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Minimoog - dual VCAs, release switch.
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Author Minimoog - dual VCAs, release switch.
Rex Coil 7
Thinking within the realm of the live performance synth here;

I have come to learn the Minimoog had two output VCAs in series .... the first one used like an output VCA is commonly used (modulated typically with an EG), and the second one was intended for use with a foot controller. Seems as though the second one would be a smart place for velocity controlled output volume as well (so velocity would not change the envelope depth of the first one). In reality, it turns out that the second one was normalled wide open and was not utilized in any other way.

Can anyone shed some light on whether or not this cascaded dual VCA has much to do with Moognatious sound? I am considering using an Oakley Dual VCA (using FPD panel of my own design configured to work with my oddball redneck-teck synth) instead of the Dot Com Q108 that I have been using.

Secondly, having never owned a Minimoog myself (I did own a Micromoog in 1979, played it in the barracks when I was ~in~) ... how does the "Release Switch" work? Better said, what does it actually do? I imagine that when it's ~ON~ there is a release time placed on the (VCF? VCA? Both?), and when ~OFF~ the release time is modulated by however the associated Envelope Generator is configured. Am I anywhere even near close?

All of this is just more stuff I am considering doing/adding to the project synth .... I'm nearly at the point where these things are going to be dealt with, so better to gather info now rather than later.

cool
Synthbuilder
Rex Coil 7 wrote:
Can anyone shed some light on whether or not this cascaded dual VCA has much to do with Moognatious sound?

Part of the Mini's sound is indeed to do with the VCAs. They have a non linear transfer function (ie. they distort the audio input waveform). The amount of distortion will be dependant on the level of the audio signal so clearly both the input levels to the filter and what the filter is doing will affect this. I don't believe this creates the Moog sound but it is part of the sound of a Minimoog.

Quote:
I am considering using an Oakley Dual VCA

Although the basic functionality will be the same the Oakley Dual VCA is pretty clean and will not distort the signal in the same way as the much simpler Minimoog VCA. The Oakley Classic VCA will be closer to the Mini.

Note that trying to change the VCA gain with velocity can create distinct changes in volume. Imagine the long release tail of a note played at high velocity and thus is decaying from a high voltage. Playing a new note with a slow attack but a lower velocity will immediately pull down the output volume. This sudden change in volume produces a waveform discontinuity and usually gives an obvious click in the output. In these cases I find letting velocity control the cut off frequency, or the level of the VCF's EG, more effective and more natural sounding for some patches.

Quote:
how does the "Release Switch" work?

It's the R in the ADSR. Basically it either sets the release time to 0 or sets the release time to be the same as the decay time. It alters the behaviour of the two envelopes.

Tony
burdij
The two VCAs are actually two differential amplifier with the current in the emitters controlled by a voltage sensitive current source. The output collectors of the first pair are connected to the bases of the second pair. The voltage control for the first pair comes from the contour generator. The voltage control for the second pair comes from the external loudness input jack.

The input audio signal is attenuated by a factor of 100 because this type of amplifier works with the dynamic resistance of the transistor and so its operating audio input level is limited to about 200-400 millivolts. This response is also not a linear function but exhibits an exponential characteristic. This is offset by the differential amplifier operation as both sides have the same non-linearity.

I am sure that the distortion components add something to the characteristic of the sound but I am also sure that this was not intentionally engineered into the product. In listening to what Bill Hemseth said about the engineering behind the product, the intention was to build a playable instrument with circuitry that embodied 95% of the functionality of a modular system with a minimum of relatively expensive components. After all, resistors at the time were selling for .12 each which is like $2 in today's money.

The main sonic character of this monophonic instrument comes from having the three oscillators with the ability to track each other over the range of the keyboard, the transistor ladder filter, and the ability to mix a predetermined percentage of the keyboard control voltage into the filter frequency control.
Rex Coil 7
It seems there are differing opinions about how/why/what for the dual VCAs were wired and their intended use.

This quote is from an AJH Synth "love thread" here in Miffwugglers ... the person quoted is the owner and chief engineer at AJH Synth. I don't know everything, but I am aware that those people dissected the Minimoog to make every effort to create accurate models of the internal sections of the Minimoog and make individual modules.

The emboldened highlighted text was done by me to illuminate the relevant ideas.

Now and Zen wrote:

A quick point regarding the MiniMod VCA - it is actually two VCA's hard wired in series - CV1 and CV2 control the level of VCA 1 and the Master CV controls the level of VCA2, which is down stream of VCA 1 (VCA 2 was originally for an external volume pedal on the Model D, and was normalised fully open). ..... the Envelope controlling loudness is connected to CV1 (or CV2) and the 0 to 5v Velocity CV from the 1v/oct signal is patched into the Master CV in, and the Master level set to around 5 on the dial - in this configuration VCA 1 handles the level over time generated by the envelope, and VCA 2 (which is downstream) looks after the overall velocity generated from the keyboard. This is not possible, or certainly not as controllable with just a regular single VCA. Hope this is helpful..

Allan


seriously, i just don't get it
burdij
Well, I got my information from a schematic for the model D and the only input to the control node for the second VCA is a jack on the rear panel labelled "Ext. Loudness". Now, of course, Moog constantly changed the structure and design of their products, being on the "cutting edge" for the time, of the industry and the needs of their clients so there were undoubtedly changes made to the control and audio routing over time.

I don't have the date of the version I consulted but it is from a manual with a Norlin logo so the version is after 1973 or three years after the Model D intro.

I am not sure if the keyboard velocity referred to in the quote was in reference to the Minimoog keyboard, as the Minimoog did not have a velocity sensitive keyboard.
cornutt
burdij wrote:

I am not sure if the keyboard velocity referred to in the quote was in reference to the Minimoog keyboard, as the Minimoog did not have a velocity sensitive keyboard.


I wondered that too... maybe they were talking about the Voyager.
CZ Rider
Thought the velocity bit was referring to the ajs minimod vca, though I don't know what that is exactly?

Anyhow, a Jim Scott interview from back in 1999 might shed some light on what one of the Minimoog designers thought about the tone.

Can't find the link so I will paste the interview. Interesting read I thought.:

The Development of The Minimoog.

By: Jim Scott, Moog Music engineer- 1969-1977.



(In April of 1999 I took a road trip to the Hopi Indian reservation in northern Arizona to visit Dr. Jim Scott
and get his recollections about the genesis of the much loved Minimoog. Jim is also responsible for the Micro/Multi
Moog instruments and various other Moog Music products. His insight on this subject seemed to come from week old
memories, not ones from 1969. Friendly, effervecent and gracious in conversation, the following was submitted to me
a week after our visit. This letter, photos of the instruments and a number of other "eye witnesses" accounts will
appear in an upcoming magazine article.- David Kean.)

The MiniMoog Synthesizer was conceived of and put into production at the original R A Moog Inc. company in
Trumansburg, a small town 13 miles north of Ithaca New York. The entire operation, offices, engineering and
production, took place in the former Baldwin’s Furniture Store on Main Street. Product development there was
a fast paced and freewheeling affair in an engineering dominated environment. In the two years that I worked
at that location, from the fall of 1969 to the fall of 1971, there were four or five of us design engineers in
a company which averaged about 30 employees. We pursued an overly ambitious slate of projects; an electronic
music studio mixer, the highly advanced (for its time) Moog-MRS multi-track tape recorder, the continuing
evolution of the mainstay 900 Series Modular Patchcord products, an educational (classroom) synthesizer, and
the fulfillment of a backlog of one-of-a-kind specials Bob Moog had contracted to deliver to various studios,
universities and individual composers. We also cobbled together modular components for live performances, the
most notable being several built for composer-in-residence Chris Swansen and fellow performers for a landmark
"Concert At the Garden" in New York City in 1970. One of these was later sold to a British musician none of
us had heard of at the time named Keith Emerson.

Gene Zumcheck was Moog’s first staff engineer, and he was the first to push for an instrument
designed from the get go to be used for live performance by a gigging musician. He was responsible for the
first step in this direction, the Model 10 Synthesizer. It consisted of an assembly of existing 900 Series
modular components mounted into a single standard portable cabinet and played from a separate stock 951 keyboard.
It had provision for an auxiliary ribbon controller to be used for pitch bending. Gershon Kingsley’s First
Moog Quartet performed on four of these instruments in a concert given in Carnegie Hall in 1970. Although
still a patchcord machine, the Model 10 was a direct evolutionary step in the progression from modular to true
live performance synthesizers.

Zumcheck and Bob Moog did not get on together too well, and somewhere around the time the Model 10 hit the
streets, Gene was impelled to hit the road himself. He went to Buffalo New York and became the key figure in
the development of the Sonic 5 Synthesizer. Fellow Ukrainian and wheeler-dealer Bill Waytena
organized a company named Musonics Inc. to produce it. Eventually Moog and Musonics merged in Buffalo and
poor old Gene ended up being fired by Moog a second time.

Meanwhile back in the Moogworks in Trumansburg, we were in a lot of trouble due to poor business management,
barely meeting payroll and trying to attract investors without much luck. Moog, bless his heart, was giving
his all to advance the art of music with electronic innovations and spending much of our resources without
much return on investment, much to the chagrin of our hard nosed business manager John Huzar. Bob hadn’t a
particularly strong interest in the development of a production model live performance instrument, with the
boring prospect of manufacturing hundreds of identical instruments on an assembly line. He loved to design
custom "specials" in collaboration with artists. After all, that was the genesis of the original synthesizer
modules. The others of us designers, me, Bill Hemsath and Chad Hunt, along with Huzar and sales manager Al
Padoor, were quite keen to develop what we initially dubbed the "integrated" (i. e., non-modular)
synthesizer which would retain the great "Moog sound", yet be inexpensive to produce, road rugged and simple
to operate (no patchcords). Somewhat reluctantly Bob relented and allowed development to start along this
line, realizing as did we all that our company could not survive without an infusion of capital, and this
would not be forthcoming unless we had a product an investor figured he could make a buck on.

We had in the Trumansburg factory a full electronic music recording studio which brought us musical engineers
into constant contact with performers and composers. Some were local regulars (ed note. Chris Swnason, David Borden
and Steve Drews among them). Others visited from afar to get instruction in the operation of their synthesizers.
Still others were prospective customers needing advice on what suite of modules to include in their purchases.
This engendered a lively exchange of insight, ideas, opinions and conjectures as we engineers strove to meet
the needs of our collaborators and customers, either with novel patches or with design innovations. We observed
that over and over again musicians would patch a voice in pretty much the same way: a bank of two or three
tone oscillators feeding into a voltage controlled filter / amplifier chain with two envelope generators to contour
the attack and decay of timbre and volume. Often a low frequency oscillator would be used to modulate pitch
or volume to produce vibrato or tremolo. Finally the ribbon controller, a continuous slide device operated
in a fashion similar to that of a violin string, would be connected to the tone oscillators to allow for pitch bending.
This "voice" concept was first incorporated into the Synthesizer 10, on which the MiniMoog was rather closely modeled.

So it occurred to us to package this arrangement of functions as a fixed patch with limited ability to program
interconnections and modulations, and to call this our live performance synthesizer. Chad Hunt and Bill
Hemsath took the bull by the horns over a weekend, gathered up a bunch of 900 Series modules, went to the shop
and cut up some walnut for a case to house them, built in a sawed off keyboard, wired the modules together in
the back, added a slide pot to emulate a ribbon pitch bender and, viola!, on Monday morning there stood the
MiniMoog Model A on the bench. Bill wanted to call it the "Min" and so named it on the rear panel label. He
and business manager John Huzar had quite a contest of wills over this, as John insisted (and eventually
prevailed) that it be called the "Mini." In any case that one instrument was an instant hit with the likes of
composers David Borden and Chris Swansen, both studio regulars. I can’t remember whether the Model A happened
before or after Huzar prodded Moog into letting the project proceed, but I suspect it was before.

Under Hemsath’s leadership the engineering department produced two Model B MiniMoogs. These employed standard
modular circuit boards which were wired in behind a single "integrated" panel, whereas the Model A sported
standard modular front panels reworked to delete the patchcord jacks. The electronic and functional design
differed little from the Model A - it was just another repackaging job.

Realizing that the two B Models wouldn’t generate enough interest in the marketplace, Moog gave the go ahead
to produce four C Models. The idea was to get the some instruments which looked and played like production
models into the hands of our regional sales reps in order to gauge their reactions as to the sales potential.
For these units we totally redesigned all the circuitry to simplify them to the essence, streamlining Bob’s
original studio system designs and removing superfluous functions. We added a half octave to the keyboard,
both in response to commentary by musicians and because the width of the control panel dictated a longer
overall size. For test equipment we had not much more than oscilloscopes, voltmeters and our ears to guide
us. The cabinet, with it’s fold down panel, was put pretty much in its final form. This was Bob’s idea I
think, allowing for compact travel stowage and excellent viewability in performance. Each of us four
designers took a portion of the circuitry to work on, Moog the oscillators, Hemsath the power supply, Hunt the
modulation circuitry and me the filter / amplifier and associated envelope generators. The electronics were
assembled by our production people, hand wiring point-to-point on one side of perforated "vector boards" with
the components (transistors, resistors, capacitors, etc,) on the other. On this model the left hand control
section took shape with a modulation-injection slide pot being added to the pitch bender.

The C Models received a good reception, but there weren’t enough of them to stimulate a worthwhile demand. We
needed to get more units into the hands of musicians and onto the stage to make potential customers aware of
the MiniMoog’s existence. Now in those days Bob Moog was quite in demand as a speaker and demonstrator of
synthesizers. I believe he actually made his living from the income thus derived without drawing a salary
from R. A. Moog Incorporated. Thus he got paid to publicize his business and promote sales, nice work if you
can get it. As he departed for a couple of weeks on the road, he authorized the construction of 10 more C
Models.

Hunt Hemsath and I laid out the PC boards. Draftsman Jim Ameigh laid out the front panel, then went to the shop and bent up the metal to form the electronics box behind it. After that he built the walnut cabinet to fit the keyboard and box. He did the
drawings later. Moog wanted someone to come up with some sort of spring loaded rockers, like keys hinged in
the middle, to replace the clumsy left hand controller slide pots, but none of us could figure a practical way
to implement this. Our purchasing agent, Don Pakkala, a former tool and die man, ended up machining wheels
for this purpose. Bill Hemsath gets the credit for inventing the wheel by the way, the first being
constructed by him for the studio to facilitate control of modulations. So the first run of D
Models was completed. Somewhere along here, in the transition from C to D, Huzar designated me as project
leader, taking the load off Hemsath, who was heavily engaged in his ill fated studio mixer project. I did the
production engineering and ran the MiniMoog show until the company was sold and moved to Buffalo the following
year.

Swiss bell ringer and former evangelist David Van Kovering got his hands on a Model D, put on his
super salesman hat, and beat the bushes down in Florida. Single-handedly he proved that synthesizers could be
sold by Mr. Music Dealer, taking the lion’s share of our first few hundred Minis and selling them all in one
state. The rest is history. Eventually we sold 12,000 of these Model D "prototypes," and the instrument went
on to become the main cash flow generator for the company for some five years before it became obsolescent and
was retired from production. We never did get around to the E Model, the envisioned "real" production model
in which the wiring harness would have been replaced by a circuit board which also would have carried the
front panel pots and switches. There never seemed to be the time or funds to do the job right.

So the question remains, why does this instrument, designed in great haste, six months from concept to first
delivery, sound so damn good? Why is it that that most of the MiniMoogs ever built are still being used
today, some 25 years after the last one was manufactured? The answer I think, besides pure dumb luck in some
aspects, lies in the use of our ears as our most trusted development tool and because we adapted to the Mini
the rather obsolescent but well proven circuit technology developed by Bob Moog for its 900 Series modular
predecessors. The original Mini had no integrated circuits whatsoever in it. None of us knew how to design
with them back in the bad old days and none of us had the time to mess around with anything unknown. All
circuitry was implemented using discrete (individual) transistors. This resulted in a very wide-band audio
chain with no feedback anywhere, which unlike IC op amp implementations when driven into distortion, did so
softly like a vacuum tube amplifier, without clipping the waveforms. This allowed us to drive the circuitry
rather hard, which we did to achieve a good output signal-to-noise ratio. As a result, each of the several
stages of the sound chain ended up contributing a fortuitous gentle distortion which enlivened the sound. The
ultrasonic bandwidth preserves the high frequency cross modulation components (far above the audible range)
which are produced in this process, and which the distortion in later stages causes to reappear downshifted
back into the audible range. This is probably a vital factor in the famous "fat" sound of the early Moog
instruments. And then there’s the Allen Bradley "Type J" carbon composition potentiometers on the front panel
which carry the audio signals. In the early 80’s, Moog power amplifier engineers Pearce and Persival
(?spelling?) discovered the source of distortion in their designs - it was due to the non-linearity of these
pots. So maybe that has something to do with the sound too. Be that as it may, a look at the Mini sawtooth
output on a scope with the filter wide open reveals a highly curved waveform, particularly when all three
sawteeth are being mixed together at maximum level. Knowing how engineers think, I’m pretty confident that
many designers of later instruments made the error of striving for perfect wave shapes and being ignorant of
the necessity to listen. I should hasten to add that all the theorizing on this subject has occurred long
after the Mini went into production. We don’t deserve to be credited with an unwonted degree of genius in how
the Mini turned out.

Of course the patented Moog filter has a lot to do with the sound as well. Its audio effect is the result
also of designing only with transistors, the quality being an accidental consequence of the circuit structure
one necessarily must employ to make it function at all. Tom Rhea, at one time Moog’s marketing manager,
believes that the fast retrace time of the tone oscillators is a factor, but don’t think anyone ever actually
demonstrated this. The specific shape produced by the envelope generators also could be contributing to the
Moog mystique, and if so it is the result of an arbitrary choice of contour by the designer (me).

A problem which has plagued many synthesizer designs is "oscillator locking." In a setup where two or more
oscillators are ganged in unison to produce a richer pitch source, it is essential the they have absolutely no
tendency to "grab" onto one another momentarily and sound in perfect synchronization. The oscillators must
be free to roll. past one another at their difference frequency rate without one "pulling" the other at each
pass. If they do grab, the sound is dirtied in an unpleasing manner. Now it happens that the MiniMoog power
supply is a bit noisy, not so much as to have any affect on the sound, but just enough to disturb the
oscillators out of any tendency to lock. This was discovered after the Mini had been in production for a
while and someone got the great idea to replace the power regulator board with a new, clean, integrated
circuit design. The oscillators locked. The modification was abandoned.

Another contribution to the cleanliness of the instrument is the absence of any microprocessor circuitry on
board to control the analog sound chain. Very high frequency digital clock pulses have a nasty habit of
sneaking around at low levels and finding their way into the audio circuitry, where they can induce subtle
effects to muddy the sound. This is exemplified in the MicroMoog, a cut down version of the Mini, which I
designed using an ultrasonic clock as part of the keyboard in order to develop triggers for the envelope
generators. Tom Rhea reports that this instrument sounds markedly better if it is played from an external old
style Modular keyboard, with the MicroMoog keyboard circuitry shut off.


Jim Scott
JohnLRice
CZ Rider wrote:
a Jim Scott interview from back in 1999 might shed some light on what one of the Minimoog designers thought about the tone.
Awesome read CZ, thanks for posting! screaming goo yo SlayerBadger! w00t thumbs up
Thalassa
That was an interesting reading smile Thanks for posting it thumbs up
RussiaZero23
That was a wealth of information CZ. Thank you.
burdij
CZ Rider wrote:

Anyhow, a Jim Scott interview from back in 1999 might shed some light on what one of the Minimoog designers thought about the tone.

Can't find the link so I will paste the interview. Interesting read I thought.:

The Development of The Minimoog.

By: Jim Scott, Moog Music engineer- 1969-1977.

A problem which has plagued many synthesizer designs is "oscillator locking." In a setup where two or more
oscillators are ganged in unison to produce a richer pitch source, it is essential the they have absolutely no
tendency to "grab" onto one another momentarily and sound in perfect synchronization. The oscillators must
be free to roll. past one another at their difference frequency rate without one "pulling" the other at each
pass. If they do grab, the sound is dirtied in an unpleasing manner. Now it happens that the MiniMoog power
supply is a bit noisy, not so much as to have any affect on the sound, but just enough to disturb the
oscillators out of any tendency to lock. This was discovered after the Mini had been in production for a
while and someone got the great idea to replace the power regulator board with a new, clean, integrated
circuit design. The oscillators locked. The modification was abandoned.

Jim Scott


Thanks for the great read. It certainly corresponds well with the information from Bill Hemesth presented in his keynote address at Knobcon two years ago.

There are a couple of things I would like to mention. He makes a statement about the lack of operational amplifiers in the earlier instruments (before serial number 10175). There actually were operational amplifiers incorporated in the exponential current sources of the three oscillators on the older oscillator board. They were the then newly available uA741. In the oscillator board put into instruments with serial number 10175 and later, there are many operational amplifiers.

Secondly, in the quote above, he mentions that the lack of locking in the oscillators as important to the richness of the sound of the instrument. The instrument's oscillators have no active circuitry to cause synchronization of the oscillators either in the old version or the new. Some kind of locking other than just supplying the same note CV to each oscillator is necessary to get the unison sound that is characteristic of the instrument. The weak or ad hoc locking that was caused by the original power supply design may in fact have played a role in the sound of the instrument. Hemseth also mentioned this in his speech.
Synthbuilder
burdij wrote:
There actually were operational amplifiers incorporated in the exponential current sources of the three oscillators on the older oscillator board.

The earliest Minimoogs had no integrated ICs. The second revision VCO board added the 741 in the CV pathway, while the third revision added a few more including in the audio pathway. There are op-amps in discrete form in the first revision boards but the VCO core is quite different.

Quote:
The instrument's oscillators have no active circuitry to cause synchronization of the oscillators either in the old version or the new.

I don't think it's a designed in feature. Placing all three VCOs on the same board which shares the same power and 0V lines was asking for them to soft sync. Whether they do or do not with a cleaner PSU I have no idea but the saw discharge currents tend to go where they're not supposed to and will cause premature reset to the other VCO's comparators.

Various commercial synths suffer from inadvertent soft sync. The Moog Voyager and Korg MS-20 being two such examples.

It's interesting to note that the ARP2600 has each of its three VCOs powered from three separate cables even though they share the same PCB.

Tony
CZ Rider
There were three different designs for the Minimoog oscillators. All of the R.A.Moog Minimoogs used the original first revision oscillator board that was completely discrete, no IC's at all. Just look up the schematics. Same with the 900 series modules, all discrete, except for the 960,961,962 that used IC's. Forget who designed the sequencer bits?

Oscillator locking is something that can happen and sounds unpleasant. At very high frequencies I can get a pair 901's to lock. Can not only hear it, but can see it if you record and look at the wav file. Not sure the exact reason this can happen?
milkshake
Can someone please post a sound file, or post a link to a file, that demonstrates this "oscillator locking" phenomenon.

I've heard of the existence of it, but I don't know what to listen for let alone how it sounds like.


Thanks in advance.
Synthbuilder
milkshake wrote:
Can someone please post a sound file, or post a link to a file, that demonstrates this "oscillator locking" phenomenon.

I've not got anything that will show it here. It's one of those things that really annoy me so I get shot of stuff that does it. I should add that for most commercial gear it really is very soft sync as they probably would have fixed it if it were obvious. So it often only happens when both VCOs are tuned to the same frequency, and for most gear that does do it, it'll only happen occasionally. The MS-20 and Voyager, for example, when two VCOs are the same pitch they will just apparently randomly lock together so the beat frequency noticeably stops when the two VCOs are locked in unison. Then as the natural frequency drifts of an analogue VCO occur the two unlock and the slow beating comes back. So the key to making it do it is tune both VCOs to the same pitch and wait and see what happens. If the 'rich rolling' slow beating suddenly stops you know they have sync'd.

The Korg Lambda is probably one of the worst offenders. The three VCOs lock together very easily - only by quite obvious detuning or by turning on the tri-phase vibrato can you free them from syncing.

Tony
milkshake
Thanks Tony thumbs up
EPTC
CZ Rider wrote:
Anyhow, a Jim Scott interview from back in 1999 might shed some light on what one of the Minimoog designers thought about the tone.


This was an ASTOUNDING POST! Thank you CZ! Made my bus ride this morning. What an amazing forum, truly.
Rex Coil 7
Reading that article that *CZ posted triggered an old memory. Around 1978, maybe early '79 I played with a guy that had this (what we all thought was) wacky ass setup. He had 3 ARP AXXE synths interfaced together, and used one keyboard to control them all. I'm not totally sure what the keyboard was, but memory tells me it was an Arp String Ensemble (that may not be right .. it may have been some type of Crumar). He'd had set up to interface with the Axxe trio.

That thing sounded amazing. I mean bloody frikkin amazingly good.

Having read the article above, especially where it was pointed out that the VCOs n.e.v.e.r locked up for various reasons, I have to wonder if the dude with the 3 AXXE synths was on to something. He essentially had 3 VCOs, each one on it's own PSU, each one driven by it's own oscillator driving system (whatever the heck ARP used), and none of them ever having the opportunity to soft-lock due to these discrete systems. The AXXE, being what it was, fit nicely into standard sized luggage/suitcases. My own AXXE fit perfectly into this fugly ass green suitcase that I had kicking around in my closet. That said, the 3 Axxe dude just took his rig down into separate pieces, each synth fitting into it's own suitcase. He was up and running in no time at gigs with the setup. I was lugging around a 1965 Hammond M100 and my own Arp Axxe (which I played through a Crate guitar combo and a Crate bass amp ... both the Hammond and the synth through that rig).

Another (possible) contributing factor was he used a passive mixer that I had cooked up out of old stereo system parts and some stuff that I thought "looked right" at Radio Shack. He's roasted the small mixer he previously used, so I was "volunteered" to cook up something. It was in essence three pots summed to an output jack. He'd plug the Triple Axxe into that hack mixer and then the summed out would get plugged into a guitar overdrive to reestablish gain. The OD wasn't really a bona fide distortion pedal, it's was just a gain booster. I think it was an Ibanez something or another. It all ended up going into some type of Traynor guitar amp/thing.

Anyhow, all three VCOs in unison sounded simply glorious. The setup looked goddam awesome when set up on stage. These three Arps, with some keyboard beneath them. Looked trick as all hell. He scored a Space Echo from some guitar player when we played a gig out of town one night. To be honest, I'm fairly sure it was hot. In any case, he learned how to work the "echo" with the 3 Arps pretty well. During the part of the show where the synth players (he and I) would go into the five minute long "keyboard wizard" part of the set (usually during the song "Frankenstein", doing all sorts of weirdness), he'd really get the audience engaged with the 3 Arps and the Space Echo. We'd end the "synth break" with unison riffs, 4 Arp Axxes playing the same notes (his 3 and my one). It was, after all, the age of excess, "dual leads" were nearly expected.

Neat stuff for a 19 year old punk (me). I had a blast in that band. We played all over Houston Tx. We even played gigs at skating rinks (not when kids were allowed in), the rink owners would set up carpets on the rink floor for the audience with rented folding chairs, serve "unlicensed beer" and we'd set up right on the rink floor. The wide open space made us sound like an arena band! The drummer had an 88 piece kit. Bass player used Sun amps. Those 3 Arps sounded sick. Holy shit we were loud.

Better days.

thumbs up

(unsubscribed - not mad or having a hissy fit - just trying to keep my number of subscribed threads under better control - if you wish to correspond please feel free to send me a PM, I'll be happy to hear from you - thanks!)
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