On part one, we left off at introducing the cast of characters. The ridiculous part is, I have more gear than I probably need for such a project. Since the last post, I’ve spent hours designing this rig in my head, from exactly what gear I plan to use to how I’m going to route it. The longer I think on it, the more complex it gets. I guess that means I need to sit down and figure out what it is that I’m trying to accomplish.
Disclaimer: I am by no means, an expert on any of this. I am doing this as a means to an end and documenting the process as I go along. If you have some expert advice with which to share, please, do not hesitate to respectfully share such knowledge. That said, there are more ways to peel a potato, so there really is no wrong way to do this(actually, there is, but I’ll give myself and anyone who has a shred of common sense the benefit of the doubt and hope that nobody fries their gear by making a bad connection).
Now that we have that out of the way, let’s make a mess!
I guess the best thing to do at this moment would be to address the issue of what I would like the final product to do. I’ve kicked around ideas from making a portable rave-in-a-box to a stationary desktop unit. I think I want a bit of both, as I would hope to someday take it to a party or club and see if I can make the dance floor explode or be able to “jam” with other electronic musicians, but also have a tool in my home studio that will allow me to make videos of me twisting knobs and nodding my head. I have, on paper, designed a cabinet capable of housing all the machines on the list in Part One of this series. The problem is, I had originally designed the cabinet to also house a 10 channel line mixer that was rack mountable. Since then, I settled for two very small 4 channel line mixers, so that 19″ wide space won’t be needed. It appears to me that I need to work up a new design that will have my Microbrute front and center, with the KP2 perched above and behind it, pitched at an angle that will give me easy access. Off to either side of the Brute would be the cradles for each of the Volcas and an open space for any future releases of Volcas or a second unit of the current line. I’m not exactly sure where to mount the mixers yet, though mostly likely, I’ll hide them in the back and use the individual units’ volume knobs to set levels. I will also hide the MIDI Splitter in the back as well, along with the power strip and all the adapters. That’s the most general description I have of what I plan to build.
Other options include adding effects pedals, such as delays, or maybe a compressor. I have this old Alesis Nano Compressor that has a side chain. I could make some great pumping pads that groove with the kick! I also want to be able to plug in any external synths and my iPad to….you see what I mean?!?
Let’s just go back to basics and see what happens.
I know for certain that I want to use all five Volcas, the KP2 for effects, and my iPad with the Griffin Studio Connect to send MIDI and even add sounds from the synth apps on board. Starting with the Volcas, I decided to send the Keys, Bass and FM to one of the Micromix line mixers, and the Beats and Sample to the other line mixer. I chose to do this because one option I am looking at is running the line out of the first mixer to the KP2, then sending the line out of the KP2 to the other mixer, leaving the Beats and Sample unaffected and having effects for the synths. Another option I am looking at is having both mixers go into separate channels of my main mixer, then using the effects loop to run the KP2, thus adding the ability to add effects to any one of the machines. I’ll play with both setups and see which I like better.
The other side of this rig is the MIDI side. I want the ability to use the Volcas with either internal sequencing and using the sync cables that came with the Volcas or MIDI sequencing via the iPad. I have a few different apps I think would work great for transmitting MIDI data to the Volcas, leaving my hands free to twist knobs and play with the arrangements by adding filter effects and ambient effects. The Griffin Studio Connect has MIDI in and out via 5 pin connectors, so this means I won’t run into any problems transmitting data. I’ll also use the MIDI Splitter to route the signals to each of the Volcas(save the Sample, as I hear it uses up to ten MIDI channels to work the samples, which can be fixed with a special MIDI cable from RetroKits).
That’s about all I have for you today, folks. I’m going to start wiring up the basic routing, just to see if it’ll play nice. I’ll get some pictures and video to document the whole process. Once I know the audio side is working, I’ll start tackling the MIDI side. In Part Three, I’ll talk about the app side of this rig. Thanks for reading!