More Synth Work Chronicles

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.

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More Synth Maintenance Completed

It’s been a busy week behind the scenes at Studio Nebula. Not a lot of creative stuff going on at the moment, but I’ve taken the time to give much-needed TLC to some vintage gear.

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Yamaha SY35 Synthesizer – Downloadable Service Manual Now Available

Yamaha SY35 Vector SynthesizerAs promised, here’s the hard-to-find manual for Yamaha’s last Vector synth.

Yamaha sent it to me as 4 separate PDFs (Service Manual, MIDI Implementation, Parts List, Expanded big PCB pages), plus a monster-sized TIFF of the schematic. They didn’t want anything for it, and they didn’t ask any questions. I assembled the files into a single PDF, then used the the web-based Compress PDF to reduce the file size (to 6.5 MB, down from about 12 MB).

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Yamaha SY35 repairs …

The Non-Hunt for Synth Parts

Yamaha SY35 Vector SynthesizerYeah, I grabbed one of Yamaha’s forgotten vectors a while back for a good price.  The SY35 is a pretty sweet-sounding instrument that’s fun to program. I look forward to digging deep into its digital soul.

The unit I got had a couple of dead keys. I also noticed a couple of keys that were hyper-sensitive to velocity, i.e. they would always sound as though you struck them twice as hard as you actually did. So I took the keyboard apart and tried to clean the key contacts under the offending keys, which turned out to be a colossal waste of a lot of time. After a bit of research, I found that this keyboard mechanism is used on a lot of Yamaha keyboards including Continue reading

Gear News

SYNTHS RECENTLY ACQUIRED: Ensoniq ESQ-1 and Ensoniq SQ-80.

GEAR RECENTLY REPAIRED: Korg Zero 8 (touchscreen issue) Info here

YOU GOTTA CHECK OUT: the Novation Launchpad Mini. My original legacy Launchpad started acting crazy (“drawing too much power”) and I have a gig tomorrow night. A Novation guy stated on Gearslutz that this is typically due to a hardware fault, but since I have a gig tomorrow night, I just went to Long&McQuade and picked up the new Launchpad Mini for just $99 – after all, I need something schnell! After configuring its bootload option to “Full Power” it looks simply gorgeous. The LEDs look far brighter than the original Launchpad. Better still, unlike its full-sized predecessor it is small enough to perch on the panel of many synths, and thanks to its rubber underlay it won’t slide around. I’m pretty sure I’ll be keeping the Launchpad Mini. Once I repair my original Launchpad I’ll sell it – cheap. The two pics below show how nicely the new Launchpad Mini nestles itself atop the panel of a synth. Click for full size.

Launchpad Mini atop Ensoniq SQ-80

Launchpad Mini atop Ensoniq SQ-80

Launchpad Mini atop Korg DW-6000

Launchpad Mini atop Korg DW-6000

FINALLY! I just finished setting up my new, temporary workspace. I took a couple pictures just before I started doing some urgent work on some new material. I still have some oddball boxes and gear to deal with, but at least it’s a workable space. I was able to leave my large-format 24-channel mixer in storage, opting instead for the inputs of the MOTU 828mk2 expanded out to the Behringer ADA8000 via ADAT optical. I can control the mix of all 16 inputs using MOTU’s CueMix FX software from the iPad via TouchOSC. Check these pics out, and click on them to see in HD!

Studio Nebula

From here you can see most of the keyboards. Leftmost stand, top to bottom: Roland VK-09 organ, Yamaha CS40M synth. Three-tier stand, top to bottom: Roland JX-3P, Roland Juno-106, Roland Jupiter-6 (this is the Killer Roland Rack!) Z-frame station, top to bottom: rack including Yamaha R100 reverb, Alesis Micro Enhancer, Behringer ADA-8000 Ultragain A/D converter, DigiTech DSP128+ processor, Bellari RP-282 compressor; keyboards including Korg DW-6000, Ensoniq SQ-80 (beside Boss RE-20 Space Echo twin pedal), Ensoniq ESQ-1. The desktop rack to its right contains: Emagic Unitor 8, Novation Supernova II, MOTU 828mk2, power bars, Emagic AMT8. Also visible on far right of desk surface (closest to front of photo): Korg Poly-800-II.

Studio Nebula Chair

Other visible gear: Yamaha NS-10M studio speakers, spring reverb tank, Presonus Central Station, Yorkville SR300 amp, Mackie Control Universal + Extender + C4, 30" Dell monitor, Mac Pro under desk.