Unitor8 and AMT8 chained

One really good feature is the possibility to chain two of these and get 16 I/O, shown to the computer as one device. Note that this works perfectly well with OS X, but on Windows, XP is the last version supported. NO 64-bit Vista / 7 / 8.

Unitor Family Driver 2.5

  1. Connect the two devices with the Mac-lead (haven’t tried the 422 COM ports)
  2.  Plug it in the USB-port
  3. Turn both devices on
  4. Turn Mac on
  5. Go to software update and look for updates
  6. Install the Unitor Family Driver 2.5 update
  7. Restart computer

 

Venom traded for Axiom Pro 49

I just traded my M-Audio Venom for the Axiom Pro 49 from the same manifacturer. The reason why is simple – I need knobs and not a VA.

I won’t use the HyperControl mapping since it’s mostly for software instruments. What’s great is that the Axiom also transmits regular midi CC.

My first hands experience says that:

  1. The keys feel very solid. They are visually piano style, but feels a bit lighter. The Venom had that cheap, light, plastic feel. Of all my keyboards, the Axiom keys remind me the most of the ones on the Kawai K3.
  2. It has aftertouch – very nice! Aftertouch is something new to me, the JX-synths has it, but the aftertouch always dies on them. Doesn’t matter now when I have the Axiom as master keyboard.
  3. It has A LOT of knobs and sliders  – great success!

Repairing an M-Audio Venom

I’m actually not very interested in virtual analogs. With an all digital audio path you could as well use software instruments. One good feature though is that some of the oscillator waveforms are sampled from real classics. The Venom also has classic drum machine samples from 808, 909 and more. This review is quite nice:

Anyway, a couple of months ago I pickup a (not that) used Venom for about 1000 SEK / $150. My plan was to use it purely as a midi controller since it has four assignable knobs that sends midi CCs, so I thought why not.

After a few hours use, suddenly the A3-key started to squeak every time I pressed and released it. It’s hard to describe how utterly annoying that is, I was near reinstalling my Roland PC MKII that has been turned on and worked flawlessly for 17 years (and still going strong=quality) and sell or trade the Venom for a Behringer BCR-2000. Also, there was something lose in the Venom that rattled everytime I moved it.

With not too much too lose, I decided to try to fix the Venom. The first thing was to open the damn thing. When I looked underneath it, I was chocked to find 42 Philips screws! Insane! Not knowing which ones to unscrew to open the case, I googled for a service manual but couldn’t find one. This had to be done the hard way…

Luckily, it turned out that it wasn’t very complicated, but rather time consuming. What you have to do is simply unscrewing all the of the 32 screws that in “rectangular” holes. The 10 screws in round holes (marked by a red square) are holding the keys to the bottom part of the case. We’ll get to these later.

The red square marks the screws that holds the keys to the bottom. All other screws must be unscrewed to open the case.
The red rectangle marks the screws that holds the keys to the bottom. All other screws must be unscrewed to open the case.
All of the 32 screws that needs to be unscrewed to open.
All of the 32 screws that needs to be unscrewed to open.

So I started to unscrew. After that, the top part could be lifted a couple of inches. The only thing left to completely detach the top from the bottom was this lead that connects the keyboard to the motherboard.

The lead that connects the keyboard to the motherboard
The lead that connects the keyboard to the motherboard
The motherboard and other circuit boards are attached to the top piece. The arrow marks where the keyboard lead is connected.
The motherboard and other circuit boards are attached to the top piece. The arrow marks where the keyboard lead is connected.

As soon as I opened the Venom, this little piece of glue fell out of it. This was also the piece that caused the rattling.

It was this little piece of glue that made the Venom rattle.
It was this little piece of glue that made the Venom rattle.

The next thing was to locate what made the key squeak. An interesting and quite confusing thing is that all white keys are marked E1 to E7, plus the C6 key that is marked E8. All black keys are marked C4.

For some reason all white keys are marked with and E and a number between 1-7. The most upper key, the C5, is marked E8. All black keys are marked C4.
For some reason all white keys are marked with and E and a number between 1-7. The most upper key, the C5, is marked E8. All black keys are marked C4.

You can also see the key spring. To remove the key, the spring must first be removed. Removing the spring is a no brainer, just lift the spring in the bottom or the top. As soon as I hade removed the spring from the squeaking key, the squeaking disappeared. I put the spring back and then the squeaking returned. I tried to swap the spring with one from  another key, but that made no difference.

To remove key, first remove the spring (notice that the spring is still there in the picture), and then push the key in the direction of the red arrow
To remove key, first remove the spring (notice that the spring is still there in the picture), and then push the key in the direction of the red arrow

I figured I had to remove the squeaking key and one other key to compare them and see if there was any visible difference. The simplest way to remove a key is to push it towards you, the same direction as the arrow in the photo. It doesn’t take much force. Putting it back isn’t hard either.

Two removed keys
Two removed keys

Looking at visual differences, there wasn’t any, other than the low quality plastic stuff on the edges left there from manifacturing. You never see stuff like this in an old vintage Roland synth…

Next thing to try was to swap the squeaking key with another non-squeaking one. The bad boy was the A3, so I decided to swap it with the A5 key. To my surprise, the A3 stopped squeaking and so did the A5. Don’t ask me how, but this was the solution! I put the Venom back together, only using a third of the screws just to make sure that it still worked. Which it did! Case closed!

BONUS:

During my investigation I also removed the key circuit boards to see if the error was there. Looking back, this was totally unnecessary. I took some photos, so I thought I might as well post them here.  Have a look at the gallery below.

Restoring factory presets in the Waldorf Microwave

When I got the Microwave it had a lot of german 90’s techno sounding presets strangely named like “Horny Bitch” and so on (Horny Bitch wasn’t even a brass patch = FAIL).

I guess this isn't a factory preset. Read my other post on how to restore the factory presets.
I guess this isn’t a factory preset. Read my other post on how to restore the factory presets.

I had to get the factory presets back! Fortunately Waldorf supplies these on their homepage.

Go to the Sounds folder and download the midi version. In the zip you’ll find the factory presets and some bonus presets. To transfer them to the MW, simply open the midi file and run it in the sequencer. For me it worked directly, some settings might have to be set first, instructions are in the zip file.

My favorites so far are:

  • factory.mid – The factory banks
  • ppg/mwave2_3.mid – I think these are the factory patches from the PPG Wave 2.3
  • wavepool/digital.mid – A lot of lofi digital sounding patches, very PPG:ish

Waldorf Microwave has arrived

Today my Waldorf Microwave arrived after a long journey from Germany to Sweden. What better way to spend the friday evening?

Another Oberheim DPX-1 bought

I just bought another Oberheim DPX-1 from a guy in Stockholm since the one I bought in the US arrived in a non working condition. This also has the 8-output and cd-rom expansion. I thought those were rare…

Another bonus is the sticker from “Music Mania” which was a music store where I bought my first synth/rompler, the Korg NS5R in 1996. I still have that one, but I don’t like any of its  sounds anymore.

Almost making a mean green machine bargain

I was looking for a Waldorf Microwave 1, the one with analog filters. It was actually made in at least three versions; the Rev A, the Rev B and the limited edition “Mean green machine”. The Mean green machine was actually a limited batch of 99 Rev B painted green. To be honest, the Rev A is a lot better looking.

On the german eBay, a Mean green machine was up for grabs. Unfortunately I didn’t win the bidding and it was sold for €845, which is a real bargain. A so called steal.

The machine itself normally goes for at least €1000, but this auction also included an Access programmer. An Access programmer is for an MW what a PG-800 is for a Roland JX-synth. The Access programmer adds the hands on tweakability that’s missing on the Microwave, and they are quite rare and almost never sold separately. When they are, €500 are normal prices.

Too bad I lost the bidding, but I had to have a Microwave, so I got a normal Rev B with the latest OS.