Archive for the synthesizers Category

NAMM 2018

Posted in Guitars, modular synthesizers, Noise Engineering on February 5, 2018 by pyraphonic

2018 marks my 7th NAMM in as many years. I first started going in 2012 to get the scoop on modular synthesizer news and post pics before everybody else had a chance, but in the intervening years, modulars have moved up from the back corner of the subterannean Hall E to the front row of Hall A. Now roaming crews with video cameras are there as early as Wednesday before NAMM even starts getting vids of all the cool new modular synth stuff!

So this year, in my post modular-synth-blogging-retirement, I was invited to help out at the Noise Engineering booth.

Here’s the Noise Engineering booth crew for day one (Kris of NE, myself, Stephen of NE, and Patrick OBrien):

We were showing off the new Noise Engineering modules:

 Bin Seq, a 4HP switchable gate sequencer (you can make the gate on, off or on for the full length of the beat, so you can chain steps into one long gate if desired – simple, but powerful).

Muta Jovis, a 4HP quad mute.

Soleo Vero, a strobo-tuner that you can have up to3 oscillators always plugged into (each input has a pass-through output).

Clep Diaz, a sort of clockable LFO with smooth, stepped, and random modes

And Mimetic Digitalis, a 10HP 16-step 4 output sequencer with tons of features geared towards live use. (I can’t wait for this one!)

Here’s a pic of the new ones that should be available in the Spring:

 There were lots of familiar faces and new people as well in the modular booths. It’s really cool to see how happening it all is now. Even J.J. Abrams came by and was checking out all the new stuff! It was a busy first day.

QuBit had a cool rig under plexi that had a frame with interactive controls. A good way to keep out the NAMM-thrax!

Some jammin at the WMD booth:

Deckard’s Dream from Black Corporation looks and sounds like a lot of fun:

People were also excited about the Magneto tape delay emulator module from Strymon. I didn’t get over to check it out, but it sounds like it’s a winner.

I didn’t get very many photos this year as I was working at the booth, and the modular world is so well covered, I figured I didn’t need to get pics anyway! But when I went off to grab lunch, I wandered over to see some interesting guitars. 

I ended up at the Luthiers Beyond Limits booths and happened to meet Henry Kaiser, who was super cool and gave me a copy of his most recent CD.

And that’s about it for me from NAMM this year. Thank you for stopping by! See you in 2019!


Von Doog – Initiation

Posted in guitar synthesizer, modular synthesizers, music, theremin, Von Doog with tags , , , on September 22, 2017 by pyraphonic

Von Doog‘s Initiation is a set of tracks from an ambient live performance on 2/3/2017 as part of the Statues And Attitudes show (created and curated by Jade Gordon and Megan Whitmarsh) at the Human Resources gallery in Los Angeles. The tracks were recorded directly from the mixer. Instruments are guitar synthesizer, modular synthesizer and theremin.


Von Doog’s contribution to the show was to provide sonic weather, auditory incense and empathic musical feedback. Choices and decisions regarding which devices to use and their settings were influenced by oracles and oblique strategy cards. Loops were created and embellished in real time. Recurring motifs recirculate within tracks and among different tracks. Some passages are answers to questions put forth by individuals chaperoned by resident translators.

Available now:




Google Play:



Modular on the Spot: 2 Year Anniversary

Posted in modular synthesizers, music, Noise Engineering, Pocket Computer, synthesizers, Uncategorized on August 26, 2017 by pyraphonic

Modular on the Spot had it’s 2 year anniversary last month and Pocket Computer (Stephen McCaul of Noise Engineering and myself) did a set to close out the evening.

(Photo above by Patrick OBrien, also a modular synth performer)

(Photo above by Ben Clark also a modular synth performer!)

It was a great night with a beautiful sunset and awesome bill of performers (Mike Dobler, Rodent516 (Eric Cheslak), Andrew Ikenberry, C1t1zen (Kylee Kennedy).

Here’s a short vid of part of our set:

Tom Hall (yet another modular synth performer!) wrote about the evening here. And the LAist wrote a story about the LA monthly event here (the event now has spread to cities across the world).

Hats off to Bana Haffer and Rodent for managing to pull this off for 2 years!

NAMM 2017

Posted in modular synthesizers with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on January 23, 2017 by pyraphonic

Since my first NAMM visit in 2012, every year I have posted about modular synthesizers (and other interests) at the end of the first day to get the word out to those interested.

In the intervening years, modulars have become popular enough that professional music media outlets cover all the new stuff, sometimes as early as the day before NAMM starts, so no more scoops for me. I am officially retired!

So I went to NAMM this year with a more casual attitude (on rainy Friday, day 2, even!) and chatted with lots of friends, met some people, saw a lot of cool new stuff and still have some photos to share. I won’t go into great detail about anything, since it’s covered elsewhere. Come on in and check it out!

Below are Kris and Stephen at the Noise Engineering booth. I had my pass thanks to them!

I am an occasional helper at Noise Engineering as a beta tester for their modules as well as sometimes making design and feature suggestions.

Here are the three cases they had this year, with many new modules coming out this year:

I can’t wait for this sequencer!

Synthrotek had this amazing repurposed rig for the show:

Of course Bryce Recordon, of the Waveform City podcast, was there:

And Bana Haffer was doing demos at the Make Noise booth.

The new Make Noise Morphagene below:

The Koma Electronik Field Kit is awesome:

Pittsburg Modular had these awesome video game cabinets set up:

Skein Modular had some really cool cases:

The WMD rig:

The QuBit bubble that everyone had to take a photo of!


LZX had some really cool video modules:

The new Malekko Voltage Block:

Sputnik Modular’s rig:

Skyler, with his Apogee Jam, recording directly into his phone to eliminate the insanely loud NAMMbience:

Some other cool random stuff I saw includes the new Stylophone, which is super fun with a built-in delay:

The handcrafted Theresyn:

They have built-in speakers and the tall ones have resonating strings.

Vintage Vibe make Rhodes style keyboards, but they had a couple new models that also sport a little ribbon synth built in (the ribbon is the silver strip just above the keys). This was a bass model. They had the lids off to show the mechanical parts. It sounded awesome, especially playing a bass line and occasionally doing a downward slide!

This beautiful Travis Bean:

A clear demo model of the Center Point Stereo Spacestation v.3. I have an older Spacestaion and love it. It is a stereo amp, but in a single cabinet. If you know how mid-side mic technique works, this is that in reverse!


And Lowrey – still in the game!

Thank you Noise Engineering for the pass – I had a blast!

Recent Projects and Events

Posted in Dolphinforce, modular synthesizers, synthesizers with tags , , , on January 18, 2017 by pyraphonic


I’ve always wanted a PAiA Oz, and I recently acquired not just one, but two. They both needed some work, but I’ve got the first one up and running.

I replaced all the IC chips except for the hard-to-find 50240, added a much needed handle and a Fender Twin style grill cloth, as well as a plate with an underlit power light (to cover poorly drilled holes from a previous owner), added a jack for the pitch bender (as well as one on the pitch pad itself), and switched the output jack for the trigger to 3.5mm. I have new keybed bushings on the way, so the action will be super smooth. 

Something cool I’ve discovered is that you can use the output and input jacks as a line level insert and use effects and still use the built-in speaker.
I’m loving this super portable polyphonic full-size-keyed enigma! Soon I will revive the other unit, but it is lacking the 50240 IC.


Modular on the Spot

I have been aware of the outdoor modular synth events happening for over a year now known as Modular on the Spot, but my sound design work always has me on the wrong side of town when they are happening. But I finally not only got to attend, but also perform. It was super cool hearing all the different sets and playing in such a surreal environment next to the Los Angeles river.

[photo courtesey of MotS]

My set up was my main Tiptop 252 case with my custom built ribbon controller.



Dolphinforce played an augmented DJ set (the robot couldn’t make it due to threats of rain) at the Gregorio Escalante Gallery in  Chinatown, Los Angeles for Robert Xavier Burden’s Original Myth opening. The PAiA Oz even got some mileage that gig. We had a blast! Thanks to all who came down!

Slithis Returns

Posted in modular synthesizers, music, Slithis, synthesizers with tags , on May 30, 2016 by pyraphonic

More spaced-out intergalactic doom soundtracks from Slithis.

NAMM 2016

Posted in modular synthesizers, synthesizers with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on January 22, 2016 by pyraphonic

For the past five years I have gone to NAMM to take photos and post about (mostly) eurorack modular synthesizers for the relatively small community of users and manufacturers. Though I think this community has grown so much during this short time, and is now getting so much coverage, that perhaps my services are no longer needed and maybe I should retire after this year. We have hit the turning point where there are so many new modules (and manufacturers) that it is difficult to keep up with all of them, so I’m sure I’ve missed some stuff this year. Below are a ton of pics – click on them for hi-res. Enjoy!


Eurorack’s all grown up and no longer downstairs at NAMM!



As some of you know, I am a helper elf for Noise Engineering. This year I helped prepare for NAMM at the NE HQ. The Noise Engineering modules are in new shallow aluminum cases from Sub Modular.


Absurdly, I didn’t take any close-ups of the NE stuff at NAMM, but I’ll update this post with some later. Here’s the Noise Engineering booth. Thank you, Stephen, for the NAMMM badge!


The Tiptop booth. Always great to catch up with Gur and Tomio. The new cases are looking great, and watch for several new Z-DSP cards coming soon – they sound amazing!



Make Noise. Got a tour of the new Tempi module…



and tinkered with the 0-Coast


Had a great time with the Malekko crew this year. Congrats on the Roland collaborations!


New cases and modules.




Rad dudes


Cool new pedals


How cool? this cool. Shredworthy even.


4MS rig featuring a new stereo delay with a huge amount of memory (3 mins, I think?)




Audio Damage had some cool custom cases and were showing their new drum module.


I’m pretty sure Chris just told that guy I’m a dork.



Bastl’s crazy rig. I shot a video that I’ll try to get up here later.


WMD booth. Great chatting with William and the WMD crew.



Verbos booth.



Vermona monosynth and modules.



Abstract Data’s rig.


Intellijel had new cases and modules, including the new Rainmaker module.





The case has an intentionally deep lid for keeping it patched in transit.


Pittsburg’s new stuff.



Koma’s rig.



Industrial Music Electronics (formerly The Harvestman) set up.



Sputnik had a bunch of new stuff.





Snazzy’s case and new pedal.



Endorphin’s rigs.





ZVex entries into euro. I love my Fuzz Factory guitar pedal, so this should be interesting.





At the Big City booth I played this insane Schmidt synth and a real Mellotron.



Moog had a crazy cool set up with a ton of Mother 32s. I can’t help but think the Modular on the Spot gatherings inspired this desertscape arrangement!



Moog also had some museum pieces set up.




Obligatory Stevie Wonder pic (on the escalator)


Oberheim/Dave Smith stuff






Two Voice


The Linnstrument is really fun and playable.


Three New Pocket Operators from Teenage Engineering.


There were several new euro manufacturers I was unaware of below, such as Rossom.















I think I may have to own one of these someday – Rickenbacker 12 string.


And to wrap up, some random weird stuff:





I saw a lot of friends, met some new ones and had a great time. Hope you dug the pics.

Cheers! (that’s Steven from Noise Engineering and Chris from Sub Modular)