Getting powerful kicks out of the Monomachine

The Monomachine is an interesting instruments not only for “classic” synth sounds but can even work as a 6 elements drum synth sequencer.
The Six machines are not a great restriction for rhythmic composing, as the beatbox on one track only can keep the rhythm busy, while I can synthetize kicks snares, percussions and cymbals on the other channels/machines.

In this post I want to examine the monomachine as a “kick generator”.
The best “Kick machines” are without any doubt the GND-sin and the EFM machines.
The best way to start is to genearate the SINE wave, with the envelope with the decay  set to do a 808 type kick and hold and release at ZERO.
The first thing to understand it’s that the punch in the sound is given by the typical pitch sweep.
Faster is the sweep , harder is the punch.
So to make the pitch sweep you can use the LFO , set to TRIG , with the EXP wave, getting the right amountand the right Speed.
As you have created your kick sound , then applying the “dynamics” efx in neighbour mode (on the folloowing track ) and setting the compressor to work in a rude way with a high ratio, medium attack and short release you get the final punch to the kick.

4 Filters shootout (part1)

The 4 filters:

  1. Doepfer A-120
  2. STG Soundlabs Post-lawsuit LPF
  3. Analog Systems RS-500 e
  4. Analogue Solutions SY02 Multimode filter

The oscillator: MFB OSC02 Triple VCO

The two filters that can be directly compared are the A120 and the STG, they are both 4 pole, 24dB slope ladder filters.
Ladder filters copy the classic “moog filter” (electronically speaking) so they have a very definite cut , a really fast response to modulations and oscillates at full resonance generating a sine wave.

The DOEPFER A120 was concived as the classic moog emulator but it doesn’t sound moogish at all, it is very clear and have a minimal touch to the sound, it lacks the organic carachter of the ladder moog, but it’s perfect for other tasks as aggressive minimal sounds or percussions.

The STG LPF emulates the ARP 2600 filter “post lawsuit” (the one used after the legal problems with R.Moog). I tried this filter face to face with the original and it is quite similar but not the same, but it retains the warmth and power. The only downfall of this filter is a kind of bleed you can hear as the resonance increase, not very pleasant but all in all tolerable. This filter has 2 freq inputs and 2 signal inputs all without attenuators, 1 amount input and a audio output.

The Analogue Solutions SY02 was dsigned as a Korg MS 20 filters and vca clone. It consist of a highpass + lowpass filters both with resonance and amount and a vca. The sound is raw and the filter can distort easy, this module is used even in the Vostok and Black Coffee . The fourth filter is the Analog Systems RS500e, a diode filter with 18dB and 24dB slope  clone of the classic EMS VCS3 and AKS Synthi (pre and post 1974). This filter has the classic frequency, amount and response  (resonance) controls plus a level in and level out (to get a kind of overdrive sound) and a cv slew (fast or standard), a mod that was usually done on the original synthi.

The first set of demo is based on arpeggio and bass sounds as they show the behaviour of the filters in simple sounds.

Zoom ST-224 SampleTrack review

Zoom ST 224 Sampletrak

During the late 90’s started the phrase sampler commercial boom.
All the big brand had their “groove sampler” for the “groove musician”.
Boss started their SP-serie , Korg marketed the ES-1 , Akai had the Remix16 (mid 90’s) then the s-20, Yamaha presented their SU-serie.
Zoom came out with the ST-224 Sampletrack in 1999, a cheap alternative to the Korg Es-1 and Boss SP-303.

The Zoom can store up to 32 samples in memory and has a 3 bank kit with 24 samples in use max (8 samples x 3 kit= 24 samples).
There are 3 sample grades: Hi-fi 32 kHz , Standard 16kHz , Lo-fi 8kHz with 18 bit DAC.
The effect bank is really useful for creative manipulation of the recorded material but even to process audio in signals.
This machine is quite basic but has some really interesting features.

  • It can play samples with different samplerates in the same kit
  • resampling from the main out (it means you can resample a pattern with effects)
  • a bunch of interesting and useful effects that can be used even on “audio in” material, not only on samples
  • A great PITCH function (+/- 36 semitones)
  • pitch scaling (to play a sample chromatically on the pads).

Compared to other samplers of that period the zoom lacked a real sequencer and had no envelope for amplitude modulation.
On the other hand the pitch function is the best found on this kind of sampler, and the sound is really grainy (in lo-fi mode) to be up there with the old ones like the Akai mpc60 and Emu SP1200.
The Sampletrack was targeted to loops sampling/play this is the reason why the sequencer has only 8 songs and only realtime recording.
The good point is that the quantize and shuffle functions are really effective on one shot samples, making the sampletrack a really good beatbox.
The resampling capabilities of resample its own patterns with the sequencer running (not possible on the others loop samplers) together with the effects make the zoom stand up.

There is an application (for Windows users) that can be really handy , ZMF Producer, that let you edit and program all the parameters and samples stored on the smartmedia card and to load .wav and .aiff files on the machine.

This is an all in one great beatbox for hip hop / trip hop production, give it a try!

Photek interview in the late ’90s

Here ‘s an interesting Photek interview during the “Modus Operandi ” period.

Video not available

Despite todays “standards” the studio is simple room without any acoustic treatment.
The set up is really limited to a couple of Emu E4 serie (5000 and 64) , a Roland JV1080, an old Atari computer running Cubase and a master keyboard.
The main source of samples are old jazz LPs, the samples are chopped into a sampler and then rearranged and resampled as a loop in the second sampler.
The old way of sample treatment that lead to that great sound!

my eurorack modular synth evolutions…

Just to keep you tuned about my eurorack modular system, this is my actual configuration:

  • Cwejman VCO2RM
  • MFB OSC 02 Triple VCO
  • Doepfer A138 mixer
  • Analogue Solutions SY02 Multimode filter
  • Doepfer A120 lowpass filter
  • STG Soundlabs “Post-lawsuit” LPF
  • Doepfer A145 LFO
  • Livewire Vulcan Modulator
  • PlanB Model 10 Polyphonic Envelope
  • MFB Dual ADSR
  • Doepfer A132-3 dual VCA
  • Analog Systems RS500E EMS Synthi filter


Studio Electronics SE1 vs ATC1

Usually people look at the  ATC-1 as a stripped down SE-1 , in fact looking at the specs the SE1 seems a top featured synth with 3 VCO, 2 filters , 4 envelopes, 3 lfo, ringmod, noise etc… while ATC-1 with its 2 VCO, 3 ENV , 2 LFO and a coloured push-membrane panel with one only knob does not look handy and full featured as its brother.
Comparing the two Studio Electronics side by side let’s get a totally different opinion.

Studio Electronics SE-1

The first thing to notice is the different “sound”, while the SE1 has a kind of boomin’ majesty the ATC1 sounds really snappy and more aggressive with a more “vintage” feel.
The VCOs  have different carachters, in the SE1 are regular and full of harmonics on the bass range, the ATC1 VCOs are more angular and grittier on the high frequencies.

Talking about the filters, testing both the SE1 and ATC1 with the MOOG FILTER, the SE-1 has a boomin’rounder sound, very powerful in the sub range, the ATC-1 has a more punchy percussive behaviour and a slightly bigger  response in the frequency cut off min-max gap, like if the filter could reach higher frequencies/ get more open.


The ENVELOPE section is the part that more influences the sound together with the VCA.
The SE-1 has booming env , not really fast but really effective to get the presence and power on the bass frequencies range for basses and percussions and to get the smooth leads that are a part of the carachter of this synth.
The VCA on the SE1 is really warm and smooth, resulting in a really dinamic but always warm and clean sound.
On the ATC-1 the ENVELOPEs are really snappy and fast, and make the synth really percussive sounding, with an awesome power on punchy basses, not as deep as the SE1, but really kicking.
The ATC1 VCA is more raw and vintage sounding, it’s less smooth than the SE-1 but it results in some way more organic and alive.


The big difference in the synthetizing capabilities is the CROSS-MOD present on the ATC-1 and absent on the SE-1.
This particular function that let the vco2 modulate the vco1 and/or the filter cutoff frequency let shine the ATC-1 in modular-type sounds, and is the main reason that make us understand that the ATC-1 is not the little brother of the SE1 but a totally weird machine with a target towards classic analog sounds but also for experimental stuff, while the SE1 is more on the classic and “safe” side of monophonic type of sounds.


I don’t mean that the SE1 is a machine good only for simple sounds like basses or leads, it can get on experimental sounds too, but the cross mod on the ATC1 is far more effective and open to experimental sound creation.

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