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Technically Speaking

Technical Questions Answered by Vic Lennard

Q I recently purchased a PPG Wave 2.3 but I don't think that it works - I can't get a sound out of it. I also own a Waveterm B but haven't got a manual for it and the instructions I do have are meaningless. Please can you help; these are the most expensive machines I own.
Andrew Slegt
Bath, Avon

A As you are probably aware, PPG as a company are no more. The designer, Wolfgang Palm, currently works for Steinberg GmbH, while his partner, Wolfgang Duren, started up Waldorf. Quite honestly, it was difficult to obtain technical info for PPG products while the company was still in existence and even the service manual was practically useless. The Wave was certainly a highly temperamental machine and engendered very clear opinions amongst those that used it: they either loved it or they hated it. As for the Waveterm B, it's a fully-fledged, 68000 computer based instrument with sampling, sequencing and storage facilities via the two on-board disk drives. Way ahead of its time.

The absence of the sounds in your Wave 2.3 is probably due to the expiry of the internal battery. Because of the heavy load imposed on it, a rechargeable type was used rather than the lithium variety found in most modern synths. But even a rechargeable battery gives up the ghost after a certain number of recharge cycles and eventually needs replacing. As this is a job which requires soldering, my advice would be to contact the Synthesiser Service Centre on (Contact Details).

It was always very difficult to obtain the original factory sounds, and the chances of being able to find them now is pretty slim I'm afraid. However, the Synth Service Centre have a data tape of sounds which can be loaded on board for you, and many of these are originals. This, I'm sure you'll agree, is better than nothing and should provide you with a starting point.

As for obtaining a manual, your best chance is for someone with a PPG Wave 2.3 and a Waveterm B to read this and contact me at Music Technology.

Q I am looking for spare parts for a Rhodes Chroma synthesiser. When production stopped, a company called MDS (Music Dealership Services), based in Chicago, apparently bought all of the spare circuit boards. However, I have been unable to contact them; can you give me their phone number or tell me where the Chroma circuit boards can be found?
Martin Straw
Regents Park, Southampton

A It seems to be a month for sad synth stories. Various different companies were involved in the distribution of the shortlived Chroma keyboard, but spares were always difficult to get hold of in the UK and so far, I have had no success in getting any information from the other side of the Atlantic. I seem to recall a gentleman by the name of Roy Painter who used to have spare parts for the Chroma, but his last known telephone number is now disconnected. If anyone knows how he can be contacted, or of any other possible supply of spares, could they please contact me at Music Technology.

Q What I need is some product info, as I noticed an odd-looking blue instrument at this year's UK Electronica show played by Lightwave. I know it's made by Atari as this was written in large letters on the back - but can you tell me what it is? Keep up the good work.
John Binns,

A According to the show's organiser, Mark Jenkins: "French synthesiser band Lightwave's recent set at the 1992 UK Electronica Festival marked the first public appearance of ex-Tangerine Dream member Paul Haslinger since leaving the band - along with the Atari MIDI Translator (see photo).

"Central to Haslinger's 'Studio Ultimo' in Los Angeles, the Translator is a multipurpose control 'surface' originally commissioned by drummer Mick Fleetwood as a percussion controller. Around 80 are thought to have been built and the unit requires an Atari ST to run its control functions in addition to a second ST to run sequencing software.

"Each surface on the AMT can be played with sticks or by hand and can control notes, call up new patches or generate sets of performance information such as chords, arpeggios or scales. As on the old Wasp and EMS AKS synths, it's possible to play glissandi by sliding your fingers along the 'keys'; Haslinger's use of the system at the festival included everything from slow sonic landscapes to rapid percussion parts.

"It is thought that Atari Corporation (US) may be developing a smaller version of the unit (the current model weighs around 30kg) - but Atari UK currently have no information on this. The unit will be featured on Haslinger's forthcoming solo album. In the meantime, details of a compilation video including part of Lightwave's set from UK Electronica 1992 are available by sending an SAE to: (Contact Details).

"Incidentally, bands interested in performing at the 1993 show planned for September can send information to AMP records at the same address."

Thanks Mark.

Q Some time ago, I read an advert for a MIDI to CV interface from Groove Electronics. I wrote to them and received a letter from Neil Naish which enclosed details of their products and prices. After receiving the letter, I decided to purchase the MIDI2CV via my Mastercard; the amount of £160 was debited on the 27th February 1992. I waited nearly five months, but the goods didn't appear. I wrote to Groove and tried to telephone them but without joy.

As I am based in Australia, it is very difficult for me to make enquiries regarding this. Can you help? I'm sure if you've ever had this sort of problem yourself you would understand how helpless I feel at this point.
Grant Delahoy
Tin Shed Recordings
Victoria, Australia

A As you've probably figured out by now Grant, Groove Electronics is no more; it ceased trading some months ago. As you paid for the unit by Mastercard, you have, of course, a means of redress which would not have been open to you had you paid by cash or cheque. Simply contact Mastercard, advise them of the situation and claim under their insurance scheme.

There is, however, another possible solution to your problem. Patrick Shipsey - who designed the Groove Electronics equipment - has now set up a company under the name of DBM. Although under no legal obligation to do so, he is prepared to help any customers who have outstanding equipment orders and can be contacted on 0256 53953.

Q I've just bought a Roland Sound Canvas SC-155 to use in conjunction with my sequencer, but find that on playing back earlier songs, all of the pitch bends are incorrect. The reason for this is that my previous synth always had the pitch bend range set to 12 semitones while Sound Canvas apparently defaults to 2 semitones - and this is how I have been using it. I've tried to change the pitch bend information graphically on-screen (using Cubase), but have found this to be a soul-destroying task! Is there anything I can do?
John Carter
Colchester; Essex

A Yes. One of the joys of General MIDI is that recognition of certain MIDI commands is guaranteed - and this includes the one which sets the pitch bend range. In fact it's one of the Registered Parameter Numbers and you can set this to 2 semitones by typing in the following on the List Edit page:

Bn 64 00 65 00 06 02

...where 'n' is one less than the MIDI channel of the part whose pitch bend range you are changing. If you want to change it back to 12 semitones, type in:

Bn 64 00 65 00 06 OC

Q Does anyone still supply disks for the Ensoniq Mirage? I've tried calling Desert Island who used to advertise in your magazine but get a disconnected tone. I know that this sampler is getting a bit long in the tooth but there must still be plenty out there.
Anthony O'Neill
Consett, Co. Durham

A Like you, I have also tried the old Desert Island number without success, and none of the other sample libraries that I have spoken to either support the Mirage or know of anyone who does. It looks like you may be out of luck, unless anyone reading this knows better...

Q I have what I feel to be one of the classic string synths of all time - the Solina and still love it's highly distinctive sound. Unfortunately, as you are probably aware, it is a pre-MIDI synth and so impossible to program within my MIDI set up. Is it possible to have it converted in some way so that it can be controlled via MIDI? I know there are companies who MIDIise older gear; can anyone carry out this particular modification and if so, what facilities will it give me?
Paul Baron

A Kenton Electronics, the MIDI retrofit specialists, will happily take your Solina and MIDIise it for you. The conversion will recognise MIDI notes via the MIDI In socket and makes use of the bi-timbral nature of the Solina by allowing you to access the bass and main sections on separate MIDI channels.

The cost is £205.63 including fitting and VAT. Contact John Price on (Contact Details)

Q I have a weird problem which I wonder whether you can help me with. I have a Korg M1 connected to an Atari ST running C-Lab Creator. When I play the Korg M1 without it being connected to the ST, I have no problems. Once I connect the two together, however, the sounds seems to subtly change and I swear that I can hear notes cutting out. What's going on?
Clive Glover,

A If you take a look a look at the diagram in Figure 1, Clive, you'll see the way that a standard synth works. Hitting a note on the keyboard carries out two functions: it plays the internal sounds and also transmits MIDI note information from the MIDI Out.

If you connect up to a sequencer and press a key, the first thing you hear is a sound playing via the sound generator connection. At the same time, a MIDI Note On exits from the synth's MIDI Out, is received at the MIDI In of the sequencer, and is sent out again from the MIDI Out (via the internal soft-Thru function) and received back at the synth's MIDI In where it retriggers the sound generator. The result is two sounds separated by a delay of around 5-10 milliseconds - enough to produce a 'flanged' effect, and hence a change in timbre.

There is a Global function on the Korg M1 called 'Local' which is short for Local Control. Turning this function 'off' breaks the link between the keyboard and the sound generator - as you'll see in Figure 2. Hitting a key now only sends a MIDI Note On from the synth's MIDI Out and this returns via the sequencer's soft-Thru function to the synth's MIDI In at which point the sound is created. Result: only one sound.

What can you do if you don't have a Local Control Off facility on your synth? Well, many sequencers - including C-Lab Creator - offer a MIDI Thru Off channel. This prevents the retransmission of notes from the sequencer if they are being output in the same MIDI channel on which they were received. In this case, sounds are heard only once - via the keyboard to sound generator connection.

Got a problem? Vic has an answer. Write to: Technically Speaking, (Contact Details)

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The Journeyman

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That Was Then

Music Technology - Copyright: Music Maker Publications (UK), Future Publishing.


Music Technology - Jan 1993

Feedback by Vic Lennard

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