MIDI Equipment and Other Gear...
As you've probably read elsewhere, I'm very much into electronic music. That means MIDI, sequencers, and synthesizers---new and vintage.
Right now I'm just a hacker---I like to "make noise"---but I really have a great deal of fun putting down some good tracks. Most of my better things are done when I'm simply "noodling around" on the keyboard (we all know what that's like). I'm a long way from Carnegie Hall, but, hey, it's fun!
The pages on this mini-web are dedicated to the gear I've tossed together over the years. That's right---years. No, I didn't go out and get all this at once. So if you're going to start getting into this, learn about the synths you want (use the resource on the Synth Links page), and start looking at your want ads.
it's amazing that any of it works together at all. Thank goodness for "standards" that almost everyone believes in. If you find a piece of equipment on my list that you know a bit about, have a question on, know of killer patches, etc., drop me a line!
Use the links above to visit pages with more detail about a specific piece of equipment.
|Added in fall 2004: ARP 2600
synthesizer, "The Problem Child", with 3620 keyboard.
This unit was in the shop for a while, was fixed, but a few more problems cropped up, so it went back into the shop. It's back now.
However when this machine is working, it is not just "fat", it's "drippy fat".
Also new in the collection is the ARP 1623 Sequencer.
Where is all this stuff?
My lack of space has forced me to move everything to the
Music Mill Rehearsal Complex, near where I live. Even dear old
Mellotron M400 #805 has been trundled over there in its big
Protect-O-Muff...sigh...well, at least I can pop in after work and make noise!
Who knows---maybe after being around all the real musicians, something may rub
Gear Summary & Manufacturer Links
|M-VS1||Vintage Synthesizer module. Don't play any Mellotron patch on this synth out of range, please.|
MPG-80 Programmer (2)
|Also known as the Super Jupiter. This is a fully MIDI controlled
rack-mount follow on to Roland's classic Jupiter 8, but it has elements of
the Jupiter 6 and Jupiter 8. With its 16 oscillators,
the bi-timbral MKS-80 is capable of a wide range of analogue sounds, earning
it the nickname "The King of the Analogue Synths." If you get one,
make sure you get the MPG-80 or a PC/Mac program like SoundDiver to edit the
I landed a second MKS-80 when I purchased the MPG-80. Each MKS-80 unit sounds different, as different ranges of serial numbers used slightly different components.
|D-110||Older multi-timbral synthesizer module that uses "Linear Algorithmic" synthesis, like the D-5, D-10, etc.|
|ARP||2600||Three oscillator normalized patchable monosynth.|
|Korg||X3 Music Workstation||Digital PCM-based keyboard with on-board sequencer|
|PolySix||This is one of the early polyphonic synthesizers. Despite one VCO (main
sound source), this synthesizer has a full and quite distinctive sound. The
PolySix has an arpeggiator and can store programs on cassette. MIDI
wasn't available on the earlier units, and the Korg MIDI factory kits are
long gone. IOTech still offers a MIDI retrofit kit for
the PolySix, but there's a catch: It'll cost you more than a used
PolySix with factory MIDI---if you can find one (but the IOTech offers some
serious features). Kenton used to offer MIDI kits for the PolySix, but
they have stopped production. Fortunately there are one or two other
simple MIDI kits that are cheaper---details on the YahooGroup web site:
Because the old PolySix e-mail list went away, I started the PolySix e-mail list over on YahooGroups. Click the above link to visit their site, and find the link to the PolySix "Digiest" Page. Subscribe to the YahooGroup, too.
|DRV-3000||MIDI-controllable effects processor. Cool feature: No buttons, just a remote control! Sound quality? Well...ummm...Go with a Lexicon.|
|Mellotron||M400 (#805)||Mellotron M400 #805 arrived on April 10, 1998. Younger brother
#1037 was retrieved from Toronto in October 2003.
The M400 is
Mellotronics' (now Streetly Electronics) most popular tape replay
keyboard, played by the likes of Rick Wakeman, Genesis, Yes, Tangerine
Dream, and even modern recording acts such as Oasis and Radiohead.
There is much more to come...
|Moog||Minimoog||The classic analogue synthesizer. When Bob Moog realized that the
huge Moog Modular synthesizer was too expensive and complex for most people
and too big to move around, Moog Music, Inc., set out to design a small,
portable version. This synthesizer, despite its lack of polyphony and only
one voice, set the analogue synthesizer world on its ear. They are so
popular that a company going by the name of "Moog Music" was producing them again to the original specifications (although
some doubt that). Or is
Moog Custom Engineering the better Moog incarnation these days...?
Well, fortunately, Mr. Robert A. Moog was able to again obtain rights to the Moog Music moniker. Since then he has produced a new, updated version of the Minimoog: the Minimoog Voyager.
Check out MOOG memorabilia and photos at the MOOG Archives site.
|Realistic/Moog||ConcertMate MG-1 (2)||Analog synthesizer built by Moog for Radio Shack The Mini's little
brother (as were many of the mid- to late-70's Moog monosynths).
I have since picked up a second one...
|Hammond||A-102||A Hammond Tonewheel organ, c. 1965. Similar (identical?) to the
B3, except it has internal amplification. The A-102 was built in the
French Provincial style and has Queen Anne's Legs. No doilies, please.
The original Hammond Company has been purchased by Suzuki, Inc. Don't expect to find any tonewheels there, as all new Hammonds are pretty much done with electronics.
|Yamaha||TX802||FM Tone Generator module. 8-part multitimbral, kinda the rack-mount DX7II.|
|DD-50||Department store digital drum set. Great way to take out the stress of the day!|
|Kawai||K5000R||Additive Synthesis Module|
|Ensoniq||FIZMO||Ensoniq's "Transwave" synthesizer from around 1998. It can create very weird and lively sounds which change over time, and it's fun to program. It has a wealth of effects, a vocoder (!!??), an arpeggiator, and lots of modulation routing. It was a very good deal, so I snapped it up to see what I can do with it.|
|ESQ-1||Digital synthesizer/workstation, known for the variety of sounds it can create and its ease of programming. Got an ESQ1 or other piece of Ensoniq gear? Start here. Click over to Buchty's page---it's great for ESQ-1 owners!|
|Mackie||1642-VLZ Pro||16-channel Mixer|
|Midiverb4||Two-channel MIDI-controllable effects processor. Decent UI, lots of parameters to tweak. Sound quality? Mid to high quality.|
|Andromeda A6||Perhaps the most powerful analogue synthesizer ever made...?|
|MPX 100||Two-channel MIDI-controllable effects processor. Sound quality? You need to ask? It's a Lexicon! A cheap one with somewhat limited functionality and a knobs-only UI, but it's very smooth and very much worth its low-end price.|
|Kenton Electronics||Pro-2000||Two-channel MIDI-to-CV converter to control the MG-1 and Minimoog via MIDI|
|Cakewalk (formerly Twelve Tone Systems)||Cakewalk SONAR
|Sequencing and digital audio recording software. Now with "DXi"
synthesizers, which are software synths based on Microsoft's DirectX and WDM
drivers. They have surprisingly low latency (time it takes for the
note you hit to make sound). My rig can do about 25ms---noticeable,
but not too bad.
See Cakewalk's Direct X-Files site for more information about DirectX effects and DXi synthesizers.
(now ECHO Audio)
|Gina||Multi-channel PCI bus digital audio card. 2 in, 8 out.|
|Mark of the Unicorn||MIDI Timepiece AV||8 in, 8 out MIDI patchbay module. If you have a lot of MIDI
equipment to hook to your PC, do yourself a favor and get a configurable
patchbay like this.
WARNING: Only the oldest possible drivers are available at the MOTU site (as of July 3, 2001 anyway). Cross your fingers that this unit will work going forward as your operating system is updated.
|E-Magic||SoundDiver||PC-based patch editor/librarian. This software has the ability to
create, edit, and store patches for the vast majority of the MIDI-based
synthesizers on the planet (which thankfully makes up for its rather bad UI
This product has been discontinued on the PC. :-(
|Native Instruments||Pro-52||A software synthesizer of the Sequential Circuits Prophet 5 synthesizer. I have heard it do some amazing digital aliasing, so I don't use it all that much. Also if this software synth is indicative of the Prophet 5, the Prophet 5 was a rather limited synth---but it sure got a lot of hype (and use) in the 80s!|
|Arturia||Moog Modular V
|I have two software synthesizers from Arturia:
Retired (or semi-retired) Equipment
|Kawai||MX-8R||Keyboard Mixer (now using the Mackie 1642)|
|PG-10||Linear Synthesizer Programmer (for the D-110) (now using SoundDiver)|
|JL Cooper Electronics||NEXUS Midi Switcher||MIDI switchbox (3 MIDI-ins, 8 MIDI-outs) (superseded by the MOTU Midi Timepiece)|
|Creative Labs||Soundblaster 16 ASP||Sound card, with Emu Wavetable daughtercard (outdated, noisy, not good for recording).|
|Yamaha||PSR32||Older FM-based (OPL-3 chip) MIDI keyboard. From a department store in the mid 80's. 'nuf said.|
|MT1X||4-track cassette based multi-track recorder (there solely for recovering stuff from old tapes if needed)|
Speaking of which...
YOU THOUGHT THEY'D
NEVER HAVE THE GUTS TO DO IT.