Splash

ten crappy buttons

a million parameters

still, worth the effort

I bought this synth for $100 when I was in high school. A nightmare to program, but 8 part multitimbral and capable of some fantastic sounds. (Given how tough it is to program, you'd expect some decent presets, but...not so much.) Still a big fan of that 80s FM, and I'm using it quite a bit these days.

I bought this synth for $100 when I was in high school. A nightmare to program, but 8 part multitimbral and capable of some fantastic sounds. (Given how tough it is to program, you'd expect some decent presets, but...not so much.) Still a big fan of that 80s FM, and I'm using it quite a bit these days.

evolving pots

still makes me anxious

modifying fancy synth

to improve the thing

To do the potentiometer upgrade to the DSI Evolver, you need to remove a few surface mount components from the voice board and bridge these contacts with a piece of wire. After doing the work and installing the pot board, I fired up the synth and the display went bonkers. The thing was totally broken.

To do the potentiometer upgrade to the DSI Evolver, you need to remove a few surface mount components from the voice board and bridge these contacts with a piece of wire. After doing the work and installing the pot board, I fired up the synth and the display went bonkers. The thing was totally broken.

Of course, I assumed it was my fault. After sending a few pictures and videos back and forth to the excellent support team at DSI, they sent me a new pot board. Still broken. So I sent them the voice board. They were flummoxed. They kept it for a month. Turns out my soldering was fine, the problem was a software bug they hadn't seen before.

Of course, I assumed it was my fault. After sending a few pictures and videos back and forth to the excellent support team at DSI, they sent me a new pot board. Still broken. So I sent them the voice board. They were flummoxed. They kept it for a month. Turns out my soldering was fine, the problem was a software bug they hadn't seen before.

Finally they got it working. When I got the board back, reassembled and powered up, I checked the firmware. It's now at 2.3, which is odd because the most up-to-date version on their website is 2.2. I called to ask what happened. Turns out they had one of their wizards actually write an OS update just for my synth, to fix the issue with the pot board. How f'n cool is that? What hardware company would go this far out of their way to support a 10 year old synth that's no longer in production? I want to send these guys a fruit basket.

Finally they got it working. When I got the board back, reassembled and powered up, I checked the firmware. It's now at 2.3, which is odd because the most up-to-date version on their website is 2.2. I called to ask what happened. Turns out they had one of their wizards actually write an OS update just for my synth, to fix the issue with the pot board. How f'n cool is that? What hardware company would go this far out of their way to support a 10 year old synth that's no longer in production? I want to send these guys a fruit basket.

A little easter egg on the PCB!

A little easter egg on the PCB!



corrosion

super old nord board

temperamental buttons

must be the green stuff

This is the inside of a Nord 2 Rack. Really a beautifully designed synth. Very clean and well laid out. But it's 20 years old and the buttons got weird, which was leading to accidental patch overwrites and general frustration. (That 256k PCMCIA still card cost me sixty bucks in 2013!)

This is the inside of a Nord 2 Rack. Really a beautifully designed synth. Very clean and well laid out. But it's 20 years old and the buttons got weird, which was leading to accidental patch overwrites and general frustration. (That 256k PCMCIA still card cost me sixty bucks in 2013!)

The board with all the pots, buttons and LEDs. The buttons are an odd style I haven't seen before, with these big springy contacts housed in plastic. The cool thing is that unlike the sealed tact switches on most of my other gear, you can disassemble and clean these!

The board with all the pots, buttons and LEDs. The buttons are an odd style I haven't seen before, with these big springy contacts housed in plastic. The cool thing is that unlike the sealed tact switches on most of my other gear, you can disassemble and clean these!

There's something satisfying about scrubbing all the gunk off these things. There was some nasty buildup and it took a good hour to open up all the buttons, clean and reassemble, but it works like new now!

There's something satisfying about scrubbing all the gunk off these things. There was some nasty buildup and it took a good hour to open up all the buttons, clean and reassemble, but it works like new now!


Crossover

poorly designed shit

disastrous for subwoofer

why not run a test

It occurred to me that my old Mackie HR824s have a ridiculous low end. They've been collecting dust, so I decided to see how they'd work as subs. I wanted to experiment with different crossover designs before shelling out for some hardware, so I built a few test designs in Ableton, ran some sweeps and figured out what worked best for the speakers and the room. Now there's a modified DBX 223 handling this, and quite capably.

It occurred to me that my old Mackie HR824s have a ridiculous low end. They've been collecting dust, so I decided to see how they'd work as subs. I wanted to experiment with different crossover designs before shelling out for some hardware, so I built a few test designs in Ableton, ran some sweeps and figured out what worked best for the speakers and the room. Now there's a modified DBX 223 handling this, and quite capably.

minibrute module

hey synthesizer

i do not like your keyboard

let me remove it

This synth lives on a rack shelf. The springy, superlight 2 octave keyboard was always more of a nuisance than an asset, so I got rid of it.

This synth lives on a rack shelf. The springy, superlight 2 octave keyboard was always more of a nuisance than an asset, so I got rid of it.

3/8" Baltic birch plywood, worked by hand til the fit was right.

3/8" Baltic birch plywood, worked by hand til the fit was right.

Nice box, dude. Now for some glue, screws and stain!

Nice box, dude. Now for some glue, screws and stain!

Got me a minibrute module! It's nice to still have the pitch and mod wheels intact.

Got me a minibrute module! It's nice to still have the pitch and mod wheels intact.