Saturday, November 12, 2011

Video: Future Retro Acid Jam

ARX-81 Supernatural Expansion Board Cancelled


ARX-81 "Vintage Shuttle Launches" has been cancelled for unknown reasons. Recent advances in ARX technology would have allowed for tune-able booster size, and fuel mix levels. Roland keyboard fans will now not get the chance to simulate these sounds.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Monotron Duo and Delay, Monotron original now $39


More toys from Korg. A 2-voice monotron, and a 1 voice monotron w/ delay.

The original Monotron is only $39 new with a mail in rebate from Korg

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Elements of Patch Design

When creating patches, the amount of control given to you by the synthesizer is virtually endless. Experimentation often leads to disappointment. What will take your sound beyond the random and make it an element in your music? Here is a checklist of sound design principles to keep in mind when you are finalizing your patches or music for greater artistic impact. This will not be useful for people messing around with their modulars, but it could be helpful for someone that does a lot of programming.


- Unity

Can you group your synth voices (OSCs) into the same category? or do they conflict? Two string instruments will have a similiar waveform. We may group these sounds in our minds upon playback. However, a simultaneous synthesizer OSC and a saxophone sample OSC could be discernable from eachother. We are used to hearing them. This is contrast. A great example of unity would be a chorus. You can even achieve unity by placing the same effect over multiple sounds (like a phaser/chorus, Daft Punk effect). Frequency also contributes to unity, as oscillators tuned in a harmonious way compliment eachother.

How to achieve Unity - Similar waveshapes. Similar octave. Similar playback levels. Similar scale. Same effects over multiple sounds.

How to achieve Contrast - Dissimilar texture, waveshape, levels, different effects.


Stereo Field, Depth (Panning & Effects)

Where the sound is in relation to other sounds creates a stereo soundstage. Do you want a big sound? You might want lots of reverb and long delay. Do you want the sound to ominously disappear into the background? Maybe it doesn't need to be so loud, maybe it doesn't need all that brightness (treble EQ), or energy (mid/low eq). Stereo effects can give your sound unity and place them in relation to other sounds. When you are making a patch you might want to consider how the effects will relate to other sounds.


EQ / Balance

You may want to think about where your sound will fit in the sonic spectrum. This could be genre dependent too. You might want to turn the sound up louder than normal and EQ it to your own taste.

Voice and Texture, Color

The voice, again is mainly what type of sound you are creating and its emotional impact. It also has to do with culture and genre. Many sounds we've already heard before. Synthesizer sounds used to be novel to humans, but they no longer are. Many people have already heard them on video games and pop music. What type of waveform are you creating? How does it make you feel? A low sound may be scary, a high frequency sound, may sound more feminine or annoyingly like an insect. Texture has to do with many qualities like the recording equipment (vintage), distortion, and the frequencies captured. It could be something subtle, like noise. A smooth sound will have less frequencies (a single sine wave) a harsh textural sound will have many frequencies (a snare drum).


Time and Rhythm (Patterns)

Modern synths allow custom step sequencers, LFOs, and other time effects. Popular Dubstep uses a simply timed LFO-to cutoff filter effect. Most pad sounds have elaborate time and rhythm that effect levels, filters, and stereo field. Basically, you could use time and rhythm to affect every aspect of the sound (EQ, Depth, Unity) over time. This makes the sound dynamic and emotionally changing. Euro-trance music used long amounts of time and filter brightness to create an energetic uprising. A faster speed can create rhythm and create a sonic intensity. A random change can create chaos. Use time and rhythm to fit with your genre or vision within the sound itself. It will make creating the music easier.


Articulation and Performance

The latest keyboards feature extensive performance and dynamics. This can be as simple as assigning velocity to multiple parameters. Do you want to change something with the pitch wheel? Do you want multiple parameters to be controlled simultaneously. Allowing more control to the patch's parameters can make them more fun to play.

Hopefully you can use this checklist to finish your patches and increase the emotional impact of your patches. Maybe in the future, more synth designers will categorize the parameters by these principles.

Monday, August 1, 2011

Going Modular - Test 6

"My girlfriend taking over the Modular while I'm at the gym."
by csmcrckrs.

Friday, July 22, 2011

Cloud Fuzz City (Mp3)

Cloud Fuzz City

An old track I created in 2008. I can't remember all the synths I ended up using on it. Probably JX-8p, DX200 and Alesis Fusion.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Big Warm Liquid Chorus

This is a nice double chorus sound that is remeniscient of 90s/80s. It is very liquid and subtle. The trick here is using a very short pre-delay to put it slightly out of phase. Having two choruses won't overload or destroy the sound if you use these settings in an effects chain.


Signal---->Chorus 1--->Chorus 2---->Out



Signal---->Predelay 1-->Chorus 1

Signal---->Predelay 2--->Chorus 2

(turn down levels)


Chorus 1

0.4ms Pre-delay

5.10 hz chorus rate (Fast)

36% Depth. This means that the effect should be subtle

Chorus 2

0.5ms Pre-delay This second delay is slightly longer but is still out of phase with everything, including the main mix

0.70 hz chorus rate (SLOW)

36% Depth

This setup sounds good with strings and leads.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Lots of Information on Digital Filters


This resource was intended for Nord Modulars but the information inside is detailed enough that you could extract some of it for other plugins and other modular synthesizers. It contains many techniques that you might want to try.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Self Oscillating Filters

Looking up information on filters, I found a website that had a spectrum analysis of self oscillating filters. If you need to make your software synthesizer more realistic, this website might help:


Roland SH-101

Roland Juno-106

Moog Prodigy

Moog Mini

Korg MS-20


I believe the graphs show what harmnoics each filter resonates at.


found on

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Complex Envelope Trick on V-synth

One complaint about the V-synth was its lack of complex, curved envelopes. It uses linear decay and basic attack, decay sustain, and release. However, using the LFO and Key Sync you can make a much greater variety of envelope shapes


A regular V-synth envelope.


A complex V-synth envelope using an Uprising Saw, Rate very slow, Key Sync turned on. You could use this on the pitch or a filter, etc. Note the hard attack and the slow uprise. Basically we are combining the regular envelopes with the LFO.


A curved Envelope. Attack, Sustain, set to Zero. LFO Shape Sine Wave. You'd want to end the sound at the completion of half a sine cycle, otherwise its just a regular LFO. This goes for all the sounds produced in the tutorial.


Softer attack and decay and "TRP" Shaped LFO, amount not turned up too much. You may have to set a delay or a fade.

You can also use random, S&H, and all the other shapes. Remember to use very slow rates on the LFO and enable Key Sync so it retriggers. The regular envelope can be part of the attack.

New Envelope shapes = Different sounds!

Friday, May 13, 2011

Making the "Sexy Bitch" dance lead.

Here is a quick tutorial on how to make a sound similar to the "Sexy Bitch" dance lead. It uses harmonic 7ths which are also used in the classic Korg M1 organ sound. Make note of the sub oscillator.

OSC1: Juno Saw (or regular saw)
Coarse Pitch: 0
Sub Oscillator: -1 octave, level 127

OSC2: Square
Coarse Pitch: +19 (this is a whole octave and a 7th above)
Sub Oscillator: OFF

FX: Limiter 4:1 ratio, hard attack, high threshold
Guitar Amp Lead Distortion, Bass Guitar Speaker.
Reverb: Light reverb or chorus if desired.

This is only part of the sound. You could use noise in the attack if you have a third oscillator. You could also use another sub bass harmonic to be more like the original dance lead.

You can use this formula and play with it some more to get the sound you want. The reason this works in the mix is because the pitch difference of OSC1 and OSC2 allows space for other instruments or vocals in between.

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Friday, April 15, 2011

Master EQ Setting For External Keyboards, Synths & Modules

If you are having a rough time mixing external synths with plugins, try a new master EQ setting on your external gear. Master EQ provides control over where frequencies are boosted or negated. Many digital keyboards have this setting. When mixing in your DAW the hardest problem is getting the bass right. Many patches you create may not be EQ'ed properly to fit in your mix. If you have a drum track playing in your daw and the bass is muddy or fatiguing, try this on your outboard master EQ...


66hz-80hz -10 db or more on the Master EQ. This is a low shelf roll off.

This will allow space for your kick drum track (in your daw or elsewhere) to breath. Generally, you can leave this setting on with most patches and especially if you are playing a bassline on your external gear. The bass will no longer be muddy. Its subtle but the human ear doesn't need this information to deciper a bassline. If you are using analog gear you can press the EQ bass cut button on your mixer!

One reason to use this as your master EQ is to save time in case you forget to EQ bass out of a lot of patches. Then it can be switched on / off. There may be other Master EQ settings you want try, depending on what type of content you are producing. (For example, a cut in frequencies your vocalist normally sings).

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Roland Jupiter-80 Second Thoughts On Lack of Sampling


After listening to the Jupiter-80 again I have to say I'm very impressed. One issue keeping people from liking it is the lack of sampling. I think Roland's reasoning is that the Supernatural sounds take place of any multisampling or single shots of everyday instruments. They went to a lot of trouble to program these sounds in a way that is not static like a sample, but flowing and dynamic. Also, If you are making your own sounds from complete scratch with all layers this machine is capable of, its going to be ridiculous to get into single shot or multi samples. I'm sure the idea is to build off what they have already provided for you. Compared to something like the V-synth GT or V-synth factory presets I think they've got better presets on the Jupiter-80. After listening to more demos, I think they have given you more than enough to start tweaking useful sounds.

One other thing to note was the possibility of layering an arpeggiator with other sounds. You can play a pad with a chord and automatically have a different arpeggiator cycling in the "background". I'm not sure what other roland equipment does this, but its very powerful. It sounds like you are playing an entire song with a few keys. The amount of layering on the Jupiter-80 can save a lot of time and sound very good.

The other problem Roland has on their hands is all the comments from analog purists. Jupiter-80 obviously is digital and getting a lot hate because it isn't like the Jupiter-8. It is still meant to be their top of the line keyboard. This is probably the most advanced keyboard they've ever made, lacking sequencer. From one perspective, the Jupiter-80 can sound much better than what the Jupiter-8 does. If you want your music to stay in the past, get something thats been available for 30 years. If you want to go to the future get the Jupiter-80.

Things I like on Jupiter-80:

- Layered Sounds + Arpeggiator.

- Super Natural Sounds & rom take place of sampling (save time)

- Color Scheme

- Sheer Power

More Jupiter-80

Jupiter-80 in french (skip to the end-ish)

Monday, April 4, 2011

Korg Monotribe



This might be fun for making patterns if the price is low. It looks to have the same ribbon controller as monotron. Thats very disappointing if you need a keyboard. There is no midi or usb so it does not fit in with other Korg gear. It looks to have a sequencer so I'm thinking standalone pattern use only.

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Roland Jupiter-80 Pictures Leaked




Well it looks to be exactly like I predicted; A compliment to the V-synth (pianos/orchestral synth) and lacking features so it doesn't tread on Fantom G sales. (no sequencing & sampling).

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

What will the Jupiter-80 be?

Roland has hinted at an "upgrade" from the original Jupiter-8. I suspect its not a new product line and I am guesing that it will not compete against the Fantom G. It will likely be:

-Multitimbral Synth Engine (high powered V-synth)

-Auto-tune & Vocoder builtin.

-Substantial Pianos / Orchestral sounds builtin or something with a sample set like what AX-synth has.

-Built for live performance, with multi d-beam, and touch pad matrix, and knobs.

It is obvious Roland needed a product that is more oriented to synthesizer music with extra features for a long time, kind of like a V-synth that goes beyond the scope of its purpose. I'm sure it will also be missing something obvious so that it doesn't retread on another product that is currently in existence, like the Fantom G or V-synth GT. They wouldn't cannibalize those products again, because the new Junos already do that. They also would not kill the V-synth line by including all of its features, so it is likely not to have the same structure.

we will find out soon....

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Dance Power Lead Settings

How to create a quick power dance lead. It is a little generic but can sound very good depending on your song. The super saws, combined with the chorus, and a smooth reverb can make a very heavy sound.


OSC 1 = Supersaw

OSC 2 = Supersaw (-24 pitch)

Highpass filter settings: Medium negative envelope. Longer decay. Filter set in middle. At start you should hear some bass but not sub-bass. Over time, only some high frequencies are left. This effect is meant to be slight and mosty provide EQ control.

Chorus - 1hz-ish 30% depth (adjust to taste)

Reverb - Hall 30%

Delay - Slight background delay.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

V-synth Multi-timbral Explained (Play layered sounds like the GT)

The V-synth original (2.0 software) can play more than one patch, layered, and there is a multi-timbral mode. Unfortunately this is slightly hidden in two menus. The only downside is that there are some power & fx limitations.

What is Multi-timbral?

The ability to play more than one patch simultaneously via the keyboard or via 16 midi channels. These channels can also be played back by sequencer or computer. (USB or MIDI).

What Can't it do?

The V-synth cannot use more than one FX bus. All loaded patches (2-16) are loaded through the first main (1) channel's FX bus. For instance if your first patch uses a reverb, all patches will use that same reverb slot. If distortion is in the MFX slot, patches that route to that MFX slot will also sound distorted. Just edit effects to taste and watch levels.

You cannot edit FX routing levels of multiple patches simultaneously. There is no screen for this. Routing levels are saved within each patch. This is not a problem if you think ahead of time and do it on a one by one basis.

V-synth cannot play all 16 channels simultaneously. You will run out of polyphony (notes) way before this.

What CAN it do?

Reliably, you can trigger up to 4 patches simultaneously!!! You can play these layered patches with the keyboard or via midi (usb). I believe that is more than the GT (correct me if I'm wrong), which only does two patches or voices.

How To - Multimbral & Layering Setup :

1. Select your main patch. For your first time, use one that is not distorted or chorused, but has enough reverb.


3. Turn the first four patch slots ON. (or all 16 if you are going to use 16 midi parts with a sequencer)

4. Set every midi channel to "1" This makes it playable on your keyboard which probably uses channel 1 if you havent changed it.

5. EXIT to the main patch edit screen. This is where its kind of weird....

6. In the drop down menu go to INFO. Pretty descriptive huh?? Its almost like they hid it.

7. Here, in the INFO screen, you can change each channel's patch. Change the first four that we are using. Experiment to get different layered effects. Remember that changing channel 1 will also will change FX and you will lose your patch data if you forgot to save.

8. Your good to go! Whether playing 4 patches at once, or setting up a 16 part multi-timbral sequence, you won't be bored just by playing one patch like normal!

Make Your Favourite Vocal Artist Sing Within V-synth

The V-synth can sample and stretch pitch across the keys without losing voice characteristics. Untreated vocal samples work very well for this as do one note instrumentals (like wind instruments). You can use this ability to take your favourite singer and make them a patch. This just an overview. If you don't know how to sample, read the manual. Lets get started.

What you need:

An acapella vocal sample or MP3, prefferabley with little or no background noise

1. First find your acapella music containing your favourite singer. If it is an MP3, convert it to a wave file. (.WAV) using your computer.

2. Find a section where the singer hits a sustained note. This will be the basis for the patch. If it is too short we can't loop it.

3. Using your computer, trim down the size of the file to a specific section so you can transfer it to the V-synth memory. You don't have to chop it precisely-yet. If you sampled it straight to the V-synth, trim it down a bit.

4. Make sure your sample is imported / saved if you havent yet.

5. Go to the Edit button under Sample menu, while your sample is selected. Find the start and end of the note. Hopefully it is a long, sustained note. Trim the start and end of the note, include the attack.

6. Normalize the sample using the drop down menu.

7. Go to the Encode button. Since this is a solo sound, and not a decay instrument (percussion), or ensemble we will encode it in SOLO mode.

8. Loop the sample properly. We need to loop the vocal in an area that does not include the attack. Go to the FWD loop TAB. Select the beginning slider and move it to after the attack. Turn on LOOP and hit play. Adjust the Loop End slider. It is important to play around with these sliders so we get a vocal that sounds like it is looping realistically. If the attack of the voice is still heard, it will be repeated and sound mechanical. ZOOM in and find places in the sample where the voice waveform is similiar. Set the start and end loop points precisely at the same point in the waveform. They may not look exactly the same, just try to guess. Your ears will do a better job of finding an area within the sample that will loop properly.

9. Save the sample. Double check that you indeed used FWD Loop point tab, and not the loop button in the main edit tab. (It can be confusing)

10. Open up a new patch.

11. Scroll to find your sample in OSC1

12. Set the sample to a FWD LOOP. Turn on Vari SW. Make sure robot voice is OFF.

13. Set your patch for Portamento ON, MONO, and "13" in the portamento setting under the COM tab. Make the portamento constant rate.

14. Add FX! Reverb and chorus.

Tip: Using the Humanizer filter you can change the sample's vowel! It will sound like AhhhhEeeeeh! Instead of just Ahhhhhh!

Tip: Use the D-beam to modulate your new singing patch! Try an LFO or filter or change the formant (gender).

V-Synth Analog Tricks


Here is a collection of small tips for V-synth users doing "analog" sound design. With these tips you will probably get a sound that is a lot less harsh/digital than what people would normally expect from this synth. As I've experimented and written about this before, I don't think I can go any further in this area. These are my absolute best tips to make it sound more "analog." I doubt anyone out there has more realistic settings and I won't write about this analog stuff ever again. You can use these tips with any patches you see fit or even within your computer software

1. How to get a pulse wave.

The standard square wave can be adjusted into a pulse wave. Use the "Pulse Width" tab in the oscillator section. Set it to "41" which has about the same pulse sound as other roland synths.

2. How to get a ramp wave or reversed saw.

If the standard saw is too harsh for you, you might want to try the reversed version. Use the triangle wave, but set the pulse width to about "62" This steepens the triangle wave so much that it is now a ramp saw (like minimoog saw).

Also remember that sometimes a sample is the best way to go if the wave your trying to copy is too complex or your synth's waves just don't have the right tonality.

3. Proper Analog Detune

This will be something closer to the real thing, not just deviating one of the oscillators out of pitch. Try this out:

Use the "Com" button menu. Go to the Matrix Control tab on the left. Set Key follow or KEYF as a source. The target will be both oscillator 1 & 2's pitch. Adjust the sensitivity anywhere from 25 to 32. A lower number works better if you are doing a polyphonic patch, a higher number will be a severe detune. This method gradually steps the pitch across the keys like a real oscillator. Don't use the same amount of sensitivity/amounts for each oscillator. Remember each oscillator is not built exactly the same in real life.
Use LFO for "drift". Try + 5 and + 4 Pitch LFO on the oscillators. Again you don't need them to be the same. Go to the the LFO tab and set to RND or random and then the rates to 51 and 52 or so for each oscillator. If you wish you can variate pulse width with LFO as well. Set PWM to -5 and -4 or so (a small number). Set it negative because we have the width up high already for our ramp waves. This variates the length of the waveform slightly.

4. A different filter.

In COSM 1 menu, Use -24db. Try adjusting the DYN knob in the cutoff tab to about "20" Set the envelope amount to "41" or a little higher. Adjust other settings like cuttoff, and the envelope to taste. I prefer a a lower cuttoff setting because it will mix better and doesn't sound annoying / digital. Overall these settings might give the filter more bite and more depth. You can also try turning the dynamics in reverse and then the filter seems more hollow. This is just a recommendation since the filter should be whatever you want for the patch. If you use a high-pass, crank the dynamics up even more for a waspy-type-sound.

5. Use COSM Waveshaping after filter

After the filter is in Cosm 1, try putting Waveshapping afer it as COSM2. This makes your wave a little more agressive and adjust its tone. Originally I wanted to use this setting to simulate internal gain, but I found just a little changes the waveform. Use the SINE wave shape (smooth up and and down, not triangle), and set the drive to "8" or higher. Just use your own preference around "80" you get really noticeable distortion.

6. Tube Amp Gain & Volume boost.

Jack your patch volume to a better level and simulate "warm" distortion without overdriving it. We will be using the MFX Guitar amp setting. Be careful when adjusting these, you can clip your speakers. Most of them are turned way down because we just want a slight tube amp sound and gain boost.

Set MFX send to 74 or higher. You can adjust the initial volume here.

Under MFX Tab set the type to Guitar Amp

Set type to "MS1959I+II"

Set gain to "LOW"Turn down all the Bass to "0"

Treble and Midrange to "70"

Turn presence to "0"Set input volume to "31"

Turn OFF the speaker simulator and noise suppressor. I use the MFX send to re-adjust the overall levels once I'm done.

Tip: I've found that changing some of the volume input knobs doesn't do anything to adjust the amount of distortion. It only changes the volume. The amp type and the EQ do far more.

7. Roland "Analog" Chorus.

"Chorus 2" best simulates the built-in roland synth chorus.

Set the Chorus Send to 0 in the routing. Under the guitar amp MFX setting is a small send knob, set it to 127. The regular chorus send is pre-MFX and the smaller one is post.

Set depth to 18 and rate to 1.10. You can also try setting the depth to 100% and the rate to .10 I'm not sure which I like better, as they both sound similar for some reason. Experiment.

Well thats it for now! I won't ever write about this faking analog stuff again. Next tutorial will be on how to capture your favourite singer and make them into a patch.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Oscillator Drift

Jurgen Haible has a great write up on VCO characteristics. The page also has video demonstrating oscillator drift. (Quicktime MOV)

Article: "Living VCOs"

Video Link:

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Korg Kronos Revealed

Korg Kronos found on

What is it? A premium piano, electric piano, tonewheel organ, MS-20, Korg PolySix, AL-1 Analog Synth, Waveshaping, Plucked String, and HD-1 High Definition synthesizer.

AND a sequencer!!!

This is definitely a M30 replacement/companion. It comes in 61, 76, and 88 keys. I want to hear this mafucka!

Might have to wait till tomarrow or friday. It might be expensive, but very quiet. It contains a Solid State Drive (SSD)




KDJ-One Portable Touchscreen Synthesizer


KDJ-ONE packs everything you need to produce music into a portable CD case sized 126x150x27mm unit, making it the world's first fully mobile DAW. Features include a powerful synthesizer, drum machine, and support for ACID format audio tracks. KDJ-ONE can also be used as a VST instrument, or a controller for other DAW software.

Cyberstep Link