Jan 092013

What the bejeezus is a bass guitar doing on an electronic music site you say?

Midi bass guitar has been a love/hate relationship for Studio Wormbone over the years.

Love:  As a bassist who later got into synths I felt liberated from a timbre standpoint when I got my first midi bass.  All of a sudden any and every sound imaginable was within reach.  It was very much indeed a gateway drug in that respect.

Hate:  However, because of the nature of the beast there has yet to be a system invented that’s truly accurate and playable.  Physics itself makes the problem significant.  In a nutshell, because bass guitar outputs such a low frequency the result is that either there’s an annoying latency (lag time) between the time a note is played and the time it’s sounded (because of the necessary time needed to analyze the initial note) OR notes get wrongly triggered or dropped altogether.

The Line6 Variax Bass is in the same ballpark as midi bass but it’s somewhat unique.  It uses a similar system to one that’s been used in other midi basses before (piezo bridge pickups) but instead of outputting a midi signal to drive external gear it contains all of it’s electronics on board.  It’s also not targeted at synth enthusiasts since there’s no midi output and most of it’s capability revolves around physical modeling of classic bass guitars.

I personally applaud Line6 for the forward thinking aspects of this instrument but am still waiting for the day when bass guitar and synth can dance together in unison.

Dec 052012

I had the opportunity to acquire one of these recently and am disappointed that I didn’t have it on hand for possible use during the creative sessions for the latest Cinematic Robotics sound packs.  Perhaps the cosmos is telling me I’m not done working with robots yet!


Nov 272012

To my ears so far the character of this machine sounds a lot like the Roland TB 303.  Unfortunately that’s a strike against it since the 303 is one of the most overused electronic instruments of all time.  Not that it sounds BAD in any way shape or form . . . just that it’s been exhaustively employed for years.  Not to mention being cloned and emulated to death in both hardware and software.  Analog synthesis has been around for fifty years which makes it ancient in technological terms.  One of the first things I look for in newly released modern analogs (and undoubtedly one of the biggest challenges for developers) is putting an original spin on what’s been done before.  So far, alas, I’m not hearing it here.

That being said I think the analog four will be hugely popular none the less.  Perhaps I’m being too quick to judge too, as Youtube videos emphatically do not represent synths well in a lot of cases.  I can say from personal experience that the Elektron approach to making machines with an emphasis on live performance via an extremely well thought out interface is unsurpassed.