Discussion: putting together a single-synth Berlin School rig

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Re: Discussion: putting together a single-synth Berlin School rig

Post by John Stafford »

For me, a sequencer like the Korg SQ-1 would be a must for a Berlin School setup.

You could carry the SQ-1 in your pocket, so it wouldn't feel like carting more gear.
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Re: Discussion: putting together a single-synth Berlin School rig

Post by Ben Asaro »

Just had my first round of editing an Init patch in the JV-1080. Patch Base is great in that it gives visual feedback. However, I am struggling to figure out how to apply the filter envelope in a way that will result in a decent pluck. I'm not even hearing the filter envelope, actually. Going to keep plugging (plucking?) away, I'm sure there's something obvious I'm missing. With an analogue synth, it's easy peasy. Back at it!
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Re: Discussion: putting together a single-synth Berlin School rig

Post by Ben Asaro »

LOL got it, thanks to the diagram in the Owner's Manual. To set the decay for Level 1, you actually have to adjust the time of Level 2, since that's the time it takes to get from Level 1 to Level 2. It's versatile, but totally different from what I'm used to with analogue EGs.

Now to see if I can get a workable waveshape now! :D
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Re: Discussion: putting together a single-synth Berlin School rig

Post by Ben Asaro »

Well, I'm pretty chuffed -- this sounds much better than it has any right to!

Figuring out how the effects are added was a bit more complex than it needed to be, but I sorted it out in the end. I'm a little disappointed by the fact that if you have effects on a patch, those effects are overridden when in Performance mode, but it's not a deal breaker.

After I dialed in a rough pluck patch, I felt it was a bit 'squelchy' in that way that Roland filters sound, but once I added delay and reverb, it sounded great!

The versatility and depth of the JV-1080's editing was quite surprising, and the manual actually has lots of useful info, I think it just automatically assumes you have a certain level of familiarity with the architecture.

I'll keep chipping away at it, my plan is to write the plucks on my own and then use the Orchestral and Bass & Drum expansion cards for bass, drums, and string sounds.

Will see how it goes!
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Re: Discussion: putting together a single-synth Berlin School rig

Post by Ben Asaro »

Had a chance to work on this some more early this morning. Everything sounds/works great. I think that the ultimate setback is going to be the rhythm track. If I use the KSP for two melodic lines, bass, and leave one open for live improvisation over top, there are no tracks left for drums.

The question is: do I add the BeatStep Pro? Stand alone drum machine? Or scale it way back and have just one sequenced line, one bass track, one drum track, and one live improv track?

The advantage of using the BSP is that it also adds 2 more potential melodic lines, which can create some nice complex syncopations.

Hmmm ... will have to think about this!
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Re: Discussion: putting together a single-synth Berlin School rig

Post by Ben Asaro »

Hit my first real snag.

I pulled out my BeatStep Pro, sync'd the two together, and off we go ... or so I thought. Turns out that the KSP's MIDI Out will not pass external MIDI, and the MIDI Thru won't send the internal sequencer's MIDI so I'm left with the JV-1080 receiving either the MIDI from the KSP or the BSP.

So, I guess a MIDI Merge box is needed to combine both pieces, which I must say is rather annoyance since they are both made by the same bloody manufacturer and one would think that they can be made to form a single system. :madas:

I'm not a fan of the box count, which will now creep to four, including the JV-1080, though it will double the amount of sequencer tracks available.

I had a moment of hope against hope that the K2000R would have two MIDI inputs, but it doesn't.

Tomorrow is Sunday, so I have another day to decide on my course of action. Worst case I'll order a MIDI merge box from Sweetwater on Monday.
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Re: Discussion: putting together a single-synth Berlin School rig

Post by Ben Asaro »

Had another chance to give the setup a play today and start tweaking things.

I did an A/B of the internal effects on the Roland vs using my usual RV-500/Blackhole setup and of course there's no comparison in the quality department. I will probably end up setting up two Performances, one for each scenario so I have all of my bases covered, but the external effects do elevate the baisc sound of the Roland quite a bit!

This brings the grand total of boxes from 2 (KSP and JV-1080} to 6 (BSP, KSP, JV-1080, RV-500, Blackhole, MIDI merger) should I decide to go this route. I suspected that some sort of 'box creep' would occur and this would be the absolute maximum I think I could comfortably carry with me.
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Re: Discussion: putting together a single-synth Berlin School rig

Post by blinddrew »

Maybe you need to look for a Kurzweil... ;)
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Re: Discussion: putting together a single-synth Berlin School rig

Post by Ben Asaro »

blinddrew wrote:Maybe you need to look for a Kurzweil... ;)

HA!
I won’t have to look far! I think that the fundamental issues (needing more sequencing control and dated effects) would be the same, unfortunately. The size and weight of the K2000R just makes it a no-go for me.

However — I might do this in phases with Phase 1 using the Roland for travel and Phase 2 using the Kurz for at home?
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Re: Discussion: putting together a single-synth Berlin School rig

Post by Ben Asaro »

Started from a clean slate this morning; factory reset the JV-1080, and worked on a bunch of patches from scratch now that I'm getting used to the way Patch Base works.

Patch Base is definitely a life saver, it works great.

Set up 4 different pluck sounds, the only one I have left is a Blade Runner-ish brass sound. I have all of the current patches running dry and using the RV-500 and Blackhole. For sounds that don't need a pile of delay and reverb, I'll use the other output.

I would imagine that I will probably need to have different performances set up eventually for different sound sets, but for now I'm probably going to set it up with:
Bass
Drums/Percussion
Orchestral Strings
Orchestral Brass
Synth Brass
2x different pluck sounds

That should be plenty of sounds available.

Just have to wait for the MIDI merger to show up and then I can start working out the logistics!
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Re: Discussion: putting together a single-synth Berlin School rig

Post by Ben Asaro »

I really have to hand it to Patch Base, they have made it incredibly easy to program the JV-1080!

When I was looking at how to use Rhythm sets, I figured I would have to settle for one of the preset patches, which is kind of a waste. But with Patch Base, I can make a custom set for every octave if I like, enabling a mix and match of trad/ethnic/orchestral percussion sounds.

Fantastic! :D
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Re: Discussion: putting together a single-synth Berlin School rig

Post by Ben Asaro »

Made great progress yesterday! Setting up a bespoke Rhythm set was dead easy and I was able to get 12 of the 16 pads of the BSP assigned with drum sounds; I am leaving the other 4 pads available for any sounds I will need as I go along.

Since plucks and percussion are both suited to pads over keys, I will be setting up the BSP to handle 2x plucks and percussion duties; the KSP will be used for anything requiring polyphony or improvisational lead playing.

I finalized the setup by assigning Output 1 for anything that will use outboard delay and reverb and Output 2 for anything using onboard effects (mostly just a room reverb, or dry).

Now all I need is the MIDI merge box and I can get to work! :)
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Re: Discussion: putting together a single-synth Berlin School rig

Post by Ben Asaro »

I know this is going to sound weird (and unscientific) but there is a definite difference in the feel of the clock (to me) using MIDI vs analogue sync ... kinda hard to describe, but there is a 'stiffness' to the MIDI clock that doesn't seem to be present when using the modular. It's not bad, just ... different. Different enough where I may sync the BSP and KSP via sync instead of MIDI, but I will have to experiment some more first.

I think in part it has to do with the way the clock starts. It feels like the MIDI clock is infinitesimally quicker from the moment I press Play to the start of the sequence.
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Re: Discussion: putting together a single-synth Berlin School rig

Post by Dave B »

It's interesting that you say that - midi is a serial protocol and, as such, often tends to be ever so slightly off the beat. CV/Gate is bang on for all channels - it's inherent in the design.

So, if you are right and it is the start, then that does kind of make sense as the midi clock timing could potentially be sent much faster than the 'ticks' for analogue syncing. It does depend on the clock speed.

But, once the sequence has started, I wouldn't expect much of a difference. I'd try both and record the results into a DAW and compare the results. But I'm sad like that ... :D
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Re: Discussion: putting together a single-synth Berlin School rig

Post by Ben Asaro »

LOL I'm not that overly concerned about it, and if it means avoiding another cable, I'm all for it. :D
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