Behringer VP-1 & MicroKorg

I like the Behringer VP-1 so much, I have two of them!. They are from different batches, thus the different painting on the front panel, but the sound the same (and great) to me. Sometimes I use them in a stereo configuration, with one channel handling the Left channel and the other one dealing with the Right one. The out-of-phase and de-synchronization between the two pedals adds new sonic texture to the sounds, and makes the MicroKorg sound amazing.




One word of caution, though. These pedals do not handle the hot Line signal as well as the newer pedals from Behringer (indeed they are not rated for keyboard use), so they sometimes distort the sound a little bit. However, this adds an analogue warmth to the sound, as long as you keep this distortion in check.

I hope you enjoy it as much as I do.

Missing files from STK on LMMS

Some time ago I decided to give LMMS another go. I do enjoy the Fruity Loops style of LMMS. It is very intuitive to create patterns and develop them into songs. It also features a nice assortment of instruments from tb-303 and Nintendo Game Boy Emulators, to a plugin version of the mighty ZynAddSubFX. Unfortunately, I haven’t been able to properly run LMMS since I switched from Gentoo to Arch, back in 2014.




The main problem is that some instruments such as Mallets and Vibed (a string emulator) gave me an error:

“Missing Files” – Your Stk-installation seems to be incomplete. Please make sure the full Stk-package is installed!

As I usually do, I started a google search on the error message and noticed this post from the Arch Linux Forum. Unfortunately, this is an old post from 2013. Apparently this problem is a recurring one, and came back to live in 2015 when another user replied on that topic saying that he still has that problem. This latter request collided with a rather strict anti-necrobump policy from the admins, and the issue apparently remained unsolved in the forum. In this video, I show you how to solve this minor problem, and have LMMS running to its full potential.

So here’s the solution in two steps:

  1. Go to the STK source code repository on GitHub and download the contents of the rawwaves folder into somewhere save on you home directory (for example, ~/music/stk_rawwaves).
  2. Launch LMMS. Go to Edit->Settings->Paths and place the full path to the folder you just saved the raw waves into the “STK RAWWAVE DIRECTORY”. In may case, since my user name is “fillipe”, I put /home/filipe/music/stk_rawwaves.

And that’s it. I thought I should need to restart LMMS, but as you can see in the video, I was happly surprised to see that LMMS instantly starts working fine with the Mallets and other STK-dependent instruments.




 

Stylophone Gen X-1: First Impressions

Yesterday, a small box entered my home. It is the Stylophone Gen X-1. Apparently, this is an upgraded version of the original stylophone David Bowie plays in the Space Oddity video clip. As many of you know, I have a soft spot in my heart for small noisy machines, and this one promises to be much more than that, so for 60 euros, I went forward and brought the thing.

The first thing you notice when taking the stylophone out of the box is that it it light, but not so light that it feels like a toy. The box is solid and doesn’t appear to bend easily. The knobs on the front panel are very similar to the ones you find on the Volcas and the Monotrons: they to wobble a ¬†little bit, but are perfectly usable. On the left side you also have the ON/OFF switch and three toggle buttons labeled “X”, “-1” and “-2”. Continue reading “Stylophone Gen X-1: First Impressions”

VCV Rack Virtual Modular Synth for Linux

This week all the attention has gone to the new VCV Rack. This is a virtual Modular synthesizer, which is free and open source, and (best of all) runs on Linux. I really had to check this one out!

This video was made without much musical intention, and I tried to use only the modules that come bundled with the program, ¬†before installing any additional modules (more on that later). There was not much of a big musical intention behind this video other than to see how this synth sounds, how stable it is and how easy it is to create something from scratch. Continue reading “VCV Rack Virtual Modular Synth for Linux”

Ashton SF50CH Chours Pedal: Review & Impressions

Two things I must confess before starting this review. For once, I’m not a particular fan of chorus pedals. Not because I dislike the chorus effect (well… it is not among my favourites either), but because I find myself spending more and more time playing with reverbs and delays. These latter effects just seem more pleasing for me when sculpting sound and making music. Another confession I need to make is that I was quite reluctant about buying this pedal from a friend.

That being said, my friend convinced me on taking the pedal home earlier this year. A few weeks later, one of my gear suppliers was having a sale with a lot of pedals at 10, 15 or 20 euro. So I now I have quite a few chorus pedals. Indeed, the Behringer UC200 I reviewed last month came from that lot. As you may have read it, I was not impressed with the UC200, but the Ashton SF50CH is a whole different matter.

The first thing to notice about this pedal is that it is a solid (and heavy) metal case. It is smaller than my Berhinger pedals, yet it carries a substantial amount of weight (specially when compared against the X200 series). It is a mono pedal, with only one input and one output, so you won’t have those autopanning and stereo-widening effects you can do on other chorus pedals. Continue reading “Ashton SF50CH Chours Pedal: Review & Impressions”

How to have swing on the Volca FM

When I brought the Volca FM, I complained about it not having a swing function (either by a dedicated knob or a combination such as FUNC+TEMPO). If you happen to own a Volca Sample or a Volca Kick, however, there is a neat trick you can use, albeit at the expense of loosing the capability to sync these newer volcas to your old ones.

Well, recently I’ve been preparing a comeback to the Korg Volca Sample Tutorial Series, and learned that the Volca Sample can switch between two sync modes: the traditional volca sync (one pulse every two steps, or 2PPQ) and a newer one pulse per step of the sequencer (4PPQ). This latter mode is capable of carrying swing to other synced units.




Now, to have swing over sync, you do need both machines to be in 4PPQ mode, and this is done by accessing the Global Menu and setting option 8 to ON. Unfortunately, this option is only available on the newer volcas (FM, Sample and Kick), which means that by using it, you’ll loose the ability to sync the newer volcas properly to the older ones.

Hopefully, Korg will someday get around to do a firmware upgrade, so that we can have swing over sync on all volcas.