Couldn’t sleep last night. Kept having ideas on how to improve the sequencer, so in the hope of having a better nights sleep tonight, I announce version 1.1!
First addition is variable pattern length for each of the 4 sequencers, so you can create polyrhythmic patterns.
Next, I’ve added a toggle to switch between the original note-in trigger mode and a new host mode, synced to Ableton’s tempo. This allows for sustained notes to be played with the parameters being changed over time, rather than per note.
Then there’s a clock divider so you can choose what speed the host mode runs at.
And finally, I’ve changed the purple colour of the fourth sequencer to pink, because, why not 🙂
Hope you like the changes, I’m really quite pleased with them! Here’s a quick (and noisy) demo…
Only had one more idea, namely a slew level to sweep between the parameter changes rather than jump to them, but not even sure if that’s even possible yet. I’ll leave that for another time though.
Very pleased to announce another new maxforlive device, this time a 4 channel, 8 step MIDI CC Sequencer! Whilst it was primarily designed for my Korg NTS-1, I’ve made it configurable so you can choose any 4 MIDI CC’s you want to sequence by typing their numbers in the boxes at the top. By default, it’s mapped to the Korg Oscillator Type, Shape and Alt controls.
You might be wondering why it only has 4 knobs if there are 8 steps. Well, the design was inspired by one of my favourite Eurorack modules, the DinSync ModSeq where each knob controls two steps. So, taking the first green knob for example, on step 1 it would output a value of 25, but on step 5 it would output the inverse (102). The second green knob would output a value of 80 on step 2, then on step 6, it would output the inverse (47) and so on. After it reaches step 8, it loops back to 1 again.
It’s available to download on maxforlive now, and I’ll hopefully upload a demo video in the next couple of days!
Well, the Korg NTS-1 editor is finished! Had to deal with a weird quirk where the randomiser was being triggered by both the note on and note off messages, but I managed to get around that by using the stripnote function which I’ve learnt is perfect for that sort of thing.
I’ve got lots of things on the go at the moment, so thought I’d take a step back and summarise what I’m up to.
Korg NTS-1 editor
I recently picked up a Korg NTS-1 synth and have had a lot of fun trying out all the user oscillators, particular those from Sinevibes. There are one or two shortcomings, such as the custom controls for the user oscillators not being controllable via MIDI and some audible noise when powering the NTS-1 from my computer. Running on a USB battery pack sorts the latter issue out though I’m pleased to say. And as the user interface is a bit basic, I thought I’d build an editor in MaxforLive.
I decided to revisit the patch randomiser I coded for my Meeblip Micro editor, but this time, triggering it with incoming MIDI notes. That way, each note will fire off a completely different sound. The seed for the idea came from a twitter post from Finlay Shakespeare, detailing his time working for Novation. The end result is something a bit like the AFX mode on the Novation Bass Station II, but completely random each time as opposed to cycling through presets. Sounds really good – most of the time!
To add some predictability though, you can control which elements are randomised using the toggles. With just cutoff selected, it works a bit like a Sample and Hold.
Still have a bit of work to do, not least to add more elements for randomisation and controls for the effects, but hope to have it available to download in a couple of days. Then I’ll be using it for a 1 synth challenge
Gotek Floppy Emulator
My first sampler was an Akai S2000 and I’ve been meaning to back-up my old sound library for some time now. For years, this was my main sound source and whilst it’s true that nowadays, we’re spoilt with the abundance of gigabyte sample libraries and soft synths, I have fond memories of what I could achieve with much more limited resources at my disposal.
I also know there are some sounds in there from equipment I no longer have, such as the dying EDP Wasp Deluxe that I found dumped outside a neighbours house (true story).
So, I’m going to install a Gotek floppy emulator and back up all my sounds to that. Not exactly sure how to do it yet, but I’m a fast learner!
But, just to be contrary, I’ve also succumbed to the Black Friday sales and bought lots of gigabyte sample libraries including Spitfire Audio’s BBC Core!
Guru Gara Synth Modules
I’ve purchased more PCB’s and Panel’s from Guru Gara Synth and already have a single full voice up and running in my Eurorack system (Oscillator, VCF, VCA and Envelope). Calibration was pretty straightforward and it tracks nicely. I also went with the more expensive CEM3340 reissued chips, as used in the Roland SH101 and MC202, and the oscillator sounds all the better for it!
I have another 2 oscillators and a second envelope to build next as well as a ring modulator.
Although I’ve been using Ableton for many years now, my sequencer journey started back on Cubase on the Atari ST (That is if you discount the Cheetah SpecDrum module I had with my ZX Spectrum before that). I stayed with Cubase until around version 5, then made the move to Sonic Foundry’s Acid, before finally settling on Ableton.
So why the history lesson on my sequencers? Well, as I’m writing more cinematic stuff at the moment, I thought I’d revisit Cubase 11 and have been really impressed. It’s certainly a different way of working, but it’s amazing how much of it feels familiar too.
One of the main reasons for trying Cubase again was to build up the obligatory orchestral template, and finally make some sense of the various Kontakt sample libraries I’ve bought along the way. It’s a slow, laborious process, and getting the different libraries to play nicely together is a bit of challenge, but it’s strangely rewarding too.
Of course, the downside of a mammoth orchestral template is how you navigate the thing, and this was another factor in choosing Cubase thanks to it’s powerful visibility agents (which I’m not going to even try and explain – lots of head scratching to work those out I can tell you!)
But even then, navigating through menus wasn’t much fun, so I’ve built an editor using TouchPortal that allows me to hide and unhide sections of the template, manage tracks etc. as well as having transport controls. Unlike other similar tools such as Touch OSC or Lemur, it’s a lot more straight forward to program too, although it is at heart, a glorified keyboard emulator. But, it works brilliantly for my purposes and is definitely a good alternative to something like a StreamDeck controller.
Incidentally, I did consider the StreamDeck controller app too, but was put off by the annual subscription for that. Plus, the limitation on 15 buttons.
Anyway, that’s what I’ve been up to. Oh, and I also need to finish my third Meat Beat Manifesto mix tape too. So I better get on, lot’s to do…
So the good news is the Blue LCD I bought on ebay is fully compatible with the Korg DDD-1! The model I went with is the HD44780, although it has slightly different dimensions to the original, so I had to get a bit creative with attaching it to the case. I also had to extend some of the wires from the circuit board so they could reach the solder points.
Unfortunately, my excitement was short lived as I managed to kill the backlight within a few minutes as the voltage was probably too high.
So, after ordering another replacement (Yellow backlight this time), I decided to put an inline resistor on pin 15 to reduce the voltage. A quick google suggested something around 47 ohm should do the trick, but the smallest resistor I had to hand was 100 ohm.
I’m happy to report it all works fine though, and with no annoying whining sound!
I’ve also replaced the main navigation / cursor buttons which are a lot more responsive now. The back-up battery replacement was a bit fiddly, but I’ve done that too 🙂
Interestingly, the HD44780 was also the model I used on my Akai S2000, but that’s working fine without an inline resistor!
Hello again, it’s been a while! The last 18 months have seen me buy a new house, move in, move out again, then pretty much rebuild it.
We are finally getting back to normality though, and I now have the luxury of a dedicated studio space in the house (no more shed at the end of the garden!).
Whilst unpacking my equipment, I decided it was time to give some TLC to some of my more aged items.
Korg DDD-1 Drum Machine
Korg launched the DDD-1 drum machine in 1986. Built like a tank, it’s sounds have arguably aged better than competitor drum machines of the day such as the Roland TR-505 and Yamaha RX series. You aren’t limited to the 18 onboard sounds either, as it has 4 rom card expansion slots and Korg released a large number of expansions which pop up from time to time on ebay.
It also has an optional sampling board but these are very difficult to find, not to mention cost prohibitive on those rare occasions when one comes up for sale. More usefully though, an enterprising individual has reverse-engineered the rom cards and built an adapter that lets you add your own sounds, stored on EPROM chips.
I have a couple of these adapters myself, and have started burning my own EPROM’s with sounds created on my modular system. Of course, as the DDD-1 is only 8-bit, the samples don’t sound exactly the same as the originals, but this only serves to make them more unique.
Time for surgery
I purchased my DDD-1 a couple of years ago, and it generally works fine, but does have a high-pitched whining noise which I suspect comes from the LCD backlight. This isn’t present on the audio outputs though so is something I’ve largely learned to live with.
More recently though, I’ve noticed that the selection slider is a bit temperamental and the plus and minus selection buttons need quite a hard push before they work, which makes it difficult to program. Being over 30 years old, there’s a high probability the back-up battery will soon fail too, so I’ve decided some surgery is in order.
The back-up battery is your usual CR2032 button affair, although in their wisdom, Korg elected to solder this on the board. So I’ll also be fitting a battery holder to make future maintenance easier.
I’ve also noticed my Akai S2000 display is becoming fainter too, so will probably replace the LCD on that too at the same time.