The Garden Studio 2020

Overview The Garden Studio has taken a few iterations of different layouts before I was happy with it. Initially I tried using office desks but the best approach has been a central Zoar desk for the mixer and master keyboard, a Zoar rack cabinet for the FX and audio interfaces and Jaspers synth racks on both sides. The right hand side is digital synths and samplers, whilst the left hand side is analog synths. All the synths and samplers are connected to a central MIDI hub, which is the excellent iConnectivity MIO 10.

MIDI Setup All the synths and samplers are connected using 5 PIN DIN or USB MIDI, and are on MIDI channel 1 and connected to the MIO 10 (with one exception), so that the master keyboard (an old Emu Xboard 49 from 2008) can play any device when the DAW is inactive. The PC does not need to be on to use MIDI and the Roland MC300 enables any improvisations to be recorded quickly. There is a MIDI THRU box on top of the second rack which feeds MIDI to the the right hand keyboard stand.

A&H Spectrum

Audio Setup All the equipment is connected to my Allen & Heath Spectrum mixing console which has 26 channels and is connected via 4 x 8 balanced cable looms to my audio interfaces and Cubase DAW. Five FX units are also connected along with a DAT recorded for mastering. After many years of mixing in the box or recording via digital mixers its very nice to be back with a versatile analog desk for the sound quality and the workflow. Yes there is some noise but Op Amp upgrades and careful power regulation and filtering have minimized this.

Roland MC-300
This is connected to the MIDI hub and I use it to record initial ideas and play them back without having to use Cubase. The MC-300 can store up to 8 songs on a DS/DD 3.5″ diskette. I have upgraded the display to a blue OLED which is a fantastic improvement and left the floppy disk as-is.

Roland Juno 60 This is the first time I have owned a Juno and I am impressed with the sounds, from basses to pads. Very nice to have a synth with IR3109 filter chips! This one is a very clean example and the main refurbishment has been on replacing a couple of sliders. The Juno 60 is controlled via a Kenton MIDI to DCB converter. There are obviously no patch editors as there is no MIDI, but the factory A and B patches can be loaded into the Juno 60 using my MT4X cassette recorder, and new patches saved to tape!

ARP 1601 Sequencer This is a clone of the famous 16 step analog sequencer and its patched into both the Odyssey and TTSH using CV and Gate cables. I plan to add MIDI clock sync.

Korg Odyssey I had an original Odyssey Mark 3 in the 1980’s but time had got the better of the sliders and it was sold to a Gary Numan covers band. I started to develop my own clone in 2015 called the Athena, but Korg released their version just as I was developing the PCB’s. So my project was canned and I bought both a Mark 1 and Mark 3 from Korg. The white faced Mark 1 is used in the studio hooked up to an ARP 1601 clone. The Mark 3 is in storage.

Behringer Poly D A recent addition in 2020 this provides a wide range of Moog sounds.

Roland S-50 I bought this at a very low price in 2019, as it was non working. A new OS diskette, refurbished power supply and new buttons were needed, but the disk drive was okay and continues in use. There is also a non working key which I need to fix along with a dodgy output jack. The S-50 RGB video output is hooked up to one of the studio monitors via a HDMI converter box for visual control of the sampler.

Korg Wavestation I bought this new in 1990 for £1200 and used it extensively during the 1990’s. I refurbished it in 2020 and its now back  working and upgraded to the EX version. I have an extensive library of patches and some RAM Cards.

This is a clone of the ARP 2600 which I started building way back in the Spring of 2016 and completed the build with a home made tolex case. There were a few technical problems especially the switched power supply bleeding high frequency noise into the filter, so it was put aside. In Spring 2020 I finished the build with a very nice wooden case from SynthCube and a few improvements:

  • 15V linear power supply
  • External 16VAC transformer
  • Bourns sliders with no LED’s
  • CVPal USB MIDI interface – only a 1ms delay
  • Gate Booster PCB
  • Corrected VCA circuit
  • Decoupling caps on VCF inputs

The synth uses standard transistors rather than super matched pairs but still sounds very nice.

Super Jupiter MKS-80 I always loved this analog poly synth, more than the Jupiter 6 or 8 and the MKS70. It is a REV 5 which uses the IR3R05 filter chips and discrete VCO’s. The synth arrived in good condition and does not need immediate refurbishment. Over time I will replace the MPG80 sliders and dust covers, and I have bought a nice blue OLED to replace the LCD. This will all be implemented when I replace the 110V PSU with a custom designed Meanwell setup, to eliminate the use of a bulky step down transformer.

The only immediate change was to make some 4U rack mounts for the MPG80 using some cheap Peen 4U brackets and drilling some extra holes into the brackets, and to add a M64C RAM cartridge so that I can load both the factory A and B libraries.

For additional editing and library management I intend to use the Jimdo PC editor which can be bought here for 6 Euros.

Rack Units A Lexicon PCM70, PCM80, Yamaha REV7, Alesis Midiverb 4 and Roland SDE-2000 are patched into the main desk to provide a variety of delay and reverbs. There is a Focusrite 18i20 and Octopre Dynamic for recording and playing back via the desk using Cubase. There is also a Tascam DA30 DAT recorder patched into the Focusrite digitally and to the desk via analog connections. This is used as the master 2 track recorder.

Roland Boutiques
I have a collection of 6 Boutiques and 2 are setup at any one time on the right hand keyboard rack. They use MIDI DIN connectsions and independent power supplies to avoid USB noise.

Waldorf XTk I bought an orange XT rack when they first came out in 1998 and just loved the long flowing textures, but it was sadly sold in 2003. I bought the keyboard version in 2019 and made a couple of upgrades. The rather faded 40 x 2 LCD was replaced by a modern LED display with a black background and bright amber text. It complements the orange panel very well.

Translucent Knob

I have replaced all the 44 control knobs with modern translucent versions which do look very good on the synth. The rather nasty internal laptop style switching power supply could do with replacing but this will be done next year, using a Meanwell power supply.

The XTk is used with a MonstrumWaveST editor, which also enables the loading of banks of sounds from my PC including the 1998, 1998 and 2000 factory libraries.

Emax SE This is my fourth Emax and one of my favourite samplers with 12-bit crunch and warm filters. It has been upgraded with a blue OLED display and Gotek drive with the factory library on USB drives. It is the main sample in the studio.

Roland W-30 This was also bought in 2019 at a low price, and it was  clearly well loved but rather worn out! I replaced all the buttons, the jog wheels and encoders and the very faded LCD. I fitted a very nice white on black 240 x 64 LED display along with a SCSI2SD drive for sample storage. It contains 4x 80 MB drives loaded with factory and user samples.

Behringer RX1602 This 1U mixer provides basic analog mixing of the Boutiques, S-760 and S-220 with the aux output connected to the SDE-1000 for simple delays.

Roland S-760 This is a standard S-760 with RGB video output hooked up to the right hand PC monitor via a HDMI converter box for visual control of the sampler. A SCSI2SD drive is mounted externally and contains 4x 80MB sample banks. It is loaded with some nice Roland sample CDROM’s.

Roland S-220 I bought this one in 2019 and refurbished it with a new white OLED, new buttons and a Gotek drive with all the factory samples on USB sticks.

Roland SDE1000 This is an early digital delay with yes 4 presets, I use it for adding delay to the SH01A.

Copyright AMSynths 2019