Alias8 CV Modular Patch Challenge!

February 24th, 2014

Thanks to all those who participated. We now have a winner!

Modular Patch Challenge

Alias8 CV Controller Rack Extension

January 8th, 2014

The Alias8 Rack Extension is all about control. Place the device at the top of your rack, route some connections, customize the labels, and start tweaking. Once your routings are configured, you no longer have to scroll through to find that all important filter knob or trigger button in your complex rack setup.

The Livid Instruments Alias8 inspired the idea of having a Reason Rack Extension that visually mimics a hardware control surface and seamlessly integrates remote mapping; bridging the gap between you and the Reason rack. This collaborative effort with the good people of Livid Instruments has resulted in the ultimate virtual control interface, the Alias8 CV Controller!

Available from the Propellerhead Shop

Example Reason Files

Loop Launch and Live FX: Alias8-REXandFX.reason.zip
Alias8 Modular Style Song Demo: Alias8-stockdevicedemo.reason.zip
Granular Sample Manipulator with Buffre Beat Repeater: Alias8-BuffreConcrete.reason.zip

Operation Manual

Detailed Documentation which includes various example projects is available from the following link:

Alias8 CV Controller Operation Manual

Version 1.0.1 PDF Download. Requires Adobe Acrobat or other PDF Reader

Livid Instruments Alias8 Hardware Controller

The Alias8 Rack Extension works seamlessly with the Alias8 Hardware controller through Reason Remote scripting. There’s some basic setup required as well as a recommended firmware upgrade. For more information, please visit the Livid Instruments Reason Support Page

For more information about the Alias8 Hardware Controller, visit the Livid Instruments Website

Korg MS-10 Ressurection

August 29th, 2013

Last winter, my friends, Ryan and Lisa came for a visit and brought along a Roland TR-606 and a Korg MS-10, both of which were not working.  The 606 was easy to fix since the lead to the battery compartment had come loose.  The MS-10, however, was a completely different story and required a lot more research since I’ve never undertaken a repair like this before.   I’ve managed to get the MS-10 back up and running, and I want to share some of this information, just in case someone out there runs into a similar situation.

The Korg MS-10 was purchased in Europe but came with an unpolarized NEMA AC connector that looks like it would work in Japan or North America.  When Lisa and Ryan used this in Europe, they had it connected to a power adapter which bucked the voltage down from 220V.  After moving to the US, they (Ryan) plugged it into a regular 120v socket, and it started smoking.  Since then it has been dead.  Whenever I would visit their home, i would see the dead little MS-10 sitting as a bit of decoration on a table.  

About a month ago, this project seemed like it was ready to be tackled.  Fortunately, the service manual is available from several sources online.  Synthfool is not only a great synth tech, but provides the community with the archive of these materials.  After studying the schematics I started to open up the unit and noticed something odd.  The badge says it’s requires 15 volts ac.  This was a head scratcher, and I thought perhaps it was a misprint and should have been stamped 115 rather than 15.  It simply makes no sense especially since it has a NEMA plug.  


So after opening up the unit, I discovered that the transformer is basically used as a coil.  The incoming voltage from the AC line runs into one leg of the primary then passes through the other leg of the primary right into the motherboard.  The other leg of the AC line passes into a fuse (which was blown) and the power switch then into the motherboard.  I was expecting to find a normal AC connection where the incoming power connects through the fuse and switch to the primary of the transformer, and the secondary windings of the transformer passing to the motherboard.  However the way this was wired, the badge was indeed correct, and it was intended to run off of a 15 VAC power source… not 220/240 or 110/120vac.  When the MS-10 was plugged into a socket, 120 volts was sent straight into the motherboard and did some serious damage.  

At first, i thought maybe I can get lucky and just replace the rectifier diodes and the 7815 and 7915 voltage regulators and it will be done.  I pulled the diodes and regulators and found that the diodes were OK, but the regulators were shot.  Fortunately a these components are easy to get, so I popped in the new ones and started to see some signs of life.  The LFO light started blinking, and I could hear some noise.  The keys wouldn’t play, but after patching the LFO into the VCA, I could hear some activity and I could adjust the filter into self-oscillation.  While far from being perfect, there were some signs of life, and I figured, why not push forward to see how far I could get.


According to the schematic, the MS-10 oscillator section takes power right off the transformer… however in this case, 120VAC was injected into this part of the circuit.  This would be good place to start looking.  Sure enough some of these FETs were damaged and replacing them got a 60Hz hum being shaped into a sawtooth and pulse, however the envelope generator and keyboard were still not working.  It dawned on me that half the AC leg might have still been active after the fuse blew, so there was still a lot of voltage passing through the circuits and to ground through the audio out socket.  It made perfect sense that the CMOS components were damaged and many of the op-amps (TL0s, etc).   After replacing many of these more sections started to function.  The envelope generator, the modulation routings, etc.  Sure enough, after replacing all of these components everything came back to life!

Thinking that a critical component might have been damaged, i also sourced a special NPN transistor pair (2SC1583) at the heart of the oscillator.  This part is also used in the TB-303 and x0xb0x and has become rather difficult to find.  To make matters worse, according to a thread on the adafruit forum, counterfeit versions are floating about, so i avoided the foreign eBay suppliers.  As it turns out, the original transistor was not damaged.  I popped in the new transistor, and I was surprised that there was a bit of a difference in sound.  The original transistor has a bit more character and bite, so i put it back in.  I’ll keep the spare in case one of my old synths needs work.


I thought about properly wiring the transformer back into the circuit, but instead opted to leave the power section untouched.  This particular MS-10 still runs off 15 volts AC, but the original power cord has been removed and replaced with a 2.1mm power jack and a wall wart.  Hopefully this mistake will not be made again in the future.   The moral of the story is this:  Yes, apparently Korg made some MS-10s and MS-20s that were designed to work on 15VAC, but have a North America AC plug.  If you plug one of these 15V units into a 100/110/120 socket, it will definitely fry.  If you’re in Europe and plug it into a 220/240 to 120 converter, it will fry.  

I tracked some raw samples of the unit.  You can download the Reason session here:
KorgMS-10rawsamples.reason.zip

and a short video:

Reason CV Tutorial Series

July 10th, 2013

As the Reason ecosystem continues to grow with many unique control voltage rack extensions, it seems important to provide new users with a means of learning CV routing. To get things started, I’ve put together some basic tutorials. These are based on some past works and updated for Reason 7. This is a continuing series, and new tutorials will be added regularly. The lessons are embedded in the rack on Spacre panels adjacent to example device configurations, allowing for a hands-on experience for learning about each topic presented.

Reason Control Voltage Tutorial Page

Buffre / Spacre Bundle

July 8th, 2013

Purchase Buffre Beat Repeater and get Spacre Blank Plate as a free add-on to your Reason Rack Extension inventory. Details on the Buffre/Spacre Bundle page in the Propellerhead Shop.

Directre Audio Router

March 4th, 2013

DIRECTRE is an audio routing utility designed to work as a hub for a live performance using Propellerhead Reason. Directre’s audio switching synchronizes to the tempo of a song. With a press of a button, a channel switch is cued to open or close at the beginning of a measure, beat, or 1/8th note. DIRECTRE can function as either a 1×8 splitter device or as an 8×1 summing bus. In addition to the quantized switch capabilities, the switch can be adjusted to fade in and fade out with a touch of a button.

Directre Information Page

TR-606 Drumatix Refill

January 6th, 2013

My latest Reason Refill project is a multi-sampled Roland TR-606 Drumatix drum machine. This unit belongs to a friend who was having issues with the 606 not powering up. As it turns out, it wouldn’t power up with batteries, but works fine with a power adapter. The problem was that a lead to the battery compartment was loose. Naturally, it couldn’t be returned without first being sampled!

The Sounds

The 606 has seven different drum sounds: A Bass Drum, Snare Drum, Lo Tom, Hi Tom, Closed Hi Hat, Open Hi Hat, and Cymbal. Also triggering Both a Closed and Open Hi Hat simultaneously creates another muted or pedal Hi Hat. All of these sounds can be accented, which alters the dynamics and tonal character. For this library, each drum is sampled eight times, and each accented drum is sampled 24 times (8 x three different accent levels 50%, 75%, 100%). In total there are 32 samples per tone for eight different drums. While each sample sounds very close the next one, there are subtle analog variations. Overkill? maybe… but it’s worth it.

The 606 tones are programmed in Kong Drum Designer via the NN-Nano Sampler. When triggered, the NN-Nano alternates between each of the eight samples, and the result has a nice realistic feel compared to single shot samples. Normal and accent samples are mapped at different velocity layers making it easy to edit dynamics in the Reason sequencer.

Refill

The P038 - Drumatix Refill contains several standard “realistic” kits which serve as 606 emulation patches. Three kits are dedicated to different accent levels labelled “Hard Accent,” “Medium Accent,” and “Soft Accent”. These correspond to the 100%, 75% and 50% knob settings on the 606. The library also includes several manipulated patches with different tuning, decay and Kong FX settings. The demo patterns from the video above are also included and can be used as building blocks for song ideas.

Peff 038 - Drumatix Refill

Roland TR-606 Drumatix library for Reason Kong Drum Designer. Thanks to Lisa Eriksson for use of the source instrument!