Due to popular demand, Ken and Andy give us the rundown on TB's equipment.
Looking around the Tycho Room in a clockwise direction:
- Two Juno 106's (my favourites - I got a second one so I didn't have to sample the first one so much. I've had the first one since 1986, found the second one in Bundaberg about1998 for $450 - cheap!)
- Roland SH-09 monosynth (used to belong to the Little River Band's keyboard player!)
- Boss DR-550 drum machine (has contributed sounds to many Tycho recordings)
- Roland TR-505 drum machine
- Roland CR-8000 drum machine (modified by Real World Interfaces in Melbourne to have separate outputs - sounds a bit like a TR-808.)
- Korg KMS-30 synchroniser (makes all the old and new gear sync up)
- Roland R5 drum machine
- Roland TB-303 Bassline with Real World Interfaces "Devil Fish" mod and 4x memory expansion.
- Roland TR-606 drum machine (one of my alltime favourites - sounds like a Duracell bunny on speed!)
- Minimoog synth (built in 1973, I picked this up in Adelaide in 1991 for $250 when they were unpopular. It's got a great sound, but is a bit unstable in winter.... Sometimes I have to warm it up with a fan heater for an hour or so to stop the oscillators drifting! When I can afford it I'd like to get it serviced.)
- Realistic Concertmate MG-1 monosynth (the repackaged Moog Rogue - very chunky sound.)
- Roland SH-101 synth
- Frostwave MIDI-CV converter (this is a really good unit to control up to four old pre-MIDI analogue synths via MIDI - it also converts velocity to CV so on some synths you can control the filter for example, or in the case of the Minimoog you can control the filter AND the volume!)
- Ensoniq ESQ-M synth module (does some of the lead sounds on Delos, also makes an appearance in Sentence and Empty Days, to name a few).
- Korg SQD-1 sequencer (my first sequencer, and I still use it a lot...it's great for throwing stuff down really quickly, and after using it for years I can also sequence very quickly and intuitively in step time, known as "flyshit" to some computer sequencing persons.)
- Korg DS-8 synth (an odd digital/analogish hybrid thing, but some interesting sounds)
- Ensoniq Mirage - still get some nice sounds out of this, but the programming is in hexadecimal which can be a pain, but is easier after a few drinks ;-P
- Ensoniq EPS-16+ module (I got this largely because the EPS was able to load all my precious Mirage sounds.)
- Ensoniq ASR-10 rackmount sampler. (I got this because it could load all my previous EPS-16+ work, and logically via the EPS-16+ all my old Mirage sounds, and also because you can stuff it so full of memory you can sample more than you really could ever need in one go.)
- Korg SDD-1000 digital delay (you can store short gritty samples in this and trigger them from a pad or whatever - Georgina has actually triggered stuff at live shows on this using a trigger pad, nicknamed the "PathPad", which I built from parts of a pathology sharps container, fridge parts, a mouse pad, and a peizo transducer!)
- Behringer Composer compressor/gate - nice unit this.
- Alesis Quadraverb Plus multi effects unit - noisy but great.
- Behringer Virtualizer Pro digital effects processor.
- Yamaha R-100 Reverb - a nice cheapy on semi-permanent loan from a friend.
- Boss DS-1 distortion pedal.
- Rode NT-1 microphone.
- Roland Octapad.
- Samson 2242 mixing desk - nice desk, but would do much better if it had some sweepable EQ on it.
- Very Cheap bass guitar - I put this through distortion, compression, and a heavily EQ'd patch in the Quadraverb to get a strange guitar sound.
- Roland G-77 bass guitar. This is the old MIDI bass guitar that looks like a weapon the Terminator might use. I use it only as a standard bass guitar, since I don't own the MIDI module or wierd-ass cable to hook into it. Great guitar though, very nice balance and feel. For live shows its replaced the above mentioned Very Cheap bass guitar.
- For recording, these days I'm using a custom built PC with Digidesign ProTools LE, interface is a ProTools 001. Without wanting to sound like I'm endorsing the company or anything, I have to say this is a great system.
- For monitoring I use a nice pair of Behringer Truth powered monitors, and when I'm happy with a mix on those I do a final check through a lovely pair of monster Tannoy hi-fi speakers.
- For sequencing, I use anything really to start with - sometimes the ancient SQD-1 or the EPS or ASR sequencer, sometimes Cubase, however recently I've been relying more and more on the ProTools sequencing stuff as the "end" sequencer where everything gets dumped into for tidying up. Its relatively basic compared to Cubase etc, but I've never used any of its over the top features anyway. My sequencing requirements consist of note on and off, note length, quantization, velocity, pitch bend, and occasionally patch changes.
- The TB-303 and the drum machines I usually just program individually and sync up, so it can get a bit messy sometimes. If you sample and/or MIDI trigger these things without running them from their own internal sequencer/clock/whatever they just do not chug along in the same clunky way. They sound the same but *feel* different somehow....
- At live shows we still use a backing tape for the heavily sequenced bits. We use an old DCC tape machine (see below). We did run live sequencers at one show, but loading and reliability was a real headache, so back to the backing tape. It would be nice to do away with this somehow without compromising the sound, but I guess if its good enough for Depeche Mode and Pet Shop Boys its good enough for us. We've found that by having a live rhythm section (drums and bass synth in our case) keeping time with a click track on the tape the songs sound more "human" and organic anyway, so that's currently our ideal live setup.
- The Philips DCC (Digital Compact Cassette) for was an affordable digital option before minidisc and DAT decreased in price. Its a failed digital tape format that Philips did in competition to the minidisc, and we picked up a brand new machine with a 3 year manufacturer's warranty for $450 in about 1996. It uses a data compression system similar to minidisc, so it's not ideal, but it's a very solid unit, and so far has been much more reliable than some DATs I've used. It's paid for itself rapidly by us not having to hire DAT machines all the time, so we feel it was a worthwhile, if somewhat quirky, investment, and its still working hard and reliably at gigs and in the studio to this day.
Most of my gear is in keyboard form not racks. I'm learning to regret that decision as my house fills with old dusty synths but it is based on the fact that I am more a player than a programmer.
Most of my synths / keyboards are old, cheap, rickety and take up valuable space (a bit like me).
Here is a run down:
- Korg DW6000 synth (Early 80's Analogue Hybrid). You'll hear this baby blipping away in Ken's remix of Real Life's "Imperfection". It's a great analogue synth but was quickly surpassed by the DW8000 which had more waveforms, onboard effects and a velocity sensitive keyboard.
- Korg Poly 800 Analogue synth. Related to the DW6000 (refer above), I always wanted one of these (particularly the ones with the reversed black white keys). When I finally got one, I discovered that it dropped saved patches which had to be constantly reloaded via tape (or these days .wav). Still a pain, but it is a snazzy little retro synth from the 80's which uses a couple of waveforms to generate some great analogue sounds.
- Korg 707 (80's digital synth) I'm told this has the same internal architecture as the Korg DS-8 (minus effects). Not the most exciting machine to use, but certainly useful. Being my smallest and lightest, this 4 octave synth is usually the one I use live on stage (particularly if there is interstate travelling involved). The onboard sounds are ok and I managed to track down 3 brand new 707 ROM cards that are better than the factory sounds.
- Yamaha DX7 (80's digital synth). Hasn't everyone owned a DX7 at some point? Very heavy, midi compromised, no backlit display....and....... brown in colour. This unit doesn't leave home anymore.
- Yamaha SY22 (early 90's sample / wave synth). It's got a snazzy vector controlling joystick thingo, 5 octaves and is light. Pity the keys keep snapping off, otherwise mighty useful for digital sounds. I have used this live with Tycho a couple of times.
- Casio CZ5000 (Cosmosynthesiser). Very cold but very robust and to date reliable. Apart from the CZ-1, this was one of Casio's strongest attempts at the pro-market in the early / mid 80's. I think it would still work even after being dropped on the floor.
- Casio CZ101 (Cosmosynthesiser). The little brother of the CZ5000 but 4 octaves and 1/2 size keys (not great for those with sausage styled fingers). The 101 has a bit of a loyal following. I remember seeing a 101 being used live by Severed Heads in about 92.
- Technics SXKN2000 - Big heavy keyboard with sequencer and lots of good quality general sounds ie pianos, strings, drums, bass. I use the 16 track sequencer a lot. Has lots of effects, a huge display, good midi specs and a drum machine on board. You'd be surprised how good some of these sounds are and where they wind up.
- Ensoniq VFX Synth. I really like this synth. It's digital but has some excellent chunky sounds and great onboard effects. I've used this live a few times although the keys feel a bit "clicky" to play.
- Roland D10 (LA synthesis). This is a frankenstein style D10 re-build. Reborn at the Tycho room and following surgery by Ken using two very sickly D10's. It lives, but does frighten me a bit. I never quite feel like trusting this 1990's little brother of the D50. It has had a hard life and shows some physical signs of this. The onboard sounds are many, but thin.
- Roland A30 Midi Controller keyboard. 76 keys, semi weighted, no LCD and is a pure midi controller ie no onboard sounds. I don't really know why I bought this now. Must have been a piano phase I went through.
- Roland SC55 GM module. Good for playing midi files off the net and a good partner to the A30 above as both the A30 and the SC55 use Rolands GS sound format.
- Emu Systems Emax I sampler (rack). Very old but sooooo warm (and only 12 bit). A sampler with analogue processing....that's gold. It has a huge sample library too, pity no HD. This is my second emax that Ken tracked down in Australia somewhere. I still have my original Emax keyboard that I spent millions of hours on as a lad. The emax and I go back a long way. Emax was used a lot by one of my all time favourite Australian electronic 80's bands...Boxcar.
- Boss BX16 16 channel stereo mixing desk. On permanent loan from Pat Zietsch, (Tycho's resident live engineer). Noisy and basic but brings everything together.
- Laney KB100 100W Keyboard Amp. Not really needed with Tycho's live configuration.
- Solton - Twin Jet (with rotating cabinet) 100W Keyboard Amp. It's as big as a family washing machine. Not needed with Tycho's live configuration (+ is difficult to transport without a team of labourers and a big van).
- Yamaha RBX170 bass. It's a bass, it's black, it's basic.
- Alesis Microverb. Small reverb. It has 2 knobs to click to get reverb. Not much more to say really.