30 January 2011

Working on a new track about Don Quixote

Last weekend I decided to take a break from Apollo and work on another project. I started working on a track about Don Quixote. This character from the Spanish literature is most know for his fight against wind mills who he believed were giants. This track is meant for a sampler CD that will be released later this year. But a jury will decide which track go on there. At first I was afraid I wasn't going to make it at all, but I decided to give it a go Friday night and see if inspiration would come along. And it did :) So the last two days I worked a bit more on the track. It is still not finished, but now I'm sure I'll make the deadline that is set for the 15th of March. I will keep you posted on the progress and if I will make the CD, but I'm afraid it will take a while before I know. Now back to Apollo again :)

25 January 2011

Sold my Moog Voyager RME

Today I sold my Moog Voyager RME (Rack Mount Edition). I put it online for sale once before and took it back off because I got regrets. I used it a lot in the past. It is like a Moog Minimoog with presets, but couldn't find a good spot for it anymore since I'm in the new studio. This was the last place I tried it, but it was not very convenient after all. I guess I will miss it though, but when I ever buy a Voyager back it will be one with keys on it since it is easier to use that way, but that takes up even more space :) Ah well, I still have my other Moogs. Goodbye old friend!

Apollo Studio Power Failure

This morning I had a very strange power failure in the studio. I have a large UPS to provide the whole studio with power. It also regulates the power from 240 Volts back to 220 Volts. Recently I accidentally must have put the UPS in bypass mode when I was looking at the power consumption. Because this morning a fuse in front of the UPS blew and the UPS switched off immediately, no alarm nothing :( Or maybe it was empty already and I didn't hear the alarm and it went in bypass mode I don't really know actually :) Also a possibility.

When I put it back on though it was also on 200 Volts in stead of 220. I tried to put it back in 220 Volts, but it didn't work. Only after reading the manual I found out that it had to be on battery power before you can change this setting. Luckily I had a visitor of to buy my Moog Voyager RME and just before that I saved all my files. Also the storage units in the rack in my server room luckily are on a different UPS, so I didn't lose any data. After restoring everything I did some tests on the UPS and everything seemed fine, but it is still strange that this happened. Ah well it only cost me some time. When the battery is full I'll switch of the fuse again and see what happens. But this time I'll do that with less equipment on :)

The reason I run the studio on 220 Volts in stead of 240 Volts is that I have lots of old synthesizers. Some are even build in 1971. In those days the power wasn't as high as today and the power supplies in those machines are not designed to regulate that much power down. It is only a few percent, but it will shorten the life of the power supplies for sure. Well bad luck today, but the UPS has saved me a couple of times as well before.

24 January 2011

AeroDynamics Fan Video

Here is another video I got sent by a fan. The track is the title track from my first 'AeroDynamics' album that was released in 2007. More information about the album here: http://www.synth.nl/AeroDynamics

19 January 2011

Bricasti V2 Upgrade

Recently Bricasti released version 2 software for the M7 reverb processor. I already got beta Rom's at the Musik Messe last year, but now they had a final version. So I asked to get them, but they didn't want to ship the loose roms. I had to make an appointment with the distributor in The Netherlands to get the upgrade in. And so I did. Today I visited Iemke Roos in Amsterdam with my Bricasti and after a cup of coffee I could leave again with an upgraded reverb. Now I'm going to have to test the new algorithms. There should be some nice new lush stuff in there.

17 January 2011

PAIA 9700 Addition (Part 5)

Last week I received the final three PAIA modules I ordered for my 9700S addition. They are the 9743 Preamplifier that you can use to hook up a microphone or guitar to a modular system, the 9748 balanced modulator and the 9744 Dual CV Source, both nice utility modules. In the picture you can see all three modules still neatly bagged. I decided to start working on them tonight after dinner. I had worked all day on my Apollo album in the studio and was planning to continue later on, but this job was nice to do in between and give my ears some rest.

Again it was not very difficult, but I did seem to be missing one 100 Ohm resistor on the first module I build. I looked everywhere but couldn't find it so I decided to get one from my own stack. Well and guess what I saw lying on the ground just when I was finished with all three of them. Of course the missing resistor. Ah well never mind. In the picture on the right you can see all three modules laying side to side. All in all it took me about an hour to build all three of them.

Then I screwed them in the cabinet. As you can see in the picture on the left it is fully populated now. The next thing I need to do is get the power supply out and solder all the power cables from the modules to the PCB of the power supply. I intentionally waited with that, because I didn't want to take it out multiple times. So actually I have no idea yet if any of the modules work yet. I'm sure some will ;) We'll see about that I'll start finishing this up another time. After this I went back to working on my album. There is still a lot of work left on it, so better not waste too much time.

15 January 2011

Dutch Masters Sound Clips Online!

I just read in the newsletter from Groove Unlimited that they published the track list of the upcoming Dutch Masters sampler CD and also added sound clips for all of the tracks :) And my track is opening the CD! Very cool. You can listen to excerpts of all the tracks on this URL:


And you can order the CD here if you like them!


I hope you will like my NachtWacht track :)

Behringer V-Verb Repair

Recently my Behringer V-Verb (REV-2496) broke down. It was my first digital reverb and it actually is quite a nice machine. There is one preset in there called 'Gold Plate' that sounds really good in my opinion. I have used it a lot in the past, but lately it didn't want to switch on anymore. All the lights went on and after 10 minutes or so sometimes it suddenly started working. But then I had some bad spikes on my digital audio path the last days and found out that it was the Behringer causing this so I took it out the rack.

I informed about the possibility to repair it, but then I was told I'd better throw it away and buy a used one back. Well I was not intending to do this, because first of all I hate throwing stuff away and besides that I was not planning on spending money on a new one. So I decided to open it up. I suspected a problem with the power supply since it did work when it was on longer. The spikes suspected me that maybe some capacitors were broken and guess what? I spotted right away that at least 4 capacitors were expanded and there was on two even a substance on it. If you click the picture you can see it up close yourself.

So this morning I went to me local electronics shop and bought some new capacitors. Then I took the power supply out and de-soldered the old capacitors. The new ones were not the exact same size, but luckily they did fit. For the new capacitor I took a bit higher voltage types by the way because I hope they will last longer then. In the picture on the left you can see the power supply with on the left the old capacitor and on the right the new ones. All in all not more than an hour work by the way including taking it apart and reassembling everything.

Then the exciting moment came to try it out. First I applied power to the power supply while it was still disconnected from the other electronics. Well no bang and no smoke came. So far so good ;) Then I connected the power supply back to the rest and switched it on. And happy days :) It worked. It switched on right away. I still have to get it back in the rack and see if those audio spikes are gone, but I have very good hope for that. So another successful repair project :)

10 January 2011

New Battery for the Alesis Andromeda

The last period my Andromeda Alesis acted strangely when I switched it on. It was either out of tune, or all the presets sounded very distorted. Every time it started up it also asked to set the mod wheel in the lowest position and press a button. I started to suspect that the battery could be empty. I read on the Internet that the average life span of the battery of the Andromeda is about 4 years and I already have it longer than that. So I decided it was time to open it up.
There are a lot of screws on the back and on the bottom of the synthesizer that you need to remove before you can open it up. After that you have to be careful because there are connection between the upper and lower part of the case. The first thing I did is measure the battery and it gave about 2,9 Volts not that bad, but I decided to change it anyway. the only problem is that it is soldered to the main board. So you can't easily change it. I decided to remove the main PCB to work on it.

I de-soldered the battery and  installed a new battery holder for a CR 2032 battery. In this way I can easily change it in the future. I would not recommend this job for someone that has no electronics experience by the way. Taking the synth apart, removing the board and getting everything back together is not a very easy task. The new battery measured 3.2 Volts by the way after I installed it. So maybe the old one wasn't as good anyway anymore. After this measurement I put the synthesizer together and I switched it on. It still seems to work, but it gave the same problem as before, so I did another factory reset. I hope it will stay OK now.

After that I decided to find a new place for the Alesis Andromeda, since its place was takes yesterday by the Moog Memorymoog. I took the Roland V-Synth GT and Yamaha Motif XS6 from their spot and raised the keyboard stand a bit so that another stand could fit under it. And there was the new spot for the Andromeda :) It is a bit lower than the XS6 used to be, but the result is a way nicer height for me to play on it. Another advantage is that I can also see the display better now. And even though this is a an analog synthesizer, but as you can see on the inside there is way more digital electronics in it and no discrete electronics stuff at all, so for me as of today it qualifies as a digital synthesizer ;) OK enough about this. Mission accomplished.

09 January 2011

Moog Memorymoog LAMM in the Studio!

Today I drove with my friend Hans to Dortmund Germany to pick up a new synthesizer for the studio. It is one that has been on my wish list for a very long time. The Moog Memorymoog and I found one in near mint state with even the LAMM upgrade installed in it. After we came back I put it in the spot where my Alesis Andromeda used to be and we started playing with it right away. And I can say it is a very very great machine. It is like having 6 Moog Minimoogs at once and then even better :) I can't describe how good it is actually.

And here is another pictures of it next to it's little brother the Moog Minimoog. The sound of the Memorymoog is definitely very Moog, but I think it sounds a bit harsher than the Minimoog, but having 6 voice polyphony is soooo great :) I'm sure you will hear this synthesizer on my upcoming Apollo album. No doubt about it. Next thing to do now is replace the battery of my Andromeda since it is loosing all it's settings every time I turn it on. And then probably the Andromeda is going in the spot of my Elka Synthex since it needs to go out for service. It seems like one of the voice boards lost its tuning completely. And then I'll have to find another spot for the Andromeda, but I have some time to think about that. For now I'm going to play a bit more on the Memorymoog :)

Apollo Countdown Resumed!

I have some good news, we are going to the Moon! I resumed work on my Apollo album that I postponed a while ago, because of the Refuge en Verre album I made together with Ron Boots. This new album is a concept album again and will be about the Apollo space missions to the Moon. For now the planned release date is set at the 16th of April 2011 during the E-Day festival that Groove Unlimited organizes every year. I already made 12 tracks for this album, but they are not finished by far, so I'll have to work full steam to be ready in time. I already asked my designer Bart to start working on the artwork as well. I'll try to keep you updated when there are developments.

06 January 2011

More Sound Effects on the ARP 2600

Last week I created some new Sound Effects for an upcoming collaboration project I'm working on. I can't tell you details yet, but keep an eye out :) Earlier this week I used the Roland SH-5 and today I used the ARP 2600 to make some new and unique sweeps, twirls, whooshes, modulations and so on. I usually just patch around and turn knobs while recording. Then when I think I have enough I start selecting the good parts and neatly trim then down. It is very boring work actually, but in the end it is rewarding to hear them back in a track, knowing that you made everyone from scratch :)

03 January 2011

Ron Boots & Synth.nl nominated for Schallwelle Preis 2010

Last year my 'OceanoGraphy' CD won the Schallwelle Hörerwahl 2009 thanks to your votes! In 2010 I didn't release any solo CD's but I did release a CD together with Ron Boots called 'Refuge en Verre'. This CD is again nominated for the Hörerwahl so you can vote on us if you like. This year there is a seperate category for international artists.

You can find Ron Boots & Synth.nl under Artists here: http://voting.schallwelle-preis.de/index_artist_int.php

And you can find our CD here:

It is sorted on last name and since Ron's last name is mentioned first we are located under the 'B' for Boots. Thank you very much for your support and votes! You can find more information about the price on the rest of the website.

Family visit to the Beisbroek Planetarium

Yesterday the Beisbroek Planetarium played both the Planetarium shows that they used my music in on the same day. So we decided to go to Brugge in Belgium yesterday with the family to go and see the shows for the first time. The first obstacle though was getting there. The roads were very slippery because of icing so we decide to leave early. But then it is still a problem to actually find it. The planetarium is way out of the city in the forest, so should you ever decide to go there, make sure you prepare your trip well. But we found it after all :)

It is about a 3 hours drive from our house and it didn't take us much more in the end. The circumstances were not so bad as they predicted actually. So we arrived too early at the planetarium and it was still closed and the nature museum that is in the same building was closed too. But luckily right next door there is a nice restaurant were we had lunch and some drinks. The planetarium is in a nice park as well so the kids played outside as well. Half an hour before the show we decided to try if someone was there and they were and also were expecting us :)

There was a nice lady named Karen that welcomed us and took us up to the big telescope first. It is right in the dome on top of the tower. Quite awesome to see the observatory too. She opened up the dome and we could look through the telescope. The only thing to see was the Sun because it was in the middle of the day. We must go back there sometime at night for sure. She explained a lot to us about the telescope and how they take deep sky pictures with another telescope that is right next to it. And then we went down into the planetarium.

It was bigger than I expected by the way, because everyone told be it was very small, but they can take quite some people in there. In the picture on the right you can see the special Zeiss projector that they use to project all the stars and planets on the dome. Next to this special projector there are two very big video projectors that can project computer images on top of that. It was awesome to see both shows finally and hear my own music playing under them :) You have no idea how good that feels :) Well I hope to work more with them in the future since they are very friendly people and you can tell that they really like what they are doing there. I an highly recommend a visit there whenever you are in Brugge in Belgium which is a very nice city as well to visit as a tourist. And that is exactly what we did afterwards. We had a very nice dinner in Brugge and then drove back home.

01 January 2011

Happy New Year!

I wish you all a Happy New Year. I hope all your dreams may come true for 2011!! Thank you all for your support in the last years! I really appreciate it.

I'm planning a busy year this year as well business wise as musically. In January hopefully the Dutch Masters CD will be released and I have planned another solo CD release for this year and maybe even some more releases. I'm currently working on a lot of projects simultaneously. So keep an eye out here or on my main website :)