Music gear old and new

I enjoy trying to make music, although I have no talent and hence produce nothing of any note. Still, it’s something I find pleasurable, so no reason not to continue. I recently decided to junk my hardware boxes and move to software synthesizers and processors. This page is a note about the new set up and what I then gave to a charity.

I use Windows 10 on a liquid cooled PC, with an i9-9900K CPU, with 32 Gb memory. I have 3 x 2Tb Western Digital Black drives, and an Samsung EVO SSD which is used as a cache. Graphics are provided by a Radeon WX3100 driving two monitors via dual DisplayPort. It was built by the excellent Scan Computers https://www.scan.co.uk/3xs/custom/daw-digital-audio-workstation-pcs/form-factors#anc (check them out for audio boxes)

Anyone not convinced by the EVO technology mght glance at the “winsat” results from windows .. yes ,and that is a read rate of 3Gb/s 😯

The audio interface is a USB based Motu 828 MkII gving up to 20 channels of audio. I monitor a lot on headphones on a Sennheiser 650HD through the attached mixer (below)

I just added a Motu M4 because the Motu 828 drivers were rather unreliable with Windows 10, and tended to clash with Bonjour (now removed)

Midi interfacing is via an iConnectivity MioXM using RTP Midi; it supports a total of 256 midi channels. This replaced a 8 port Edirol UM880, which now has no Windows 10 drivers.

Since all mixing is done in the box, I just have a simple 8 channel rack device for audio, an ART MX822 to handle the small number of external audio input channels.

Also in my rack (now 4U instead 24!) of I have a Line 6 Pod XT Pro modelling preamp for my guitar, which is a Ibanez RG2620CBK. [I also have a 1964 Hofner Verithin from my teenage years ]

Finally monitoring duties (as well as the Sennheiser) are handled by a Samson Servo 260, giving 130W RMS per side, into a pair of Spirit Absolute 2 nearfield monitors.

Managing Ableton Live (see below) is largely done via my Arturia Keylab mkII, which I added recently, and am pleased with

I have also kept my Roland JD800 synthesizer in the rig; this wonderful looking device not only can sound great, but it boasts 58 sliders to twiddle in real time and 60 buttons to press.

Everything else is now in software, ‘in the box’, as they say. I use Ableton Live 11 for assembling tracks, Bandlab’s Sonar for some midi sequencing, and Adobe Audition for some audio editing, although most things are now in Live. I also have Propellerhead’s Reason, but don’t use this much. Librarian and editing tasks are done with Soundquest’s MidiQuest. The main sound generation is done using three Spectrasonics products Omnisphere (stunning! – and now with 12,000 patches), Trilogy (bass) and Stylus RMX (percussion). I recently added Scaler 2 from Plugin Boutique, which is an amazing aid for anyone composing. See https://www.spectrasonics.net/ , https://squest.com/ and https://www.pluginboutique.com/product/3-Studio-Tools/93-Music-Theory-Tools/6439-Scaler-2.

I’ve also got Z3TA+2, DUNE 3 softsynth (Instant Trance) / the Korg Wavestation plugin / the amazing Spitfire audio BBC Symphony orchestra, which is free !! / the NI guitar plug in (quality on a stick) and several others.

Everything else I have donated to a charity, for them to sell on e-bay, where it should raise at least £1500 – should be more. It used to occupy 24U of rack space. In no particular order, the major elements of the now disposed of items are as follows.

A Samson PL2402 rack mounted 24 channel mixer. Basic, it was just about adequate for my amateur tinkerings,.
The purely analogue Oberheim Matrix 1000 was the ultimate in lack of any form of front panel control. The device has a complex architecture, which can be accessed either through the Oberheim matrix 6 or a software editor I might even put this back into a spare slot I have in the current racks. .
The wonderful Korg Wavestation SR rack module boasts all the Wavestation sounds and capabilities. It could only be sensibly programmed by an editor and the front panel controls were essentially useless.
The Yamaha A3000 sampler was pretty functional, but essentially still born, as software based samplers were now entirely feasible. It’s use of a ZIP floppy as a transfer mechanism and arcane SCSI implementation finished it off.
Ahhh ! Instant Roland JV1080 EDM, especially with (as fitted here) the ‘Techno’ board. A thousand Stock Aitken and Waterman hits sprang from this rack and its upgrades.
Behringer’s MDX2100 compressor; a cheap workhorse to squash one’s sounds …
Behringer’s Ultradyne 9024 processor, covering a range of ‘mastering’ effects, before it could all be done by plugins..
The SPL Vitaliser, a wonderful hardware ‘fairy dust’ box, featuring higher harmonics, bass extension and stereo width enhancement. Very seductive.