Friday, 13 July 2012

More Gear Acquisition!!!

I simply knew that getting more hardware would eventually start leading me down a slippery slope, because as you acquire one piece, you suddenly find yourself needing another. And yep, that is exactly what has been happening in the GTK Studio. As I've said in a previous blog entry, the GTK Studio Sofa has been moved to Anne's Den to make way for a workbench where the various newer bits and pieces will reside.

So what have we got now? Well, I have to say it's been something of a gear bonanza of late, so I might suggest you get a coffee and a packet of biscuits, sit back, make yourself comfortable and I will tell you.

First is the top acquistion of the moment - for me that is :-) If you're a follower of this blog, then you'll know that I'm currently planning and designing a 4 pad electronic drum unit. Well, I went onto eBay the other day  and I saw a listing for two black Simmons drum pads - no stands, leads or the sound module, just the pads. That's okay because I have an Alesis DM5 drum module which they could be hooked up to. Anyway, they were at something like 99 pence with a couple of days to go, so I did the usual "Watch this item" thing and thought nothing of it. Then I got the e-mail reminder from eBay on the day the auction ended and they were still at 99 pence - I smiled, bunged in a bid of a fiver and went off and did what I had to do that day, again thinking nothing more of it. When I got home and switched on my computer, I am sure you can imagine the total surprise I experienced upon learning that not only had I had won the auction, but that I had got these two Simmons pads for a jaw-droppingly low price of £1.04!!!!!! Well they're here and they look good considering they are nearly 30 years old, and they work just fine with the Alesis DM5. The response is excellent which means that the piezos inside are still in good nick and they work very well with the velocity of the DM5 drum sounds. Very happy.

My next two acquisitions came via a classifieds page I set up with another muso on Facebook called EMLive Classifieds. Our idea was to provide a place where musos could buy, sell and source gear without the hassle of eBay and Paypal fees and also to avoid the ridiculously prohibitive and falsely inflated prices of music gear created by collectors. It's working really well and along with a few others, I've benefitted greatly from this little page.

So, the first bit of gear that I've purchased is an old Vestax DIG114B digital delay line. It's great. And I mean, great. Mono output and a good old-fashioned delay with a rather splendid hold feature which means you can create a rhythm using one of the longer delay options and then when you hit the hold button, it loops the delayed sound. Very useful. It also has a nice modulation section which allows flanging (a sort of metallic swirly whooshy effect) which applied to vocals creates a very nice sci-fi feel. I put the Linstead signal generator through it and pushed the settings of the modulation section to their extremes and it gave a warbly effect. Using a nice subtle delay, I channelled the Vestax through a warm reverb setting on the QuadraVerb and it was a lovely sound. Very pleased with this piece of kit.

The second bit of equipment I've acquired through the EMLive Classifieds is a Behringer Virtualizer multi-effects unit. This unit has some excellent reverbs and delays as well as a decent flanger and some nice multi-effects set ups. It sounds nice and clean and will be perfect for the signal generators and the Vibrati Punk Console, which upon first testing sound absolutely marvellous. I'm looking forward to messing around with some the effects algorithms to see what I can come up with.

I also now have a patchbay and an oscilloscope. The Behringer Ultrapatch PX2000 patchbay enables me to route things like the signal generators and the Vibrati Punk Console to the different effects units without having to reach round the back of the rack to swap leads about. I'm still getting my head round how it works, but I will sort it out soon enough :-) The oscilloscope, which is Telequipment D65 will be useful for checking waveforms etc as well as providing me with a source of video content for background graphics. It was given to me by Duncan Goddard of the acclaimed electronic group Radio Massacre International and he told me something very interesting about it, in that it originally came from a studio owned by none other than Pete Townsend of legendary U.K. rock group, The Who. So, I now have a little piece of musical history sitting in my studio :-)

The next piece of equipment came about through my purchase last month of the Linstead G1a signal generator. Well, the gentleman who sold me the Linstead also had an Advance Type S.G.66 LF signal generator for sale and wasn't having much luck with it on eBay, in part because it isn't what you would call small and it is quite heavy. He threw a very reasonable price at me and I accepted, so now I have a second signal generator to make all sorts of weird and wonderful noises with, and it looks great with the Linstead :-D

As I'm going to be doing a lot more vocal recording in the near future with the Impossible Men project, I thought it was time to get an external compressor and after much consideration, I decided upon an Alesis NanoCompressor. I've been impressed with the Alesis products I already own (DM5 drum module, QuadraVerb multi-effects unit and M1 Active 520 near-field monitor speakers) so I knew that I would be getting something of quality that was both good to use but also had a good sound. it's small and quite cute, plenty of little lights and packed with features. It also sounds pretty good as well, but I still need to work with it more to understand it perfectly and to get the best out of it.

So, lots of new toys to play with and lots of new things to learn. And the best part is the fact that it hasn't cost an arm and leg - careful sourcing, part-exchanging and generous friends have made it all possible. I was always going to avoid the hardware route, and to some extent I have as I'm using alternative sound sources to synthesizers. Will this change? Probably not, but who knows.

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