Alessandro Cortini Of Nine Inch Nails In The Synth Cave (Part 1 and Part 2)

On April 23rd I will be seeing Alessandro Cortini at the Fox Cabaret along with Phil Western & Davichi and Smith. I’m looking forward to that. In the meantime I did some lurking and checked out these 2 great videos courtesy of Sonic State.

Part 1

Part 2


Kilpatrick Audio’s Phenol Modular Synthesizer Overview and Update (NAMM 2015)

It looks like all of us original Kickstarter backers will have to wait till at least June 2015 to get our hands on the Phenol modular synthesizer. The makers of Phenol anticipate a February production timeline. Now we all have something to look forward to in the heart of Summer.

What is it?
Phenol is a new synthesizer designed by Kilpatrick Audio. It brings the fun and creative potential of a modular analog synthesizer to more people by offering an attractive and approachable musical instrument that is small, portable and sounds amazing!

Phenol is 100% compatible with modular systems because it uses the same voltages and banana connectors as the Kilpatrick Format and similar modular synthesizers.

Whether you already love modular synthesizers and want a smaller instrument for portability, or whether you’ve heard about modular synths and want to get your feet wet, Phenol offers an amazing instrument at a great price. (Phenol will retail for $849 in stores.)

Banana patch system with colour-coded jacks and voltages compatible with Kilpatrick Format and other modular systems
Two analog VCOs – triangle, ramp and pulse outputs
Two analog filters (low pass and high pass)
Two analog VCAs with level control
Two envelope generator / LFO combos with many unique features
An LFO with sine and random output
Internal MIDI to CV converter with DIN and USB MIDI interfaces
Compact mixer with digital delay with over 330ms of delay time
Digital pulse divider – divide MIDI clock or LFO output to create 4 musical time divisions
Buffered mixer / mult / inverter with level control
External audio input allows a stereo input to be patched like an oscillator signal – process your drum machine or other source through the system
Rear panel connections / controls:
USB-B port for USB MIDI connection to a PC / Mac
Headphone and line outputs (1/4″ jacks)
Power button
DC power input – 2.1mm coax – centre positive 24VDC
Ground banana jack
External input (1/4″ jacks)
Designed and made in Canada using high quality parts
Universal input power supply (100-240V) included (shipped with North American plug)
Approx. dimensions: 15.8″W x 9.0″L x 2.5″H (including feet and knobs)
Warranty: 1 year

For more on the Phenol visit Kilpatrick Audio.

Kilpatrick Audio Phenol Modular Synthesizer

Dave Smith Relaunches the Sequential Brand and the Prophet 6 Synthesizer (2015)

Dave Smith has regained the rights to the Sequential name brand. This occurred after a kind gesture not typically seen from giant manufactures or corporations. For more details on that story visit Synthtopia.

The result is…Sequential is back with a new synthesizer! 100% analog signal path with discrete voltage controlled oscillators, filters, and amplifiers. More info at

Vintage with a Modern Twist
The Prophet-6 is Dave Smith’s tribute to the poly synth that started it all—the Sequential Prophet-5. But it’s not simply a reissue of a classic. Rather, as Dave puts it, “It’s the result of our effort to build the most awesome-sounding, modern analog poly synth possible.” The Prophet-6 takes the best qualities of the original Prophet-5—true voltage-controlled oscillators, filters, and amplifiers—and adds enhancements such as studio-quality effects, a polyphonic sequencer, an arpeggiator, and more. The result is pure, unadulterated analog tone with the stability and reliability of a state-of-the-art modern synth.

Classic Tone, Classic Vibe
Central to the warm, punchy sound of the Prophet-6 are its two newly-designed, discrete voltage-controlled oscillators (plus sub-oscillator) per voice. Continuously variable waveshapes provide the tonal palette with triangle, sawtooth, and variable-width pulse waves. There are two discrete filters per voice—a four-pole, resonant, low-pass inspired by the original Prophet-5 filter, and a two-pole, resonant, high-pass filter. Voltage-controlled amplifiers complete the all-analog signal path.

Dual Effects
The dual effects section provides studio-quality reverbs, delays (standard and BBD), chorus and phase shifter. While the effects themselves are digital, with 24-bit, 48 kHz resolution, a true bypass maintains a full analog signal path. There’s also an independent stereo distortion effect, which is 100% analog.

Poly Mod and Poly Step Sequencing
Also present from its classic predecessor is a Poly Mod section, with enhancements. True to the original, modulation sources are filter envelope and oscillator 2 (both with bi-polar control). Destinations include oscillator 1 frequency, oscillator 1 shape, oscillator 1 pulse width, low-pass filter cutoff, and high-pass filter cutoff. Another welcome reprise is Unison mode, which features configurable voice count (1-6 voices) and key modes. The polyphonic step sequencer allows up to 64 steps and up to 6 notes per step. You can create sequences polyphonically, with rests and sync to an external MIDI clock. The full-featured arpeggiator can be synced to external MIDI clock as well.

Easy to Program
The knob-per-function front panel offers instant access to virtually all Prophet-6 functions. Included are 500 permanent factory programs in 10 banks of 100 programs. In addition to these, you can create and save up to 500 user programs of your own. Toggling off the Preset button enables live panel mode, in which the sound of the Prophet-6 switches to the current settings of its knobs and switches. In this state, what you see is what you hear.

Easy to Play
All of this awe-inspiring sound is packed into a four octave, semi-weighted keyboard with velocity and channel aftertouch that’s an ideal combination portability and power for the project studio or the gigging musician.

Prophet-6 Specifications
Screen Shot 2015-01-22 at 1.14.33 PM

Two newly designed, discrete VCOs per voice
Continuously variable wave shape (triangle, sawtooth, pulse, square) per oscillator
Pulse width per oscillator
Hard sync: oscillator 1 syncs to oscillator 2
Triangle sub-octave generator (oscillator 1) per voice
Low frequency mode (oscillator 2)
Keyboard tracking on/off (oscillator 2)
Oscillator slop amount for increased tuning instability, from subtle to extreme

Oscillator 1 amount
Oscillator 1 sub-octave amount
Oscillator 2 amount
White noise amount

Two-pole, resonant, high-pass filter per voice
Bi-polar filter envelope amount
Velocity modulation of envelope amount
Keyboard tracking: off, half, full

Four-pole, resonant, low-pass filter per voice, inspired by the original Prophet 5 filter
Filter can be driven into self-oscillation with the Resonance control
Bi-polar filter envelope amount
Velocity modulation of envelope amount
Keyboard tracking: off, half, full

Four-stage (ADSR) envelope generator

Four-stage (ADSR) envelope generator
Velocity modulation of envelope amount

Five wave shapes: triangle, sawtooth, reverse sawtooth, square, and random (sample and hold)
Clock sync (internal or external MIDI clock)
Initial amount
Mod destinations: oscillator 1 frequency, oscillator 2 frequency, oscillator 1 and 2 pulse width, low-pass filter cutoff, high-pass filter cutoff

Sources: filter envelope (bi-polar) and oscillator 2 (bi-polar)
Destinations: oscillator 1 frequency, oscillator 1 shape, oscillator 1 pulse width, low-pass filter cutoff, high-pass filter cutoff

Source: channel (mono) aftertouch with bi-polar amount
Destinations: oscillator 1 frequency, oscillator 2 frequency, LFO amount, amplifier envelope amount, low-pass filter envelope amount, high-pass filter envelope amount

Master clock with tap tempo
BPM control and display
MIDI clock sync

Selectable note value: 16th note, 8th note triplet, 8th note, dotted 8th note, quarter note
One, two, or three octave range
Up, down, up/down, random, and assign modes
Polyphonic step sequencer with up to 64 steps and rests

Stereo analog distortion
Dual, 24-bit, 48 kHz digital effects, including: reverb (room, hall, plate, spring), delay (full bandwidth digital delay and emulated bucket brigade and tape delays), chorus, and phase shifter
Delay sync
True bypass maintains fully analog signal path when digital effects are off

Full-sized, semi-weighted, 4-octave keyboard with velocity and aftertouch
Backlit pitch and mod wheels
Spring-loaded pitch wheel with selectable range per program (1 to 12 semitones up and down)
Transpose controls for an 8-octave range
Hold switch latches held notes on
Polyphonic glide (portamento)
Unison (monophonic) mode with configurable voice count, from one to all six voices, and key modes
Preset switch: when off, the front panel is live; what you see is what you hear

500 user and 500 factory programs in 10 banks of 100 programs each
Direct program access, including Prophet 5-style single-button access to the current set of 10 programs

Left/mono and right audio outputs (2 x 1/4” phone jack)
Headphone output (stereo, 1/4” phone jack)
MIDI in, out, and thru ports
USB for bidirectional MIDI communication
Low-pass filter cutoff expression pedal input
Volume expression pedal input
Sustain footswitch input
Sequencer start/stop footswitch input

IEC AC power inlet for internal power supply
Operates worldwide on voltages between 100 and 240 volts at 50 to 60 Hz; 30 watts maximum power consumption

32” L x 12.7” W x 4.6″ H (81.3 cm x 32.3 cm x 11.7 cm)
20.0 lbs (9.5 kg)
Walnut end panels and trim

Eurorack Meets Nord Drum 2, Synthesizer Goodness!

I like this! This is Eurorack LFO triggers meets Nord Drum 2 wicked awesomeness. Enjoy.

From Youtube:
Published on 11 Apr 2014
First serious session with Nord Drum 2. Using Vermona fourMulator quad LFO to trigger 4 channels with Stoichea picking up the remaining 2. Using S/H waveforms from the Vermona via attenuators (matrix mixer) for timbral variation on the Nord Drum.

This via Synthopia.

Benge and His Buchla 700 Synthesizer

I was on Benge’s blog- It’s Full of Stars and saw this great little video of a Buchla 700.  A synthesizer which I didn’t even know existed.  Enjoy!

Benge is no stranger on this blog either and you can find more content here.  For more on Benge & his Buchla go here.

An excerpt of the Buchla 700. For more visit Buchla here.

A direct descendent in a prestigious line of electronic musical instruments, the Buchla 700 continues a tradition of combining inventive musical.and instrumental concepts with state-of-the-art electronics technology.

THE 700’S ARCHITECTURE includes four dedicated computers, each of a different nature, and each optimized to its particular function. The nerve center of the instrument is a general purpose digital computer. Responsible for user communication, data processing, and supervisory control, this “host” computer can be programmed to accommodate varied musical needs.

A second computer “massages” incoming data. It directs conversion of analog voltages into digital form, discards redundant information, and transmits essential data to the host computer.

Receiving instructions and data from the host, a third computer (called the multiple arbitrary function generator) directs the instantaneous progress of 190 acoustic variables, each with a time resolution of 1/2000 of a second. This facility enables specification of complex sonic detail and extends the possibilities for expressive control.

A fourth computer, essentially a pipelined digital signal processor (DSP), is responsible for producing the 700’s twelve voices. Built into this computer are unusually powerful algorithms for sound generation, including frequency modulation, waveshape interpolation, and timbre modulation (unique to the Buchla, this technique significantly augments the electronic vocabulary.

Custom analog circuitry, with a dynamic range of 100 dB, is used for metering and control of dynamics. Specialized phasing and location circuitry provides unusual depth and imaging in the resultant acoustic field and enables independent location of each voice in stereo space.

Based on sealed membrane technology, the 700’s input structure provides a comprehensive interactive editing and mode selection facility. Position-sensitive transducers are used to implement conceptual potentiometers, flywheels, switches, ribbon controllers, and other gesture-sensitive paraphernalia. Light emitting diodes display the status of touch sensitive keys, and a super-twisted liquid crystal display indicates the functions and settings of touch sensitive controls.

Three MIDI ports comprise the 700’s primary performance inputs. Under software control, MIDI channels from any port(s) can be assigned to any of the 700’s voices, thus enabling simultaneous control from multiple MIDI devices (which might include keyboards, guitar controllers, drum machines, pitch followers, space wands or personal computers). Other inputs accept control voltages, pulses, foot pedals, and SMPTE time code. Two RS232 ports provide for communication with computers, modems, terminals, and printers. Control voltage and pulse outputs, three MIDI outputs, and special control signal outputs complete the 700’s comprehensive I/O facility.

In addition to the self-contained LCD display, the 700 can drive an external video monitor that conforms to the EGA standard. This high resolution, multi-color display, coupled with the 700’s extensive input structure and sophisticated high level music software, provides the instrument with an efficient interactive editing and performance environment. A built-in 3 1/2 inch disk drive is used to store data for subsequent retrieval or to facilitate software exchange with other users. Instrument definitions, tuning tables, waveshape tables, scores, and high level languages can all be stored on microdisks.

Dave Smith Unveils the NEW Mopho X4 Synthesizer (4 Voice)

Here it is…my ultimate synthesizer hero strikes again! This time with another delicious expansion on the much revered Mopho monophonic synthesizer, but with 4 voice polyphony, a 16 x 4 step sequencer and lots of other delicious treats, I’m sure many will enjoy.

From Dave Smith’s Youtube Page:

It’s a polyphonic Mopho!
Mopho x4 is the newest addition to DSI’s revered line of analog subtractive synthesizers. Building upon the same award winning voice architecture of the Mopho and Mopho Keyboard, the Mopho x4 boasts huge sound and 4 voice polyphony in an ideally sized, portable, and elegantly designed package. Use it to create huge unison basses, creamy leads, maniacal sequences, and ethereal pads.

4 times the voice 4 your pleasure
Each of Mopho x4’s four voices is composed of two analog oscillators, two sub octave generators, selectable 2- or 4-pole famed Curtis low-pass filter, three 5-stage envelope generators, four LFOs, a re-latchable arpeggiator, and a 16 x 4 step sequencer. Its voice also comes packed with 20 modulation sources and almost 50 destinations!

FM the filter to create metallic bell-like sounds and use the feedback path to add subtle or destructive harmonic content to your sound. Mopho x4’s 100% analog signal path is powerful, monstrous, and sonically dynamic!

Work less, play more
Mopho x4 is intuitive and inviting. Every parameter is fully programmable and editable from the front panel. The controls are logically laid out, lending themselves to quick access so you can tweak knobs without missing a beat.

The x4’s full sized 44-note semi-weighted keyboard has aftertouch and velocity sensitivity. The sturdy full sized pitch and mod wheels are freely assignable and sport smooth reliable action.

It grows with you
Expand Mopho x4’s polyphony using it’s Poly Chain port. Mopho, Tetra, and Prophet ’08 can all be connected to the x4 to increase its voice count. You can Poly Chain up to three Tetras with Mopho x4 to create a 16 voice analog super synth!

The Mopho x4!
Dave Smith Instruments is the only company pioneering and producing fully programmable polyphonic analog synthesizers. In fact Dave’s been at it for 35 years!

Designed and manufactured in San Francisco, Mopho x4 has the high quality sound and build for which DSI is renowned. From its feature packed analog voices and unmatched sonic versatility to its refined design and engaging interface, you won’t find a polyphonic analog synthesizer like this anywhere else.

Dave Smith Instruments Mopho X4 synthesizer

(Solvent) Jason Amm Dishes the Goods on Yamaha CS5 Monophonic In Studio

Check out Jason Amm dishing the goods on his EP-RDJCS5, which we’ve talked about before here and here. Which, by the way, also just happens to feature nothing more than a Yamaha CS5 monophonic synthesizer. What enhances the story a little more, is that RDJCS5 also happens to features “the synth”…CS5 Richard D. James used on his now legendary LP, Ambient Works. If this was an inspiration for Solvent aka Jason Amm, it works. I still play RDJCS5 on vinyl often.

Make sure to check it out in HD format if you can.


Node: Flood, Ed Buller, Gary Stout and Dave Bessell in the Studio (2012)

As a record buying teenager, seeing Flood aka Mark Ellis’ name on an LP, was just as important as some of the labels we were interested in. We would talk about a Flood produced album the same way we would mention Mute, Factory, Industrial and later Warp Records too.

I recently got my hands on the first Node LP. We’re talking 1995-96! It started when I pulled out an old Future Music (FM 39), which featured a Node interview. The complete-ist in me had to find that missing album. After all, it’s an album that features one of my all-time musical heroes. Thank heavens for being able to buy from UK retailers through

As I understand it, the original tracks were created and recorded straight to DAT tape. There were some minimal overdubs. The LP is also based on the performances that happened one day at Paddington Station, London during travelers daily commute.

I was also more than overjoyed when I noticed that Node-featuring Gary Stout, Ed Buller, Dave Bessell and Flood are in the studio in 2012. Yes, my excitement level is rising!

Check out that Roland System 700 modular synthesizer which made its way onto many of the albums we have all grown to love over the years. I know he used the System 700 on some of those much loved Depeche Mode albums too. I also spy an Oberheim Xpander synthesizer in the photos. I know that has been a long time favorite for Flood and mentioned by Trent Reznor as a synthesizer he grew to love more because of Floods ability to program it so well during their sessions together.

Flood with Roland System 700 modular synthesizer and Oberheim Xpander

For a good interview/article on Node check out Sound On Sound here.

Also, make sure to check out this great video interview conducted by the lovely Tara Busch(Mute: Short Circuit), featured here at The Synthesizer Book

Finally, to learn more about this upcoming album visit Node here.