My Synths and Studio History


Studio – March 1989

The Productive Studio I originally started a home studio in 1987 with an Atari 520 running Mastertracks Pro and a small collection of analog synths (ARP Odyssey, SCI Pro One, Oberheim 6R), Akai MX73 and a Roland D110. The studio expanded over the next few years with an Emax sampler and a Roland JX8P replacing a SCI Prophet 5 I bought in Bournemouth for £150. This was in the great days of cheap second hand analog synths!

I recorded a number of very good songs mainly using MIDI, a Seck 12-2 Mixer (replaced by a Mackie 1202) and onto an Aiwa DAT recorder, up until the early 1990’s and it was a productive time with no interuptions.

By 1992 the studio had grown as secondhand analog synths were cheap:

  • Peavey SP/SX Sampler
  • Emax SE Sampler
  • Wavestation keyboard
  • Roland MKS-70 and D110
  • Oberheim Matrix 6R
  • Roland Jupiter 6 and JX8P
  • ARP Odyssey Mk 3
  • SCI Pro One
  • Moog Prodigy

Studio – June 2002

The Collectors Studio I moved house in 1992 and was lucky to have a larger space for the home studio. I began collecting E-mu Systems samplers and expanding the analog synth collection. I had a really nice selection of over 70 items both digital and analog in 2001;

  • ARP Odyssey Mark 3
  • Emulator I (x4) with AVI, MIDI
  • Emulator II, II+, II+HD
  • Emulator III, III Rack, IIIXP
  • Emax SE HD, Emax II, ESI-32
  • Emu Systems SP-12 and disk drive
  • Roland Jupiter 6, MKS70 and MKS80
  • PPG 2.2, Waldorf Microwave, XT, Pulse
  • Access Virus B, Roland JD8000
  • SCI Pro One, Moog Prodigy

I switched to a Windows PC with Cubase VST (1997) and recorded longer ambient pieces in 2000 using two Yamaha 03D mixing desks. The studio was featured in Future Music in 2002 and I recorded songs during the August 11th 1999 solar eclipse.

My love of everything Emu resulted in creating the Emulator Archive web site in 1996 and running it until 2006, as well as licensing some Emu Systems firmware via Creative. I met up with Dave Rossum, Scott Wedge and Ed Rudnick in January 2002 and wrote an Emu Systems history, which was published in electronic music magazines in the UK (Sound on Sound) and Germany. Later in 2002 I hit hard times and unfortunately the studio was completely sold off in 2003, with just an Extreme Lead left (even this went in 2009) and my trusty and dusty Wavestation.

The Downsized Studio From 2003 onward I got back into electronic engineering, and designed and built a set of analog modular synths, starting with an Emu Systems Modular clone, two Roland 100M’s and a modular ARP 2600 – years before the TTSH V2. In 2009 I began recording again using a Windows PC with a Focusrite audio interface, mainly for module demos. The studio remained small and functional, mainly supporting AMSynths and a growing range of Euro rack modules.

The Garden Studio

The Garden Studio In 2017 I built a garden studio in a professional office and equipped it with Cubase Pro, a Focusrite Scarlett 18i20 interface and analog tape recording (multi-track cassette and 1/4″ tape), analog mixing desk and outboard effects from Lexicon and Roland. I also re-introduced sampling with a much loved Emax keyboard (my 4th) and some Roland samplers. The space is quite small so Roland Boutique synths have proved very handy, details of the studio are here.

Emu Systems Modular This was the first modular system I built in 2003, inspired by playing the real thing at Scott Wedges home in Santa Cruz. It was sold to a friend as it was taking up too much space! It contains mainly Emu- Systems modules but also some Oakley Sound and Blacet Research.

The Filter Bank This set of modules came out of a project to build ARP and SCI modules, into a sort of super Pro-1. But getting CEM chips was tricky, so in the end it became a set of 10 filters, including the prototype 8109’s. It contains many of my PCB designs from 2003 – 2008 and has new aluminium panels fitted to replace the PCB and printed paper ones.

ARP 2600 Rack This was the third synthesizer I built as a straight out replica of the 2600 but in FracRac. I learnt a lot about circuits doing this one, but it seems a bit limited in function.

Roland 100M I built a set of 100M replica modules in 2009, once again in FracRac. These were the most successful modules with accurate VCO’s that were the core of the AMSynths test lab for many years. They are housed in black Tolex cabinets.

ARP 2500 Rack This was a long term project, with the ideas formed in 2004 and 15 years later….it was completed in 2020 with oak cabinets. It is my main synthesizer for understandable reasons!

Workshop Studio This contains my modular synthesizers; 2x Roland 100M clones with Roland 181 keyboard, ARP2600 clone, AMSynths Filter Bank, Waldorf KB37 with AMsynths SH05, AMSynths Jupiter 1 in Moog case, AMSynths JP04 modules in Roland case. A Roland MPU101 drives my large AM2500 Modular.

 

 

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