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Review Digital Synth Rack/Sound Module


Waldorf Streichfett Review

Fat Strings Unveiled last spring at Frankfurt, it wasn't until mid-summer that the Streichfett was to be seen in stores. As soon as it came out, we grabbed one and stripped it down! read more…

User reviews on Digital Synth Rack/Sound Module products

Nice, tiny Swiss army knives - to assemble yourself (Mindflood - Patchblocks)

By Just Friday, 04/12/2016
Patchblocks are very tiny "multifunctional" modules. Actually, each patchblock (I own four, plus two midiblocks) features a minijack in and out, plus a 5-pin digital input (not MIDI – but I’ll get back to it). Two knobs, two buttons and that’s all, folks!
As to what a patchblock is, well… It’s a bit of whatever you want it to be. Launch the software, follow the tutoriels and here we go!

A patchblock can be used as an effect, sound generator or MIDI message generator depending on how you program it, or many other factors. The user community is very active and the patches shared by users allow to understand how it works. Of course, there are still many possibilities, but you have to scrape up information, again and again, a bit like with Reaktor, you have to build your own patches before you can play with them… But when it’s done it’s really nice.

Beware, as a consequence there’s no “preset” or such thing (even though you still can manage to do great things using the tutorials), and the output sound is very lo-fi (10 bits if I remember correctly).

Just to give you an idea of the different patches I used for live (techno/experimental techno) or production works (dub-techno), I successively used them as:
- white noise generators
- bass drum sound triggered by my MFB using the block’s audio in
- dub sirens
- texture generators
- glitchy-style effects

Now, the arrival of miniblocks has changed a lot the way I’ve used them. A miniblock is a peculiar patchblock that gets clipped before or after the patchblock, depending on whether you’re after the reception of emission of MIDI data.
I tried conceiving small synths, it’s cool. But what I mostly use it for is a mini-MIDI controllers so as to avoid shifting on some synth racks…

Here we are.
As a conclusion, I’d say it’s a useful gadget, but not one for just anyone (you need to know your way into synthesis), and patience is also required (you need to program it beforehand).

Probably the best in the series (Roland - D-05)

By Maxidingue, 24/11/2017

I’m not a big fan of Roland’s Boutique series. I’ve owned the Juno, the Jupiter and the TR-09, and I’ve long hesitated before getting this D-05 in loving memory of my good ol’ D-550 ;-)

Well, I ‘ain’t been disappointed!

It’s really lovely, smaller than the other models in the series I think – at least it’s not as wide. The original model’s color scheme is partly reproduced, as with the rest of the series. Accessing banks, presets and sequences is as easy as can be!
I’ve read here and there there were output gain problems, so I took the step to plug my MindPrint preamp behind it, just in case…

I still consider this new fashion of putting a minijack out irritating, but I must admit the size of the device would hardly have made a full-sized XLR a legit option ;-)
The power supply, MIDI and audio all go through a mini-USB connector (mini-connectors for a mini-synth: quite logical somehow): just install a driver and here you go!

Strangely, there’s only one knob on the back side for volume setting. All tweakings are done using the buttons and switches as well as + and -, just like on the original.

Driver : OK, USB : OK, audio signal : OK… Here we go!

It sounds great from the very start – a little cleaner compared with the original if I remember correctly, but it delivers the same warmth.
The effects are not exaggerated.
I’m getting my old feelings back!

The small joystick seems quite fragile, but it does the job.
The 2 ribbons sound interesting and are respectively used for pitch bend and modulation, plus a nice ladder filter.

But let’s concentrate on the sound: well, this is where this nice little guy really shines! The sound structure is the exact same compared with the original, except it was modelled by Roland. Put them side by side in a blind test, and I dare you to recognize which is which.

Regarding the editing process… Well, that’s less brilliant. Linear synthesis is approximately to Roland what FM synthesis was to Yamaha – that’s very harsh. Plus, you certainly wouldn’t consider getting into upper-level synthesis with a 2-line screen and four control buttons, so I looked for an editor and, well… that was not easy.
For Windows, you’ll find what you need.
For iOS, you’ll find what you need – provided you pay for it
As for Mac OS X… well, not so much to be found.

But don’t be afraid, you’ll still find an EXCELLENT software which is free, very efficient and comprehensive.

So, now we can finally tweak it as we like. My advice is (as usual) to start from a preset you like and manipulate the dozens of sliders: you’ll soon understand which has which effect. Well, that’s not the most usual way into the world of linear synthesis, but that’s quite efficient.

But for the lazy ones – and I shall know, I’m one – who are after the sounds from their youth, this tiny synth can get those of its predecessors, and god knows you’ll find many all over the internet.

So… It’s a beautiful life, ain’t it?

The D-50 was my all time favorite keyboard, the D-05 reminds me why (Roland - D-05)

By timeofsilence, 25/11/2017
I've never thought much about the boutique series, especially since they're only 4 voice, although I'd consider one of the Juno models. Anyway, when I saw the re-issue of the D-50 I was very excited. I was stuck using samples in a NI player app. My D-05 arrived while I was away on an event. So I had to run to walmart to find a mini USB adapter to connect it to my computer. I didn't care for the 1/8" output and I get a ground loop hum when I connect the analog output to my mixer. The sounds are amazing. There are several banks of the original patches and some that I had never heard before. It would be nice to have a programing app to really dive into creating new patches. For anyone that liked the D-50, D-550 back from the day, this is well worth the investment.

News Digital Synth Rack/Sound Module

[MUSIKMESSE][VIDEO] Dasz Instruments Alex

Published on 04/08/16
A tour and demonstration of Dasz Instruments' Alex digital synthesizer at Musikmesse 2016.

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Waldorf Streichfett

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Roland JV-1080

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