric and Harold van der Heijden en Frank Dorittke played. But more important the atmosphere was so great. As you could see everybody is in a good mood and drinking a beer along too.
The great thing was also that there were a lot of stands from a lot of musicians. I had a stall there as well. The whole idea of course is to sell some CD's there but I heard a lot that people already had my CD's and that is also nice to hear of course :) I did sell some, but more important I met a lot of people that I know from MySpace and Facebook like Stefan Schällmann in the picture here. It is always nicer to talk to people in person of course. It was also good to see that there were a lot more visitors than last year. A good thing for the organization of course. I would like to say THANK YOU to the organizers of the Electronic Circus for a great event. I'll be there next year for sure. Want to see what you missed? Go visit the website: http://www.electronic-circus.net/.
I have been working a lot the last two weeks together with Ron Boots on the finishing of our first collaboration album 'Refuge en Verre'. And today we finished the mastering, so the CD is completely done now. After we listened to the final master one more time, we actually drove to the CD factory together to deliver it. So now we are sure it is there in time. It was great to see also how the CD's are pressed there. Very impressive. It is only 10 days until the E-live festival, but we are sure that the CD will be ready in time now. So come and pick up the first copy in Oirschot (NL) on the 9th of October!! I hope to see you there! Now I finally have some time to breath again :)
Recently I bought this very nice set of Sony DPS Effect Processors. I found them all in one batch. The Sony DPS-D7 is a very nice delay, the DPS-R7 a very good reverb, the DPS-M7 is a modulator and the DPS-F7 is a Filter unit that also does EQ, compression and limiting. If you see them in this picture they look quite OK, but they didn't arrive in this state unfortunately. I think the courier that transported them ran over them with a truck or dropped them from a flat or something.
Well this was the state they arrived in. You can probably imagine how I felt when I took them out of the box. The stuff was packed in bubble plastic, so normally you would suspect it should withstand some handling. But this must have been hit with a tremendous amount of force by a blunt object. The front panels are made of aluminum so I can imagine that they bend easily, but behind the rack ears is some steel reinforcement. And they were bent as well. The first thing I did is take them off. I had to apply a lot of force to bend them to 90 degrees again.
After that I completely took them apart so that I could remove the front panels. Then with a soft hammer I worked on the aluminum to bend it straight again. That worked out quite OK. The only thing you see now it that the paint is gone is some places. But in this pictures up close with flash it looks way worse that you would normally see. But I'm going to try to use some black paint to fill up the spots. But after reassembling and checking everything on the inside was in one piece I focused first on another thing. Testing! I was very curious if everything still worked. And you won't believe it no problems at all :) Sony build these things like a tank I guess. After this I contacted the E-bay seller and showed him the pictures. He was not happy, well neither am I. He is trying to get the damage paid by the courier. We'll see what happens. Thanks mr. Courier. Oh Parcel Force is the name ;) Don't use them!
I have been working on a new website for a long time. Today I decided that it was time to put it online. I'm still working on it, so some pages might not work, but they will follow soon. I hope you like the new looks, but there is more good news. There is even MORE information on there than on my old website and that was already packed with information. So be sure to take your time when you want to read through it :) If you find anything that is not working then please let me know. I'm sure I must have missed something in the migration. Well have fun with it! -> http://www.synth.nl/
And I also started on the first PAIA modules I bought from the new series. It is a Linear to Exponential converter with a signal inverter. Here you can see the parts that came in the kit. And actually I was a bit disappointed about it, because there is not much to build. Most components on the PCB are SMD and they are already mounted. So the only thing to do is to solder the potmeters, jacks and one potmeter and then you assemble the front panel to the PCB and put the knobs on. And then you are done.
Here is a picture on the finished module where you can clearly see the SMD components on the PCB. I can imagine why PAIA solders them on themselves, since this is not something you can easily do at home, but I don't understand why they chose this option. This clearly takes out the fun in DIY for me :) Well I don't know if all their new modules are like this. I guess I'll look into that first before I order them. On the other hand they have some nice new stuff that would complement the 9700S I already have.
And here is a picture of the other side of the PCB. As you can see not much on there. The wire on there was already in place as was one of the potmeters. I came with a note that there was an error on the PCB making this potmeter work the wrong way around. And they already installed that mod as well. Pffff actually they could have build the whole module just as easy and ship it ;) Ah well I had about and hour of fun with this project and luckily I have some more complicated stuff lying around still ;)
And here is the cabinet with the new power supply and the module installed in the rack below the PAIA 9700S. As you can see there is plenty more room for more modules. I still need to hook up the power and test it though. So I don't even know yet if it works. But I really like the new way they incorporated the power supply in the normally unused space of the rack mount on the left side of the cabinet. I'm still planning on building a TR-808 clone and I might consider this Frac format for that one too and buy another case from PAIA. They are cheap and look nice in my opinion. I will just have to design some front panels myself then. A nice project for the near future :)
Last weekend was a wet one again in the studio. We had a lot of rain in The Netherlands and it leaked all over again. So today my constructor came back with another idea. We made another water proof seal on the outside of the wall. But when they were working on cleaning the roof they did discover something else that was hopeful. It actually looked like a hole on the left corner of the wall. So they removed a piece of the wall again and found the water proof layer looked a bit suspicious.
There actually was a piece that looked to be loose. So they removed it and under there was WATER!! At least that is hopeful because that shouldn't be there of course. And the water cannot have traveled very far from there. So after removing this piece of material they put a lot more layers on top of that just to be sure it wouldn't leak there any more. Man do I really hope that this was it now. Actually this was the only spot we didn't look into before yet. So it could well be.
The only thing left to do is to put the two corner bricks back in there. But we want to wait and see what happens now first. In the mean time they put a lot of waterproof kit in there on the corner. Well everything that helps is fine by me. When the corner bricks are back they will add the same layer over it on the outside as they did on the rest of the wall. Well fingers crossed for now and wait for it to start raining again. And they predicted that we will be getting some more the coming days. The only problem is how long do you need to wait before you know it worked? We have had days of rain on a row before where it didn't leak and they suddenly it started again. I will keep you updated as always.
I just saw that Groove Unlimited has put some sneak preview sound clips on line so that you can have an idea what the album will sounds like. I must say though that the album is quite varied so it is just a glimpse :) But it will give you a general idea. You will hear that some tracks are a bit more Ron Boots and some are a bit more Synth.nl but we each play a substantial part on all of the tracks. OK you can find the sound clips on this URL:
The next task was to construct the power supply. In the picture you can see all the parts that PAIA supplies in the kit. On the top right you can see the alternative front panel that is provided with holes for the leds and power switch. On the left is the PCB. This PCB is used for all the power supply variations that PAIA supplies. So you have to see in the manual which components to install and which you don't. There is also a jumper on the PCB that you need to mount. I almost forgot it. So pay attention :)
Here you see the front panel installed in the 19 inch cabinet. There is a power led that shows if the external power is there and also two leds for the +15V and -15V outputs from the power supply. I think PAIA came up with a very neat solution for it in this way. It doesn't take up any extra space in the cabinet and you can still mount 10 Frac units in the case. It is a bit fiddling around though to get the leds on the right length on the PCB so that they just stick out of the holes of the front panel.
And here you can see the finished PCB on the inside of the cabinet. Also a bit of fiddling to get it in. The holes are already in the side of the cabinet to mount it by the way. Just make sure you have the side panels with the holes to the front. I still need to hook up the power from the external adapter, but wanted to make sure it fits. The only thing that is a bit odd is that when you need to hook up an module, you need to take the PSU out again to solder the wires for the power of the module on the PCB. On the other side (on the module itself) PAIA uses a connector. I think they should have done the same on the power supply itself. That would have made it a bit more flexible. Ah well. It will work in the end I guess.
I just finished writing all the text for the booklet of the Refuge and Verre CD. Special thanks to my friends Hans and Chris for correcting errors and Victor for helping with the French translations of the track titles. I just put the new text on my website so you can already read what all the tracks are about. The track lengths are still not final, since we are still working on some tracks. I will update them as soon as I know them. I hope you enjoy reading about how this album came about. You can find more information including the order link for the CD on http://www.synth.nl/Refuge. Thanks for your support :)
It has been a while since I did anything on the DIY side, but since I'm almost done with the Refuge en Verre album I'm starting things up a bit again. The first DIY stuff I ever build was a PAIA Fatman and after that a PAIA 9700S. Recently I read somewhere that they had some new modules out so I visited their website and saw that they actually have quite nice new stuff out. I decided to order a new cabinet and one module to start with. The stuff arrived last week. Here it is in the picture on the left.
I started with constructing the cabinet. These PAIA cabinets come quite cheap actually and are quite OK in quality in my opinion. I think it is not Eurorack but Frac format. The whole thing is made of aluminum and you have to bolt it together. Quite easy to do actually. The only thing you have to do first is remove the plastic foil that covers every part for protection. And of course I forgot ;) So I had it all bolted together and then could take it apart again to remove this foil.
The sides are connected with bars to each other and then you can screw on the bottom, back and top cover. When I wanted to do this I found out that I made another mistake. So I could redo the whole thing again. Next time maybe I should read the manual after all even if it looks simple ;) A well you get it done quicker every time ;) OK so here is a picture on the cabinet all finished. Looks quite nice I think.
And here is one more picture of the finished cabinet in the rack right of my modular desk. Here you can also see it together with the first PAIA 9700S I build a long time ago. Next thing up is constructing the dual power supply. It has +15V and -15V you have to order that separately by the way and pay good attention since PAIA has several power supply options. More to follow soon on this project that has room now for 10 single modules :)
Here is a glimpse of the track names of the upcoming 'Refuge en Verre' album by Ron Boots & myself. The track lengths could still change a bit by the way. And yes I know they are all in French. I will write some nice text explaining what it all means soon on my website. I visited Ron today again in his studio and we did the final mix for the first 3 tracks. So things are really shaping up now. The deadline is still tight, but we are getting more confident now that we will make it. Hopefully there will be some sound clips online soon on the Groove site. I will let you know when they are there of course. I also heard today that the album was already ordered a couple of times :) Thank you all very much for the support. You can find some information now as well on the album on my own website at this url: http://www.synth.nl/Refuge
Bjorn Jepessen will release a new album as 'Nattefrost' on the coming E-live festival in Oirschot (NL) on the 9th of October. The album will be called 'Dying Sun / Scarlet Moon'. On the album there will also be the track that Bjorn and myself made recently. The track is called 'Close Encounter'. The album is now up for Pre-sale on the Groove website. Bjorn will be also present on the E-live festival and even will be performing live on stage. So if you want to pick this up first hand and have it signed by the both of us E-live will be the perfect opportunity. More information on http://www.groove.nl/, http://e-live.groove.nl and http://www.nattefrost.dk
On the Groove website you can also read more on the album. Here is a little bit of text from the website also mentioning my contribution. The album will also be for sale on my stall. And do look at the other release that is coming on the same day as well. A complete album of Ron Boots & Synth.nl. So I hope to see you at E-live :)
My Mercury track was also played on the Robocast Radio Podcast #45. So once again you can have a sneak preview of the track that will appear on the next Schallplatte XII album by the German Electronic Music Club Schallwende. I still haven't got the CD so the track is still not on my website. So have a listen on Robocast radio. You can find the podcast here:
I just saw that the upcoming 'Refuge en Verre' album by Ron Boots and myself is being announced already on the Groove.nl website. If you click the album on the bottom of the screen you can already pre-order it. There is also already a track list on the website so you can have a sneak preview of the track titles. Also check out the E-live festival, the album will be released there so you can be the first to pick it up at my stall. Ron and I will both be there as well to sign it if you want. More information on these websites:
You know by now I guess that I have a soft spot for synthesizers, but I also developed the same for reverbs. It is amazing how a reverb can add dimension/depth/ambiance to a sound. Some are very natural and other are very weird. Recently I traded some stuff for this Ursa Major Stargate 626. This is an old but very special reverb with quite a unique character. There is not much information on the Internet and I even had trouble finding a picture for my website. So I thought let me take a picture myself and upload it. I haven't actually tried it out yet since I'm very busy at the moment with finishing music for the Refuge en Verre project with Ron Boots. But when that is done I'm going to find a nice spot for this reverb.
A question I get a lot is if all my synthesizers are midi and audio connected. Well yes most of them are. In several places in the studio there are little islands like this one in the picture. It is a low 19 inch rack that is usually hidden in the normal pictures below or behind some synthesizers. I run all analog audio and midi cables to these islands. Usually giving me 2 or 3 meters of analog cable at the most. In these islands are one ore more AD/DA converters, DI's and also 8x8 midi interfaces and or A880 midi patch bay (also 8x8). In this island there is one of each giving a total of 14 midi inputs and output ports. All 14 ports of course have 16 channels. Also for the analog audio there is a patchbay. From these islands only USB and ADAT cabling is running to my main desk. In this way I keep the cabling in my studio to a minimum. In total there are 4 of these islands and also in my main desk I use this same system in the lower cabinets. I hope this clears things up :)
At the moment I'm working with my designer Bart on the new artwork for the album that I'm making together with Ron Boots. Here you can see an impression of the cover of the CD. I hope you like it. We are also working on the rest of the artwork and the text that will be inside the booklet. The track names are already set as well. I hope to present the track names to you very soon. So far it looks like there will be 8 tracks in total on the CD. On average they are a bit longer than I'm used to on my solo projects, so that is why there will be less titles. We are still working hard to catch the deadline. I still don't dare to say if we will make it. I'll keep you posted of course.
The last time we worked on the Surround Speaker setup I had to move the Elka Synthex to make room. Since that move it was completely out of tune. Today I had to remove it again and I decided to open it up. To start with the plastic part right of the keyboard was broken and I glued that back it. Further more I checked and redid all the connections going from the PCB's. And when I put it back in place and tested it everything worked fine again :) I'm very happy about that. It is a great synth and I was not happy to have it leave my studio for repairs. Well another problem solved today :)
Maybe you have read a while ago that I put up a surround monitoring set of speakers using my old Behringer Thruths. I had special speaker stands made to attach them to the wall. But then it turned out they were not correctly fastened. And one of them actually came down from the wall. Luckily not causing any serious damage to any equipment, but then we took them all down again immediately to prevent further damage. This morning we mounted everything back in place.
In the picture on top you see my center speaker. I had to mount it way higher than the stereo set I normally use, but the sound will come from behind the electric projector screen you see there on top and of course I couldn't mount it behind the LCD screens. In the picture on the right is one of the surround back speakers. The speaker stands are reinforced now and we used another type of bolts for in the wall. The guy that constructed it had a lot more confidence now. Well time will tell I guess :)
And here is one final overview picture where you can see the surround front left and right speakers as well just above the screens on the far right and left. I still need to cable everything now. I already cabled the surround decoder and the SPL surround controller. But now I need to solder connectors on the cables that come out of the ceiling. Those cables were already installed during the construction of the studio, but so far I didn't need them. It will be not the easiest task to get connectors on there since the cables are up high. No comfortable position to work in. We'll see if I can manage :)
I recently bought an Eventide Time Factor from my friend Hans. And I must say I like it a lot. I have quite some delay units already and I even have these exact same algorithms in my Eclipse, but the hand on knobs for tweaking the patch makes it a lot more fun. The only thing that isn't very comfortable is browsing through the patch banks. You really have to read the manual for that. But it is a great hands on device and the sound is really superb! So if you are looking for a good delay for either guitar of synthesizer I can really recommend the Eventide Time Factor!
I have some nice news to tell. Bjorn Jepessen will release a new album on the 9th of October at the E-live festival in Oirschot (NL). The album will be called Dying Sun / Scarlet Moon. And I can let you in on a little secret: There will be a track on there that Bjorn and I made together. The track is called Close Encounter and we made it during our meeting in Copenhagen recently. I'm very happy to announce this upcoming release. More information will follow later on Bjorn's website http://www.nattefrost.dk
Like last year I'd like to point you to a very nice festival in Germany with electronic music. It held in the Movie in Bielefeld a very nice location near the train station in the city center of Bielefeld. In the poster you can see the line-up. A very nice one if I may say so. I already heard some music from the Ron Boots clan and I can tell you that this will be something special and not typical EM. The atmosphere on this festival is always great. It is quite open. There are a lot of artists for you to meet as well. In the hall is a bar and next to that an area where a lot of artists have a stall and you can meet them and buy CD's from them directly. I will be there as well with a stall. So be sure you come to Bielefeld on the 25th of September. You can find more information on the website on this URL:
Please buy my music if you like what you read or hear on this blog. You will find the sales links for my music when you click an album below. You will support me and my record label so that I can release more music in the future.