July 12, 2013

Hands, With Occasional Face...

by Chris Randall

Fun with the Analog Four, driving an original Oberheim SEM and the Eurorack jank with its CV outputs. No DAW, no plug-ins, no computer. Everything is sequenced from, and mixed in, the A4. It's worth noting, if you're thinking of buying one, that the analog inputs on the A4 have very limited controls. If you want to give up a synth channel, you have full control, but if you're just bussing them to the outputs, you only have pan, level, and FX sends (chorus, delay, and verb.)

That being the case, the A4 isn't ideal for this situation. I think if one had both an Octatrack and an A4, one would have better luck with this sort of environment. I had actually been planning to buy an Octatrack fairly soon.


As those of you with the constitution to follow my relentless tweetstream know, the missus and I bought our first house last weekend. Things are moving at a punk-rock clip (largely because we got fully pre-approved before we offered on a house) and we close on August 9th. Aside from nipping my Octatrack Dreams right in the bud, this will no doubt prove to be a wise decision in the long run. Not least of which because it has a huge back yard. More than large enough to build a Facility in. (c.f. the previous post on the subject of Facilities.) Now, whenever someone says to me "I'm building a studio!" my first response is "did your parents drop you on your head?" But yeah...

Anyhow, if you don't hear from me for a couple three weeks, that's why. In other news, I did another video a few days back, and I never posted it here. Similar kit, but I multi-tracked it in Live instead of mixing directly in the A4. Here 'tis:



Page 4 of 5

Jul.16.2013 @ 1:03 PM
"with no financial penalty for the."
I typed that and thought I'd come back and fill in a suitably vile noun (plural) to describe these people. "Bastards", "fuckwads", "spunk bubbles"; that sort of thing.
Obviously no single description would suffice, and that's my excuse. I didn't just forget, no sirree.
This constant memory loss is a terrible

Jul.16.2013 @ 1:25 PM
Chris Randall
Heh. That "fabulously wealthy" thing... a dirty secret of the music tech industry is Industry Accommodation Pricing. That is to say, we all give each other discounts basically at cost.

Embarrassingly, I can't remember the last time I paid full price for a piece of gear. Oh, maybe the Meeblips. I almost always say when I got something for free if I'm reviewing it here or whatever. Not all bloggers mention that fact.


Jul.16.2013 @ 3:23 PM
Does that mean you all have to sign an oath in blood promising not to reveal what "cost" actually is?
I can think of some bespoke guitar pedals, for example, where revealing the markup would surely cause the makers to shrivel up and die from embarrassment.
Mind you, if they had a sense of shame they wouldn't be making guitar pedals in the first place. Stealing candy from babies is demonstrably a morally superior profession to parting guitarists from large sums of cash.
"Here's a new guitar; we have spent no small amount of time ensuring it is fucked up exactly like that of "insert famous guitarist here"."
"Wow! Please take my $15K".
There ought to be a law protecting the poor souls.

Software wranglers are obviously exempt from such criticism, being saintly creatures who deserve every hard-earned cent.
Except if they work for S*%b*l (name redacted for legal reasons). In which case they can, in the words of Nicki Minaj, suck a big dick.

Jul.16.2013 @ 5:32 PM
I just realized that your post title is the reason I've had "Eyes Without A Face" stuck in my head all day. Thanks, Chris. That's JUST what I needed.

Hands, with occasional face
Got no human grace
Your HANDS with occasional fay-hace (fay-hace, fay-hace)

Jul.16.2013 @ 6:05 PM
seancostello - curse you!

Adam Schabtach - I've been using the OT and A4 as mixers for external gear, which while limiting, does save me the expense (and space) of a separate mixer... for the moment anyway. Inserts and 4 (or 6) aux sends would be pretty nice I have to admit.

Jul.16.2013 @ 8:31 PM
Chris Randall
Also, some USB and FW interfaces can be stand-alone mixers. I've used the MOTU Ultralite Mk 3 as a mixer on several occasions. The UI is a little odd, but it works great, and the built-in verb and dynamics aren't terrible.


Jul.17.2013 @ 6:26 AM
One cool thing is that the A4 Inputs is that you can parameter lock Trigs and adjust OSC1+OSC2 to take Inputs L & R. Then on other Trig steps use an OSC voice. It can be fun for experimenting around, especially plocking the inputs on multiple tracks, each with their own filter and effects settings unique to the loaded Sound.

I've always enjoyed how all of the Elektron devices can be used to create daisy chains of gear.

Jul.17.2013 @ 9:36 AM
Adam Schabtach
@j.j0b: Yeah, thanks; I do intend to mess with the signal routing of the Octactrack. Its I/O and internal FX should be handy.

@CR: That's a good point. A MOTU 828 wouldn't be a bad mixer and it occupies only 1U of rack space. I could add my existing A/D/A box via ADAT and end up with 16x16 analog I/O plus SPDIF.

Man, I'd kind of forgotten the one-thing-leads-to-another aspect of working with hardware.

Oh, for the purposes of disclosure: I paid street price for my Octatrack. I was impatient. It was the heat of the moment.


Jul.17.2013 @ 10:08 AM
As a bonus, MOTU boxes are nicely compatible with things like Silent Way. Those 1st gen 828's are still being supported by MOTU with driver updates, and work just fine in Mountain Lion. Unlike 99% of all the other interfaces which tend to go the way of doorstops after a couple of OS upgrades.

Jul.17.2013 @ 12:23 PM
Adam Schabtach
@joshua-s: I'm actually already covered viz Silent Way, after having gone to admittedly extreme lengths; see my blog entry here: link [studionebula.co...]
However, the intent here is to get away from the computer as much as possible. Silent Way is a wondrous thing, but if I wanted to stay in that mode of working I wouldn't have purchased the Octatrack. But yeah, your point stands.

MOTU interfaces are indeed good boxes, though. I had an 828mkII for a long time, after writing a review of it for a magazine. It's faintly ironic that I could use it again after having sold it many years ago. I reverted to my ancient RME PCI card which always felt a little... I dunno, more solid? tighter? less fiddly? than the 1394 interface. It's still cheerfully running under Windows 8, despite having originally been released with Windows 98 drivers.


Page 4 of 5



Sorry, commenting is closed for this blog entry.