Roland TR-8s micro-review

When Roland released the Aria series TR-8, I was very excited.   While I’m not usually one for clones, this one was different.   It represented an actual digital reproduction of the original by the original creators.  I had high hopes and, as usual, I was let down.



See, while the TR-8 had almost the perfect performance interface and an awesome sound, it emulated the original a little to closely where memory mangement was conscerned.   While it was a great live jamming device, it seemed to be almost intentionally frustrating in studio situations.  I was sad.  I sold it suspecting Roland, kings of repackaging their tech, would do a better version.

That better version, the TR-8s, is sitting on my desk, pounding a way at a beat as we speak, and it almost seems like Roland was spying on me when they spec’d it out!  SD memory, sampling, sample playback, better memory management…it’s all there (almost). I’ve been using it for a few weeks now (broken up with a several months long studio renovation in the middle) and, simply put, I love this damn thing.   It’s very easy to use, even without the manual.  Its got the sound I’m after, but its pallet is not limited to *just* 808/909/707.   You can actually back up the memory and organize projects.   The FX..well…yeah.  Skip those if it’s not just for live use.

Not much else to say about it.   It’s simple.  It’s reasonably priced.  Go get one.



Today, there was *finally* progress on getting the studio setup again.  The gear is back int he room, now I just need to arrange everything and then get it wired up!

I took tomorrow off work to get it all done.  Because I fucking need this.


To be continued…

That title seems to sum up my feelings about music making at the moment.  My studio is currently in storage while the basement of my house is renovated.  The work is almost done now…just painting left.   I think if it takes much longer, I’m going to lose my mind!

This is the longest I’ve gone without a functional studio space since I was in highschool, and it’s showing in my mental state.   I have so much that I need to get out of my head but can’t.   I’ve got a notebook where I’ve got about 20 pages of notes on what my next album is going to be, right down to song structures and sound design concepts and I just CAN’T start working on it yet.   I honestly can’t remember the last time I planned out a song on paper.  I think it was in the late 90s!

So that’s where things are and why the blog has been so quiet.  But I’ll be back soon, and with a TR-8S review.

Stay with me.

Moving On

The Virus is Analogue Keys is gone.   The Radias, too.  The virus is in a box waiting to be shipped.   The hardware is all disappearing.  I even sold my MacBook, since the iMac is fine and my job bought me a laptop that’s completely servicable.

Stands, cases and cables are next.  I also have a mountain of software, some of which I can’t remember the last time I used.   It’s a lot to go through and parse out.

But I feel good about it.  I really actually do.

Letting go of all of this stuff is like letting go of a huge chain I’ve been dragging around for years.  It’s been slowing me down, honestly.   I spent more time in the last few years trying to figure out the perfect way to hook it all up than I have actually using it and creating music.  If that’s not a sign, I don’t know what is.

So its good to see all this stuff go, in a way.  Good to see change happening.  Good to finally feeling good about moving on from all of that and letting it go.  It’s a good year for letting go.

Off to the UPS store.

Price List

Since many have asked…

Access Virus TI2 Darkstar (Mint, with box) $1850
Korg Radias Rack (Great condition) $700
DSI PolyEvoler Keyboar (ser#14 or 28…know its low) $1750
Elektron Octatrack Mk1 (Great Condigion) $800
Elektron Analogue Keys (Good Condition) $1000
Yamaha 01v96v2 (with extra ADAT card, Gator case and Rack ears) $850
I’ll have to inventory the racks and accessories. There is a lot more to come.

The Big One

I’ve come to a major decision in my life and my music – I’m selling almost all of my hardware instruments.

Those that have known me for a long time will realize how strange this sounds.   Some of you will think I’ve gone mad or that I am suffering some sort of depressive episode.  Neither of those are true.  In fact, I think this is the cure for my maddness.

You see, hardware has become an increasingly large pain in my ass.   Be it the physical space it takes up, the costs of buying or the ancillary costs in infrastructure and power; having it means having a lot of other stuff and having to deal with a lot of stuff you just *don’t* with software.

But “hardware is rock solid stable!” you’ll say.  “It just works”.

That was the past, when instruments were simple and there was no such thing as a software update.  Now, products are raced to market with half baked operating systems lacking even the features that were promised in original ad copy that made you pre-order it.   Then you wait for updates while dealing with bugs and, if you’re lucky, the company actually follows through.  Almost every company does this now a days with their hardware (elektron, i’m looking at you) and the beta-culture is one I am just done with.

And if you think about it, there is no incentive for the company to do long term support aside from reputation building (and it seems no one cares about that anymore).   Without a financial incentive, they have to move on to new products on a rapid cycle.

Oddly, software doesn’t have this problem as much, since the upgrades are paid. This creates an incentive to create new and exciting things in each release.  So, yes, I am upgrading XYZ soft every year, BUT…I’m getting value for that.  Bug fixes are often free patches.   It’s at least not as bad as the hardware these days (and, no, I can’t believe that I’m typing that sentence.

The other big factor in this decision is my very limited time.  When I do get time to sit in my studio, I don’t want to be futzing with shit to make it work.  Since moving to my Mac and Reason, I spend a LOT less time futzing.   With hardware, any time you get a new instrument, there is figuring out where to put it, connecting it, setting MIDI channels, etc.  There is a lot of engineering that goes into just *having* a studio of hardware instruments.  Installing drivers….etc.   And all of that gets completely fucked up by one..bad…MIDI cable.

Here is an example.  A few weeks ago I got a Korg Radias as part of a trade.   The radias sat in the box for 3 days before I could get to it.  When I did, I had to find desk space to put it on, since I wanted its controlls available.  After I find a place, I had to find MIDI cables that could reach it.  Great, did that.  Now I need audio cables.  FUCK!  audio cables don’t reach to where I want to put it.  So I can go out and buy new cables, or find a different place to put it…you get the point.  For this priviledge, I paid $700 abouts.

Last night, I bought a reason instrument that was on sale for $20 and I already have half a song written with it.   Right there, hardware is done.

With all of that said, I’m not going to get rid of all of my hardware, but rather focus on a few pieces that I do actually feel are worth the struggle.   Those items are my Korg Kronos, Akai MPC Live, and of course my Eurorack Modular.   I’ll be selling Access Virus TI2 Darkstar, Korg Radias, Dave Smith Instruments Poly Evolver, Elektron Octatrack and Elektron Analog Keys.   By getting rid of that stuff, I’ll be able to shed my Yamaha 01v96v2 mixer, a pair of smaller mackie sub mixers, my iConnectivity MIO10,  a TON of stands, cases and racks, and I’ll be able to recycle a metric fuck ton of cables. METRIC FUCK TON.

When I think back to my Dust album, it was written when I had, due to financial contraints, retracted my studio down to the Korg M3, my Korg EMX1 and my Eurorack Modular.  Maybe that had something to do with my happiness and creativity in that time?   Who knows.  Anyway…here goes…


4ms Spectral Multiband Resonator (SMR)

This week, I finally caved and bougth a Spectral Multiband Resonator (SMR) made by 4ms.  It’s a thing of wonder and beauty.


Just looking at the front panel gives you a sense that this module is an instrument unto itself, and that is certainly the correct impression!   There is so much going on here, I don’t even know where to begin.

Basically, it’s a totally different type of sound source or processor.   It reminds me quite a bit of the comb filter oscialltor types on my prophecy but far more subtle and alive.   It’s a drone makers wet dream!  A little reverb and a chorus and you’ll be the special focus on Galactic Travels in no time!