Chris Randall: Musician, Writer, User Interface Designer, Inventor, Photographer, Complainer. Not necessarily in that order.

Archives: August 2005

August 12, 2005

Hard-Core Gear Porn Friday!!!

by Chris Randall

This absolutely ludicrous wall of outboard and synths belongs to some studio called "Cosmos," I think. I could make a feeble attempt to Trainspot all the gear on this wall, but I think that the phrase "two of everything, ever" would about cover it. Let me just state for the record that if you're even remotely bothered by that picture, then you definitely don't want to see the rest of the studio. Anyone know where this is or who owns it?

August 11, 2005

Alice mic kit...

by Chris Randall

This is kind of nifty. It's a DIY small-capsule condensor microphone called "Alice." Judging from the sound clips, it compares favorably to other mics of its ilk, and is somewhat cheaper. I kind of like the copper tube look, truth be told. The creator, Scott Helmke, offers kits for this, as well. If you want to supply your own piece of copper tubing and grill, the cost is $25. The "Everything" kit, which comes with all you need to build it as you see it on the site, is $50. Note that this isn't a n00b kit. You need to have a mediocre understanding of soldering and such, and a Dremel tool to cut the mic body. He also sells the completed mic for $200.00, which is pretty reasonable for how it sounds and what is in it. There is no shopping cart on the site; you have to e-mail him with your wants and desires.

While you're at his site, check out his Brazil mic. A Terry Gilliam-inspired piece, it uses the same guts as Alice but an altogether more-cooler body. This isn't available as a kit, but he'll build one for you if you ask nice.

August 10, 2005

Hey! Wanna see a trainwreck?

by Chris Randall

Well, on the one hand, you have to admire us Americans. When we're not busy spreading Freedom at the point of an M-16 or complaining about the French, we sure are a crafty bunch. We can figure out how to make money on anything.

Of course, the net result is that when we're not coming off as bullies, we're only one step away from your average Nigerian scammer. Check this site out. (And I apoligize in advance to the Internet Gods for giving this fucktard any traffic at all.) The Internet Audio Guy wants to tell you the secrets to making digital audio products to sell, because, you know, 35% of people are auditory learners.

From what I can parse out from his half-assed site, the object of the exercise is to use his Bronze Studio Package to create pyramid-scheme audio content. Now, I could just ass-rape him on that alone, but the thing that really gets my goat is the Bronze Studio Package itself. This is an Edirol UA-25 interface, an Audio Technica AT3035 mic, and a copy of the baby Sound Forge. He'll sell you this Amazing Package Of Studio-Quality Hardware And Software for $695, plus whatever shipping he decides to tack on, and won't tell you about until you've already entered your payment information. This is amazing, inasmuch as the sum total from ZZounds for the same "package" is $507.95, which is a mark-up of only $187.05.

Luckily, we live in the information age, and it's easy to put paid to morons like this with even a tiny bit of research. But, god damn, I hate these sorts of things, fat male-pattern baldness snake-oil salesmen that make their living by taking advantage of people that just want to get a leg up in the world. It's not often you see it in the audio market, but lo and behold, nothing is safe.

EDIT: I just figured out something really cool about that site. On the first page, below the fold (that's newspaper parlance for "scroll down") there are a bunch of audio testimonials in little Flash sound-playing gizmos. After you've given the page a minute or so to fully load, you can create a really cool musique concrete kind of thing by playing them all at once, and starting and stopping various pieces. I'm going to record a track of this, call it "Music Of The Spherical Heads," and copyright it. Then I'm going to sue the Internet Audio Guy for infringement.

August 10, 2005

The ultimate in vintage hybrid synths...

by Chris Randall

Back in my day, we walked three miles to school in eight feet of snow (or was it eight miles in three feet of snow?) and we couldn't afford a fancy digital-analog hybrid like the Evolver. We had to make do with what we had, and that was the IBM 1403 printer attached to the IBM mainframe computer. Once we were done computing ballistic missle trajectories, we took a much needed breather by teaching that printer to play "Raindrops Keep Fallin' On My Head," among many other hits.

Well, not "we" in the specific sense, but a more general American "we." Check out the recordings from a 1970 glitch/chip music performance of mainframe and printer with occasional banter. Computer History Museum.

August 10, 2005

Tiny Digital Roundup...

by Chris Randall

It's Wednesday, and that means it's time to send in the Rodeo Clowns, because we're having a round-up! This week, we'll have a gander at all the little digital synths that make life worth living.

The first contender for the all-time title of "Shit Chris Really Wants But Can't Seem To Obtain" is the Droid-3, which (like every cool synth these days) hails from Scandanavia. Denmark, to be precise. Those zany Danes have made something that is almost entirely, but not completely, unlike a SidStation. It's black. It has one knob. It sounds like death on a stick, and naturally, there are caveats. Danegeld, to name the first. It'll set you back US$599.00, as if we needed a sign that we Anglo-Saxons are still beholden to the Dane after a millenia. Oh, BTW, that's not including the plane ticket, which brings us to our second issue: if you're not in Denmark, you ain't getting one, because they won't ship over the border.

Next on the agenda, we have the ElectroKraft Space*Synth. This particular item also seems to be made of unobtanium, as the ElectroKraft site has removed all mention of it, despite the fact that they issued a press release announcing it only 6 months ago. Let's just pretend that it is available, for the time being anyways, and say that it is US$189.00, and ostensibly makes sounds just like the engine in the Donkey Kong coin-op. That's reason enough to covet one. I don't want an ApolloAxe at all, which is just another excuse for keyboard players to look like retards (as if we needed that.) So ElectroKraft, please actually release this unit! You can read about it from the original press release, which is available on Harmony Central.

If you read MusicThing, you know all about the Cracklebox. Personally, I find this little guy to be a bit annoying, bordering on Master's Thesis Stupid. (Maybe if someone made a table, upon which was projected an image of a Cracklebox, and you moved little disks of lucite around to Break Down The Barriers Between Performer And Audience, I'd be a bit more impressed.) But we're ecumenical here at Analog Industries, so it gets thrown in the ring with the rest of the toys. Read all about it at, then buy one for 50 Euro plus shipping, and impress all the Emo kids at your local coffee shop.

Our final entry comes from our Tuetonic representatives MFB, in the form of the PolyLITE. This boxen goes one better than the Droid-3 by having no controls at all. It is a four-voice DCO-based synth with analog filter and VCA that can only be controlled from MIDI CC messages or from the front panel of an MFB SynthLITE II. No sound samples that I can find, but NuLoop apparently will have them for sale Real Soon Now at 269 Euros.

Of course, there's the requisite Gameboy offerings like NanoLoop and LSDJ, and various other methods for coaxing badly aliased sounds out of gear singularly unsuited for the task. And there's Dave Smith's excellent Evolver, of which plenty has been said. If there are any synths of this ilk I've missed, feel free to throw a link in the comments section. There's one more scratching at my hind-brain, but I can't remember its name, and thus can't search for it. Maybe I'll remember by morning.

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