The Long Night

These nights around the Winter Solstice are the longest, many times the coldest, but not necessarily sad nor depressing. I like the dark and quiet environment of these long winter nights to create some music and soundscapes. This track is the result of one of those nightly jams.

The gear I used is my November/December 2020 setup: The SQ-1 serves as the master clock. Yes, the SQ-1 doesn’t show me the tempo I’m playing at, but that is a good thing in this case, as it allows me to set the tempo based on feeling, instead of looking to a number display. From the SQ-1, the analogue sync signal goes (via a split) to the Monotribe and the Behringer Crave. The MIDI output is connected to the MicroFreak, which is listening on channel 2. I’m also sending CV A and B to the Crave’s filter CV (via the VC mixer) and the filter Ressonance. Finally, the KMI QuNexus is used to play the lead sound on the Crave. As a final touch, the Monotron delay is listening on the Crave’s headphone output, for that cosy lo-fi delay vibe.

It is very interesting to play the pad on the MicroFreak while sending MIDI notes on channel 2: there is an interesting interference between the chord notes and the external sequencer that makes for an interesting and moving background. I really want to go back to this technique in 2021.

This was also one of the first videos I edited using FlowBlade instead of Kdenlive. I hope you enjoy the result as much as I enjoyed making it.

This track is also available on my BandCamp (as an EP with both Long and short versions) or on my SoundCloud.

Behringer VB1: The missing bass pedal

When I first look at it in a catalogue, I mistaken i by my beloved VP-1. However, the Behringer VB-1 Vintage Bass has little in common with the VP-1, apart from the relatively large metallic case and the scarcity of controls. Like the VP-1, this is a relatively large (at least by today’s standards) grey metal box with one stomp switch, one knob and one small switch on the side. It is also a mono machine (but you probably won’t buy a second unit just to have it working in stereo).

So, what is the VB-1 Vintage Bass. Well, as the lettering on the front panel says: it is a Dual Dynamic Filter for bass guitars. However, there is no individual control for each filter… nor much documentation on their characteristics.

Continue reading “Behringer VB1: The missing bass pedal”

Behringer FX600 Multi-effects Pedal: Second Year Review

Whether it is in life, music or the YouTube scene, two years is a lot of time. I first brought my Behringer FX600 in late 2015, trying to complement the rather limited sonic palette offered by my volcas. At the time I made a small demo video of it with the volca keys. I was particularly impressed by the chorus and delay effects. I also enjoyed the pitch shifter, but ended up never using it ever in my productions. I also remember finding the phaser to be a little bit too shy, an the flanger to be as annoying as any other flanger out there.

However, time comes and goes, and I grabbed this pedal on a number of occasions. For example, when preparing my Berlin School Experiment no 4 I initially planned to use the Nux Time Core tempo-sync’ed to the sequencer. However I forgot to unlock the “tone lock” memory of the Nux Time Core and, not being able to realise my mistake, I went forth recording the video with an un-synced delay from the FX600. I also used it on my Microbrute through guitar pedals video, which is still one of my favourites.

The Behringer FX600 is a silver grey pedal that shares its chassis design with the other Behringer pedals from the 600 series. Continue reading “Behringer FX600 Multi-effects Pedal: Second Year Review”

Behringer SP400 Super Phase Shifter

About a year ago, I managed to score a lot of pedals by not a lot a money. Most of them have had a comfortable life, in their boxes, in a shelf at home.  Still, I remember I brought them, and decide to take one out of the box to test and see what they have to offer. Now, as many of you know, I have a thing for phasers (specially the Behringer VP-1), so it made perfect sense to add this pedal to my collection. The Behringer SP400 is a digital, monophonic phaser pedal made back in the day Behringer wasn’t too busy releasing spoof’s of possible future products. It might not sound as vintage and warm has the VP-1, but it has some interesting features I wanted to convey in the video demo bellow.

The build quality of the SP400 is similar to all other Behringer pedals of the 400 series: it has a blue plastic chassis with relatively firm knobs and the overall feel brings it closer to the 600 series than to the rather flimsy and fragile 200 and 300 series. Continue reading “Behringer SP400 Super Phase Shifter”

Behringer VM1 Vintage Time Machine

A few weeks ago I managed to score a rarity on e-bay: an almost new  Behringer VM1 Vintage Time Machine. This is an old Behringer pedal (perhaps one of their earliest models) that is no longer in production, and hasn’t been for a long time. It is not an expensive pedal (usually it goes for less than 100€ on e-bay), but it is hard to come by. It is an analogue delay effects pedal, with some interesting features.

The first word that comes to mind when I think of this pedal is “Huge”. This pedal, like the VT999, is bigger than my volcas. It is also considerably heavy and can only be powered from a 9V power supply (center pin negative, like most pedals). In fact, the similarities with the VT999 Vintage Tube Monster are so many, I think the level knob on the VM1 is there only to accommodate the number of knob holes on the casing for the VT999. They were also made at about the same time and are fully analogue effects pedals. Both have a power switch on the back, but the effect is only engaged when you press the stomp switch on the front.

Taking a tour of the controls on the VM1, you’ll find the stomp switch and five knobs on the front panel: LEVEL, MIX, FEEDBACK, DELAY and CHORUS/VIBRATO. On the back panel, you have the power socket, an ON/OFF switch, one INPUT socket (6.5mm unbalanced TS mono), an EFFECT OUT socket and also a DIRECT OUT socket that send the unaffected dry signal. You also have a switch to select between CHORUS and VIBRATO as the modulation for the delay effect. This latter feature is a great addition I do not see very often on delay pedals at this price point, and greatly enhances the expressiveness of anything going through this pedal. There are also two LED indicators for POWER and for OVERLOAD. Continue reading “Behringer VM1 Vintage Time Machine”

Berlin School Experiment 11

It’s been a while since my Last Berlin School Experiment. The recording of Ambient Explorations 11 gave me some new ideas I want to explore deeper. This is one of those.

This Experiment was done in one take in which three tracks were recorded: the Monotribe, the Volca Sample being sequenced by the SQ-1, and a stereo track for the Streichfett. There were some awkward silences in the the last two tracks, so I copied them and delayed in time (by about one minute). Two volca tracks were then panned left and right and a Calf Pulsator was used as an auto-pan for enhancing the stereo field. As for the secondary Streichfett track, It is only heard on some points, with a strong delay… almost as a distant memory.

The Streichfett and the Monotribe (which has a MIDI mod) are controlled from my PCR-500 in split mode, and a sustain pedal is used on the Streichfett. The Korg SQ-1 is sequencing the Volca Keys and the synchronization between the SQ-1 and the LFO on the Monotribe was dialed in by ear (thus them going in and out of sync while the music progresses).

As always, the audio was recorded and mixed on Ardour, and the final video was assembled using kdenlive, on an Arch Linux box.