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

Archives: 2011

October 31, 2011

ADverb Updated...

by Chris Randall

Audio Damage ADverb, our "vintage digital" plate, has been updated to 1.1.0. This update includes 32/64-bit Windows VST and 32/64-bit OS X VST and AU. Any remaining vestiges of PPC support have been removed, so if you think you're getting the New Hotness for your old 'n' busted G4 tower, think again. Anyhow, hit the AD Store and you'll find the new ADverb in your account if you're already an owner. If not, I strongly suggest you buy it, because I'm of the considered opinion that the more you engage in commerce with the Audio Damage site, the more I'll like you, and I think we should put that theory to the test.

Kombinat Dva is next out the chute, then the 64-bit version of BS2, and so on and so forth...

October 25, 2011

The Current State Of Affairs...

by Chris Randall

A picture may be worth a thousand words, but in this case I'm just gonna have to prattle on for a bit, because we're not ready to show off yet.

However, I'm pleased to announce that Kombinat is getting a much-requested refresh in the near future, in the form of Kombinat Dva. This will be a pretty big update to Kombinat, and will constitute a new plug as far as your DAW is concerned. (You know how we do that sort of thing by now.) It is getting several more algorithms of various fuck-up-ed-ness, a feedback control that is quite nifty, and a UI that is in line with Filterstation and Panstation. I have no idea on the timeline for this, but I'm about halfway done with the UI; then I hand it over to Adam for the new algos and to clean up the mess I made, and we're off to the races.

In the meantime, Adam is bumping some of the older products to 64-bit. First up will be ADverb, because, well, it starts with A, and everyone knows A is first. We're going to have nothing but refreshes and updates for the next couple months, so make sure you're subscribed to the Audio Damage RSS feed if you're waiting for a particular product. I only usually mail the mailing list if money is involved (that is to say, if it's a major paid update.) Otherwise, all update announcements go in the RSS feed, which you can find here.

In other news, I'm putting the finishing touches on Location / Procedure / Experiment 2, the follow-up to this release. It will include the audio of Experiments 7, 8, and 9, a new Location (which I haven't done yet), and two procedural work-outs from Max/MSP. For the latter, I will also provide the Max patches, both as stand-alone executables and as unlocked patches that you can "remix" with if you're so inclined.

And finally, I'm closing in on the finish line for this iOS contract I've been laboring on for nigh on 4 months now. As such, I'm casting about for a new iOS project to take on. If you have an audio-based idea that you think should be realized for one or all of the iOS platforms, I'd love to hear about it.

October 22, 2011

Eventide Stompbox Modular Magic Trick...

by Chris Randall

Now, I'm fairly well versed in many things, but when it comes to electronics, I'm strictly rule-of-thumb and follow-instructions. For some reason, as soon as you stick a soldering iron in my hand, my IQ drops like 50 points, which coincidentally puts me exactly at the same IQ as George W. Bush. And you wouldn't really want him soldering your gear, would you? Neither would I.

So, while I've known this little trick from other contexts for some time, I have no idea how or why it works. It is, as far as I'm concerned, a magic trick that defies logic. I'm sure one of the many people that read this board that are well versed in electronics theory will jump in to explain in ludicrous detail exactly why this works, thus taking all the magic out of it, and putting it squarely in the realm of "mundane things you should know." But until then, we can have our fun.

So the name of the game is this: Eventide stomp-boxes (such as the Space pictured above, but this applies to all of them, as well as almost any digital stompbox that has an expression pedal input) can be controlled from a modular synth via the expression pedal jack. Now, you're saying "Fuckin' duh, Chris. I can hit that shit with voltage all day long." Well, fine, but (a) we don't want to be squirting voltage in to our expression pedal port, which is really just a breakout point for a potentiometer, and (b) while Eventide pedals are fairly robust in design, and unlikely to get cooked in this context, we can't speak for other makers. So I'm going to show you a safe way to emulate an expression pedal in a modular synth. As I previously stipulated, I don't know why this works, as it just doesn't seem like it should. But it does.

What you need: Obviously, you need a digital stompbox of some sort that has an expression pedal input. You won't really want to bother with this unless you have a modular synth as well, so one of those, too. It should have a VCA that has a "linear" mode. It'll work with a logarithmic/exponential VCA, but not as nice (a log VCA has a huge dead zone in this context, fully half of its range.) You'l also need what's pictured above: a 1/4" jack and a spare patch cable appropriate to the flavor of modular synth you own, and ludicrously basic soldering skills. (Basically you only need to have a soldering iron and know enough not to pick up the hot end.)

So, first things first, cut the patch cable in half. Now, strip the cut ends back a little ways. You'll notice that behind the insulation are a sleeve of copper or nickel wire, and inside of that is another wire. The sleeve is connected (derp) to the sleeve of the jack, and the wire inside is connected to the tip. Cut back the sleeve to where you stripped the insulation, then strip a little bit off of that inside wire. Do the same with both halves of the patch cord.

Now comes the magic part. Twist the stripped ends of the inside wire together, and wire them to the TIP connector of the 1/4" jack. That's it. One connection. Reassemble your cable after verifying that all three tips are connected. (Note if you're rockin' a banana jack synth, your patch cables only have one internal wire, so this is even easier.) It doesn't matter what's going on with the sleeve parts, but for posterity's sake, make sure none of the sleeves are conducting. You might want to insulate the wires a bit with some electrical tape or heat shrink tube or some such, if you're the sort that gets in to such fripperies. Here's what you end up with:

Now, plug the 1/4" cable in to the expression pedal port of your Eventide pedal. Take the two patch cable ends and plug 'em in to the in and out of a linear VCA (doesn't matter which goes to which). If your VCA has a "gain" knob, more the better; you can use this to program the heel and toe positions for whatever parameter you're controlling. Consult the manual for your pedal on how to control parameter programming for expression pedals. With Eventide pedals it is almost too easy. You just zero your VCA, move a knob, crack the VCA full open, move the same knob to where you want it to be in the full position, and you're done. You can essentially create two complete states in the pedal, as a single expression pedal can control all the knobs simultaneously, and crossfade between them in this manner.

Anyhow, with a couple simple steps, you can effectively consider the CV-In of the VCA as CV-In to your Eventide pedal, in a manner that is essentially impossible to harm it, or any other digital stompbox, as there's no possible way to send it voltage straight from the modular with this method; the VCA protects it entirely. Easy peasy, Japan-easy. Here's a little video of me controlling both a Space and a TimeFactor via this method. I've intentionally made the settings rather extreme so you can easily hear what's going on. In the first example, I'm hitting several parameters on the Eventide Space with a Doepfer ADSR. In the second example, I'm controlling both time parameters in the TimeFactor with the positive side of a bipolar LFO.

October 18, 2011

Words Of Wisdom...

by Chris Randall

In the early 60s, saxophonist Steve Lacey played with Monk briefly. This is kind of quasi-ironic, considering at the time he joined Monk's group, virtually all his recordings to that point had been of Monk tunes. Sort of a 60s jazz version of the movie "Rock Star," I guess. Anyhow, Monk was well known for dropping nuggets of science in an unending stream--as anyone who has seen "Straight, No Chaser" can attest--and Steve Lacy took the time to jot these nuggets down in a notebook. Pictured above are the two pages of that notebook where he wrote down all Monk's advice, and there are some real gems in there. Since it's kind of hard to read, I've transcribed them here:

Monk's Advice

1. Just because you're not a drummer doesn't mean that you don't have to keep time.

2. Pat your foot and sing the melody in your head when you play.

3. Stop playing all that bullshit / those weird notes. Play the melody!

4. Make the drummer sound good.

5. Discrimination is important.

6. You've got to dig it to dig it, you dig?

7. All reet!

8. Always know... (Monk)

9. It must be always night, otherwise they wouldn't need lights.

10. Let's lift the bandstand!!!

11. Avoid the hecklers.

12. Don't play the piano part. I'm playing that. Don't listen to me. I'm supposed to be accompanying you.

13. The inside of the tune (the bridge) is the part that makes the outside sound good.

14. Don't play everything (or every time). Let some things go by. (Always leave them wanting more.) Some music just imagined. What you don't play can be more important than what you do.)

15. A note can be small as a pin or as big as the world. It depends on your imagination.

16. Stay in shape! Sometimes a musician waits for a gig, and when it comes he's out of shape and can't make it.

17. When you're swinging, swing some more!

18. What should we wear tonight? SHARP AS POSSIBLE!

19. Don't sound anybody for a gig. Just be on the scene.

20. You've got it! If you don't want to play, tell a joke or dance, but in any case, you got it! (To a drummer who didn't want to solo.)

21. Whatever you think can't be done, somebody will come along and do it. A genius is the one most like himself.

22. They tried to get me to hate white people, but someone would always come along and spoil it.

October 17, 2011

Audio Damage Filterstation Now Available...

by Chris Randall

Our newest bouncing baby, Filterstation, is now available in the Audio Damage store. It is US$49.00 for VST3, VST2, and AudioUnits. 32/64 across the board.

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