Archive for Make Noise

NAMM 2012

Posted in modular synthesizers with tags , , , , , , , on January 30, 2012 by pyraphonic

This year I had my first NAMM experience. I only attended one of the four days. Once I saw how gigantic it is, I understood why it is four days long. I barely got to see the several main booths I wanted to see as it was totally overwhelming. Thankfully, I was only interested in the modular synthesizers and a few other musical oddities.

Here is Gur from Tiptop Audio showing off several new modules. Among them were the BD808 and SD808 which are respectively the bass drum and the snare drum circuits from the venerable Roland TR-808 drum machine adapted for eurorack format and they sound fantastic. He also unveiled an unbelievable polyphonic oscillator which is the first in a series of polyphonic modules. It’s called the P3000 and this will be part of a sub-format of eurorack using 8-pin jacks and cables. Madman, genius, or both?

Below is Tony from Make Noise who also unveiled some interesting new modules. One is a new oscillator called the Dual Prismatic Oscillator capable of some really nice timbres. Another is a collaboration with Tom Erbe called the Echophon which is a pitch shifting delay and you can hear Richard Devine running his 606 through it here. The third is a mystery module that I believe is some type of oscillator.

All this incredible new stuff coming out for eurorack and my case is full. I’m gonna need a bigger boat.

I also went to the Buchla booth where they had several systems set up, among them was the new Skylab shown below. I would love to own one some day, but this unit costs roughly twice as much as my car.

It was hard to get good photos amid the chaos of NAMM, as exemplified by the two photos below of legendary Buchla users Morton Subotnick and Suzanne Ciani. Both with their eyes closed. Maybe they were listening to the Buchlas plunking and droning in the background.


Suzanne had on a vest with LEDs embedded in the lapel and on the back which blinked on and off in patterns powered by battery backs on the back.

Below are Don and Morton who worked together when Don was building his first synthesizers. I’m glad they did, as many of the modules in my current system were influenced by Don’s late sixties and seventies creations.

What’s funny about this post is that NAMM is all about equipment yet most of the photos I took were of people. I suppose that is because it takes these incredibly talented people to create worthwhile instruments just as it takes incredibly talented people to make decent music and sounds with that equipment. It was inspiring and fun meeting these people and talking with them about their work.

Having said that, here’s the obligatory gear shot of the Swarmatron:

Created by cousins Brian and Leon Dewan who make really interesting equipment, including the Dual Primate Console which they play together. The Swarmatron was used by Trent Reznor on the soundtracks to The Social Network and The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo.

Thanks to Gur for setting me up with a NAMM badge – it was quite the spectacle.

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My Modular Synthesizer

Posted in modular synthesizers with tags , , , , , on December 22, 2011 by pyraphonic

In April I started my modular system. There are several formats to choose from but I decided on the Eurorack format as it’s generally cheaper and there are a lot of manufacturers in this format, which means lots of choices.

What I love best about it is that it ends up being a different instrument each time it is patched from scratch and the discoveries seem endless.

Having done a ton of research before going down this road, it didn’t take long to fill my case with modules.

The case I went with (from Tiptop Audio) folds up for portability and is small enough to take along on a flight as your carry-on.

Though I imagine security may have a few questions.