A Synthesizer Is Only Good If It Is Free And Open Source.

A synthesizer that cannot surpass itself in its operation oppresses the musician and music. Open source hardware, code, and 3rd party expansion systems, like Eurorack, are the only true way to progress and free the future for experimentation. Shareable software code and distributing schematics is the only way forward to freedom. Companies that do not allow the user to surpass function are holding the user back.

How many times, and how many years, have you waited for a company to update the firmware, only for them to release a brand new product?

It is true that you could buy a single module with many options and be happy with it. The notes and tones could be mathematically unlimited. However, it is still a static system that never changes, with a similar timbre. Its functions are always similar. The music making that comes from it will always take the same mechanical path.

Closed systems are Minimalist. Minimalism died when it could not free the user and take them to new heights. It held them back in a simple state that did not expand their thought. We dislike corporations that do not follow new ways of doing things and take risks. We dislike it when they keep secrets and only let them expand for a fee, and through them. Minimalism is for children. Minimalist, closed systems are a thing of the past.

When you create a project (like a new synthesizer) you are projecting your values and your lifeblood onto it. The only way to empower your user is to make a free and open system. It is time to revolutionize music again.

October 20, 2013 on 8:06 pm

Logic Pro X Has USB Midi Problems

The latest version of Logic Pro X (10.0.2 / 10.0.3) has stuck midi note issues.

AVOID if you have any external midi gear and USB midi. Its a nightmare. The 10.0.2 update said it fixed some problems, but they are still there. Triggering notes in a completely different program solved my problem. It doesn’t stick the note everytime, but once it does, you end up rebooting everything.

August 30, 2013 on 12:45 pm

Most Audio Companies Are Crap (A List)

Most of the stuff you see in the catalogs is total crap.

1. Designing to consumer expectations and not pro needs (budget studio monitors)

2. They don’t update drivers or test on new OSes

3. They don’t test their products with experienced people

4. They care more about their reputation than manufacturing quality

5. They make products for right now, but not the future

6. The products just don’t sound right

7. They don’t sound good enough

8. Too much latency in digital products

9. Too much coloring or distortion

10. Artificial bass boosting

11. Flawed designs (“Audiophile” & esoteric materials), No technical specs listed.

12. Not made in the USA

13. Copied designs. Nothing original.

14. Overpriced, waste of money

15. Creating a control interface, then making the home computer do all the work.

16. No ergonomics

17. Not enough raw power for productions

18. Retro and backward thinking products.

19. Marketing hype

20. Fake sponsorships and fake reviews.

21. “Mini” versions of products that are missing important things.


The only companies I like and have kept around after tons of trades: Roland keyboards. My isoAcoustic stands are a keeper. Things I’d Rebuy: the Future Retro Revolution. Marshall pedals. All the monitors, audio interfaces, mics and low end midi controllers are just total garbage and I have sold them to unfortunate people. As far as software value goes: Reason. I also think Waves plugins are great. TAL Plugins are great. I even find free plugins that outperform commercial ones a lot! I’m really sick of the junk! I should not have to pay extra for something that will last me 5 years. What kind of goals are these companies aiming for? Its obviously not quality, professional specs, and ease of use. I’m not going to join their cult of retards that buy their junk, nor am I going to pay as much as a used car for something thats almost solid state. Most of it is a drag and barely tickles my creativity.

P.S. Almost anything “mastering quality” or “analog” is hype. Digital is better in most cases. $5,000 for an EQ or Limiter? I would never let a hardware mastering facility touch my digital music because it will only add distortion and noise and lower the dynamic range. The only exception, where analog is good, are sound sources, like the synthesizer, microphone, and hardware distortion. You don’t need to record on tape though. When you get real monitors, not 6″ pieces of junk, you will notice how bad most people’s idea of “warm” analog sounds. It takes a certain type of recording experience to nail that sound artistically, and its rarely heard anymore.

August 13, 2013 on 9:17 pm

Bass Station II Revealed!

“The Bass Station II is a completley reworked version of the original synth and features two filters, two oscillators plus a sub-oscillator, patch save and a fully-analog effects section. Additionally, there’s a step-sequencer, arpeggiator, a two octave (25-note) velocity-sensitive keyboard with full-sized keys and a powerful modulation section.”

via mi-pro

Looks like this link hasn’t gone live yet, but will soon.


April 8, 2013 on 8:11 am

Nord Lead 4 Revealed By Clavia

…and a rack version will be available.

via GearJunkies

The biggest feature difference it seems to have is Wavetable synthesis, including “unique Formant Wavetables.” There are also effects: Crush, Talk and Distortion, Reverb, Delay effects (available per slot).

It does seem a little bit boring. Nothing would be a  huge game changer here. The audio demos are pretty good, but on the “hard” side. That might be a good thing.

Nord Lead 4 demos by nordkeyboards


April 8, 2013 on 8:02 am

Universal Synthesizer Patch Format: A Work In Progress

What is USPF? It allows synthesizer patches to be shared across any platform and plugin. You could even broadcast patches from your website!

What doesn’t it do? It does not attempt to recreate the sound quality or specific nuances of synthesizers. Every synth sounds different. The formats aim is to get similar sounds into new synthesizers that adopt the universal format. Not all tags will be read by every synthesizer. It is a general format.

USPF is similar to XML and html. There are tags, comments, etc. If you can program a webpage, you can make a USPF file.

Right now things are in initial stages. If you’d like to help develop it further please contact me through this forum.

An example of what USPF tags looks like:

<filter id=”1″ type=”LP,-13db” cutoff=”1/4″ mod=”1″ velocity=”1″>
<amp val=”1″/>
<osc id=”1″ type=”square” width=”9/10″ portamento=”on” legato=”off” time=”13″ velocity=”1″ mod=”5″>
</filter><osc id=”2″ type=”triangle”>

Knob values are in fractions because synthesizers have different ranges!

Download the full beta file w/ comments here.

Some work needs to be done on documenting specifics of oscillators, envelopes, mods, and maybe different engine types etc.

March 5, 2013 on 5:49 pm

Roland Synth Chronicle

Roland has updated their “synth chronicle” and since I’m a Roland fan, I thought I’d link it also. They also have the PDF of every significant synth (2010). Basically they just added their current products. I think Roland is the only company that is proud of their past releases, and I think they know that they hold up more or less. Here is the LINK to the article.


February 24, 2013 on 4:27 pm

NAMM 2013 Signaled the End of Hardware.

There was almost nothing new to be seen at NAMM 2013 unless you assert that any analog product whatsoever is better than a new digital one. Synths were revised, rereleased, copied and cloned. Lets review here.

Roland – Absolutely Nothing

Yamaha – Absolutely Nothing

Korg: King Korg – A compilation of existing products.

MS-20 MINI – A direct clone of something nobody was really looking to buy.
More Kaoss Pads.

Dave Smith: Prophet 12, another polysynth which is probably pretty good, but only if you are into polysynth keyboards.

Studio Electronics Boomstar: Another set of cloned analog hardware.

The Rest:

A Crap ton of cheap midi controllers nobody wanted.

Wow, good job guys in the music industry. That was totally boring. Maybe I will start reviewing software instead. I think its really over. Perhaps nobody wants to see a keyboard player on stage either. I think synth sounds are mostly over and creative sampling will become a trend again.

I hate mini keys. If I ever see another mini key I will explode.

February 6, 2013 on 2:45 pm

Holy Smokes! Dave Smith Prophet 12 (Video) Sounds insane.

Possibly the best analog synth ever made?

More Info Here: http://davesmithinstruments.com/products/prophet12/index.php

Update: I’m not sure if I can recommend this one anymore. The digital oscillators really do not have much of a unique sound. They are pretty glitchy. The filter sounds really nice though. I’m kind of on the fence. For how much money it costs, I would not get it.

January 24, 2013 on 11:00 am

Korg Has MS-20 in the Works

Korg are officially reissuing in the MS-20 in a smaller, more compact size. It will be using mini-jacks (1/4″ instead of 1/8″) and have USB-MIDI and is of course fully analogue.”  From WaveFormz


January 21, 2013 on 10:54 am

Moog Sub Phatty Announced

Moog anounced the Sub Phatty today for $999. It appears to be…another analog monosynth. What they did right was include all the knobs. Only 25 keys, but they look nice. I think this would be a good first synth if it pans out. I would rather have this than the Phatty. They are probably killing off the LP, that is, if they don’t understand how to tier their products.

January 21, 2013 on 10:51 am

The Headphone Trend Makes You look Dumb.

You do not need giant headphones to listen to your music. The cheap in-ear alternative are always a better choice in public. They are portable and provide adequate sound quality. Total ear isolation in public is dangerous. It cuts you off from your surroundings. There is nothing in your iPod good enough to take away natural sound when you are in public. You could hurt yourself or someone else. Headphones, played at the wrong levels, will cause hearing damage. External speakers are a better choice at home because they have natural reflections. When going out please skip the Dr. Dres and ear isolation. They crunch your ears anyway and you won’t be able to have them in for long periods without pain. Save your ears and our eyes from you looking like a stupid eyesore.

Besides, most of the headphones they sell today are either cheap crap or a total rip. Skip looking like a douchebag that got ripped off on headphones. Nobody will want to talk to someone with their ears plugged.

December 18, 2012 on 5:50 pm

Novation is Good

I was missing knobs on my Supernova II and decided to contact Novation. For cosmetic reasons I thought it would look better complete. Novation was able to send me replacements for free, and I am very happy. They were pretty slow to respond…really slow, but they eventually got me what I needed. Thanks Novation.

December 13, 2012 on 9:30 pm

Grammy Award For Midi? What the hell?

“The Recording Academy® announced today that Dave Smith and Roland Corporation’s Ikutaro Kakehashi will receive the 2013 Technical GRAMMY® Award for the development of MIDI (Musical Instrument Digital Interface).”

First, midi sucks. Secondly there are many other technologists that have contributed far more innovation to electronic musical instruments in modern times. This is way late.The Grammys and the Recording Industry are more outmoded that midi itself Most people don’t use midi at all in their productions. This award is ridiculous.

December 13, 2012 on 6:50 am

Warbly Ball (SoundCloud Music)

Warbly Ball by ChipCollection

November 21, 2012 on 8:13 pm

Chip Collection Back On Tumblr

We’re back on Tumblr! If you’d like to follow us there and find more content go here! –> http://chipcollection.tumblr.com

Please be kind as I adjust to the site.

August 16, 2012 on 5:31 pm

Craigslist Shuts Down Craiggers and 3taps

If you rely on Craiggers or 3 taps data to search for gear, then Sunday was a bad day. Craigslist has become very aggressive in shutting down services that are better than theirs with legal threats.

At approximately noon on Sunday August 5th, Craigslist instructed all general search engines to stop indexing CL postings — effectively blocking 3taps and other 3rd party use of that data from these public domain sources. We are sorry that CL has chosen this course of action and are exploring options to restore service but may be down for an extended period of time unless we or CL change practices. As soon as we know more, we will share it here and on our Twitter account.


August 7, 2012 on 8:59 am

Namm 2012 Critique.

“Kronos X” http://www.sonicstate.com/news/2012/07/12/snamm12-korg-announces-kronos-x-/

If you are totally insatiable, Korg is offering bigger SSD for huge libraries on the Kronos X. 2gb–>64gb. Bleh! This doesn’t change the fact I had a poor impression of the original in the store.


More content posted here as I see it…

July 12, 2012 on 2:51 pm

Sounds of 2012 Blog

Everyday this guy makes a new sound or edits music and posts the result. Its flash. Press the arrow button on the right to start. Sounds of 2012 Blog

June 18, 2012 on 9:52 pm

I fink u freeky – Die Antwoord

June 11, 2012 on 9:13 am

Mac Mini 2.5ghz i5 w/ Radeon Thoughts

The intel iMac I had in 2006 never really cut the mustard. The x1600 integrated graphics chip failed at games out of the box. With quite a few bugs, USB and firmware problems, many hardware developers were late getting drivers out. I swore off M-audio for good and went to MOTU. Lastly it started developing lines in the LCD screen in later years. I was lucky to sell it at all. iMacs had turned into cheap pieces of crap and I needed something new.

Lion is a great operating system and I need it regardless of cost because Windows is still endlessly annoying. I needed another Apple machine with Firewire. Enter the Mac Mini 2.5 ghz. I’m glad I got the more expensive one. This machine is dead quiet when doing menial tasks like internet surfing. An i5 processor is still quite good. The dedicated ATI Radeon chip is a must these days. I will never buy an integrated graphics (intel 3000 or 4000) ever again. The fan does seem to boot up quite loud while playing games or excessive hard drive use, but that is not a big deal. One thing I noticed is that it is actually cooler to the touch when playing games on high settings. This mac Mini with Radeon is able to play Dirt 2 with no frame drop outs at a medium resolution. It is sort of like PS3.5 graphics if I had to estimate. I’m happy with it because I know the intel3000 chip on the lower end mini and macbook pro is a total piece of crap and anything else worth buying is more like $1600, which is kind of an insane price point.

There are only two things I don’t like about the Mac Mini. One is that firewire 800 needs a new cable to connect to my older FW-400 interface. It is not available in common office stores. Second there is no optical drive. I can’t play DVDs or Rip Audio CDs. Thank god I had my music backed up. A low cost solution would be to get a 3rd party Blu-Ray drive, but even that may be a waste of money now.

Other machines I considered:
* A used 2009 Mac Pro – This computer only has slightly better performance at more cost than the mac mini 2.5. It would be easy to upgrade. The motherboard is still current. But you are lucky to find out for the 1000-14000 range. You can get a comparable machine for hundreds less.
* Macbook Pro 15″ w/dedicated graphics – This one is too expensive and feels cheap. I tried the hardware in best buy and felt that the screen and overall hardware was crummy. No wonder Foxconn likes to riot. They are making cheap computers that get sold at ridiculous prices. The pro models don’t have any of the latest chips and leaked specs for the new ones aren’t much better.
*Macbook Air 13″ – The 11″ is really awkward. The design of 13″ is actually more desirable than the macbook pros in person. This might work, but it has no dedicated graphics. Again the intel 3000 is something I need to avoid completely.

What to look for in a new computer if you are doing multimedia:
Quad Core chip or 2.2ghz or higher. Try to skip the Core2 Duos, they seem slower and run hot.
4GB of Ram Standard
At least 320GB HD or 120 SSD.
ATI or NVIDIA Dedicated Graphics (6000 series+ or GT+) Skip any computer with intel graphics 3000 or integrated graphics.

For most purposes a Mac Mini 2.5ghz is extremely powerful and will be enough for a few years. It is worth buying over a cheaper PC and the cheaper mini. What I needed was to run Lion. This box totally works for me.

Other Notes: Apple’s magic track pad and mouse are total garbage! The track pad is barely adequate on MBP and standalone pad. Resolution-wise, It felt like it was skipping around. Pressing the entire thing down to click is ridiculous and just won’t stand up to abuse in my opinion. The Magic Mouse felt like crap in my hands and cut into the inside of my fingers. It is a hard edged design and it is one of the worst designed mice I’ve ever tried. I’d rather use the 1998 USB hockey puck which not only doesn’t hurt my fingers, it felt a lot more solid. Most of apple’s hardware is garbage right now. Skip all the expensive peripherals and accessories and get 3rd party ones. Be wary of future releases and don’t buy anything online without feeling it in person.

Another note: Apple’s hardware lines have gotten completely confusing. Multiple lines and multiple configurations only benefit Apple’s need to gouge you and not the consumer’s needs. The power available in the lowest models is a complete rip off. The mid-range are not much better. Most people want to try the latest game at least once or twice and the higher end models do not represent what is currently available in the PC world.

June 7, 2012 on 1:56 pm

Roland JP-80 Review and Patches Coming Soon

Since I can’t really test synthesizers in the store, I have a JP-80 coming. A full review will be posted. I’m pretty sure I will like it already. I will shoot for around 100-200 modern sounding patches available for purchase ($30) for Roland Jupiter 80 in a month or two. I will put my favorite sounds into it, make new sounds, and hopefully have time to tweak them again. Apparently anyone planning on a JP-50 will be able to use them too. Stay tuned.

Q: Aren’t those keyboards stupid and overpriced?
A: At the moment they are out of reach for many but I’m very interested in them. It will be worth it to make new patch banks for their system in the long run. New patches = innovative music and happy keyboard players.

June 7, 2012 on 12:58 pm

Help Fund The "RetroCade" All in One Chip Synth

C64 SID/YM2149

Link To RetroCade on Kickstarter

June 7, 2012 on 12:43 pm

Disco Gino The Pizza Pimp

“Welcome to the mafia, pizzas give you diarrhea!”

June 5, 2012 on 11:42 am

Approved Radio Stations E-Z

Here is the final batch of radio stations worth checking out in iTunes! There are a lot fewer than I thought. Most stations on iTunes are commercially robotic sites with no one DJing. They are trying to serve ads or sell less than quality music. Many itunes stations are just pop music in disguise.  These stations aren’t too bad!

Freestyle Vault

Gamesboro Radio 100% Video game music!



NSB (The World’s Largest Breaks Station)

Swiss Master Streaming (Powered by Infomaniak


The “success rate” of iTunes electronica stations is now 1.79% in my own rating . What this really means is that you should not be using the default iTunes station list to discover new music. 98.3% of the time you will end up with junk you’ve heard before.

May 17, 2012 on 5:41 pm

Approved Radio Stations in iTunes (A-D)

With 613 Electronica stream’s available in iTunes I’ll attempt to sort through the filler and find unique stations. Already I’ve made it through 218 streams and only found 4 stations worth listening to. Any site playing generic music was automatically thrown out.

4 out 218 stations = 1.83486239% success rate

These are the stations that I like.

Accent Mix by Vmix.fm



Burst Radio.net

No stations starting with the letter D made it on the list!

More to come…

May 16, 2012 on 8:30 pm

6 Ways to tell your subwoofer is set incorrectly.

  1. You set it by ear. Our ears are not perfect and neither are our perceptions. Mostly what we know is relative. We may have chose to set the subwoofer to a certain level only because its what we are used to. Maybe we guessed. Its probably too loud. We cannot match calibrated microphones or electronic software.
  2. You set the crossover to to match the factory specs on your speakers. In the real world you probably don’t get the promised bass extension. Smaller woofers just don’t produce the levels you need in your room or listening position. You must set the crossover correctly and not by the factory specs.
  3. Audible distortion. Maybe you are pushing your subwoofer too loud and its clipping during those movie explosions. But it could be your room. Check your levels again. Use subwoofer protection in your receiver if it has it.
  4. You hear a drop out during the THX DVD crossover test. Set your crossover higher and do the test again. Repeat till its perfect. If you have a major loss of bass its probably not set up right and it isn’t your room.
  5. Bass is indistinct or feels floaty. Check your phase switch. Most likely + is the correct setting if your subwoofer is near the front of the room. Make sure all your cabling is set correctly too to avoid phasing.
  6. You aren’t happy with its sound. Try putting it in a different place in the room.
May 11, 2012 on 11:26 pm

Hosa Cable is Donkey Shit

Hosa sells shitty cables that pollute the earth. A low-end cable should be able to function for years. The Hosa I bought can’t meet this requirement. Their cables sound scratchy even when they look brand new. Hosa cable sucks. They should stop selling cheap products in the USA.

May 5, 2012 on 6:17 pm

Sample Store Has Gone "Pay What You Like"

New: Pay any amount you think is appropriate for all sample products in the web store. Just click on “BUY” in the navigation tab to enter the web store. Use the donate buttons and you will be taken to paypal where you can enter any dollar amount.

April 30, 2012 on 8:50 pm

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