Tip Top Audio: Z-DSP

Gur of Tip Top Audio sent me his very own Z-DSP to show off at the Trash_Audio synth meet and while I have it in my grasp, a lot of time is being spent with the Z-DSP and with permission I am making a video of some of those moments. The sound of this module fits into my setup perfectly and while it does beautiful delays and reverbs, this is only the beginning. The current card this particular unit came with was the dragonfly delay card which has eight beautiful delays with great sounding feedback. Gur showed me a reverb and filter cards while I was in LA. Now the truly exciting part is that Gur intends to release the source of the Z-DSP cards so anyone can program whatever effect that want and integrate it with their modular system. And while I'm full on illiterate when it comes to programming... you know what? Let me have Gur explain it himself.

Gur of Tip Top Audio
The Z-DSP will be supplied with the Dragonfly Delay card. There are several more cards in development, it is theoretically endless as the Z-DSP is an audio microcomputer that like any computer all it needs is different softwares to perform an infinite array of features. Right now the cards I'm developing are reverbs, more types of delays, CV processing, LFOs, DCOs and a few others. I just finished testing a digital ring modulation and it sounds very different from analog. The next card to be available is the Bat Filter, a collection of 8 VCDF (VC digital filters), its a killer set of filters!
There is also a programmer that will be available. It is a USB device that goes into the card slot of the Z-DSP and there is a PC code development environment that connects to it. This programmer allow users to either write their own programs, share with others, or download some free algorithms that are available online. This programmer will be sold separately and will require signing a NDA that is made to protect the IP of both TTA and the user against anyone who might want to take advantage of the 'open source' approach to copy algorithms from the cards and use them for commercial use.

*Watch your volume. I'm not saying it in the hip way - I'm saying it in the 'it starts off quiet and picks up the direct signal at about fifteen seconds in'


The Age of Customization: ProModular

A few years ago, hell, only a few months ago you could buy one case from one company, one faceplate from the same one and if you ordered a case, you got a case. No extras, no bonuses. Now, we're seeing people like Pro Modular and Monorocket fulfilling peoples customization needs not only visually but also with functionality. Call me shallow but if I look at an instrument and am turned off by the very sight, I'll most likely avoid it when I'm reaching for the closest thing that makes noise. Current modular manufacturers are breaking away from Doepfer's dreary gray mold with LCD displays and catchy graphics on their modules and further more are the aforementioned companies making the housing more 'you'.
Pro Modular makes custom blind panels for modulars in every format. If you don't like staring into the abyss of wires and power boards or are too poor to fill your modular with modules, you now have an alternative to make it feel more complete while giving it an aesthetic of your choice. I spent a second with Stephen, the man behind Pro-Modular:

When I purchased my first case (a subrack from Elby) it had no top. I have a laser cutter/etcher and made myself a top. Then I made a post over at Muff's seeing if anyone would be interested in blind panels or panels for DIY. I have also made a custom face panel for my TR-606 out of acrylic. After the comments at Muff's, I built the site, stocked up on materials and let it go. I sent out some promo panels to Muff, Devine and James Ciglar. I also brought some sample panels to an NYC Wiggler meetup at Dave from Bubblesound's place for some promo. Just trying to spread the word. It's also not limited to euro, we can do all modular formats and will be expanding to 19" racks and cool little acrylic cutouts. Think keychains.
I love having something to really make your own. I grew up writing graffiti (I'm from the Bronx NY and still here!) which is such a personal way to mold yourself into something. That extended into graphic design. I basically merged my two loves, synths and design, into this project. I mean, what better way to fill up those blanks spaces than with a panel of something you absolutely love or designed yourself. I still have my 9-5, but am really excited to have this to offer to a community that I feel thrives on personal customization...

- Pro-Modular!


Make Noise - modDemod Revision

Make Noise sent over prototypes of the modDemod to mess with and give feedback for. I'm not sure how I've actually helped but I had a hell of a time getting some crazy sounds of this insane module. The model in the video should be one of the final versions minus the missing faceplate. I'm using the inverted out (red cable) and the sequence/notes are going between both of the moddemod's channels using both the modulator and carrier. I had a couple of questions for Anthony and here he is:

What are the modDemods key features?
Soft clipping thanx to hand selected Germanium diodes. Direct Coupled for use as CV processor. Normalizations for use as wavefolder and octave up/ down effect. Make-Up gain for easy integration to the system. Small and yet not so harmless. New PCB had to be drawn so as to utilize the new mini-jacks (I no longer use Cliff sockets). I figured I would make it more fun (normalizations for wave-folding and octave up/ down) and easier to incorporate into the system (make up gain).

What do you personally find using most in the revision?
I find myself plugging a guitar (via doepfer A-119) for the "octave up/ octave down." Voltage controlled polarizer for use with MATHS to create complex control schemes. Shortwave radio effects. Listening to Blizzard of Oz, modulated.


Two Videos One Night

Its been an empowering past 24 hours. The Ekdahl Moisturizer arrived and I beat Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 on single player. How does this empower me? Saving the world while knowing that the Moisturizer is in the other room takes some serious dedication, so... you try doing that and get back to me. Though after wasting a bunch of time playing games, I figured i'd waste more time by making videos of trying to figure out these instruments I recently acquired. All of the audio in these videos were recorded with a RME Fireface UC interface with some audio from the camera mixed in.

Empress Ekdahl
The Ekdahl Moisturizer and the Empress Super Delay meet for the first time today! You'll see me trying to figure out the Ekdahl as I run it through the Empress Super Delay and figured some people may find a video useful somehow. On the Empress I'm using the tape setting then switch to loop about halfway through the video to see how the Ekdahl stacks on itself. There are a lack of videos of the Ekdahl anywhere let alone showcasing it as a performance instrument, which is primarily why I'm obsessed with it. Works out nicely!

Tip Top Audio Sandwich
I received the WMD Geiger counter earlier last week and wanted to see how nicely it played with the others. On the front end are two Tip Top Audio Z3000's feeding into a WMD Geiger Counter, Flight of Harmony Plague Bearer and a Harvestman Malgorithm. Those are then being run into a Make Noise QMMG which feeds the Tip Top Z2040 Filter and ends up in the Z5000 DSP unit. Its repetitive, I know but this was an exercise on tonal brutality - using the Tip Top audio as the bread and the 3 most amazingly destructive modules as the meat.

Also, there is the Trash_Audio Synth Meet 5 happening this 15th, a Sunday. Shoot me an e-mail if you're in Chicago and interested in coming.


Front 312 @ Liars Club

Surachai and I are going to pull off a sort of half acid half industrial set at Liars Club this coming Friday THE 13TH. Come out and say hi....

- More Details
- Polyfuse.net


Ignoring You - Winning You

I've noticed a strange spurt in our visitors for the past couple of weeks: Our daily visitors have almost doubled. This is following one of the most article-barren months we have had at T_A. Logic would see that an article-lacking website would be forgotten considering the pace of the internet. It could be that you all heard that we received our first hundred dollar check from the bullshit advertisements to the right and you wanted to see what hundred-dollaraires look like. Yeah, two years on and we received one hundred dollars - clearly we're on a winning streak *sarcasm*. Anyways, made you look cause this post has everything to do with nothing.