Sunday, March 27, 2011

Icing on the cake

I like my music to be quite raw, barebone and untreated. But there are some times when some processing is needed to create depth and notion of space, to create particular ambiences and enhance the "grain" of the sound, to create rhythmic or special effects.

My preference definitely goes to analogue, "classic vintage" technology, that provides deep, warm and lush sounds in opposition to digital, which is more accurate and precise, more versatile but sonically less least to my taste.

About 18 years ago, I started with some multi-effects like the Ensoniq DP/4, Boss SE-50 and Lexicon Vortex. All very capable and decent machines, but these were quite soon to be replaced by dedicated analogue processors and pedals.

The effect I most often use in my music is delay, and more specifically tape delay. There's nothing like the organic, self oscillating feedback sound or the fading echoes of a tape delay for that "psychedelic" touch in a production.
The first machine I had (until last week) was a Roland RE-201 Space Echo tape delay/spring reverb

Followed by a modified Evans ES-5 Sound Creator, with Sound-on-Sound capability (which I also sold some time ago). This one was a real oddity and produced some amazing Lo-Fi sounds.

Then came this marvelous Fulltone Tube Tape Echo. Excellent dynamics and wonderfully rich tones. A bit pricey but worth every cent.

With the Space Echo I got the taste of spring reverb and that's how I came to sell it, in favor of a dedicated tape delay and a dedicated spring reverb. The TTE fills in the tape delay part and, two days ago, I acquired this lovely Knas Ekdahl Moisturizer, a stand alone spring reverb with CV control. The springs are mounted on top of the housing so they can be "played". The Moisturizer also sports a built in LFO and multi mode filter, which makes it quite a special and unique unit. This one is soon to be modified for an even wider range of sounds (keep an eye on my Mod page...)

The above mentioned units are all for dedicated, external treatments. Inside the modular I don't have that much dedicated effects modules.

The Oakley Sound Systems Overdrive, which does exactly what its name suggests, ranging from subtle overdrive to full on distortion. Perfect to add a little grain and grit to a VCDO or a VCF. This is more a sound processor than an effects unit...

The Analogue Systems RS-390 is a voltage controllable mono in/stereo out echo with a very special sonic identity. It can deliver blurry, hazy sound clouds or quite clean and slowly bouncing echoes. It is also capable of very short delays to get into chorus/flanger territory.

The Doepfer A-199 SPRV spring reverb ( left bottom corner of the case ) with the reverb tank mounted outside the case to reduce hum and noise induced by the proximity of the power supply, and to be able to "play" the springs like on the Moisturizer.

 These are soon (I hope) to be complemented by Analogue System's RS-400 analogue phase shifter, the Pittsburgh Modular BBD Analogue Delay and Synthesis Technology's E560 Deflector Shield digital frequency shifter/phase shifter/ring modulator and the E580 Resampling Mini Delay.

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