Reason RE JPS Harmonic Synthesizer [WiN]
Produced in very limited quantities for a very short period in the mid-1970s, at long last here is your opportunity to own a loving recreation of this beautiful, and exceptionally ultra-rare, classic American synthesizer.
Reason RE JPS Harmonic Synthesizer [WiN]
With surprisingly deep but clean and harmonically rich basses and cutting leads, this restored version improves on the original by adding extra features such as a 4-stage envelope and polyphony, its slightly lo-fi waveform will add a unique character and texture to your tracks.
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Chenille offers a wealth of deep, rich ensemble effects. With an original and exclusive algorithmic implementation it emulates the beautiful BBD string ensemble and chorus circuits of the 1970s and 80s, including those found in many classic products, including the Boss CE range of guitar pedals and Roland Dimension D rack unit, the 310U ensemble, and the Synthex and Juno synthesizers. This modular chorus system finally gives you the long sought-after subtle, movement-free chorus and gentle audio enrichment.
Musical instruments were always designed to be musical or, in other words, harmonically pleasing. This was not difficult and many earlier instruments, regardless of origin, featured a more basic diatonic scale, as opposed to the 12-tone chromatic scale we know today.
For absolute beginners, there is no reason to go with an acoustic piano. In fact, for the longest time, price was the biggest barrier to entry, something budget digital pianos have remedied wonderfully.
Extending this line of reasoning, we could hypothesise (correctly) that the traditional guitar shape is no longer relevant to the sound of the electric guitar. It is for this reason that the glam-rock bands of the '70s could play guitars shaped like stars, the letter 'V', that were circular, or even carved in the shape of Africa (this tells us why they could, but gives us no inkling about why they did. I guess you just had to be there).
But why stop there? Since the electric guitar is insensitive to its body shape, it seems reasonable to speculate that it will be similarly indifferent to the material from which the body is made. And, although many guitarists will wax lyrical about their favourite lumps of dead tree, this is not such a stupid idea. There have long been graphite guitars and basses, and I remember wanting an aluminium-necked Kramer in the early '80s.
So, let's ask what this has to do with analogue synthesis. The answer is obvious: none of the guitar patches designed for early analogue synthesizers attempted to produce the complex sound of a nylon-strung, hollow-bodied acoustic instrument. All of them emulate, to a greater or lesser extent, the (hypothetically) simpler sound of the solid-bodied electric guitar.
Of course, it may be that the Axxe is unable to create a convincing guitar sound, so let's try another instrument. Figure 6 (above) shows the 'Fuzz Guitar' patch from the manual supplied with the Roland SH101. This shares many attributes with the patch for the ARP Axxe. For example, the pulse wave again contributes most of the sound, although this time with an initial pulse width of 80 percent. However, Roland have made the pulse width follow the envelope shape, and have added some sawtooth wave, reducing the depth of the holes in the harmonic spectrum produced by the pulse wave alone. These are nice embellishments, and they add a pleasing movement to the sound that the Axxe patch lacks. But does this patch sound like a real guitar? No, of course it doesn't.
Figure 7 is the Electric Guitar patch from Tom Rhea's Minimoog Sound Charts book. This mixes a pulse wave (Oscillator 2 contributing 70 percent in the mixer) with a ramp wave (Oscillator 1 contributing 50 percent in the mixer). Furthermore, this patch conforms more closely to my idea of an electric guitar, because the Sustain levels in both contour generators are zero. In addition, the decay of the filter cutoff frequency is somewhat faster than the decay of the amplifier. This attenuates the higher harmonics more quickly than the lower ones, and produces a more natural-sounding tail to each note. So, given that this is the revered Minimoog, the godfather, the source of all things wondrous and synthy... this must be the one that sounds like a real electric guitar. Right?
Now consider Figure 9 (above), which shows what happens when you play a note one third of the way along the neck. In this case, it's the second harmonic that is stationary above the pickup, along with the fourth, sixth, eighth... and so on. In other words, the pickup position acts as a comb filter whose harmonic spacing is dependent upon the pitch of the note you are playing.
Clearly, the relative amplitudes of the harmonics are greater when there is an anti-node (a position of maximum movement) immediately above the pickup, and less if a node lies above or close to the pickup. This means that the harmonic structure of the amplified signal is determined by the position of the pickup, as well as by the acoustic vibration of the string.
Now let's view the effect of the pickup on the spectrum of an electric guitar (see Figure 11, above). The resulting harmonic structure is singularly unlike anything produced by our affordable subtractive synthesizers, so it's not surprising that our Axxe, SH101 and Minimoog patches lack realism.
By the way, you may have noticed that the low-frequency region of the spectrum in Figure 11 is much flatter than that of the common analogue waveforms (most of these conform to the 1/n amplitude relationship we've discussed before). This is because, on the electric guitar, the output of any harmonic is proportional to the velocity of its motion at the point on the string that lies immediately above the pickup. If you can picture the position of a bridge pickup and consider the displacements and velocities of the first few harmonics, you'll realise that the amplitudes produced by each are similar (don't worry if you can't envisage this... trust me). This means that until you approach the first harmonic with a node positioned above the pickup, the spectrum can be surprisingly flat.
Finally, I want to return to something that I touched very briefly upon in Part 28, where I stated that "the strings are not perfect harmonic oscillators. This is because they do not form perfect angles at the nut or the bridge. The finite cross-section of the string ensures that it curves at these points, thus making its active length slightly shorter than the idealised view would suggest. The degree to which this happens depends upon the wavelength and amplitude of the vibration, so the string appears shorter at high frequencies and high amplitudes than it does at low frequencies and low amplitudes. This sharpens higher, louder harmonics, further complicating any analysis of the string's harmonic spectrum, as well as the guitar body's response to it."
Anyway, consider the start of a note of any given pitch. You have just plucked the string, so its effective length is somewhat shortened by the initial high amplitude, and the overtones are enharmonic, meaning that they do not conform to the pure 1, 2, 3, 4... relationship of synthesizer oscillators. As the loudness of the sound decays, the effective length of the string becomes longer, and the pitch decreases.
As the amplitude decays further, the overtones become more nearly harmonic. However, while this is happening, the positions of the nodes and anti-nodes are sliding down the string, changing their positions with respect to the pickups, and thus modifying the harmonic mix of the electrical audio signal as they do so (by the way, it is this effect that the SH101 imitates by modulating the pulse width using the envelope generator. I wonder whether Roland's patch designers knew).
At this point, I would like to draw Figure 13 for you to show some of this, adding the amplitude- and pitch-dependent comb filters and other effects. However, it wouldn't fit on an A4 page. So I think it's time to admit defeat and accept that, as I stated two months ago, we're never going to effectively imitate guitars using analogue synthesizers.
Tubesteader Lightkeeper$269 A D-style boost/overdrive with a 12AX7 tube in it. Higher gain gradually adds harmonic complexity and saturation to the signal, without altering the dynamics, and overdriving when all the way up. A 3 way EQ section helps with tone sculpting. There are also both a mid boost and a clean boost, which can be assigned to the left footswitch for dynamic shifts.
You know the audio ad that asks if you considered naming your first-born Ringo, Wolfgang or Miles? Well, Robin and I long ago decided that if our first child is a boy, his name will be Miles (I lost the fight to name a girl Joni). Perhaps the folks over at Theta know about our deal, and that explains why I was chosen to review the Miles, Theta’s first single-box CD player. Or could it just be my recent good Kharma? Whatever the reason, the opportunity to listen to any Theta product is always enticing.
Another feature of the Miles that helps it approach the state of the art is its built-in analog-domain variable attenuation. With the supplied remote, you can control the output of the Miles using 25 steps, each of which is slightly less than 3dB. This gives you control over a large volume window of near 75dB, but fine control is sacrificed. In my listening, with the player spending the majority of its time hooked directly to the amp, this did not cause a problem. I was able to find a reasonable volume level every time I sat down to listen, and the sound quality I got by bypassing the preamp was well worth any potential problems. By the way, the analog output is based on the output controller in the basic Theta Casablanca ($4595). As you can see, there are a lot of powerful trickle-down toys in this box. 041b061a72