String Loss Program for Akai MPC 1000

This came as an experiment playing with some string sounds from the OP-1 String engine and and using the Chase Bliss Mood for the effects. I recorded into the granular tape effect, and sent the output through the slip effect, giving the sound quite a level of character. The initial recording is String Loss, and to me it evokes a bit of a cutting and driving sound that exists somewhere between the string and organ family of sounds. It was pretty simple to chop up into a program, which resulted in String Loss MPC 1k. At the moment, I’ve really just been playing with the straight chops at different velocities, but I think for the song I’m building up I’m going to lean into some pitch shifting of the parts to see how I can really push the sounds.

Cheap Piano – Akai MPC 1000 Program

I’m pulling together on a track on my MPC 1k, and have been playing around with a few piano sounds. The initial sound comes from the OP-1, from the Fake Piano patch under the DR Wave engine. I liked this sound as a starting point, and it reminds me a bit of the old Casio keyboards from the 80’s. I changed the presets a bit, and in particular turned off the Spring reverb as this was giving it a bit too much presence.

Post OP-1 tweaking, I routed the sound through the Chase Bliss Generation Loss to really abuse the sound. In particular I added some Wow to give the sound a bit of somewhat repetitive but also unstable character, and added some mild noise in order to dirty up the noise a bit while also running it through the low pass just to clean it up a hair.

Once I was happy enough with the sound, I setup a basic eight note pattern on the OP-1 with Endless, matched the BPM to the MPC 1k, and recorded off the passage. The outcome was Cheap Piano Recording which I’m pretty happy with as a source to chop from. The trimmed and chopped MPC 1k program is the Cheap Piano Drum Program, and reading this is making me think I need to worry about my naming conventions or I’ll make myself crazy in the future.

While I am not totally sold on recording this level of unstable audio through the Generation Loss for chopping purposes, the duplicated notes in the phrase do show themselves to be unstable in varied and unique ways. I suppose if you’re constrained for memory, this is not a reasonable technique because you would want to leverage the effects post sampling not pre sampling. On the other hand, the MPC 1k does have 22+ minutes of mono sampling time, and for my new track so far I have used maybe 30 seconds max.

Moody Bass – Akai MPC 1000 Program

I have been getting back into using guitar pedals for external effects processing, and had some fun messing with the Chase Bliss Mood again. This started life as an Ableton Live clean Stratocaster patch that I put together, and played through the Mood. What I played initially sounded like an unaffected guitar, but with the Mood always listening, and using the old blood side’s always listening micro granular in tape mode, I came up with this bass sounding loop Moody Bass 01. This was recorded into my MPC 1000, and I sliced it into a drum kit Moody Bass for the MPC 1000 on JJOS. You can certainly take the initial loop and chop it in a different way, but I decided to just do a relatively clean chop and tightened up the start and end points in the drum kit.

If you’ve got the inclination, you don’t have an MPC 1000 with JJOS, you can certainly still use the .wav file chops… they are 44.1khz and 16-bit, so just about anything will load them these days. If you end up using anything from these sounds please link it, I’d be interested to hear what might be done with these samples!

Studio Downsizing

It’s so easy to see all kinds of cool gear out there, and wonder how it might impact your sound, followed by a purchase for something that you might not use. I can attest to this, because to even write this post I’ve clean off a lot of miscellaneous music gear from my desk just so I can have room to type. It has become a frequent habit of mine to pull out instruments and effects to start a project, only to then have too many options. This coming from somebody who’s been weaning off of software to get back into more of a hardware focus.

It’s not all crazy though, and I have started to sell off more gear over the last couple of years, so I can at least convert unused and unloved gear into reinvestment cash to help me get more out of the second hand gear market.

So what’s on the rundown of things to consider offloading?

Well I currently own 3 MPCs, and at least one needs to go, and I say this as I’ve been putting research into an MPC 4000. Forget that though, I’ve got an MPC 1000 which has been a staple for me, especially with JJOS. Then I’ve managed to pick up an Akai MPC Live and an Akai MPC X. I started with the Live and really liked the portability and power in it, but if I’m really being honest, it isn’t cutting it for me. It’s way too fiddly with buttons to switch q-link functions and it really demands a fair amount of touch screen work. While I liked it, the context switching in the interface was just a bit too much for me. Which is why I picked up the Akai MPC X. I do think the MPC X works well as a center to my studio, but I’m not in love with it. So I’m still digging the MPC 1000 with JJOS, I appreciate the MPC X, and yeah… I’m parting with the MPC Live.

Then there is the drawer stuffed with gear. It’s got an Organelle I’d like to use more, but probably just a dream. A few Pocket Operators that I do like, but tend to be used more as one off effects and sounds right now that I sample from, so… really am I getting that much out of them? Then there is the OP-1 and OP-Z, staring at me, wanting to be useful and productive, but I haven’t really laid down any tracks with them lately. While I appreciate the constraints in those systems, I also am kind of ignoring them. It’s time to dust off some of that mess and pass it along to the next person who can appreciate them in a way that I have not been.

My closet is probably the biggest mess though. I have way too many boxed software releases, and while it is kind of cool and might look neat in a studio, is also… in my closet. Do I really need those boxes? A lot of that software is ancient and doesn’t even work anymore. Nobody is going to use it, and it has minimal value since who knows if I can even get updates for most of it. I’ll need to have a serious heart to heart with myself about this stuff to decide what I want to do with it.

Right now I’m just seeing what I can do with a smaller set of gear:

  • Akai MPC 1000
  • Chase Bliss Mood
  • Chase Bliss Generation Loss
  • Teenage Engineering OP-1

I’ll be posting up some programs, loops, and other samples in a bit. Stay tuned.

OS X Catalina – Music Automatically Opening Files Downloaded from Safari

TL;DR go to Safari -> Perferences -> General, and uncheck Open “safe” files after downloading to disable automatic opening of files downloaded by Safari.

A problem I’ve had with downloading content in OS X has been that a lot of files will automatically open once you’ve downloaded them. For compressed files, it will uncompress them, for PDFs it will automatically open them into Preview, and for audio files it will automatically start playing them in Music. For the compressed files, PDFs and others, I’m often not downloading enough of them to be too upset by this feature, but when I am downloading stems, one shots, or other audio content, I don’t always want it automatically imported into Music.

I spent some time digging through the Music app preferences to see if I can find a way to disable this behavior. I had wrongly assumed that it was the Music app that was automatically importing content. After some searches around the web I found this video that describes how to disable this behavior.

To properly resolve this issue go to Safari -> Perferences -> General, and uncheck Open “safe” files after downloading.

Unfortunately this feature does not have granular control over different file types. If you like this feature, but specifically don’t like it for audio files, I suspect you’ll have to disassociate the audio files from specific applications. Personally I’m okay with loosing the automatic opening of PDF files as that has been a hassle in the past, but uncompressing content has been a handy feature.

OP-Z oplab Installation

The oplab module for my OP-Z finally showed up today. I ordered it back in July, and it’s been backordered for quite some time. I read on the op-forums people having problems with the oplab latch, warped cases, etc… so I wasn’t totally sure how it was going to work out. I was certainly concerned that the oplab would not work.

Cut to the next fifteen minutes after installing the oplab module, and the best I could get out of it was a red flash, and then none of the blinking lights to show activity I expected. I tried hooking up the oplab outputs to various inputs on my eurorack, and wasn’t able to see any output triggering on my oscilloscope, gate triggers, or anything else. That was disappointing. I uninstalled and reinstalled a few times, tried squeezing the case in case there was a connection issue… none of this helped.

Queue to some frantic searching through op-forums and other web searches. No bananas. I watched the Cuckoo oplab Installation video and saw that it operated as I expected with blinking lights, and my oplab was not exhibiting the same behavior. I decided to go to the OP-Z oplab module manual, which is pretty short, but suggests looking for firmware for the oplab. For those of you have looked, this exists for the OP-1 oplab, but there is nothing for the OP-Z oplab module. #FoiledAgain and all that.

I decided to re-read through the manual, and came to a conclusion…

I was going to have to factory reset the OP-Z and see if that helped. I rarely have found this to be helpful, but hey, why not. After following the backup and then factory reset steps, I have to say success. Whatever was causing the issue, whether it was a config problem or something else, I want you to know that doing the factory reset actually worked for me!

Album: Eclectic Electronica

I found more album and artwork things! So let’s just get right to it for this, my second album, and originally published (okay, I burned it myself and printed out all the artwork) as a two album discography for friends and family. I’m willing to bet that all the copies made it to the trash or got exposed to the sun ruining my nicely burned CDs. Yeah, that was a thing back in the day.

Good news, I’m finding a lot of this older content, bad news, I’m starting to see gaps in my older self’s ability to organize and keep track of everything. I’m missing a lot of album artwork, and not so sure how much of it I can find. Boo on me, but I’ll keep digging as I get this site back together!

Chase Bliss Generation Loss First Impressions

While I was traveling to Bangalore for work Chase Bliss dropped the Generation Loss, and unfortunately I missed the pre-order window on Reverb. I tried to check it out the next day, but it was already sold out. I spent the next few days wondering if I really needed this device, or it was going to be an effect I should just pass on. I checked out the Knobs video as well as Andy Othling’s video and I have to say, they both intrigued me. So I setup a feed on Reverb to keep me apprised of whenever Generation Loss might start showing up on the scalper market on Reverb and eBay.

When I got back home and to reality, and had a bit of jet lag, I happened to see Generation Loss start showing up, and yeah… I decided to bite the bullet and order one, for a reasonable (I’ll just have to keep telling myself this) cost of something that was marked up pretty high. I’m now seeing it pop up in my Reverb feed for $700 and higher, and while I fortunately didn’t spend that much, it was still pretty pricey.

Before dropping into impressions, a perfectly fair question would be, why buy it at all? I’ve already got effects that can do similar things as Generation Loss, such as the Eurorack Magneto, the OTO Biscuit, and plenty of software that mimics these old tape effects and digital distortion effects. To be brutally honest why I was interested in it, I don’t know, other than I really like the Chase Bliss Mood, and I’ve really started to dig the company. I am not a guitarist, but their pedals seem very well made, packed with interesting features, and I really feel like I jive with the company philosophy that they at least project in their marketing.

I really dig the old school sounds, and I’m a sucker for effects that both degrade sound quality while also imparting some new character to the audio. This totally pegs me as a sucker for lo-fi samplers, tape effects, bit reducers, FM radio, etc, and absolutely explains a large amount of my music gear.

To kick off initial impressions, I absolutely cannot suggest to anybody to pick up this pedal, no matter how amazing it is, for the prices it is going for in the over $600 range. If you’ve got cash burning a hole in your pocket, I mean go for it, but for the price scalpers are demanding, I’m going to kick myself and just tell you to pass for now. I hope that Chase Bliss sees the demand for this device and comes out with a non limited run version. Hopefully they are shocked in a good way at the demand, but the economics of this just don’t look that great. 1000 sold in less than a day is really amazing, but it is just sad to see the sale prices on Reverb. Hopefully it goes down in cost, and it’s entirely possible that the market value will correct as we continue to see more people dumping this pedal. I’m hoping a lot of these pedals found happy homes, but I can also see this as an effect that a lot of people might not be in love with.

All that said, so far I am really into this pedal. The controls are really hands on, and as with other Chase Bliss pedals are pretty tightly packed with features. Having a separate Wow and Flutter control is, hands down, a great feature that is not always seen in effects. The Generation control sounds pretty good for a bit of lo-fi digital bit crushing, and the Hiss switch lets you chose if you want no hiss, mild hiss with a little flutter, or heavy hiss with a lot of flutter. If these were the only things available to control I’d be happy, and I was definitely less interested in the High Pass or Low Pass filter. From the sound of it, the High Pass filter doesn’t sound to me like it adds any character, but the Low Pass filter does sound like it has some resonance and possibly another effect that helps the sound shine a bit further. The Wet knob is actually super handy, as it allows you to substantially drive the wet signal and can help keep the sound boosted in a mix where it might otherwise settle into the back due to all the flutter, wow, and (de)generation of your sound.

For the afternoon I’ve been throwing a bevy of piano, synths, bass, and drums at Generation Loss, and don’t worry, I’ll be recording some more patches to load up here in no time and get some A/B comparisons put together to show off what I think is special about this pedal.

For the piano and synth sounds I pushed through Generation Loss, I’ve got to say, all the knobs were worthing tweaking, and really gave some great results. In particular, dialing in the Low Pass and High Pass filters was great over a one or two octave range. Where I feel it feel down a bit was trying to make a full patch sound. This is something that in a traditional synth/sampler, you’d probably have the filter(s) follow the keyboard, but obviously as a pedal this isn’t something so easy to do. I can see how you can probably do one of LP or HP filter with the EXP/CV input, but I suspect for more advanced programming you’ll really want to dust off the MIDI manual and use the MIDI/AUX port. I’ve got plenty of time to get into MIDI, but this does look pretty full featured and ought to be able to control both the LP and HP parameters separately.

The bass sounds responded really well to the Wow and Flutter, but I felt like the LP filter also imparted some fantastic character. It is subtle, but sounds really good, Chase Bliss pedals often say “Digital brain Analogue Heart”, and the LP filter definitely sounds like it has a bit more of the analogue roundness that I enjoy. On the other hand, the bass that I was playing around with did not respond terribly well to the Gen knob. It wasn’t bad, but it went from a not very obvious effect to completely degraded quickly. Lower frequencies don’t need as many bits/frequency to reproduce (see Nyquist theory), so I suspect it is just harder to notice right away for bass sounds.

I’ll end with my impression on drums for the day. Here Gen was great, and really imparted some quick character to the drums, and instead I’d have to say Wow and Flutter just didn’t show through. This is to be expected for sounds that have a quick attack and quick decay such as a drum. I am positive that the Wow and Flutter were impacting the drums, but because they weren’t ringing out for any length of time it is just harder to hear unless you are really paying attention. Sure, there is probably some psychological character but I’m not sure how much it is worth spending the time for drums here. Of note though, the Hiss switch really did add a good amount of dirt to the drums in a way that was more obvious. If you like filter sweeps on your drums, I’d also say that the LP/HP filter sections on Generation Loss is quite good and will give you the usual results.

To me, this is a good device, and I can see it staying in my collection. That said, I’ll repeat that the astronomical cost probably puts it out of the reach of most sane people at this time. However, if you’re crazy like me, then I’m pretty sure you’ll enjoy this device. I will be taking some time to get videos together showing off the device, so stay tune!