Category The Compound Studio

Korg Poly-61 Synthesizer

The Korg Poly-61 was released in 1982 as the successor to the Polysix. It’s the first synth that adopted what KORG calls “Digital Access Control” user interface that is also used in POLY-800. I answered an advert which was offering two of these (one working, one not). The working one works well except for the dead backup battery. (A little tech note: This uses a 3.6 battery. A standard 3v 2032 won’t work. I tried it hoping it was just enough juice.)

The non-working Poly-61 was a victim of backup battery leak. It’s kind of a mess inside.

Polyriffic spec-o-meg-a-rama…

  • Polyphony – 6 Voices
  • Oscillators – DCO1:sawtooth, pulse, and square; DCO-2: sawtooth, square
  • LFO – 1 LFO can modulate the DCOs or the Filter
  • Filter – 1 lowpass filter w/ ADSR
  • Memory – 64 patches
  • VCA – ADSR
  • Keyboard – 61 keys
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Kurzweil PC-88 MIDI controller / Piano

This synth was used on the song What’s That You Said? (Bass sound)

A big, heavy beast. Solid and well build. The Kurzweil piano sounds and the action of a real piano sold me on this unit. Little did I know I’d use some of the other sounds as well. The jazz bass sounds are quite nice.

Look Ma,. mo’ specs.
88-note, two-piece weighted keyboard with mono pressure.


  • Pitch wheel,
  • modulation wheel,
  • 4 front panel sliders,
  • 3 front panel switches (momentary or toggle, software selectable),
  • 4 continuous control pedal inputs,
  • 2 footswitch inputs,
  • mono pressure.

MIDI: Transmits on 4 channels, Receives on 16 channels. In, Out, Thru (hardware switchable to copy of MIDI Out).
Max Polyphony: 64, dynamically allocated.

Acquired: 1998

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Ensoniq Fizmo Synthesizer

This synth was used on the song Decomputerization (The main synth groove sound)

This is a fun machine to noodle around on. It’s a bit digital-thin on most the sounds it makes, but it can make an interesting array of sounds. I’m very careful with this synth as it feels cheaply made. The buttons are a bit clunky and the readout seems like it will stop any day now. In fact, the little LCD readout pretty much sucks. Outside of that, I love this machine.

Specs! Specs! Get yer specs here….

  • Polyphony – 48 voices
  • Oscillators – 4 MB of 16-bit internal wave ROM, featuring Transwaves 58 waveforms
  • LFO Time – 8 LFO’s (7 waveform choices, can sync to Arpeggiator or external MIDI clock)
  • Filter – Resonant LP & BP 4 pole filters.
  • Effects – 41 digital VLSI 24-bit effects
    • 8 Global Reverbs,
    • Chorus,
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ADAM A7 Studio Monitors

From the ADAM website: The A7 matches the A.R.T. tweeter with a state of the art 6.5″ woofer that introduces a new cone material combining high rigidity and high internal damping with low weight, resulting in an extremely accurate monitor with all the clarity, detail and spectacular imaging traditionally associated with the ADAM name.

The A7 is powered by two 50W RMS amps (one per driver). The front panel sports both a power switch and volume control. The rear panel houses controls for tweeter level and two shelving filters for high and low frequencies. The unit also features both balanced (XLR) and unbalanced (RCA) input connectors, allowing it to be used in almost any audio application.

Insert stereophonic specs..
Woofer – 165mm (6,5″),Rohacell / Carbonfibre sandwich
Tweeter – A.R.T...
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Kawai K3m Synthesizer Module

This synth was used on the song Arecebo (bass sound)

This is a great synth for percussive and bass sounds. In fact, bass sounds is where this unit shines. Punchy, low frequency, bass sounds.

It is a bit of a bitch to program, but once you get the hang of it, it isn’t bad. If this unit came with sliders and knobs for every element, you’ve have an instant classic.

In any case, I like this synth so much, I own two of them.

Acquired: 1989 and 2007

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Akai AX-80 Synthesizer

This lovely device has been well cared for over the years. Not quite like my DX7, but a close second. There is nothing like acquiring a 20+ year old machine that looks factory fresh.

This synth is a joy to program. The readout matched with the control knob is as easy to dial in a sound as an array of sliders.

Insert boring specs..
Polyphony – 8 Voices
Oscillators – 2 per voice plus Sub Oscillator
Memory – 64 user, 32 preset
VCA – 8 ADSRs (1 per voice)
Keyboard – 61 velocity sensitive keys

Acquired: 2008

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Behringer Eurorack MX 2642A

I think I lucked out because this mixer is pretty good for a sub $350 mixer. I bought this for a quick project, used it, then it sat in a box for a few years – then I sold it.

Channel inputs: 16
Mono channels: 8
Stereo channels: 4
Subgroups: 4
Mic Preamps: 8
EQ (mono channels): High, low, semi-parametric mids, low-cut 3-band
EQ (stereo channels): 4-band
Aux sends: 6
Stereo aux returns: 4
Channel inserts and direct outs: 8
Main mix insert: 1
2-track input: 1
Phantom power: +48 V

Acquired: 2004 (I think)

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Blot Boxes or Better Noise Through Circuit Bending

Two weekends in a row I’ve found myself standing in front of walls covered in electronic components, shopping list in hand, with a grand idea..

I’ve bought myself a new soldering iron station, set up a workbench, bought a handful of empty rack-mount boxes and melted the copper off several fiberglass boards into pretty PCB designs. This means I’m either gearing up to make some neat sound circuits or I’ve got a job with SPECTRE and hand building components which will one day be assembled into a great evil machine to blow up the moon – unless my ransom is met.

Oh wait,. the SPECTRE project IS underway but I’m not supposed to talk about it. Shhhh.

Yes, I’m working on some nifty sound circuits I’m dubbing Blot Box(es).

So what the heck is a Blot Box?

Well, let me tell you in a round-about, long...

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The C-Melody Saxophone

For some time I’ve been thinking of buying a saxophone. A few years back I had the same urge to buy a clarinet (I ended up with 3 of them) and I’ve enjoyed learning to play that silly thing. Time to bite the bullet and find a sax.

If you’re like me, and I know I am, you enjoy finding good prices on things. I’ve a collection of crap I want to buy and I scan through paper ads, pawn shops,, and from time to time I slum on ebay. One day on craigslist an entry for an old 1922 silver Buescher C-Melody saxophone shows up.

I bet you’re asking “What the hell is a C-Melody Saxophone?”

I’m not going to go into the complete history of the C-Melody (google is your friend) but basically it is a Tenor Sax in C instead of Bb. Most of these horns were made in the 1920�s.

If I recall, the a...

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