Mar 30, 2009 Gear
I’ve actually mentioned this a few other places, so I’m not sure why I never posted it here, but I’ve become the proud owner of a synthesizers.com modular synthesizer.
Or at least, I will be at some point.
What I’ve signed up for is their Entry Level System Plan. It’s a 22-module chassis about half-full of components that they’ll let you buy on the installment / layaway plan, more or less. They break it up into twelve payments, which they suggest you can make one a month for a year, although you’re allowed to make them as often as you want (including paying a batch of payments at once) or as seldom as one every three months. (If you go longer than three months without a payment your plan is cancelled.)
All I’ve paid so far is installment #1, which gets you… nothing. It’s the “downpayment”, because the first part you get is more expensive than one payment. As soon as I make my next payment, they’ll start building the chassis with power supply and wiring harness and they’ll ship that out to me after 4-6 weeks. After that, each payment will nab me a module and some cables, and after the 12th payment, I’ll have my starter system complete.
Of course, modular systems are by their nature never truly complete, and even this starter system only half fills the chassis it comes in, so I’m sure there will be refinements and improvements down the line. I’ve already started putting modules on my wish list and pondering ways I’d like to fill the system out.
Although they suggest a year, I’m hoping to stack payments such that I’ll have the whole system by around mid-august.
The purchase schedule is as follows, for those of you who are curious:
Payment 1 – Down Payment
Payment 2 – Cabinet/Power Supply/Cable Harness
Payment 3 – Power Control
Payment 4 – MIDI Interface, 1 patch cable
Payment 5 – Oscillator, 2 patch cables
Payment 6 – Amplifier, 1 patch cable
Payment 7 – Envelope Generator, 1 patch cable
Payment 8 – Multi-Mode Filter, 2 patch cables
Payment 9 – Multiple, 1 patch cable
Payment 10 – Envelope Generator, 1 patch cable
Payment 11 – 4-Channel Mixer, 1 patch cable
Payment 12 – Oscillator, 2 patch cables
So I should be able to start getting *some* sound out of it about halfway through the process, but it’ll be a good but simple synthesizer at the end.
I’m really looking forward to it.
It’ll also be my first exposure to CV (Control Voltage). MOTU are coming out with a very snazzy product called Volta which promises to completely change how you relate to CV-based equipment. I’ll have to keep an eye out for that and see what interfaces are compatible (they say any MOTU audio interface, but also select third-party ones).
I can’t decide if getting making payments and getting pieces makes / will make the waiting easier, or even more excruciating.
I hope it winds up being useful, but whatever happens, this should be an exciting journey!
Mar 8, 2009 Uncategorized
As some of you may have noticed, I’ve been *immensly* hankering for some new gear lately. I’ve been looking at pretty much everything under the sun — software, hardware, hybrid devices, sound makers, effects, sequencers, etc. Heck, I even caught myself thinking, “I wonder if it’s time to switch to Ableton Live.” And of course, let’s not even speak of the ongoing (or not ongoing) attempt to shift to the EWI.
Why the serious wanderlust? It’s certainly true that it’s interfering, to a great degree with getting anything done.
Or is it? Well, I think I’ve figured one thing out: The drive for new stuff is stemming from my current “rudderlessness,” as Sarah puts it. I want to be making new Reaktor modules. I want to be writing new music. I want to be designing interactive fiction. But I don’t have any ideas. And that’s getting to me.
So I’ve come to the conclusion that all this drive for new stuff is in the hopes that it will prove inspiring, and that it will start the juices flowing again. I’m not sure if that’s wise or not. On the one hand, people regularly cite that as a reason for buying new synthesizers, and how “inspiring,” a synthesizer’s default patches and customization tools are is something reviewers spend quite a lot of copy on.
On the other hand, I tend to lean toward radical change, as seen by swapping out the A-33 master controller keyboard for the AKAI EWI4000S. I love the EWI, so I don’t regret that per se, but it’s seriously thrown a wrench into my productivity, because I’m so bad at it that I can’t really use it for its intended purpose, and I just don’t find the time to practice and develop my skills often enough.
And then I wonder, would I take the time to master a new tool when I’ve got all these tools that I use in a fairly superficial way? I think that that’s maybe what’s so appealing to me about analog modulars — everything’s right there on the face for you to delve into, and I can convince myself that that would lead to me really hacking at it constantly. But just because the interface is exposed doesn’t mean that it’s simple, and as with anything else, mastery would take time (although there are likely better resources to help for analog modulars than there are for recent-revision software).
Mar 2, 2009 Uncategorized
I’ve been taking stabs at a number of new tracks lately, but not coming up with anything with which I’ve been satisfied. I go through phases like this periodically, but it’s frustrating after such a long hiatus to begin with. Other than UN12, which had largely taken shape before I took a long break to work on other things, I haven’t put out any new tracks lately and don’t seem to have anything that looks ready to go soon. That could certainly change.
The truth is that it’s been really frustrating for me, throwing together ideas that largely sound great to me at the time and make me think, “What in the world was I thinking?!” in the morning, taking me all the way back to the drawing board, or making progress so dubious and so incremental that I don’t even bother saving it. Starting back up is so much like starting over from scratch, finding that you’ve slid all the way back to the base of the hill.
Still, I suppose it’s something that I’ve been ruminating about the foothills again, at least.
I keep making dreamy eyes at analog modular synths such as the ones from synthesizers.com. They’re very expensive, and there are some complications involved in getting all the data from the EWI into them, although I’ve discovered that that’s less troublesome than I’d initially suspected. I’m not entirely sure how worth-it they are. I need to continue investigating, plus I need to continue toying with ways to employ control surfaces such as the UC-33 to provide a more engaging feel for the soft synths. Of course, it’s challenging to do a lot of tweaking while playing an instrument that you can’t remove your hands from, but I expect that most of m such modifications will be recorded, played back and otherwise used offline.