Category Archives: Oberheim DMX

Battery mod and Midi upgrade in Oberheim DMX

Today I did two things on my DMX that should have been done long ago.

First task was to solder in a new battery. The old battery was removed a couple of months ago, but I never put in the new one (bought from Electrongate).  Since I don’t think it’s a good idea to solder the new battery  in the same spot due to possible leaking disasters, I soldered two new wires. The battery was then placed in the bottom right corner and insulated with tape.

A non working chinese iPhone charger cable was used. The battery is placed down to the right, far away from the board.
A non working Chinese iPhone charger cable was used. The battery is placed down to the right, far away from the board.

The next thing to do was installing the Midi upgrade from Electrongate. My Midi upgrade was actually a special order – normally you place the Midi jacks on one of the walnut side panels. I didn’t want to do it for two reasons;

  1. I prefer to have all connections at the rear and second
  2. And most important – mine are mint. It would be shame to drill in them

So I mailed Paul, the owner of Electrongate, asking if it was possible to get the Midi jacks in a breakout box instead. To avoid drilling holes, Paul made a special cable that goes from the Midi board to the 12-pin Molex that was used for triggering. Then the breakout box was connected to the trigger Molex.  A very neat solution – the trigger in functionality was sacrificed – on the other hand I don’t need it when I have Midi.

This breakout box is a special order. Since the walnut panels are mint on my DMX I asked Paul for an alternative. He suggested to use the trigger input port back to get the midi cable through without drilling.
This breakout box is a special order. Since the walnut panels are mint on my DMX I asked Paul for an alternative. He suggested to use the trigger input port back to get the midi cable through without drilling.
This cable is also part of my special order. One side goes to the midi card, the other goes to the cable that is connected to the trigger Molex.
This cable is also part of my special order. One side goes to the midi card, the other goes to the cable that is connected to the trigger Molex.

Installing the kit is fairly straight forward, there’s an excellent guide with photos that is very simple to follow (so I didn’t take any photos). My DMX had the memory upgrade board, in the guide the upgrade is performed on a non memory upgraded DMX, so there were some differences, however – they are pointed out in the text. The Midi board replaces the memory upgrade board and a bonus is that the Midi board actually upgrades the memory as well.

The midi upgrade card itself.
The midi upgrade card itself.

The installation procedure is mostly about taking chips from one place (the main board or memory board) and putting them on the Midi board. I recommend having both an IC puller and a small flat screw driver for this. The hardest part of the upgrade is soldering two tiny wires (“E1” and “F1”) to the main board. It was hard because in one case you have to solder the wire directly to a copper lane, in a very tight place. Another challenge is to cut the copper lane next to it, and then avoid soldering the wire over the cut so that the cut isn’t cut anymore.

I’m not a soldering expert, but if you know someone that can do it for you, or if you live close to Paul, pay him to do it for you!  It took me a couple of hours, and I wasn’t very comfortable cutting and soldering on such an old expensive piece. On the other hand, doing such stuff is the best way to learn.

I took the DMX back to the studio and connected the Midi – it worked flawlessly! Even though the DMX is very fun and easy to program, it’s just more convenient to have Midi. I really feel that I have to modify my Boss DR-110!

Just An Illusion, Oberheim DMX + Yamaha TX81Z

A quick test playing the bass line from Just An Illusion on the Yamaha TX81Z. On the original recording the bass is from a Roland SH-1000, played manually without any sequencer at all. I noticed that the Lately bass was quite similar even though it’s an FM-synth. I especially like the “rubber” touch of the sound. Since the original was done without sequencing, I decided to do that as well. And it’s actually very hard, I’m impressed by Tony Swain’s tightness. The velocity controls the filter on Lately Bass, so it’s important no too hit the keys to soft or hard.

The drumbeat on this recording is from the Oberheim DMX, I don’t know what’s used on the original record. You might recognize the DMX sound from Into The Groove, especially with the reverb on the clap.

Effects used:
Lately Bass = Logic standard chorus plug, a bit of eq
DMX Clap = Logic Gold Verb
Everything else is vanilla. Recorded on three channels through the preamps on an RME Fireface 800.

Note that I used the Facetime cam on my MacBook to record this since couldn’t find the tripod for my Canon DSLR. Unfortunately, Photo Booth records with variable frame rate, which makes the audio/video sync unstable, especially noticeable in the last clip.

Oberheim DMX Midi upgrade arrived (unboxing)

Today the Midi upgrade for the Oberheim DMX and some other stuff arrived from Electrongate. Check out the unboxing pictures with descriptions of the contents!

Potential Oberheim DX steal

I know, I already got a DMX. But yesterday I saw an Oberheim DX with midi for sale on the US eBay. The highest bid was at $70 with less than two days left. This was a potential bargain!

Unfortunately the seller didn’t offer international shipping according to the ad. So I contacted him like a often do in these situations, and most times they actually can ship abroad. With two hours remaining the price was $128. This guy however didn’t answer my message, which was too bad for both him and me. The auction ended at $285 which is a steal. If he had offered me international shipping he could have gotten $400 from me instead…

http://www.ebay.com/itm/Oberheim-DX-Digital-Drum-Machine-/390609370327

Oberheim DMX parts ordered from Electrongate

I’ve just ordered some stuff from Paul at Electrongate. He’s been very friendly and helpful during our e-mail correspondence.

Here’s a list of stuff that I ordered;

  1. DMX Midi Upgrade with a custom made breakout box, more details to come
  2. Thumbscrews for the lid, those were missing
  3. A new NiCd battery that will be relocated in another position than the original one
  4. A couple of rare Molex connectors that the DMX has on it’s back for CV and trigger
Oberheim eagerly awaiting it's MIDI upgrade to arrive.
Oberheim eagerly awaiting it’s MIDI upgrade to arrive.

Oberheim DMX bargain

Just bought an Oberheim DMX. It was a real bargain, listed at 2000 Danish crowns ($350). I called him and offered him 2500 ($440) if he’d reserve it for me. He had one person that had contacted him before that wanted to buy it, and said he would call me if that person didn’t buy the DMX. At that point I told myself that it most certainly would be sold.

Later that day he called me and said that the buyer didn’t have the cash. So now I was first in line. I jumped in my car and drove to Denmark. Even if the condition wouldn’t be great, or if a voice card would be bad, it would still be a bargain. When I arrived and saw it in real life I couldn’t believe my eyes – it looked mint and worked flawlessly. I bought it for 2500. He told me that people after me in line had offered him 3000 ($530) and more. Very nice seller by the way! He told me that it’s this DMX that is used on this recording. I think the seller is the guy playing the bass in the video.

On the way back I turned on the radio and heard Into the Groove by Madonna. That must have been a sign. Just like when I heard Carrie by Europe when I was driving home with my JX-8P.

The sound is fantastic, very punchy. And extremely present! Already love it!
Now I have to stop writing and Google for MIDI-mods and check if the battery could cause problems.