78-Hardware synths & Processors

Electric guitar stuff

After a long period of no income I finally got a gig that will pay the bills a bit. To celebrate this I splurged on getting my guitar intonated, setup and bought replacement EMG active pickups for it. At about the same time I was researching guitar processors in order to try to get a “BIG” sound without having the neighbors come up the driveway at midnight with torches and pitchforks.

I first bought a new Korg PX5D which has a lot of benefits and is reviewed elsewhere. But certain lead tones I was hankering after I couldn’t achieve.

So I spotted a used Line6 PODxt in a local guitar store. It was a little battered, had no power supply or manual, but the price was right so I bought it and tried it as well.

Both units can send their audio outs directly to the computer using USB, which is a nice benefit. They also have patch editors/librarians which can be used over USB.

But currently (2014) I am using the guitar/bass effects included in the Zoom R8 and am extremely happy with them. The Pandora has been sold and the Pod just gathers dust on the shelf.

E-mu Morpheus “Z-plane” synth

This was a very advanced and clever synthwhich was sold in the early 1990s. There is an excellent history and description page here: Morpheus Z-Plane synth.

However, the link to the PDF manual is broken. I happen to have a copy of that! Morpheus User Manual (PDF format)

This was obviously copyrighted by E-mu, but unless I get a note objecting to making it available here, I’ll leave it up.

Retiring the old standbys

Synths to be retired

Many was the hour I spent with these old warhorses. But with the calendar ever accelerating and the amount of time I have to spend tweaking sounds shrinking, soft synths are looking more and more attractive.

One of my favorites is Zebra by Urs Heckmann. This quirky beast is a little strange to use but you can get fantastic sounds out of it. I’ve been using a free “LE” version of it for a long time that came with Computer Music magazine. I found myself always returning to it and started saving money to get the full version.

Herr Heckmann has a great promotion: replacing your dinosaurs with a Zebra. You can apply for a discount on Zebra 2 by sending him a photo of your old hardware synths with a label “retired by Zebra”. (See this page for more on Zebra.)

I have to admit that in the cases I’ve turned on those old Roland boxes again, they seem to have a “presence”, depth and “punch” that I don’t seem to get out of the softsynths. Is it my imagination? Possibly.


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