On the forum “99musik” where all the Swedish synth nerds hang, there was a thread titled “Axel F with different synths”. When I saw that, I recalled that I about half a year ago while drunk did a test recording with the JX-8P and Alesis HR-16. Everything was played from memory so the key is not right, the tempo is quite right.
I opened the Logic-project and realized that the drums sounded like crap. They needed to be replaced. For this I had two choices, the Oberheim DMX or my newly aquired SCI Drumtraks. Since I haven’t installed the midi mod on the DMX yet and the SCI Drumtraks kick and snare are more Linn-like, I chose the Drumtraks. My JX-8P was not connected so I decided to use the old recording and just loop it. Would of course have been more 80’s to play it live! Here’s the result:
Both the brass and bass are stock patches from the JX-8P. All drums are stock Drumtraks. Note how I test the different the different sounds on the percussive channel of the Drumtraks in the end. Claps, tamb, cowbell and cabasa are on the same channel and cannot be played simultaneously. The delay is a classic 80’s trick to get around that limitation.
Today my TOP853-programmer arrived from China. It’s a cheap EEPROM-programmer that I intend to use for programming EPROMs for my Drumtraks. At $40 it’s worth taking a chance, but I’ve heard others that have had great success with them. I bought it from “BuyInCoins” and the delivery time was less than three weeks to Sweden. The thing to be aware of is that the TOP853 doesn’t work with 64-bit operating systems. That’s actually not a problem since I have a virtual Windows XP-machine that I use for a lot of old skool stuff.
In the slight dented box was the TOP853, a USB cable, a small cd with drivers + software and lot of documentation in Chinese. I ignored the cd and manuals and went directly to the TopWin download page (also in Chinese). The download of a few megabytes took about 10 minutes! I started the installation and chose English (should be Chinglish) and the installation started. After the installation I started the software which couldn’t find the TOP-programmer. I looked in the Device Manager and there was an exclamation mark on it, so I restarted XP. After the reboot the TopWin software found the TOP853 without any hassle. Having never done things like this before, I found the software very easy to understand. You start by selecting the correct chip by manufacturer, and if it’s not there, choose a generic profile with the same properties.
Since I don’t have any empty EPROMs and my UV-eraser-box haven’t arrived yet, I could only test the reading capabilities. My Drumtraks was supplied with some extra chips with unknown origin. After tweaking the reading settings (since the particular chips weren’t in the manifacturer list) I managed to read all chips. The Drumtraks use 2764 EPROMS for all voices except the kick which is a 2732. I compared the contents with the all the EPROMs available on Electrongate, they will probably be added here. Paul who own Electrongate is a very nice guy by the way!
Next step is to burn some Linn LM-1 EPROMs for the Drumtraks!
Today my SCI Drumtraks 400 arrived! Unfortunately I’m so fed up with work so I haven’t had much time to play with it yet, just a few minutes. But my conclusion so far – it sounds fantastic! The kick is so deep compared to the DMX!
A fun little trivia: I’m the third owner. The first owner was the german italo/techno/electronic/new beat producer Andre Fischer. He bought in back in 1984 together with an SCI Six Track. Two months ago it was shipped from Berlin and sold the second owner who used it on a few recordings and then sold it to me. I was actually offered to buy it a month ago but it had problems with the kick channel which was later fixed. Here are a few songs that this particular Drumtraks was used on:
My Alesis HR-16 is sold to a happy new owner. It had the special EPROMs from Chris Strellis with sounds from 8-bit drum machines. But I rather use the originals, it’s just a matter of cash. What to do with the money for the Alesis? Wait and see…
A few weeks ago I ordered a new 20KΩ linear potentiometer even thought the dimensions weren’t right, just to verify that the pot actually was the problem.
When looking at the PCB it was quite obvious that someone had try to repair/replace the pot before. It was quite badly done, one of the trace leading to wiper connection on the pot was loose. I desoldered it and soldered a three lead cable that I inserted through the hole where the pot is supposed to be. I had to scrape the trace where the wiper had been and solder directly to it.
At first I forgot two bridge the earth that normally is though the body of the pot, but since I have no pot but three leads instead, I soldered a new lead to bridge the earth. Then the doctor was alive again! Now I only have to find a fitting potentiometer…
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.
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.
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…