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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.

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!! 

Yamaha RS7000 keyboard soft touch button repair

I bought some soft touch button replacements for my RS7000, because the keyboard had to be banged on to operate.. 

Here’s how i carried out the button repair.

Disclaimer: please carry out this repair only if you have electronic skills such as soldering, desoldering, handling pcbs and know how to handle electronics. Remove the mains plug on the RS7000 and use care. Do not touch the power supply components. I shall not be held responsible if you hurt yourself or other people or the machine in the process.

First of all, check the new buttons. There are a few tutorials on how to check switches’ functionality using a digital multimeter on the net, google that up. 

Remove all the knobs from the front panel.

Wash them with soapy water using an old toothbrush!

Turn the unit face down, using some soft padding to relieve the knobs from the weight.

Keep this pic as a reference: the position of the midi sockets.

There are 3 types of screws..Put them somewhere safe (i used three fruit jam lids) and remember where each type goes. An additional set of two very thin screws belong to the scsi port. 

As a rule of thumb:

short ones-> they hinge the metal sheet that separates the top from the bottom pcbs. The top left and middle left ones secure the bottom to the metal cover of the power supply as you will realise opening the unit.

Remove the bottom lid. 

Unscrew the midi assembly and the buttons holding the input/ output panel in place and take it off.

Take pictures of the pcbs. 

Pay extra attention to the cables, what goes where. How they are turned, and move them the least you can. They are the right lenght to be assembled, very neatly laid out, Yamaha styleπŸ˜‰πŸ‘ŒπŸ».

The bottom cables are all tied together and they originate from under the shielding metal sheet..right where we want to get! Carefully, gently rock them to pull them out of their sockets.

You will have to remove the card reader assembly, the flat wire (just pull it) and all the screws that link the metal sheet to the case will have to go (pay no mind to my pics cos mistakenly i unscrewed also some of the pcb’s).. 

Below, this is the central layout, the wiring harness pops out from underneath the metal sheet shielding. 

The plastic motherboard shield will have to go. Please note how its left side kind of sits on top of those surface mounted chips. 

Gently lift the shielding metal sheet, get your girlfriend or boyfriend or your best caring and patient relative to hold it up for you.


Remove the cables that hold the keys assembly in place, and carefully slide it out from one side.

Here is the ugly mother.. Turn it around and take a look at how the key covers are snapped in their places. It takes a little inward motion using two fingers from the bottom side, push and they will spring out.

Put them in a sink and wash them with shower soap and water. Brush them with that old beaten toothbrush. Carefully, but with authority. 

Please note that generally there are soft touch and clicking buttons, maybe you want to dust the encoders too, i took a rag and dusted the pcb too, TAKING EXTRA CARE.
If you are feeling tired and the stress of the procedure so far has got you on your knees, put the board in a padded cover and go to sleep.

When you are in the right mood and focused, you may proceed.

Take a look at how the soft buttons are put, their position from all angles. Your new ones will have to be laid out just like that. Maybe even better, if they all look twisted like mine!

Turn the board over, using a hot soldering iron heat up one of the two soldered poles of the switch and using a desoldering pump suck the solder off. Do the same for the other. 

The nice folks at Yamaha have bent the two poles in opposite directions, one upwards – the other downwards, so that to remove the button you must heat up a bit the two points (solder side) while gently applying a circular motion to the button, taking it with two finers, component side..

πŸ‘ Like in this video:

RS7000 removing soft touch switches

Using the same procedure, you could also replace a few LEDs if you feel inclined, just be careful with the LEDs height.

Once you are done replacing the faulty keys, put the button masks back on. 

The tap button does not have an LED, but its mask is like all the others (check pic)-it’s all right.


Putting everything back in its place, take special care with the central wire harness: the cables have to reconnect to their original sockets, so beware if they get stuck somewhere they should not-you might not be able to plug them in. Reassemble everything with care in respect to the wires.

It is quite a long procedure, also given how many screws you will have to work with-panic may take over you once you realise there are two pcb levels in this machine, but fear not. It CAN de done!

​​

Maestro FZ-1a Fuzz Tone

dates about 1966-67

 

maestro+epi casino=garage!

Well.. At last i can say it: my clone (see back pages/older posts) sounds GREAT. Against this original (2N2614 transistors), with little or no attack pot excursion, aka max it or it wont fuzz, my clone is a pot full of sweet spots. Maxed, it is plain evil. Compressed.

Comparison, original vs my clone:

http://youtu.be/W53eVxDDml8

Still, the original has got so much mojo.. Magic. I will not mod it to bias the transistors better. As the Poets said, THAT’S THE WAY IT’S GOT TO BE.