Chris Randall: Musician, Writer, User Interface Designer, Inventor, Photographer, Complainer. Not necessarily in that order.
April 14, 2015

Roland On The Case...

by Chris Randall

Details of the long-rumored Roland Eurorack modules leaked today, ahead of the Musikmesse announcement. In a nutshell, four 21HP DSP-based stereo effects units (delay, distortion, "scatter" effect, and bitcrusher/filter) with both 9VDC and Euro power connectors on the back, along with USB for Aira connectivity, and the ability to live as a desktop unit. $299 each.

Now, as my time in the music tech business has lengthened, I've gradually stopped putting up editorials about gear on this site, because I have to see all these people at NAMM and various other functions all the time, and I don't want to be that crabby old man that sits in the corner grumbling. But for these, I'll make an exception.

Roland is like Stevie Wonder. At one time, a long time ago, Stevie made some records that are ludicrously good. Then, in the mid-80s, he made "Ebony and Ivory" and "I Just Called (To Say I Love You)." And he's been coasting ever since. As musicians, each and every one of us respects Stevie Wonder, and we all own all those good records and know them by heart. But we willfully ignore everything past a certain point.

Sure, once in a while, Stevie does something that just makes us go "wow." But on the whole, we're not terribly interested. If Stevie went back in the studio and made some stinky, funky iteration of "I Wish," we'd all be like "daaaaaaamn, Stevie still got it!" But for the most part, we're not too concerned with what he's up to.

Same thing with Roland.

Talk of Roland snooping around Euro was the main grist for the NAMM rumor mill, at least among the Euro guys. Our general consensus was that either they would come up with something that would move the platform way forward, or they would repackage their guitar pedals.

As we can plainly see, it is the latter case.

I will say one thing: these will be a powerful gateway drug, as they will be a much less threatening introduction to the platform. But for the real Euro user, they miss the mark by a country mile. What a waste of the biggest and best R&D department in the industry.


When I wrote the above, we didn't know about the System 500. This changes matters quite a bit, and here's how:

1. Powerful gateway drug? I don't even. The System 500 is a very, very good thing on that front, as it is a comprehensive and (I assume) well-supported starter system with Roland's marketing machine behind it. This will really hurt companies that sell full voices for n00b buyers (Pittsburgh, Intellijel, Doepfer, et al) but for those of us that deal primarily in the icing, not the cake, this is a HUGE deal. Especially for us, because I'll note that we sell the best "Roland-style" sequencer on the market, and Roland didn't make a sequencer.

2. This system will be in every music gear retailer on the planet, thus bringing the concept of modular synthesis to the masses, in a way that the existing Euro manufacturers could never hope to do.

Overall, I'm like "whatevs" with the digital modules, because they're by and large pretty dumb and duplicate already-existing Euro products, and not well. But the analog system is, to all appearances, absolutely outstanding, and exactly what was needed.

April 10, 2015


by Chris Randall

Just for fun, we did a run of shirts with the marquee art from a Robotron coin-op arcade machine reformated for our nefarious purposes.

This is a strictly limited item, and when they're gone, they're gone. US$24.00, which includes shipping in the US. ($1.00 shipping everywhere else.) Get 'em while they're hot.

April 2, 2015

A Little Context...

by Chris Randall

As you've no doubt seen if you follow me on Twitter or Facebook or down the street in real life or whatever, we've been busy shipping our new module, Odio, which is a little 2-in, 2-out audio interface for using iOS devices in your Eurorack kit. Entirely coincidental to this, but alarmingly convenient, Chris Carlson finally updated his excellent Borderlands granular synth for iPad to v2.0.

Never was a match more made in Heaven than Odio and Borderlands, as Marcus Fischer's post yesterday on his excellent Dust Breeding blog proved. I thought a little video demo of using Borderlands with Odio might be appropo, so after my shipping chores were done for the day, I busted the above out.

In the video, the analog synth melody is coming from my full boat of WMD/SSF modules I just got this week, the hi-hat is coming from our Mad Hatter module, and the speech synthesis is courtesy of a prototype module I'm currently researching that runs a full emulation of the TI speech synthesis chip. (In other words, those aren't samples, at least in the traditional sense of the word.) The whole mess is sequenced via Sequencer 1.

You can hear in the beginning that the synth line is passing through the iPad via the AudioBus app. After a moment, I instance Borderlands. Since Borderlands is a synth, and not a real-time effect, the audio is interrupted. I then flip to the Borderlands instance, and record a couple measures of the synth line.

After fooling with that for a bit, I then move the speech synthesizer's output from the mixer to Odio, and record a bit of it, while I'm twiddling knobs on the prototype. What happens after that should be pretty self-evident from watching the video.

Anyhow, I think the video shows how powerful the Odio/Borderlands combination is. If you'd like to see videos of other iPad-based software in use, let me know your specific requests.

March 15, 2015

Im In Ur Rack, Blinken Ur Lites...

by Chris Randall


Just got back from my trip to the Denver Synth Meet 2015. Pretty good showing for a regional meet, all in all. Saw lots of old friends, made some new ones, got some business done. No complaints. Here's a Flickr set of all the gear on display at the meet, if you're in to that sort of thing.

We showed our newest product, Odio, to the public for the first time at the meet. Odio is a 2-in, 2-out class compliant USB audio interface designed principally for using an iPad or iPhone with your modular. These will be shipping to retailers this week, and you can pre-order Odio at Control Brooklyn or Analogue Haven right now. Other retailers to follow shortly. It is a super-handy little module, and I'll have some videos up of use cases very soon.

In other news, all the ad-ab-01-based modules (everything but Sequencer 1 and Odio, basically) are in production, and will be back in stock at our retailers, and in our store and Amazon, within the next few days. And we just pulled the trigger on another run of Sequencer 1. All this building and shipping will give me something to do while Adam puts the finishing touches on the hardware design for our next product, which is a whopper.

February 28, 2015

I'm In Ur Town, Eatin' Ur Donuts...

by Chris Randall

Got some localized instances of Crandall to mention, in the event you want to come breath on me and bask in my effervescent glow IRL.

March 2: MAT Seminar Series, Santa Barbara, CA I am giving a talk at UCSB's MAT seminar series about product design. Apparently, they thought giving me a microphone and a projector and standing me in front of a bunch of tenure-track academics for an hour was a good idea. We'll see how that pans out. This is free and open to the public, and I'm given to understand that coffee will be served. I don't drink coffee. Info here.

EDIT: That one's in the can. Interesting experience. It's the first time I've given a "seminar" or anything, and I think it went over fine. It was strange seeing people that, you know, invented C-Sound and stuff taking notes. I am ill-equiped to get all erudite in that august company.

March 14: Denver Synth Meet, Denver, CO Audio Damage are sponsors of this event, and both Adam and I will be there with systems to demo. We will also (theoretically) unveil our next hardware product at that show. It runs from 10AM to 10PM, with live performances and, I can only assume, games of some sort. We will be giving our demonstration talk at noon. Tickets are $20, and $10 if you bring a synth. (No word on drum machines.) Open to the public. Info here.

April 18: Control, Brooklyn, NY I will be giving a full clinic / demo of Audio Damage hardware products, as well as a Q&A/grin-and-grab, at Control in Brooklyn on Saturday, 4/18. This is free and open to the public, and should be a fun event. This is my first return to NYC since the mid '00s, and the first time we've done one of these in-store clinic things; should be interesting. I'll put more info up as I have it; we only just booked the date.

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