Category Archives: funk

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!! 

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Electro Harmonix Vintage Black Finger 

This must be a very early one, word has it that Jimi Hendrix tried one of these boxes for its big muff-like forced sustain. It is one of the earliest electro harmonix effects. 

It is powered by TWO 9v batteries and so much for it “being distortion free”, it is very hissy and noisy, and colours the tone. The compression is VERY apparent and squashed.

Transistors: FS36999, the same as early 70’s Big Muffs.

       

The tube version Black Finger is a much different, more reliable and usable item.

De La Soul Three Feet High And Rising

1989. This and Paul’s Boutique blew my mind that year.

Can you guess how many times i happily re-bought this record (the first one being the picture disc when it first came out) through the years? Same as Paul’s Boutique actually.. 😂

   

wah wah heaven

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After a while of non-activities, i took the wah projects by the balls and finished them successfully.

Inductors: one is a Stack o Dimes, the other is called a Hasel inductor, both handmade by the nice guys at ARTeffects in Israel.

Pots: ArtCARs.

Caps: i found an ancient italian preamp with the right caps type and values at a car boot sale, they’re the surf green ones you see on the stack o dimes build. I swapped the cheap greenies you see pictured on the other build with some tropical fish ones, just for mojo sake.

The two wahs do sound different.

PCBs by gp.electronics@gmail.com (Greece)

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