Casio CZ101, Yamaha DX21 and Korg Poly 800 feature in the readers' synth sound page. Plus a review of Skyslip's latest DX7 ROM cartridges.
True to our word, this month's Patchwork takes a look at four new DX7 ROM packs from Skyslip. If you'd like us to feature any sound libraries (cartridge, disks, cassettes, chips and so on) for your particular synth, then drop us a line and we'll do our best.
Don't forget that if your patch gets published, a free year's subscription will wing its way to your front door with our compliments. Send us your favourite sounds on a copy of an owner's manual chart (coupled with a blank one for artwork purposes), including a good description of your sound and its musical purpose in life-and don't forget to include your full name and address on each chart.
The address to send to: Patchwork, (Contact Details)
Tim Barr, Dunfermline
Tim actually christened his sound 'Heavy Metal Clavinette', referring to it as a little earthier and gutsier than the delicate textures we usually feature - but we didn't want to put anyone off...
Both DCOs are used in order to take advantage of the CZ's ability to access four usable sounds by selecting various combinations of Line Select, in this case HM Clavinette (1 + 1), Organ Pipe Bass (1), Piano (2), and Piano/Organ (1+2). Our favourite was the main sound ('great for thick basslines and really heavy clav riffs'), but the others are quite useful nonetheless, particularly the Piano/Organ option.
Mike Landers, London NW2
A warm welcome then to the DX21 (well, if you're tired of FM patches, send us something else!). Mike suggests that his 'Percussive Piano' lends itself readily to experimentation, such as switching off operators 3+4 thus leaving a muffled piano, or by adding operator 3 giving more of an organ quality to the voice.
Hubert Huygens, Luxembourg
Something for everyone here! A nice variety of patches from pianos to woodwind and organs. Hubert's notes mention that sounds 2 and 10 are well suited for chordal work; number 5 is a very effective clarinet sound for solo playing; while 6 is a biting bass sound on which you can also play chords at the top end of the keyboard.
Yamaha DX1 ROM Cartridges
Despite the long-established popularity of Yamaha's DX7, there has been very little in this country to compete with Yamaha's own rather costly ROM and RAM cartridges. Cue Skyslip Music, who have adopted the sensible approach of manufacturing a single ROM cartridge into which you can plug individual 64-patch ROM sound chips as and when you want them - removing the need to duplicate expensive circuitry when all you want is new sounds.
Each chip comes three-quarters enclosed in a protective casing and plugs into a ZIF socket on the ROM cartridge - making damage to the chips unlikely. However, you need to tighten a small screw on the cartridge each time you change sound chips, which makes rapid swapping of chips a bit impractical.
There are five ROM sound chips, giving 320 sounds in all. The first of these was reviewed in E&MM January '86, together with the company's ROM and 64-memory RAM cartridges.
Skyslip have played to the strengths of the DX synths to come up with an impressive collection of sounds ranging from the powerful and dynamic to the delicate and ethereal. Included are many effective uses of touch response to introduce striking timbral variations, and a number of sounds modelled on split and dual effects.
While ROM 1 goes for an across-the-board imitative approach (brass, strings, pianos and so forth) the remaining ROMs feature many synthetic sounds along with more 'acoustic' sounds. The following categorisations, then, are merely a guide to the range of sounds on offer.
ROM 2 divides between a selection of atmospheric sounds, strings, electric and acoustic pianos and basses.
ROM 3 includes several of the best 'analogue' string sounds yet heard from a DX7. Also present are piano, brass, percussion, choir and bell sounds.
ROM 4 divides between percussive and bass sounds and sound effects (the latter including the inevitable explosions and gunshots).
ROM 5 includes a range of organ, brass, flute, piano and 'ambient' sounds together with some very silly effects.
The majority of these sounds were programmed by Martin Russ (the DX Owners' Club's DX7 Xpert) and synthesist/programmer Ian Boddy, but there are also contributions from Mark Shreeve, David Berkeley and members of the DX Owners' Club. The degree of inventiveness shown in the programming is in the best traditions of sound synthesis, and hopefully there'll be more to follow.
Prices ROM cartridge £50, RAM cartridge £60, ROM sound chips £16 each, all prices include VAT
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