Archives for the month of: July, 2012

The Whispers are a group from LA that had a great run of hits spanning almost 40 years.  They had overlap in soul, funk, disco, and dance and were also a staple of the SOLAR records scene in the 80’s.  Much like Zapp and many others of the era the group was formed by brothers but the Scott brothers were twins!  Luckily they managed to avoid the all too often tragedies and perils that befall bands based on family relationships!

The XBS of the week reminds me of them because it has a little electronic but also some smooth funk to it:

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Happy Friday!

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It’s time, and i’m in the mood for the sweet smell of solder! The Juno 60 we have has had a basic MIDI retrofit for a long time.  It was made by a company called engineersatwork.  They make a lot of cool interfacing gadgets etc and their Juno 60 MIDI kit was cheap and easy to install, so back in the day that’s what we did.  The kit replaced the DCB port on the back panel and required NO soldering.  It literally just replaced the port and did all the MIDI interface work.  It is very basic and only supports MIDI notes in and out on the MIDI channel of your choosing. The notes generated by the internal arpeggiator are as sent well.  This is an AWESOME feature. But it’s been a long time and i noticed many more MIDI retrofit options popping up for various old instruments.  A while back i found this site where they are selling an ‘almost’ non destructive MIDI upgrade for Roland Juno 60’s and Jupiter 4’s.

It’s called MIDIpolis.

Why do this you ask>?  Well, the MIDIpolis upgrade allows the Roland Juno 60 to send and receive almost EVERY SINGLE PANEL CONTROL  via MIDI.  This is wicked!  Like a Juno 106 but sounds better and has an arpeggiator!  And yes that syncs to incoming MIDI too!  Specs are on the page, MIDIpolis.  The only thing it doesn’t do is transmit the pitch bender.  But it does receive  pitch bend via MIDI!  BTW, What is with old Rolands of this era that makes it so hard to get them to transmit pitch bend info from the bender board?

And on to the guts;

So, there is soldering with this kit but it’s designed in an ingenious way.  The new chip socket is soldered in piggy back fashion to the underside of the Panel Board B processing chip.  Roland Juno 60 Service manual here.  In this way it is allowed to mirror all the information coming in and out of that chip to the MIDI bus BUT if you remove the daughter board and MIDIpolis chip the Juno 60 works just as it would have originally.  Since i never removed the DCB port from my Juno ( it’s bagged and tucked into the wiring harness inside ) it could still be returned to DCB factory functionality (( if you would ever really want to 😀 )).

I put a lot of pictures in the gallery of the socket that holds the new board.  It’s got ‘forks’ on one side that literally fit over the solder side tabs for IC 14 on Panel Board B.  It took serious care to make sure this was all lined up and seated nicely over all 40 pins. That’s correct, 40 pins worth of  tiny cramped soldering.  Whew, i got it done though,   I actually re-soldered about half of the original IC 14 pins to make sure they were narrow and straight enough to fit into the ‘forks’.  Take a look!

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PS:  Be careful!  If you finish and it looks like this, RUN!!

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Today i will compare two old but very useful hardware sequencers.  The Oberheim DSX and the Roland MSQ – 700.  I’ve posted a lot of ASCII about the DSX before so this post will focus mainly the Roland MSQ – 700.

Previous Reading on the Oberheim DSX:

In or around 1983 while Oberheim was refining and updating the DSX Roland released the MSQ-700  It was the world’s first MIDI-compatible sequencer!

This is not to say it’s better.  The DSX kicked the MSQ – 700’s bottom in the features department.  But the MSQ – 700 offered some great features in it’s own right.  Here’s a run down:

1, 8 tracks of full MIDI Data or DCB recording and playback. ( only one or the other sadly not both simultaneously! )

In MIDI mode Each track could have a full 16 channels of data and all associated controllers.  Very inclusive and very cool.  You could have a full multipart song sequence on each track for live performance purposes. You could also mix or merge from one track to another and quantize tracks after they are recorded non destructively via quantizing while bouncing them to an open track.

2, The MSQ – 700 can sync internally or externally via MIDI, DIN Sync, or from time code on a tape.

3, It’s built like a tank, solid steel all but for the side panels which are plastic but painted silver!

Roland fails is in a few serious ways, and these are where i prefer the DSX in all it’s non MIDI glory.  There is no facility on the MSQ for real time sequence manipulation so you can’t play and mute tracks while a sequence is playing.  Nor can you transpose or edit on the fly like the DSX can.  This is a total bummer for those who like to let the basic structure loop and drop things in and out and transpose the whole thing for fun on the fly.  The MSQ- 700 also lacks CV Gate compatibility in lieu of Roland’s proprietary DCB.  The problem with DCB, besides it only being implemented on a few Roland instruments like the Jupiter 8 and Juno 60, is that it is so limited in comparison to MIDI that it’s not worth the effort to use it since Jupiter 8’s and Juno’s can be easily Midified to a level where you can transmit via MIDI all the front panel controls for each like the Juno 106 ( which doesn’t sound nearly as good ).

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References:

Roland MSQ700   ( This is a great article about the MSQ – 700 )

MSQ – 700 FAQ 1

MSQ – 700 FAQ 2

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