Back in 2016 I was playing around in the studio, noodling on synths with rhythmic support from my Boss DR-110 “Dr. Rhythm”, a very simple drum machine from 1980. After about 5 minutes of riffing on a simple little syncopated 4/4 pattern I had programmed, I had to hit “STOP” when I realized my beat was almost exactly the same as Fade to Grey by Visage. This inevitable moment, when you realize the riff you’ve been working on is actually something from someone else’s song, is something that happens periodically in every songwriter/producer’s life. When it happens to me, I usually just try to remain cool and start over from a clean slate, or delete the stuff that sounds like the other song and keep exploring.
But in this case I started thinking about that lovely, ghostly melancholy of Fade to Grey, and instead of erasing my work, I decided to trudge onward and see if I could make an instrumental version of the song that would sound great as part of my modern techno set. Within a few hours I had largely recreated the original tune, without vocals, but it took just a few more days of sporadic work before it took on the Steve Coen fairy dust. Continue reading →
This weekend I’ll be doing minor repairs to the Roland JX-3P and Realistic/Moog MG-1 synthesizers, as well as some modifications to the Marantz PMD-221 cassette deck and Intellijel Eurorack 2HP passive Mult module.
The Maxim MDS-500 is not ready for action yet. Honestly, I’m sure it will ever be. It just doesn’t sound very good. I haven’t given up all hope though – I have a couple of suspicions about some things that might not be working as they’re supposed to, but it’s tricky to troubleshoot with no frame of reference. This is the only one of these I have ever seen, I’m not completely sure what it’s supposed to sound like, and there are no schematics or service documents. (If somebody out there has schematics, please let me know!)
Problems I’m having with this MDS-500:
The “noise” doesn’t seem to be as loud as it should be. (Try to find the noise source, disconnect it from each voice 1 at a time – perhaps one voice is loading it down for some reason. Otherwise, perhaps the noise has an output buffer that is not up to snuff)
Most of the front panel pots are intermittent, filthy.
Despite trying lots of settings I haven’t really heard anything that sounds like it’s filtered by an SSM2044 – yet there is an SSM2044 filter per voice!
I’m just not sure yet whether this device needs mods, repairs, or if it’s just crap.