My Studio 2021


Overview In 2020 my studio was based in a professional garden office, but this turned out not to be practical to use on a frequent basis due to the temperature changes across winter and summer. The amount of gear had grown during lockdown, as I bought cheap gear to refurbish and the Big Moog had arrived.

In June 2021 I relocated and downsized the studio, using the garage space within my house which had been insulated in 2020. I simply had too much gear to fit into the new space. A big catalyst to downsizing was the purchase of a Waldorf Iridium synth, which made a my samplers and some synths redundant, it is a game changer!

My objective for the new studio was to make the workflow simple and to reduce the amount of gear.

MIDI Setup The majority of my synths are connected to a central MIDI hub, which is the excellent iConnectivity Mio10. This provides both DIN and USB MIDI connections and is connected to my PC via ethernet. A MIDI Thru box connects the FX devices so the presets can be changed.

Audio Setup All the synths are connected to a Soundcraft Signature 22 MTK analog mixing desk which also acts as a 22 channel audio interface over USB. This enabled me to retire my Focusrite interfaces and to ditch the Allen & Heath Spectrum mixing console (which was simply too noisy). The Soundcraft desk has 5 FX sends which enables me to make the most of my outboard FX collection.

ANALOG SYNTHS
Big Moog This is a collection of Behringer and AMSynths modules that replicate a Moog IIIP housed in three black Doepfer Eurorack cabinets. There are 6x modified 921B VCO’s (so they keep in tune), a Behringer Model D, 2x 960 Sequencers, and a very useful AMSynths 984 Quad Mixer.

TTSH V2 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.

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.

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.

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 AMSynths  switched power supply, to eliminate the use of a bulky step down transformer.

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 in 2016, I have kept the white faced Mark 1 and h hooked it up to an ARP 1601 clone.

Behringer Pro-1 I bought an original SCI Pro-One back in the late 80’s and had a lot of fun with it. The Behringer remake is fantastic; a great sound that complements the Big Moog and ARP’s, and great form factor that means I am always using it.

DIGITAL SYNTHS
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.

There is a bug in the XTk operating system that generates too much aftertouch data. To stop this flooding the MIDI network I have filter out the sending of aftertouch from the XTk using the Mio10. This is annoying as it means the XTk cannot be used as a master keyboard, however its only 4 octaves anyway.

Roland D-550 I loved the Roland D-05 but could not put up with the noisy audio outputs and small form factor. I replaced it with a Roland D-550 in good condition and with both a RAM and ROM card. This goes someway to the D-05 range of sounds thanks to it having all 4 Roland ROM cards in it. I used a D-110 for its Warm Pad sound i a lot of my music in the later 1980’s, and I want to be able to use the D-550 version of this, along with some patches created by Espen Kraft.

Waldorf Iridium An amazing synth which has enabled me to simplify my studio because of its ability to act as a sampler and VA synth. Then there is the wavetables and DX sounds, and 10,00 presets! I have moved my collection of Emu II and Emax samples into the Iridium, with great success.

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.

Main FX Bank The Soundcraft has 5 FX sends driving:

  • Lexicon PCM70 used for delays
  • Lexicon PCM80 upgraded to 4MB for large reverbs!
  • Yamaha REV7 upgraded with green OLED screen
  • Roland SDE2500 used for delays
  • Alesis Midiverb II

The output of these FX’s are connected to a Behringer RX1602 acting as a sub mixer, and then into the Soundcraft. There is also a Lexicon PCM60 connected into the Big Moog and an Alesis Quadraverb into the Pro-1.

Downsizing It was very satisfying to downsize and focus on making music rather than collecting gear! This is a list of the gear I sold off, to pay for the Soundcraft mixer and the new Waldorf synths. You can see the scale of change but also the dangers of collecting, I could never use all this gear.

  • Focusrite Scarlett audio interfaces
  • Roland  JP08 – replaced by MKS80
  • Roland VP03 – only 4 voices
  • Roland D05 – replaced by the D-550
  • Roland S-760/S-750  –  replaced by the Iridium
  • TipTop Mantis racks – no more euro rack!
  • Roland MC-50
  • Various partially completed synth projects – I will never get the time!

I am also selling off my Roland S-220’s and probably the Roland S-50.

Copyright AMSynths 2019