Tuesday, December 06, 2005

The Technical Details

In case you care about the technical details of this project, here's some info for you. You probably don't, so you can skip this entry. :)

The first thing I had to do was get this ARP in playable condition. After my dad passed away, it had sat unnoticed in closets for years before it came to live with me in Houston. (Many thanks to my friend Erique, who kept it for years at his place in Saratoga, NY; thanks also to in-laws for giving it safe harbor in Beamont, TX.)

I knew when the ARP finally came to me, it was not in playable condition. I didn't know what to do about that, though, since ARPs aren't exactly the kind of thing you bring down to the local instrument shop. Fortunately, a friend in Houston gave me the tip that I'd best send it off to Mr. Phil Cirocco in PA.

Many months (and dollars) later, the ARP is restored to near it's original glory. Thanks Phil!

The next step was to get a keyboard interface for it, since I was missing the cable for the original one, and opted not to have it restored. I've got a Midi controller keyboard sitting around, so that's fine, but you can't plug a midi keyboard straight into an ARP (midi not being invented until some 10 years after the ARPs creation).

For this purpose, you need a MIDI->CV ("control voltage") converter. I found mine in the form of a JKJ CV-2 MIDI/CV box (similar to this thing) that I purchased online. You plug the keyboard into the converter, and then the converter can be plugged in to any of the jacks on the ARP (depending on which oscillator you want to control via keyboard).

For recording, I started by taking the most obvious output (stereo headphones) and patching it into my computer. I didn't like this for 2 reasons: 1st, the jack seems to be only sending one stereo side, and 2nd, it's got quite a hiss on it. I searched for a cleaner signal, and found that if I take a line directly out of the left / right outputs that I had missed earlier, the sound is close to pristene.

The setup from there goes:

  -> PreSonus BlueTube Preamp
    -> Behringer UB802 Mixer
      -> Protools MBox
        -> ProTools LE

ProTools is running on a Dell 2CPU machine running windows XP. (Normally I'd prefer my mac, but the ~4-year-old iBook I have is crawling compared to this desktop, which is on loan from my place of employ. If I had my druthers, this would all be running on a big fat mac desktop machine with a huge cinematic display. Stupid money.)

The Preamp is to give the signal a boost and warm it up some (it's a nice little tube preamp). I thought about putting my stereo compressor in the line (a Yamaha GC2020B) to make the end results a little more friendly to the average listener. But I decided against putting anything extraneous in the signal chain.

So, anyway, now I'm off to the music store to buy a few cables (patch cables for the ARP as well as for my other outboard gear).


Blogger nuje said...

I actually read that entire post. I think my geek test score went up a little. Woohoo!!!

8:48 AM  
Blogger nuje said...

C'mon fool!!! Give us updates. I know you've been working on dat stuff!!!

8:21 AM  
Blogger dboz said...

nice Ian! thanks for all the nfo.. keep the extraneous details coming.. there are plenty of us geeks out here who will read on..

3:59 PM  

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