GS-1

GS-1

Specifications
Polyphony –
16 voice polyphony with eight operaters per voice
Multitimbral –
2 parts
LFO –
1 LFO
Effects –
Chorus
Keyboard –
88 keys that are velocity and pressure sensitive
Memory –
16 presets

Naomi Bolton
Mon, 11/04/2019 – 11:52

Yamaha released the GS-1 in the early eighties, which makes it one of the first commercially produced synthesizers to make use of frequency modulation. This also means that it is an early forerunner for the popular DX7. According to Yamaha, the GS1 was designed to provide the “music-minded” with the sophistication of digital synthesis instead of the “computer-minded.” The idea was to let musicians play the GS1 without having to understand computers or synthesizers. Of course, this meant that the GS1 was a straightforward instrument by today’s standards.

At first glance, the GS1 looks like a simple digital piano, but it had a much more extensive selection of synthesizer sounds to offer. It features an internal architecture of 16-voice polyphony, but even with its 8-operator voice architecture users were unable to choose the algorithms. It features eight envelope generator / voltage controlled amplifier pairs as well as a low-frequency oscillator. However, it lacked VCFs, and the LFO could only be applied to a few parameters. The GS1 also only contained a few onboard effects. The 16 voices of the GS1 could be changed at any time by loading other voices that were stored on the magnetic card voice library for the instrument. This was done via the card reader of the GS1.

Yamaha opted for an 88-key, piano-weighted keyboard that is velocity sensitive as well as aftertouch. In terms of performance controls, the GS1 has a vibrato pedal, tremolo pedal and damper pedal that could be used. The GS1 also has buttons and knobs that are situated along the fallboard, which can be used for tweaking the limited amount of user-variable parameters and to select patches.

The original price for the Yamaha GS1 put it out of reach of most users back in the early eighties. This meant that Yamaha was barely able to sell 100 of these synths before the DX7 came along a few years later and became a much better choice for users. Yamaha did try to remedy the situation with the release of the GS2, which was basically a cheaper version of the GS1 that had fewer features. Unfortunately, the GS2 also failed to capture much of a userbase. These days finding a GS1 in working condition is not a cheap endeavor, and the instrument has been surpassed in every way, making it more of a collector’s item or novelty for synth enthusiasts.

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Year
1981

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Yamaha GS-1

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Casiopea “Asayake”(Mint Jams) Keyboard-Cover with YAMAHA GS1

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Join The Future book extract

Join The Future: Bleep Techno & The Birth of British Bass Music is a new book telling the story of British dance music’s first sub-bass revolution, tracing the origins, development, impact and influence of bleep techno, and the subsequent musical styles it inspired, on UK club culture. So what’s that got to do with drum & bass you may ask? In this exclusive extract author Matt Anniss shows how Bleep influenced proto-jungle pioneers Shut Up And Dance, DJ Hype, Production House and Reinforced Records.

Chapter Fifteen: Rage Against The Machine – The Rise of Bleep & Breaks

The lack of records coming out of London that matched the specific swing and style of the Bleep & Bass tracks being made elsewhere is not that surprising when you consider the popularity of Hip-Hop, Soul and Rare Groove in the capital. When Bleep-influenced records began emerging with increasing frequency from 1990 onwards, many of those behind the tracks had spent their formative teenage years running soundsystems dedicated not to pure Dub Reggae, but rather a more mixed sound that became much more Hip-Hop focused as the decade progressed.

One of the leading exponents of this developing sound was Shut Up & Dance, a Hackney-based soundsystem, party crew and DJ outfit whose reputation was red-hot in 1989. They’d been a feature of the local scene since 1982, when the trio behind the project – school friends Philip ‘PJ’ Johnson, Carlton ‘Smiley’ Hyman and Kevin Ford aka DJ Hype – hand built their first Reggae style “sound”.

‘You had to have a sound if people were gonna hear you and take you seriously,’ Hyman told Bill Brewster in 2005. ‘As you know, Hackney is a big soundsystem place. It was mainly Reggae and Dub we were playing to begin with because Jah Shaka was very big then. The sound was called Heatwave. We played the odd Soul thing, but the only big Hip-Hop tunes were [Afrika Bambaataa and the Soulsonic Force] “Planet Rock” and “The Birthday Party” by Sugarhill Gang.’

When Hip-Hop increased in prevalence, Johnson, Hyman and Ford became converts to the cause; not only did they re-focus their sound to play more Rap records with breakbeats, but Hyman and Johnson also took to the mic as fast-talking hosts with rhymes for days. They took the job of putting on parties seriously, frequently breaking into abandoned houses to run their own Blues style events with the aid of Hyman’s electrician brother. They also out-did other sounds by including Ford’s impressive scratch routines in their sets.

‘We actually did it like a performance, with Hype cutting up two breaks and doing his thing on the decks,’ Hyman explained to Brewster. ‘We were the first sound to do that. And we had a Reggae MC, which was my brother Daddy Earl, and me and PJ rapping. We thought we was a Hip-Hop soundsystem. We wasn’t, but we thought we were.’

Those impressive routines and relaxed rap flows over dancefloor-focused Hip-Hop beats were enough to win them a London-wide competition in 1987. Their prize was a week’s worth of recording in a professional studio. Taking the name Private Party, they delivered a double A-side single that boasted Hyman and Johnson’s tribute to Run DMC’s “My Adidas”, amusingly titled “My Tennents” (a reference to the super-strength beer so beloved of street drinkers), on one side and a silly cut-and-paste affair from Ford called “Puppet Capers” on the reverse. This featured all manner of snippets from puppet-based TV shows and, like the A-side, was an early warning of the tongue-in-cheek silliness and outrageous sample sources that would become a hallmark of their later production work.

‘Obviously, we wanted to pursue it, get a proper deal and make more demos, but nobody wanted to know,’ Hyman explained to Brewster. ‘No major label, no indie, because they were all like, “This is too fast. This isn’t going with the norm.” So we thought, “Fuck you lot – we’re going to do it all ourselves”.’

When they re-entered the studio 18 months later, their style had significantly altered. While still dedicated to the Hip-Hop cause, they were operating at a significantly faster tempo than the toe-tapping, head-nodding 95-105 beats per minute tempo preferred by most Hip-Hop heads. The rise in popularity of House music in Hackney in 1988 made Hyman, Johnson and Ford push the tempo further; regardless of how fast a Hip-Hop record was, they’d push it up to 120 or 125 beats per minute, roughly the same as most jack-tracks from Chicago.

‘We liked fast Hip-Hop, like what Big Daddy Kane was doing,’ Hyman told Brewster. ‘We liked the breaky stuff that was a bit faster, but we still wanted to take it further because we wanted to be able to dance to it. So we made our music much faster. The sort of Rap we made, at that House tempo, was unheard of then. There wasn’t even such a thing as Hip-House back then.’

Hyman and Johnson’s first single as Shut Up & Dance, “5 6 7 8”, was a perfect expression of their very particular take on Hip-Hop. Heavy, rolling and undeniably dancefloor friendly, it was a chunky, breakbeat-driven treat that quickly became a club anthem in their native Hackney. ‘My younger brother was well into House, and he was down at [key local club]Dungeons every week,’ Hyman explained. ‘One week he came home and wouldn’t stop talking: “They played your fucking tune! The place was going crazy! You have to come next week”.’

The buzz around the record in London was such that major labels came calling. Having previously had their demos rejected by the very same label, the pair told them to ‘fuck off’. Instead, they founded Shut Up & Dance Records, pressed up the record themselves and sold a shed-load of copies.

People were clamouring for a follow-up, so they headed back into the studio and recorded a pair of tracks that became big records in 1990: “£10 To Get In”, a comment on the rising cost of entry to raves that fused Acid House with Funk breakbeats, Suzanne Vega and a brief snatch of The Beatles, and the bass-heavy, Bleep-influenced breakbeat jack of “Lamborghini”.

While popular and influential, I’d argue that the two records Hyman and Johnson produced for the Ragga Twins the same year were far more significant. Although not known outside of the Capital, brothers Trevor and David Detouche were well known in North London as Flinty Badman and Deman Rocker, the fast-rapping, patois-speaking MCs involved with the popular Unity soundsystem. Thanks to their involvement with Shut Up & Dance, the brothers would soon become unlikely rave royalty.

‘When we got the Ragga Twins down I said to ‘em, “What we’re going to try and do with you has never been done before”,’ Hyman told Bill Brewster. ‘We wanted to give a Reggae feel into it to see if it worked. We didn’t know what people will think and we didn’t know what would happen.’

Those two early Ragga Twins records were undeniably groundbreaking. Joining together contemporary Ragga style Reggae sounds – complete with booming sub-bass frequencies – with Shut Up & Dance’s beloved breakbeats and nods towards the hottest British Techno and House, they were almost as influential as the Bleep & Bass records that had been arriving in the Capital since the beginning of 1988. In terms of the scene in and around London, they were even more influential, offering a fusion of soundsystem culture and rave that was more in keeping with local tastes than anything that had previously been made up north.

Arguably the best track across the two EPs was “Hooligan ’69”, a track that owed a debt of gratitude to the Bleep & Bass records that had come before it. The track was the epitome of what would become “Bleep & Breaks”, the end of the developing Breakbeat Hardcore spectrum that owed more to records from Yorkshire and the Midlands than some of its creators would now admit. The track was naturally powered by a House-tempo breakbeat, but its booming bass and alien electronics were straight out of the Robert Gordon playbook.

Another to apply similar ideas to his early studio productions was Kevin Ford, their school friend and long-time crew DJ. By the time “Hooligan 69” came out, Ford was one of the biggest DJs on rave-focused pirate station Fantasy FM, which became a must-listen for fans of Acid House, Techno and breakbeat-driven club cuts after it launched in August 1989. ‘Other cities didn’t have pirate radio like we had,’ Ford told Marko Kutlesa in 2017. ‘New ideas don’t come out of Radio 1 and the like, they come from the little guy doing his pirate radio station with his crew, which in the beginning is probably awful, but he builds on it and then all of a sudden it builds.’

Ford’s first forays into the studio were alongside another pirate radio presenter, Lightning FM regular Phivos Sebastiane aka The Scientist. The two met at a party at the Fridge club in Brixton through mutual acquaintances – Lightning founder members Jumpin’ Jack Frost and Bryan Gee – and began working together on tracks for the freshly founded Kickin’ Records imprint.

First was “The Exorcist”, a Hype arranged beast that peppered a sped up James Brown breakbeat and nagging bassline with Bleep style lead lines, glassy-eyed synth chords and plenty of cheeky vocal samples. There were fewer bleeps on speedy follow-up “The Bee”, but the fuzzy, industrial strength bass underpinning Hype’s funky breakbeats recalled the raw energy of tracks such as “The Theme” and “Soul Thunder”. It was accompanied by an alternative “Base Mix” that was stripped-back and heavy, sounding like a particularly funky Hip-Hop head’s take on the Bleep & Breaks sound.

Both records were enormous, reportedly selling well over 35,000 copies apiece. The pair followed it up with an even more Reggae-influenced chunk of Techno/Breakbeat fusion as Kicksquad, the booming dancefloor Funk of “Champion Sound”. It was another excitable Bleep & Breaks roller, with “Testone” style electronic melodies rising above more up-tempo Hip-Hop breaks and moody bass that sounded like it had been plucked from a Dutch Gabber record.

All three records were indicative of a growing trend. Record labels dedicated to this kind of heavy, House-tempo Breakbeat Techno were springing up at a rapid rate across the capital, while others gradually adapted their style to match. In this category was Production House, a label initially founded in 1987 by former Galaxy member Phil Fearon. While the label’s early releases mixed Reggae, Soul and House, by 1990 in-house writer/producer Floyd Dyce was happily working with artists whose tastes lay in the developing Bleep & Bass and Bleep & Breaks sounds.

One of the first Dyce-produced singles from future rave heroes Baby D, “Daydreaming”, was a rare vocal Bleep & Bass outing – complete with heavy Steppers drums, dialling tone bleeps and SH-101 clonks – while DMS’s “Brand New World” came with a “Dubplate Mix” that explored similar sonic territory to Ability II’s “Pressure Dub”. Production House’s 1990 releases also included The Brothers Grimm’s “Soul Thunder” style workout “Déjà vu”, whose three mixes added snatches of the Apache break to driller-friendly bass and intergalactic bleep melodies.

Of the new breed of London labels that popped up to rival the likes of Production House, there’s no denying that Reinforced Records was one of the most significant. It was founded by a quartet of North London DJs collectively known as 4 Hero (Mark Clair aka Marc Mac, Dennis McFarlane aka Dego, Gus Lawrence and Ian Bardouille). Like others in London, they had a background in both soundsystem culture (Clair and Bardouille ran the Soul, Hip-Hop and later US House focused Solar Zone sound from 1986 onwards) and pirate radio, joining forces to establish the Strong Island station in Camden.

‘We played a lot of Rare Groove, Soul, Funk and Hip-Hop, but there was a guy on there called Funky Militant who was the first person I ever heard play Acid House,’ Mark Clair remembers. ‘Then one of the guys on the soundsystem started to play House, and you’d hear it in a whole new light. The bass on those early Chicago records was weak, but the soundsystem made the bass sound heavy, and people liked that. The input from the soundsystem almost morphed those records into something they weren’t. We took that on and ran with it.’

When they started hearing the sub-heavy Bleep & Bass records from the North, Clair and his 4 Hero colleagues were smitten. ‘Ital Rockers’ “Ital’s Anthem” was a big favourite with us at the time, because it had massive dub bass,’ Clair admits. ‘It was like a Jah Shaka sort of bass sound. What they were doing up north was almost “dub-ifying” House. Those Bleep & Bass tracks from Yorkshire featured drums that were almost like dancefloor dub records. That was unique and totally different to the swing of American House records and Detroit Techno.’

4 Hero’s first few EPs – released in 1990 and early ’91 – drew far more influence from the Bleep & Bass sound than those by The Scientist and Shut Up & Dance. “Combat Dance” was a Kraftwerk-sampling, sub-heavy Electro workout, while “The Scorcher” peppered one of Hip-Hop’s most recognizable breakbeats (naturally sped up to the rave-friendly tempo of House) with Reggae MC samples and addictive Bleep melodies. That was backed with “Kirk’s Back”, which was arguably the most ludicrously subsonic of the lot.

None of these were quite as influential as their most famous early record, “Mr Kirk’s Nightmare”. Thanks to its dialling tone bleeps, surging breakbeats, quirky vocal samples, booming bass and razor-sharp synth stabs, it became one of the biggest Bleep & Breaks/Hardcore rave tracks of the period. ‘We used to go to raves up north and think, “Where’s the breaks man?”,’ Clair says. ‘We took the influential sound of Bleep & Bass and brought it down to London. We made sure we had a heavy sub thing going off the synths, and the bleeps, and mixed them with the drum breaks of Hip-Hop. We loved the Yorkshire sound, but there was definitely a divide between what they were doing and what we were doing.’

The inspiration provided by Bleep’s obsession with weighty Dub bass was explored on another early Reinforced Records 12” single, Dennis McFarlane’s 1991 “Kingdom of Dub” EP as Tek 9. This sported heavier Dub bass than almost any other early Reinforced release, offering a breakbeat-powered take on the music of Robert Gordon, Mark Millington and the Bassic Records crew.

‘Down here we were listening to those Yorkshire records and going, “How the hell do they get the sub-bass like that”,’ Mark Clair laughs. ‘If you took all of the music that was playing on pirate radio at the time, you just couldn’t join the dots together. It was the sound systems that joined everything together because of the sub-bass frequencies. It was making everything make sense. The heavy bass of the soundsystems made one thing lead to another.’

Join The Future: Bleep Techno & The Birth of British Bass Music by Matt Anniss is out now on Velocity Press

Join The Future books

The post Join The Future book extract appeared first on Kmag.

Juno-DS61

Juno-DS61

Specifications
Polyphony –
128
Multitimbral –
16 parts
Oscillators –
2
Waveforms –
ROM
Controls –
MIDI In/Out
Sequencer –
8-Track sequencer
Arpeggiator –
128 Arpeggio Preset
Patterns –
32 preset patterns, 128 user patterns
Effects –
Chorus, Reverb, Mic input reverb, multi-effects,
Keyboard –
61-note Ivory Feel-G keyboard with weighted-action feel,
Memory –
Internal, USB

Naomi Bolton
Fri, 11/01/2019 – 14:26

The Roland Juno line, particularly the Juno-6 and Juno-60 were some of the most popular synths ever from the company, so it’s no surprise that so many years later they are still trying to cash in on the name. There have been many other synthesizers bearing the Juno name, such as this particular one, the Roland Juno-DS61. It is part of the Roland Juno DS range, which also includes the 76-note Juno-DS76 and 88-note Juno-DS88.

The Juno-DS61 is an ultra-portable synth released in 2015 for musicians who don’t want to lug around heavy gear. The DS61 is the lightest synth in the DS range and weighs only 5.3kg. It can operate using AC power and also supports optional battery operation. It has to be connected to an amp or PA system for audio, so have a battery-powered keyboard amp handy if you want to stay portable.

The DS61 features nine categories of sound, including synth, piano, and organ, so it is easy to get up and running without having to tweak anything. However, it also has the flexibility of performance mode for those who want to make more advanced sounds. With this mode everything from laying strings onto the piano, to assigning different instruments to different hands is possible. Even better, the DS61 is fully compatible with all of the Juno-DI’s patches.

The weighted-action keys of the DS61’s Ivery Feel-G keyboard feel great to play and allow for more expressive performances. In addition to the keyboard, the DS61 also has a pitch bend/modulation lever, four control knobs, four level sliders, and eight multicolor pads. It also has a 256 x 80 dots LCD. The DS61 comes with a built-in pattern sequencer that offers up to 8-track recording and can easily be connected to your DAW of choice by making use of the integrated USB interface. Thanks to the dedicated input you can also connect a microphone to the DS61 to make use of vocal effects such as vocoder and auto-tune as well as vocal reverb.

With the eight Phrase Pads of the SD61, you can add instant beats to your keyboard parts or make use of the USB memory to load MP3/WAV if you want to play along with full-band backing. The Phrase Pads can also be used as a live sampler as you can load them up with anything from loops to sound effects to instantly trigger during a gig.

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Year
2015

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Roland Juno DS-61

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Roland Juno-DS Owner’s ManualRoland Juno-DS Owner’s Manual

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Chersea and the Roland JUNO-DS61

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RolandChannel

Roland JUNO-DS – Basic Overview

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Disc World launch Kickstarter campaign

Ever noticed London hasn’t had a proper drum & bass record shop since Black Market records? What London does have are excellent stocks in record stores, supporting new drum & bass. Not to mention UK garage, house and techno. Reckless Records, Phonica, Flashback, Rye Wax and Sister Ray are a few of those that spring to mind.

But what happened to that social experience you used to find in specialist stores? When dance music record shops were a spot for the heads to hang out, check the latest releases, network with DJs and share knowledge. Surely London is missing a trick?

With your support, Chris Dexta and Lewis Sicknote are the DJs and label owners about to change that. Over the last ten years, these selectas have been dedicated to buying, selling, making and releasing underground music.

And they recognise the need for more record store community spirit in London: a physical space – outside the rave – for electronic music lovers to dig the crates, meet like-minded people and share new tunes.

That’s why Chris and Lewis are on a mission to make a new record store in Deptford. As a cultural hub for underground dance music, it’ll support all the artists and labels you know and love – as well as up and coming talent.

Disc World will be the only record shop in South East London to focus on new releases in underground D&B, garage, house and techno. It’ll also be the new headquarters to their successful dubplate cutting venture, 1-800-Dubplate.

Producers, DJs and record enthusiasts will be able to walk in and cut whatever tunes they want onto dubplate. On top of that, there’ll be a schedule of workshops, covering everything from learning to DJ through to how to get your music out there.

Chris comes with a wealth of industry knowledge. He’s worked as a label manager and talent scout at Hospital Records and Med School. He’s been on the design/editorial team at DJ Mag. Oh, and he owns Diffrent Music and co-founded Clashmouth (the D&B record market at House of Vans, London).

Lewis Sicknote has over seven years of experience distributing dance records to the UK’s top independent record stores. He’s also a trained sound design and audio engineer. And if that wasn’t enough, he’s been DJing since 2001 and owns record labels Stereocilia, PAWS and Goldman Records.

To give Disc World a successful launch, Chris and Lewis need your help kickstarting the project. Your money will go towards the down payment on the property, stocking the shop, and building the interior.

Pledges can range from anything from £5 and up. Whatever you donate will be in exchange for special edition rewards. Think stickers, garms, records and dubplates (obviously), and much more.

In a nutshell, the underground music community needs to work together to keep specialist record stores alive. And isn’t it more fun to create an environment to spread the music, rather than keep it to ourselves Check out Disc World’s Kickstarter page for full details of how you can get involved.

Words: Verity Raphael

The post Disc World launch Kickstarter campaign appeared first on Kmag.

JX-1

JX-1

Specifications
Polyphony –
24 voices
Multitimbral –
16 parts
Oscillators –
2
Waveforms –
ROM
Filters –
24dB Slope (4-pole), High Pass, Low Pass
LFO –
2 LFOs with Saw Up, Saw Down, Square, and Triangle
Envelopes –
2 Envelopes with Attack, Decay, Decay 2, Sustain, Release,
Controls –
MIDI In/Out/Thru
Effects –
Reverb
Keyboard –
61 keys with aftertouch
Memory –
32 RAM Patches, 64 ROM Patches

Naomi Bolton
Thu, 10/31/2019 – 10:55

Roland released their JX-1 in the early ’90s and marketed it as a performance and budget keyboard. Some cuts obviously had to be made in order to release the JX-1 at a budget price, which means that while offers some basic editing parameters, it can hardly be considered a full synthesizer. Instead, the JX-1 is a PCM sample-based instrument, which gives you some of the classic sounds of the era but without any way to really expand the sound set.

The JX-1 features a keyboard with 61 velocity-sensitive keys but lacks aftertouch or an arpeggiator. It has 24 notes or less of polyphony, depending on layered tones, and offers four editing sliders. These can be used for partial real-time control over the sound by adjusting basic filter, effects, and amp controls. Two other sliders are also included, one for volume and one for “brilliance.” The latter is basically a filter control for adjusting sounds from soft and dull to bright and clean. Pitch and modulation control is handled via a joystick. Also on the front panel are 32 tone buttons, which can be used to directly select any of the 64 ROM preset tones that have been separated into two groups of 32 tones. It is possible to switch between the two groups using the Preset A and Preset B buttons. Pressing both together allows access to access the 32 user-programmable tones. Furthermore, two tones can be layered together by holding down one tone button and then pressing another one. Keep in mind that layering tones that each require two voices will result in only six notes of polyphony. Another limitation is there is no keyboard split function and no way to balance layered tones. One thing that is noticeably absent from the JX-1 is an LCD screen. By making use of sliders for editing parameters the JX-1 is a lot more accessible than many other synthesizers of the era, but this simplicity is also very limiting.

In terms of dimensions, the JX-1 weighs about 12.9 lbs and it is 3.5′ long, which makes it relatively portable. Since Roland advertised the JX-1 as a performance synthesizer, they wisely included a five octave keyboard instead of a smaller four-octave one. The JX-1 was an interesting option for its time as it offered a no-fills synth for people who were intimidated by either the price or the complicated features of more advanced synths. Unfortunate, the fact that some of the samples and preset tones leave a lot to be desired also limits the appeal of the JX-1. As it is, there are far better options available compared to the JX-1.

Make

Year
1991

Musical genre

Synth type

Interface features

Format

Sound types

Price range

Image
Roland JX-1

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Roland JX 1 Demo Track

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ikworgek

Roland JX 1 / Fantasia

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thestyle25x

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Kmag 25th anniversary merchandise now on sale

Limited edition Knowledge Magazine 25th anniversary merchandise is now on sale. It’s a simple range comprising of a t-shirt and a tote bag.

The tee is made from 100% cotton and available in black with white print (8cm diameter logo on the front and 25cm diameter logo on the back)
Sizes: S / M / L / XL
£18 + postage (£2 UK / £3 Europe / £4 rest of the world)

The bag is also made from 100% cotton and available in black with white print (25cm logo on one side)
£6 + postage (£2 UK / £3 Europe / £4 rest of the world)

Buy more than one item at the same time and only pay for postage on one item. Both items are available exclusively at kmag.co.uk/shop.

Kmag 25th anniversary t-shirt

Kmag 25th anniversary t-shirt

Kmag 25th anniversary tote bag

The post Kmag 25th anniversary merchandise now on sale appeared first on Kmag.

MT-40

MT-40

Specifications
Polyphony –
9 voices
Multitimbral –
22 parts
Effects –
Vibrato, sustain
Keyboard –
37 keys

Naomi Bolton
Wed, 10/30/2019 – 12:52

At first glance, the Casio Casiotone MT-40 doesn’t exactly look like anything remarkable. It was released in the early 1980s but was followed soon afterward by the MT-41, which featured a dark grey design instead of white. It’s an unassuming piece of gear with only 37 and it offers player 22 different instrument sounds. The MT-40 also has six onboard rhythms along with a dedicated mini bass keyboard that has 15 keys. Overall, the MT-40 looked very much like a toy instead of a serious musical instrument, but it did come with a very low price tag.

The MT-40 is definitely not an instrument that can be judged by looks alone. Its name was cemented in history thanks to one particular song, the 1984 King Jammy and Wayne Smith track, Under Mi Sleng Teng. The duo found the pattern on the Casio MT-40 keyboard and went on to inspire countless reggae and dancehall tracks using variations of the pattern.

In terms of design, the MT-40 features the mini bass keyboard on the left with the large built-in speaker above it. The space above the main keyboard is divided into sections for volume, rhythm, tone, effect, and power. The names and numbers of the 22 different instrument types are also listed above the keyboard.

As expected from such old hardware the MT-40 features very lofi drum sounds, although the sound is better than expected for something in its price range. The same can be said about the distinctive bass. As for the actual tones, you won’t find anything that sounds remotely realistic. It has 9-voice polyphony with eight notes being playable on the main keys and a single note on the bass. The drum section of this keyboard offers six different types of beats that can be adjusted with the tempo knob. It also has a dedicated “fill” button that can be held down to play some interesting fills for your tracks.

The legacy of the MT-40 lives on in later Casio keyboards, such as the SA-46 and SA-76 where the sleng teng “rock” preset has been included under the name “MT40 riddim.” Numerous other musicians, such as The Magnetic Fields, and Damon Albarn of Gorillaz also made use of this keyboard for tracks. Fans of the classic sound can also make use of sample packs, such as MT40 Digital Dancehall Revolution, to get their hands on the bass sounds and keyboard tones of this keyboard.

Make

Year
1981

Musical genre

Synth type

Interface features

Format

Sound types

Price range

Image
Roland MT-40

Files
Type
Link

YouTube

Casio Casiotone MT-40(mo084) demo[organ69]

by

organ69hiko

Casiotone MT-40 Demonstration

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Joshua Flowers

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SY-55

SY-55

Specifications
Polyphony –
16 voices
Multitimbral –
16 parts
Oscillators –
4
Waveforms –
ROM
Filters –
12dB Slope (2-pole), Band Pass, High Pass, Low Pass, Resonance
LFO –
1 LFO with sample & hold, saw up, saw down, sine, square, triangle, delay, and phase
Envelopes –
6 envelopes with delay, rate 1, level 1, rate 2, level 2, rate 3, level 3, rate 4, level 4
Control –
MIDI In/Out/Thru
Sequencer –
8-Track sequencer
Songs –
8 songs
Effects –
34 programmable effect programs, reverb, delay, early reflection, tone control, distortion
Keyboard –
61 non-weighted keys with velocity aftertouch
Memory –
64 preset, 64 user

Naomi Bolton
Thu, 10/24/2019 – 09:15

Yamaha SY-55 (430 Words) The Yamaha SY-55 was released a year after their TG550 Tone Generator and apart from the attached keyboard, these two share a lot of similarities. The SY-55 is a digital workstation that is based on samples-playback and also one of the first rompler workstations by Yamaha to ditch the DX7 FM synthesis.

It is a 2nd generation 16-bit AWM2 system that makes use of wave data digitally at 32kHz or 48 kHz. The SY-55 also has 24-bit internal signal processing capabilities along with high-res 22-bit digital-to-analog converters. Thanks to its digital filter system, it is possible to shape sound in real-time and it comes with two megabits of sampled waveform ROM for a choice of 74 individual waveforms. With this synth, you get two modes of operation. The first, Voice, allows you to select and play a single sound. The second, Multi, is used for multitimbral setups that you use with the sequencer. In addition, it has a versatile 1,2, or 4-element voice architecture and complex envelope generators to provide users with extensive sample layering capabilities.

In terms of design, the SY-55 features a 61 key keyboard with both velocity and after-touch for expressive control. On the left of the front panel, you’ll find the self-centering pitch bend wheel along with the modulation wheel. Above these are the DATA and WAVEFORM card slots while in the middle you’ll find the master volume, sequencer keys and indicator, as well as internal, card, and preset keys. The MULTI key and indicator, SEQ key and indicator, as well as 16-character x 2-line backlit LCD panel are also on the front panel. The rear panel consists of the power switch, MIDI In, Out, and Thru connectors, click volume control, Output R, and L/Mono jacks, and phones jack. Here you will also find all the jacks for optional peripherals, such as a Yamaha breath controller, foot switch and foot controller.

Compared to the 16 track SY-77 sequencer, the SY-55 sequencer only has eight tracks but can hold eight songs instead of just one. It has a memory capacity of 8,000 notes, which is half of what the SY-77 offers. The SY-55 also provides 34 fully editable effects, ranging from reverbs and delay to digital distortion and more.

Back when it was first released the SY-55 was very affordable compared to other “workstations” but these days it has very little to offer that can’t be found elsewhere.

Make

Year
1989

Musical genre

Synth type

Interface features

Format

Sound types

Price range

Image
Yamaha SY-55

Files
Yamaha SY-55 ManualYamaha SY-55 Music Synthesizer User Manual

YouTube

Yamaha SY 55 my Sound DEMO

by

Markus Schurz

Yamaha SY55 Synthesizer Sound Demo

by

gstormelectro

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Polyphonic instruments

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4 Essential iOS Drum Machine Apps

4 Essential iOS Drum Machine Apps
Naomi Bolton
Tue, 10/22/2019 – 06:52

Rocket Synthesizer

Rocket Synthesizer

Specifications
Oscillators –
1 (up to 8) digital oscillators
Waveforms –
Saw (with sync) and Pulse (with PWM)
Filters –
12dB multimode filter
LFO –
1 LFO with triangle, sawtooth, and square
Envelopes –
2 envelopes
Controls –
MIDI In/Out
Arpeggiator –
Arpeggiator with up, alternate, and random

Naomi Bolton
Thu, 10/17/2019 – 12:31

Waldorf surprised everyone in 2013 when they released the Rocket synthesizer seemingly out of the blue. It is a compact mono synth with an affordable price tag that was designed for analog enthusiasts on a tight budget.

The Rocket features a portable design with a height of 2.6″ and a width of 7.3″. It also only weighs about 2 lbs, so nobody is going to injure themselves carrying this synth around. It sports an attractive black case with green and white lettering, which gives it a very stylish look. However, the design doesn’t just look good, but it is also very functional, and everything is laid out clear manner. To keep the price down, the chassis of the Rocket is almost entirely plastic, but metal was used for the top and back to keep it sturdy.

The Rocket Synthesizer boasts nine knobs and eight switches, along with a “launch” button. The launch button is used for triggering sound without having to use an external keyboard as well as to visualize MIDI activity. This synth is divided into four sections, consist of LFO/ARP, OSC, VCF, and ENV. One peculiar aspect of this synth is the dedicated headphone volume knob, which is in place of a main volume control. It features a USB connection for MIDI in and out while also drawing power. However, it doesn’t require a computer to function, and you can make use of a universal adaptor to power it via USB instead. In addition, Waldorf released a Rocket Control iOS app for programming and storing patches without the need for a PC. The traditional five-pin MIDI for IN and OUT connections are also available, although the Rocket lacks MIDI Thru. On the rear panel, you’ll also find VCF IN, audio line output, and a minijack for headphones output. Finally, there is a MIDI Channel Selection button on the back, but no on/off switch.

Overall, the Rocket was a very enticing synthesizer for anyone in search of an aggressive monosynth at an affordable price. It is very intuitive to control, and the built-in arpeggiator is obviously a big plus. The Rocket can provide great percussion, leads, and bass, so don’t be fooled by the seemingly limited amount of controls that it has. Although it’s not perfect, the priority for a headset volume control is very puzzling, the Rocket accomplishes what it sets out to do quite admirably.

Make

Year
2013

Musical genre

Synth type

Interface features

Sound types

Price range

Image
Waldorf Rocket Synthesizer

Files
Rocket Synthesizer User ManualRocket Synthesizer User Manual

YouTube

Waldorf Rocket Arpeggiator

by

AudioCentralMagazine

Waldorf Rocket Synthesizer “official” Produktvideo by Jürgen Driessen

by

Jürgen Driessen

User Rating
Texture
Monophonic instruments

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