All posts by Masuto masuto masuto

Musical devices and sometimes artichokes are being discussed here

Creating a drum program on the Akai S900

Ok this is as basic as it gets, but still it’s nowhere to be found on the actual Akai S900 manual, since it deals mostly with pitched sounds and how to spread them on the keyboard.

How do you make a drum program from recorded samples on the Akai S900, and play those sounds from a controller in midi in?

Well, first of all you must understand what a keygroup is.

The keygroup is the number of samples in the program. Or something like that.


Here the guide, how you do it, step by step:

-press the function button sample rec, press “letter” function and enter the name of the new sample, scroll down and set the sample rate: choose 16000 for best definition (it will be punchy nevertheless) then scroll the page down until you can assing that specific sample to a key on the keyboard- I normally start from A1. For easier operation, use a keyboard plugged in the midi in port.

-record sample.

-press edit sample function button and set the sample start and end points.

Scroll the page down and choose (right arrow twice) to discard whatever is before the start and after the end points (aka sample truncate).

-press edit program and choose (right arrow) the name of the sample you just recorded.

Add one more keygroup to the total keygroups displayed, scroll page down, assign the keygroup to the sample you just edited, and set the sample pitch range-since it is a drum sample, you want the range to be of just one key, so set it to the key you assigned upon recording for both range figures. If you assign it to another key, the sample’s pitch will be affected. You will not be able to listen to the sample as you do this so make sure you write down what note the sample was assigned to.

-press save, scroll down page to (right arrow twice) save prg and samples.

That’s it, plain and simple, easy guide to make drum programs on this legendary sampler.

Remember to drive the inputs a bit when recording-i always record at 16000 (best quality) but sometimes in a drum kit i like to have also low fidelity drum hits, so i record also some kicks and snares at like 8000-they add some dirt, just dropping them in the pattern, they add character.

Akai S900 disk drive replacement

Since keeping it strictly old school is a must, i decided NOT to go the Gotek/ HxC floppy drive emulation route to make up for my S900’s broken floppy disk drive.

Which disk drives can be used to replace the Akai S900 floppy drive? Theres a page on gearsluts with a few suggestions, but i felt the info was a bit messy and not really clear (a few yes this works, some no-nos etc).

I took an old amiga 500 external floppy disk drive and yes it works on the akai S900-just be careful about the header’s orientation. It is a drop in replacement. It can format and use modern HD floppy disks too.

So in a nutshell: amiga 500 floppy disk drives can work as a replacement for the Akai S900 sampler.

Just a piece of info from Masu.

Roland TR-505 stuff

Points for individual outs (audio signals-add ground from ground point)


Ground

Points for bit-crushing effects: just solder to leads and strike them against the other at pleasure.. i dont like bending stuff, but this is the way it came when i bought it second hand..

I bought a ROM expansion that adda DMX, LINN DRUM and LN1 sound samples.

Desolder IC11


Solder the ic socket


Solder the switch to the pcb



All done! 

You can buy the expansion here:

http://harryaxten.altervista.org/tr505expansion.html

RE303 TB303 replica building tips

The RE303 project is an amazing one-man effort to diy the Roland TB-303 Bassline to the extreme- starting with a cloned PCB of the original, and with a lively forum of rare parts being offered, recommended, sold and traded to make a 1:1 copy of the 303 (well, at least the circuitry).

Given the rarity and price tag associated with the original items, it should be of interest to anyone who’s a fan of Roland’s illustrious past.

I plunged into this project because i love acid house and its main voice, the TB303. I associate its sounds to the words “pearl”, “drop”, and the adjectives “wet” and “chirping”.

As anyone reading my blog already knows, i own a couple of x0xb0xes but neither of them had that “pearly” sound.

Cue the beginning of Phuture’s “Acid Trax”. The bassline rises from what seems to be white noise, a shash of the volume pot being slowly turned up.. the real TB303 must do magic stuff like that.

This is considered hardcore diy but really, it is hardcore part sourcing- you can choose how close to an original, you want it to be. I have used a mixture of carbon film and metal film resistors, whereas the original only has carbon films.. most people go for the all-carbon build, just to give you an idea of the scene.

Ok, i bought the Space Cadet kit from dinsync.info and it arrived from Sweden in a low profile box, the pcbs wrapped in egyptian hyeroglyphics printed paper, very trippy. Also included are a couple of rare transistors, the pots, a Sumida coil, the bare rare basics.

Shopping:

-first of all i ventured out to buy knobs, buttons: syntaur.com, ebay

-rare transistors: the forum, more ebay action after a fake parts scare brewing through the forum with parts being measured, pictured and compared.

One user also measured all his TB303’s transistors and wrote down the hfe: ch-ch-ch-check it ooout!

On the RE303 forum, there is a link to a Mouser cart with all the non rare stuff, but since my local retailer has got quite a good selection of vintage stock (1980’s), i decided to shop local and save on Mouser’s over inflated shipping and handling costs.

-Enclosure: on the forum it is offered in metal sheet, with fully customable graphics, or the “official metal case” with dinsync.info and RE303 logos, the mandatory plastic puzzle like cad template is also present..

This guide adds just a few tips to the already thorough building manual-stuff that has been replied on the forum or that i found out myself (not a lot).

If it’s not there, it should be here!

To build this i used a 35w cheapo soldering iron, just keep the point clean at all times, non rohs-approved solder, a cheap chinese diy oscilloscope (i bought it prebuilt, or as the ebay buy it now listing said, pre-“welded”), my Atlas Peak transistor tester, a simple DMM. I measured all the parts before soldering them to the board. I socketed all the IC spots.

Using the official enclosure?

Do this:


to the switches pcb first of all- make sure you dont cut the ground line!

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Power supply section notes: use a nice and heavy switching (aka regulated) power supply/ ac dc transformer, centre negative. That way you wont burn yourself if you happen to touch the power transistor (it happened to me!).

Before you do anything, take a picture of the unpopulated pcb and print it. This will serve you as a guide to track down the position of so and so components, orientation of diodes and electrolytic caps, etc anything that once built, will not be easily readable-and you are going to need it once the built is over and you are going to need calibrating or (hopefully not) troubleshooting.

Build the power section after fitting the preliminary parts and all those jumpers (they are a lot and if you have an issue locating some of them, either look for some hi res pics @ the forum or, just leave it and you will find them as you go).

Some people like to put coloured tubing to the jumpers to add a nice lively effect to the build, i chose not to but it really is a nice idea. The trending colour is yellow as of April, 2017. ๐Ÿ˜Š

Follow the official guide closely to measure and make sure the voltages are correct.. if you are having issues getting the magic 5.333v at TP5, you will have to “play” with R174, aka sticking a 4k7 resistor in parallel with it to lower its resistance. I soldered the 4k7 at the other side of the pcb. That gave me more play to dial the required voltage using the trimmer.


Build the VCO..

I have a 500R PTC tempco, as per original, but it did not fit the pcb with the components populated-i soldered it at the back of the pcb, shrink-tubed.

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Here’s where that elusive D25 goes..

The pads in this section are very close.. if you check the schematic, you wouldnt worry too much about it, some of them are connected! For these you will need a tighter tolerance, 0,1% resistors.

(Please note the original had carefully chosen 0,5% tolerance resistors in this spot).


Do not forget to mark the parts going into those sockets and the IC orientation..

I used, 1N914 diodes instead of 1N4148 there-dont ask me why I did, but they should be pretty much the same.

That 303 ‘squarish’ wave through my cheapo unmodded chinese oscilloscope..

To check the waveforms, use the outmost pin of the waveform switch (ground) and the middle pin (positive).

Build the filter.

If should need a reference of how the transistors are oriented in this section, there you go:

Please note how i socketed the trannies of the filter section, it might be interesting to swap them later with different ones (as it happened, the 303 had a few revisions and the filter section uses transistors as diodes, so you may actually hear a subtle variation of its sound caused by the different transistors used).

This is also where the trimmer TM3 is (you will come back to this later when it comes to tuning the 303 properly).

To check the resonance, use this pin (aka TP6) of the pot-the furthest to the right. When you solder this specific pot, make sure it is aligned with the others.. look at how the pots sit from the side before soldering its six terminals. The rightmost pin is TP6, one of the testing points of the 303. Where is TP6? There. Remember.

Build the envelope section

Space Cadet kit, ENV pot is unmarked- just measure it with a MM, it should be 1M ohms.

Build the VCA

Remember that the positive pole of the tantalum capacitor is marked on the pcb.

Remember q21 is not marked on the silkscreen.

Please note the ‘1’ mark, on top of R125, that signals the appropriate BA662A (aka ic15) pin 1 alignment.

Make sure you solder the two trigger jacks before you fit cap C37 to give you an idea of the cap measure you should use if you are not following the mouser cart..

Remember: at any time, these cv and trig are OUTbound signals.

Once you have all the i/o jacks fitted, you will get your mind blown by listening to the sound of you RE303 for the first time upon testing your work so far accomplished.

Digital section

If you cannot find where they are, R181 is the one needing a bit of tubing, R182 is the to the left of the DIN socket pads.

Solder the selector and time pots with the pins aligned to the pads holes-they must not surface the back of the pcb! Try to solder them as even as possible.


If you are using the Sonic Potions CPU (like i did), just remember to leave out the ics as per the CPU’s installation manual.

The CPU will have to be fitted to the proper sockets: check this pic.

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Rare part: the DIN sync jack.. I found it locally, from my retailer!

I had to remove the two innermost pins (it’s a double switch) to fit the pcb pads.. here’s what it does: when you plug a din sync drum machine, the internal sequencer timing is turned off and the TB303 is synced to the master DIN.

Two pins must be clipped off..But it fits perfectly!

I like the idea that my RE303 is powered by Philips.. ๐Ÿ™‚

img_7109

Please remember, if you are using the RE-303 official case, you will have to solder the midi dins directly to the SP ic.. just rock the molex male back and forth until it breaks and.. Bob’s your uncle.


Buttons/switches section.

Please note how i had to bend the transistors-i subbed the original miniaturized transistors with 2sc1310 (310) for the 2SC2603 but the SA115 could not be substituted-i tried to but experienced crazy behaviour on the keyboard..some switches were not working, etc

The silkscreen shows only the emitter mark of the transistors in this section.

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I used shrink tubing cut to measure instead of the 6mm high led holders.

Due to the space constraint dictated by the height of the CPU sockets, I soldered the HD2 wires to the top of the switches PCB.

The wires linking the two pcbs have been wrapped with paper scotch tape in a flat cables fashion.

And.. ready!

x0xb0xes: made in China, Germany and USA

Ages ago i bought my first Mode Machines x0xb0x from Touched by Sound in Germany. They were the first fully assembled x0xb0xes on sale here in Europe and hence they have been reviewed a few months later on Sound on Sound. They came with those horrible looking MC303 knobs, but the idea of having a fully operational, Bassline clone with onboard sequencer was embarassingly exciting. In 2017 all this has changed, since the advent of the RE303!

From the description given to me by TBS and the sticker on mine, they indicated that they were Made in Germany.

One year later Mode Machines came up with the x0xb0x mk2, this time “guaranteed” to have been made in Germany. 

Would this second statement imply, mine was actually made somewhere else other than Germany, EU?!

Today i decided to pop my Mode Machines x0xb0x open and have a look inside.

The machine itself, sounds good but it loses more of the lower frequencies than it should as you turn the cutoff and resonance up, but it sits nicely in a mix because of this and it is quite squelchy.

Now on with the gutshots:

Dirt on the pcb, almost like corrosive traces of handling, etc

Components scattered on the board and soldered, clearly assembled as quickly as possible.

Grey looking solder joints. I dont know if rohs approved solder is supposed to look like this but it’s not shiny, they look almost like cold solder joints.

Rubycon electrolytic caps.. part of the standard kit i suppose..

More traces of handling.. dirt..
All in all, the only other example i can think of of a pcb that bears the same, corroding handling marks, grey solder joints and cowboy assembling like this, is my chinese made, battered components sporting, bog standard, cheap as hell, barely working, terrible looking digital oscilloscope. They even smell bad, the same way.


My personal feeling: my Mode Machines x0xb0x was really either made in China or made in Germany by hurried chinese workers in a very dark and unpleasant cabin.

BUT: it sports original 536 transistors, that give it a very impressive TB303 character! 

Sometime later, i got my hands on a NY made, x0xb0x from x0xs0urce: a whole different story.

Rounder sound, red leds instead of purple ones, and check these gutshots..careful assembling and soldering, etc. a work of love-mind you it costed twice the price of the mode machines..

Welcoming greenie caps as per the original tb303..

But ouch! This has 945 transistors (Roland mass production’s transistor of choice in those days)- it doesnt sound as wild as the Mode Machines!! 

Selmer Buzz-Tone

I have been building Selmer Buzz Tones for a few groupies n fans recently. 

Featuring original, near-impossible to source transistors, 2N2613 on choc brown paxoline board, on eyelets just like the original. 

One small mod is the cap tuck away under the board, to give it some juice (otherwise it wont buzz!).

Cheapo build for a friend:

Another build.. featuring the Palenque astronaut..


Expensive nos carbon comp build for a groupie:
They all sound ๐Ÿ‘๐Ÿฟ.

Tone Bender Mki builds rehash and musing

As of today, if you google up stuff like:

Mki tonebender transistors hfe and leakage

There’s just no way to get all the info on one page. People in the know are keeping their mouth shut as to what the best leakage and hfe combinations should be, to get an up an running mki.

I’d just save Electric Warrior from the bunch, an extremely knowledgeable guy who is not afraid of sharing his views. He’s active on fsb and on the dam forum.

Now this pedal.. There’s no easy way to pull it off. 

You think you’ll go the easy route and buy a tested, measured set of mki trannies online? Ok, no. Dont do it. The build will sound shit. They dont even come close to the ideal values-heres my experience with tested transistor kits:

Measured set 1: “compatible subs”

Q1: 2N404 (how original) hfe 81 lkge 0.04 (yeah, right)

Q2: 2N404 hfe 136 lkge 0.12

Q3: 2N404 hfe 93 lkge 0.00

I even spent more money on a set of mki matched OC75s, I made a couple of clones some time ago, just to review them again the other day to find the bitter truth: no sustain on notes up the fretboard. Fail.

Ok so i broke one of the clones open, socketed all the transistor points with alligator clips and i plunged into my collection of germaniums.

This idea on my mind:

John Barry’s guitar player asked Gary Hurst to increase the sustain of his Maestro FZ1 pedal. He changed the transistors, power supply and resistor values to go with the mods, and the first (Mark One as we call it today) Tone Bender was born. 

How is it supposed to sound?

-the Maestro FZ1’s tone is “brassy”, and it can be also very velcro like, turning the guitar into a ratty device (the green acres tune) so it’s got a varied range of sounds on tap

-the Maestro FZ1a sports less dynamic range as units were mass produced, so bias can often be unfocussed, lets say it’s buzzy but also voiced very differently from the FZ1

-(not on topic but since it was used a lot back in the 60es i’m gonna throw this in too) the (germanium) Mosrite Fuzzrite has a “synth”-like sound, the guitar’s articulation and dynamics are greatly reduced, almost squashed.

We have very little evidence of original, still working mki pedals, and we are all accustomed to the youtube links to listen to those. Pedals age, and they do not sound as they used to, when they were new.

But keep it in mind: like a Maestro FZ1 with more sustain.

Put these people, the players, on the map. British freakbeat as we now call it-before it was just called r&b. Ok most of them used british pedals. Tone Benders. Some just diyed the Maestro, or whatever they could copy, even guys like Syd Barrett (early Pink Floyd) would tinker with building their own pedals.. These “minor” bands never toured the States, the money they had, went on clothes, and maybe a better rig, for sure not on a US made pedal-ok maybe some of them had bought a Maestro in the wake of Satisfaction. They made the european summer circuit, scaring the continent’s patrons shitless with their fuzzy sound-lol.

Also, they sound way more obnoxious than american garage bands, save maybe the texans-the cowboys i assume, switched to the more aggressive, silicon fuzzes earlier than anybody else, because of the temperature boiling their fuzzes at gigs.

American bands were looking up to Great Britain up to a certain point. But not the other way round unless you were a top player that visited the other side of the pond enough to be influenced by the vibe-or until the summer of love, but thats 2 long years later than what we’re on about here.

Americans were into the Yard-Birds big time.. The Litter sported the open tones of oc75 induced harmonics of the Tone Bender on their signature regional classic Action Woman-complete with Yardbirds style rave on (that the Yard Birds in turned had copied from people like Lonnie Mack’s) and thats 1968, a few months shy from the Zeppelinโ€™s telecaster-and-possibly-a-Bender-into-a-modded-HiWatt debut.

Back to 1965 now.. Would you like to  listen to some Mki? Get the British Freakbeat compilations and dig.. there may be some.

Tone Bender Mki: high treble content, dark british amps, loud and with lots of sustain to cut through the mix. Think Baby I Go For You by the Blue Rondos, or Ronno. Like an half cocked wah. No velcro like the Maestro, but still based on the Maestro. Resistors to open up the sound.

I’m delving into the idea of the possible Maestro modification: putting an OC75 on q1 as a driver, and leaving 2N270 on q2, q3, on a mki build. After all, the original q2 and q3 in the mki are two 2G381, a random torrid germanium transistor never to be heard of again. Same as the 2N270.. probably the cheapest parts they could find.

Im going back to my Maestro builds, and an old geofex article.

-q1 must leak to activate q2, q3 leakage means sustain. If i remember correctly..

Here is my build:

Q1: oc75 hfe 78, lkge .32

Q2: 2N270 hfe 108, lkge .21

Q3: 2N270 hfe 401 (!!?!)*, lkge .66

*now a value like that should give you an idea of how shitty a transistor that is.

Don’t hunt for 2N270s. It’s not worth it. You’ll end up with a hole in your pocket and no satisfaction. Their specs are all over the place. And they dont sound like they measure. I went through a large batch of Fairchild 2N270, at an excellent price, and sorting them out has been hell. Thank God i have only about 20 RCAs, i keep them locked, they look nice and fat in their new old stock boxes and i will never use those. But they are the same. No quality control, folks. Or rather.. those were the times.

You can achieve the same results using other leaky transistors. Dont worry about the tone, the layout provides the tone on this one.

Dont change the layout values: leave the 470k resistor there. 

Keep q1 hfe at round 70-80, leaky, q2 hfe in the 90-120 region, with leakage, and q3 not over 100 but it should leak loads.

๐Ÿ˜‰ good luck.