Oscilloscopery - The Rigol DS1054Z oscilloscope

To assist in my electronic endeavours I have treated myself to the very wonderful Rigol DS1054Z digital storage oscilloscope and BLIMEY, it is good. This machine does everything from FFT analysis to SPI bus decoding in realtime (almost). It's a four-channel scope, brilliant for watching the channels of something like an SPI or I2C bus.

So naturally the first thing I'd want to connect up was my modular synth. Here's the MakeNoise DPO oscillator outputs running in hard sync mode. FFT shows the harmonics and already I can see that I need to turn up the sweep extent trimpots for the pulse width modulation on two of my other oscillators.

The scope has LAN connectivity, PNG waveform saving to USB memory stick, hundreds of features you might normally expect to pay twice the asking price for.

And by illicitly googling "RIGLOL" you can find a page that lets you enable the paid performances for free.

Not that I condone such behaviour.

Bomes MIDI Translator

I discovered this late last night, a very highly configurable MIDI routing engine that lets you filter and route between any number of hardware synths and controllers.

http://www.bome.com/products/miditranslator#

I installed the trial version, used it for about five minutes then pulled out my credit card and bought the full version. Now I can launch into my keyboard rig without waiting for Cubase to start up, creating a new project, setting the tempo, creating all the tracks, I just hit my controller keyboard and everything works. Note on/off, controller data from a Novation master keyboard plus clock from the JD-XA gets routed to all my synths and effects and it took me about ten minutes to learn. Highly recommended - I'm not ion any way associated with the company, just really pleased to have found a great product.

I should add that there's a less feature-laden version which appears to be effectively free to non-commercial users, the author only requests you send him a postcard ...

http://www.bome.com/products/mtclassic

If you use hardware synths and want to do some poking under the hood with MIDI data then it's the best I've found. And I've done a lot of searching for something like this.

Routemaster Number five

Having made a complete fuckup of two previous boards by putting the voltage regulators in the wrong way round, I've rattled through building this new version. One more board to build then the modular cases will finally be ready for me to transfer the synth modules into.

Ich bin ein Berliner

I never quite understood the term "Berlin school" synthesis. And President Kennedy's famous declaration translates as "I am a doughnut". So maybe this is doughnut school improvisation. Anyway, it's the modular synth doing its thing while I remain only nominally in control of the sounds it produces.

U.F.O. detectors online

I have been known to occasionally provide guitar for my brother's outlandish space rock project, Brotherhood of the Machine. Strangely, I go far more crazy apeshit on other people's recordings than on my own.

Roland JD-XA CV sequencer

Turns out the JD-XA's sequencer has two channels of external CV and gate for modular fun and games. Unfortunately there's no clock output or modulation CV output but you can still have bags of fun sequencing the excellent Frequency Central System X modules from the keyboard. So here's a quick and dirty one-bar sequence as an experiment.

New synth - the Roland JD-XA is here!

A lovely new synthesiser has arrived in my studio, the breathtakingly brilliant Roland JD-XA digital/analogue crossover synth.

Very impressed with this synth. The analogue voices combined with Roland's Supernatural digital engine and the comprehensive effects section make for some stunningly beautiful sounds. Most of the common functions are right there on knobs and sliders on the front panel but if you want to dig deeper, the level of editing control is very impressive. Since it arrived I've spent most of the time working with the arpeggiator and sequencer (which also have two channels of CV and gate out to drive the modular). Works brilliantly alongside my other workhorse polysynth, the Dave Smith Prophet 08. Here's a quick run with both - the JD-XA is providing the warbling filter effects.