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Archive for October, 2010

Yamaha PSS-380

Posted by brunorc on October 26, 2010

Even if it can be perceived as a toy keyboard – mostly because of the tiny keys, auto-accompaniments and so on – it is actually a synthesizer as well. As you may see on the picture, it features the “Digital Synthesizer” section in the center of the front panel. Those seven sliders give you the instant control over the 4 operators FM synthesis of PSS-380. So, if you’ve ever dreamed of an FM synth with hands-on control typical for analogs – here you go!

How does it sound? Peculiar. Some sounds are terrible, and no combination of sliders could have improved them. I spent a lot of time with it, tweaking the sounds (of course there’s no memory for this “digital synthesizer” settings, so I had to write them down on paper). I also liked the idea of auto-accompaniment, having maybe 5-6 bearable styles, though. This instrument has three song memories as well, which can record both the accompaniment and the performance (but still they cannot save the synthesizer settings), and you can even play on top of it (if the polyphony – 9 voices – allows). It was my early sketchpad and I found it quite useful.

This synth also features “Dual Voices” – meaning one could lay one patch on top of another, and the “top” patch could have even been processed through the synthesizer section. Actually, PSS-380 is capable of producing a lot of weird 4-OP FM sounds… of course it has no MIDI, and the output (phones only) is quite noisy. Or you can use the built-in speakers…

It was my first “synthesizer” and from today’s perspective I’m really glad I started with it. I learned a bit about the nature of the sound and I knew that my next piece of gear should have the ability of editing patches, since only playing with the use of the preset sounds was not enough for me.

Unfortunately, the PSS-380 wasn’t actually mine. I borrowed it from a friend, who eventually wanted to take it back. I remember being reluctant to give it away, but after all it was his property, so one day I put it back in the box and we parted.

Would I like to have it back? Of course! But mostly because of the sentiment… and maybe those weird sounds could be useful, after some processing. The auto-accompaniment – although crappy – was surprisingly handy for some quick sketching.

Posted in Music, Synths | Tagged: , , , | 3 Comments »

What keeps me distracted

Posted by brunorc on October 4, 2010

I honestly wanted to jump back and start writing about Perl 6, but… again, many things emerged and required my attention.

First, I finally got my new (well, not so new, but bought recently) synths installed. Haven’t even scratched their surface yet, especially Korg Wavestation is treated rather unfair – nothing more than trying out presets, can you believe? Instead I tried to get up on the steep learning curve of Yamaha SY77, the pinnacle of FM synthesis – well, if you don’t think about FS1R. And if you think about FS1R, your brain will boil and explode, since eight-operator synthesis in terms of being easy to grasp is next to quantum mechanics.

And then, something strange happened. I acted as a proxy in the process of acquiring the groovebox for my friend, Joao. So for few weeks Yamaha RM1X occupied the desk in my studio. And those were very interesting weeks, I have to admit – maybe not weeks, but at least some days of those. While I’m not inclined toward the broadly speaking dance music, I was surprised by the general usability of this instrument. It is very easy to use and inspiring, even if you only tinker with the factory presets; in fact, creating your own ones can be very easy, but in my opinion it’s rather the task for a software sequencer, though.

Anyway, I spent some nice time with it, and you can even listen to the outcome:

(Apparently the widget doesn’ t look as expected, but nevermind).

But when I sorted out the things with my synths, my daughter Elżbieta Marta manifested her affinity for the Agile methodology, at least the part “release early”. We expected her three weeks later, but she decided to go, apparently thinking that Virgo is better than Libra. And believe me, you can always switch off your synths, even if you feel the inner call – but when we’re talking about demanding the attention, no synth can even come close to the newborn child…

However, in the meantime I also decided to write a bit about my other passion, so you can expect some musings about synths, MIDI and music in general. And those things can go along with Perl, as I already have some ideas…

Posted in MIDI, Music, Synths | Leave a Comment »