Where From Here?

After updating my studio buying log for the last couple months, I thought I should take a moment and reflect on the journey so far and what the road ahead looks like.

The good news: I have not lost interest in the reconstruction effort for the old tracks.  Even though I’ve been working on them on and off for months now.  And the progress is fairly steady as well.  So far 29 tracks have been reconstructed, which I think is amazing.  There’s only maybe 8 left to do and of those, maybe 3 may have lost data or sounds that are impossible to source or recreate.  The progress is substantial enough that I purchased the device needed for yet a different recording from the era, done on gear not in the original studio.  Gear that was cutting-edge at the time but now is cheaply available.

And that’s sort of the roadmap for this month and next month.  This month is sort of paused on spending since homeowner’s insurance was due and it just feels prudent to keep my expenses level month to month.  But, there is a plan for the next phase.

The next phase obviously is new creations.  I’ve got a massive selection of new devices to work with now and there should be no wanting for any sounds for inspiration.  In order to make that next phase happen, I need to get all those dives out of the closet and set up for play.  That means I need a rack, maybe multiple racks.  There are ten keyboards in the closet right now.  I have my eye on a rack that will hold six of them, which might just be fine.

As far as repairing devices, I’ve done alright.  Most devices that I take in only need little changes.  Like the U220 on the table right now.  It had a completely dead battery and the power button got stuck in when I power it on.  After disassembling it, the plate that held the MIDI message light, which was also the frame for the power switch had become detached.  Just needed superglued back into place.  I think someone though the MIDI message light was a button and pushed it so hard it detached it from the frame.  The Kurzweil was a mystery that I returned to a couple of times and by random chance I seemed to have fixed it by changing the default startup patch.  My suspicion is whatever the previous default patch was had some bad configuration data in it and when it was loading that faulty patch, it caused the sound output settings to get botched.  The wonder of fully software-driven devices.  My Alesis QS8 started exhibiting audio problems after it warms up, so it’s relegated to a MIDI controller right now.  And the faders are still nasty, spewing garbage on the MIDI channel, so its time may be short altogether.

So in summary, the travel has been smooth and the road ahead looks clear and bright.  Barring any unexpected events, the year is looking positive.

Numbers Keep Going Up

As everyone is painfully aware, the cost of everything keeps going up.  And one day I wondered about credit card rewards.  We still get the same percentage in rewards, but we’re spending more, so we’re getting more rewards.  But I guess it’s a wash because everything still costs more.  Unfortunately, the cost of rewards has also gone up.  I used to be able to get a $200 gift card for 20,000 points.  Now it costs 25,000 points.  That sucks.  but anyway, I’m sure I’ll get there quicker with the way everything is going.

So anyway, Capital One has been bugging me that I should apply for a credit limit raise.  That’s probably about due because with everything costing so much more, my credit utilization is actually affecting my credit score.  I had considered researching another card, and I still might, but just to get these guys off my back, I figured I’d have a try.  It was a quick and simple form, but I much prefer to imagine I was talking to someone about the increase, because the end result is much funnier that way. 

So Mr. Anachostic, if that’s your real name,  why do you want a credit increase?

Well, shit costs more now.  But you don’t want to hear that, so… my credit line does not meet my long-term needs.

I see.  And tell me about what you do for a living.

I’m a programmer.

Uh huh.  So big money man.  And what do you pay for your mortgage, Mr. Warbucks?

$720.

I think you made a typo.  No one pays $720 for a mortgage.

I do.  Same house for almost 20 years.  Never upgraded.

Well, well.  This sounds all good then.  So, how much did you want to increase your limit to, sir?

Uh…  I didn’t think I really had a say in that.  I’ve been at $10k forever.  Hmmm.  Well, if you’re going to ask, how about $20,000?

$20,000?  No, we can’t do that.  That’s just way too much.  We can make you a lesser offer, though.  How about $19,500?  Is that sufficient?

I’ll make do.

Thank you sir, and enjoy your new credit line.

Studio Buying Binge Log

Since this ongoing acquisition of music equipment shows little sign of slowing, I figured I would begin a record of my purchases, because I’m sure at some point, I’m going to want to look back at this period with a sense of awe and confusion.

For the longest time, I had somewhat the bare minimum of keyboards in my studio.  The Roland RD-600 and the Casio CZ-1.  The former because it was a workhorse and the latter because it was rare enough that I said I’d never get rid of it.  And as I’ve said before, I do regret every piece of gear that I’ve ever gotten rid of, and now, I have every bit of it back and much more.  So lets recap.

The impetus for this journey was a desire to re-record a lot of my old recordings in a higher quality.  And to do so, I would need the original instruments.  A lot of the newest music was done with software instruments, so that was a little tedious tracking down those bits of software.  Unfortunately, I can’t find the exact version of some of them, so the sounds are slightly different in the redos.

Going back a little further in time, one of the devices I had was the Yamaha SW-1000 – a computer sound card.  In studio form, this was the Yamaha MU-100.  I didn’t fully know that at the time and mistakenly thought I needed its earlier version, the MU-80.  So I bought an MU-80 in June, 2021 for $124 and began my work.  I then found out that device did not have the exact sounds I needed and that I really needed an MU-100.  10 days later, I purchased an MU-100 for $199.  There’s still a happy ending, because there were songs from even earlier from when I had the Yamaha SW-60 sound card in my computer, which was, in studio form… the MU-80.

Now, as I was reworking songs, there was a device that was needed and was a pain in the ass to find, the General Music Equinox.  I did finally purchase one in December, 2022 for a whopping $1200.  Its rarity sort of justified its cost and it will be a thorn in my side forever that I sold off my own 88-key version for so little.

And I think that’s when things really started to snowball.  Because now I was working on songs from an even earlier era – the classic 90’s version of my studio.  The only thing I had from that era was the MU-80, which replaced the SW-60 of its time.  Problem was, gear from that era isn’t all that cheap.  In January 2023, I located an Ensoniq ESQ-1 for $475.  This was the bedrock of all the songs from that era.  However, back then, I had all but one of the factory sound cartridges, and those cartridges remain impossible to find today.  Research led me to a mega-cartridge containing all the ESQ-1 sound libraries.  I bought one from a seller in Italy for around $130 in February.

Now it was time for another major purchase.  I had an Oberheim Matrix 6R back in the day.  I think I paid $650 at the time for a used one.  But it’s one of the worshipped devices that has appreciated over time.  They run $1200 or more, now.  I found a Matrix 6R that “needed work” and bought it for $800 in February, 2023.  After fixing it, playing with it, and discovering it didn’t have any of the same sounds I used to have, I purchased its cousin, the Matrix 1000, on a whim for $800 – again “needing work” – hoping it would have all the sounds I’d need.  This purchase is still waiting for parts for repair.  In the meantime, I’ve been using Sysex dumps on the Matrix 6 and making progress.

Drums in that era were handled by the cheapest drum machine available – the Yamaha RX21.  I found one for $100 in March, 2023.  The buyer took a week to ship it, then when I got it, it didn’t have a power supply and was packed terribly.  The good news is, it did work well.  The bad news is, it’s not the right model I needed.  This machine does not have all the sounds I need.  Additional research shows me I needed the RX17, not the RX21.  Lower model number, but more sounds?  Sounds about right for the era.  So the RX21 is cleaned up and once I get a power supply (not going to fuck the customer like I got) it’ll be ready for resale. Hopefully I can break even on it.  In the meantime, an RX17 is soon to be coming.  As a postscript, all of this drum machine business was unneeded, because the Groove Agent VST in Cubase already has the samples for the RX17 as a patch called “Legacy”.  Whatever.  My studio is planned to be physical and not virtual anyway.

As I worked through the songs, it was comforting to see that the MIDI file could give me hints as to what device and patch was used for the track.  I could count on MIDI channel 2 being the Roland Alpha Juno 1 and channel 3 being the Matrix 6, channel 16 being the drum machine, and 6-10 being the ESQ-1.  But at some point, tracks with channel 4 started showing up.  What was that device?  The only other module I recall owning from that era what an Emu Proteus 1, but I don’t actually remember doing any recordings with it.  However, my memory must be faded, because there’s some patches that I know don’t exist on either of the three other devices.  So, a Proteus 1 is now being shipped.  It cost $135 and it’s from a store I purchased something from back in the 90’s.  Can’t remember what it was; it might have even been the ESQ-1.

So the studio has been rebuilt, but that is in no way the end of the purchases, because I’m not only trying to reconstruct old songs, but I want to do new stuff as well, and that means fresh gear for fresh sounds.  So I’ve been opportunistic and buying whatever I think seems cool, and I gotta say, there’s lots of gear out there.  At this point, I’m just going to use this post as a continually-updated log of the gear I find throughout the year.

One device that I picked up pre-pandemic (it’s a historical landmark now) is the Alesis QS-8.  I bought it at a thrift shop and it never worked right, but I only paid $100 for it and it just sat in my closet for years.  I did actually bring it back to life as detailed in another post, but its purchase was long before this buying frenzy.

In January 2023, I got a Korg DW-8000 on craigslist for $400 and a Roland D-70 from a pawn shop that needed significant work for $250. 

In February 2023, I got a Roland Juno Di at a pawn shop for $80 that doesn’t work and needs professional repair.  It’s sitting in my closet waiting for the shop to call when the parts come in.  Another pawn shop had a Kawai K3 for $300. 

In March 2023,  EBay tempted me late at night with an auction that was getting no bids.  That resulted in a Yamaha SY-35 for $175.  One night browsing at the mall, I happened across an unwanted Roland U-110 in a resale store for $100.  I also found a nice deal on a Kurzweil PC6 on craigslist for $300.  That one was sold as having problems, which I confirmed.  I poked around at the disassembled guts a few times and then somehow I changed the default startup patch and it started working and wouldn’t go dead anymore.  So that was a fortunate fix.

In April 2023, I found an Alesis QS6 at a pawn shop, originally $300, down to $150.  I got them to bring it to $120, because there was something loose rattling around inside. (It was a paint marker)  Because it wasn’t the 6.1 version, the sounds were anemic, so I decided to flip it on EBay.  It sold for $275 a month later.  I also made a small purchase of an obsolete Edirol UM-3 MIDI interface to extend my MIDI connections to 6 in/6 out.  I will still probably need a MIDI Thru box eventually.  It was a whopping $23.  I can support chaining one more UM-3, but the only other one for sale right now is over $60.  Pass…

In May 2023, I made the purchase of the Roland U-220 to continue the work on legacy recording reconstruction.  It was $130, which is a little under the going rate for that model.  It has a dead battery and needed a small amount of repair.  For something new, after I sold the Alesis, I poured that cash back into a new, rare, device, the Korg DSS-1.  It was $279 at a thrift store a couple hundred miles away.  I made the road trip and picked it up.  I’m stealing someone’s comment on the device and its nickname is “the aircraft carrier” because it is a comically large size.

In June 2023, I found an obscure synth, the General Music SX3 on Craigslist for $250.  I also made the decision to get rid of some items: the Matrix 6r and the U-110.  The Matrix 1000 and U-220 are suitable replacements for them.  When the Matrix 6 finally sold for $1k, I discovered I actually lost money on the deal.  After I had paid the tax and shipping to get it to me, then paid for shipping and sellers fees ($130!) to get it from me, it was about $100 loss.  Whatever.  Moving on…

With the funds from the Matrix 6 sale, I purchased a Roland MKS-50, which is a rackmount Alpha Juno for $700.  The VST Juno just was not stable enough to continue working with and it wasn’t as exact as the original.  That fills in 1U of the 3U vacated by the Matrix.   With the remainder of the funds, I finally made the leap and purchased the keyboard stand that will hold six of my boards, as well as a MIDI thru device to split the signal to all of them.  The stand was about $350 and the MIDI thru box was about $75.

More online purchases to support the full integration of all the components: A vintage Casio TB-1 MIDI thru box for $65, a Behringer PX3000 patchbay for $90, and cables, MIDI and audio for a crushing $300.  Also needed two more power strips – $50.  And someone made me a $45 offer on a 3rd UM-3 unit, so I wasn’t going to disappoint them.

I’ve stopped totaling my spending and device count.  It’s past the point of mattering.

Stay tuned for more madness…

Talking About Repairs

My latest project arrived in the mail today.  I’ll discuss that in detail in a bit, but first wanted to recap this whole journey.  I kind of fell haphazardly into the “buy broke and repair” thing with synthesizers.  And I’ve struggled each step, but in general, I’ve been successful and nothing has turned out to be as bad as I thought it was.

The one that started it off was the Alesis.  I thought it needed a change of capacitors to solve a voltage situation.  I changed them out and it made no difference.  but I didn’t break it any worse.  And I eventually got it working by cleaning some faders on another board – a solution that was not even on my radar.  I just got lucky.  That was a cheap thrift store find, so the only worry was disposing it if I ruined it.

Also in my closet is a non-working Roland Juno-Di.  I got it for only $80 at a pawn shop in non-working order.  So far, I have not had any success in fixing it.  In the quest for answers I purchased an oscilloscope.  I honestly don’t know what I’m doing with the scope, so it got me nowhere.  a local repair shop says the know it’s a chip that needs replaced and they’re waiting on parts to come in.  So that’s sitting and waiting.

Next up was an expensive purchase, an Oberheim Matrix 6R, at almost a grand.  and it was advertised as needs work.  Supposedly needs a new battery and a firmware upgrade.  The firmware ship was supplied.  I figured I could change the battery easily enough.  The end result was that the volume fader needed cleaned and that was all.  I swapped the firmware chip easily enough and it’s good to go.  I replaced the caps on the display board and the display looked great, but went wonky again when I reassembled it.  I’ve yet to take it apart and look further.  It’s serviceable right now.

Now for the newest item in detail.  Another expensive purchase of the same cost and same family, an Oberheim Matrix 1000 is the latest on the bench.  When I first got it and tested it, I got maybe a few notes out of it then it went silent.  I popped it open and inspected everything.  Things looked ok.  I cleaned the volume pot, which didn’t change anything.  The problem is, I didn’t know exactly what was supposed to be happening.  From the past repair videos that I’ve watched, I understand that the power supply should be feeding a 5v and 12v power to the board.  I broke out the multimeter and got measurements of less than half a volt.  It sounds impossible that the display would even light up with that little voltage.  That’s where I suspected the problem was, so I found a lone seller on eBay selling a used power supply (untested) for a reasonable price, and I bought it.

I then spent a lot of time watching other videos of repairs of the Matrix 1000, none of which had the problem I had.  But I did learn a couple of important things.  First that patches under #200 might be blanked out on a reset, so they won’t have any sound.  And secondly, that there was an indicator when the device was receiving a MIDI signal.  Hmmm.  With this info, I went back, reassembled the power supply into the device and tried again.  Changing to patch 333 still had no sound, but also, there was no indicator light saying it was getting a MIDI signal either.

And the “fix” was to wiggle the MIDI in jack.  Then the MIDI signal was received and sound was made.  So the problem wasn’t the power supply (but who knows, it may still be.  Now I’ll have something to compare it to).  But that MIDI jack does need changed.  Upon closer inspection, it is loose.  And that actually is a problem that was described in one of the videos I watched.  They swapped out the jack with a similar jack.

I thought about this over dinner.  I don’t know exactly what jack to purchase to ensure the pins line up correctly, and that sounds like a lot of trial and error.  What would be better, I think, is sacrificing one of the other good MIDI jacks and swapping it with the broken one.  I never expect to use the MIDI Out, but I will probably use the MIDI Thru, so I can pull the MIDI Out and use it.

That’s the plan.  I got home from dinner and started setting up the soldering station to remove the jack.  However, unlike capacitors which have two leads and are generally easy to wiggle out while the solder is liquid, this jack has seven pins and you can’t heat all of them at once to release it.  While the solder sucker did ok on most pins, I still could not get it free.  So I did what any frustrated hobbyist would do.  I threw money at the problem.

So I already have a multimeter, a soldering station, and an oscilloscope, what’s next?  Well, what I’ve seen on videos, which is envious, is a desoldering gun.  This device, you put it over a pin, it heats up the pin and solder, you pull a trigger and a vacuum sucks up the solder.  It’s the same as the manual solder sucker, but the soldering gun isn’t in the way.  That would reduce a lot of my frustration, which I’ve had right from the start.  My first repair attempt had me struggling horribly trying to clear a hole that had solder in it.

So that’s where we are right now.  What’s on the horizon?  There’s a synth sitting in a pawn shop where  I had made another purchase.  It’s in sad shape, with rust on the base, plus. it’s a synth I already have.  But, repaired, it can be worth about $450.  I’ll make an offer of $150 and maybe I can bring it up to a level where it can be sold for a profit, or better yet, a trade.

And what purchases can I expect to make during that repair?  I expect I will purchase a EPROM writer so I can upgrade firmware.  Looks like around $100 on ebay.

Going With The Flow

So how’s the big music project coming along, huh?  Dying on the vine again?

Actually, it isn’t this time.  I had last posted about a blocker that was keeping me from making any significant progress and that hurdle has been cleared and things are moving along nicely.  That novelty guitar has been sold, a bunch of stereo equipment has been sold, clearing out space and replenishing funds.  There’s still more to go there, but the timeline still moves forward.

The current item at the head of the queue is redoing a set of older tracks.  This buildup to this has been a series of costly equipment purchases, which are different from the costly purchases devoted to the next phase of new material.  Tonight, I just ordered the last piece to complete my recreation of my 1990’s recording setup.  Only one device isn’t accounted for and that’s being handled by a fairly accurate software recreation.  It isn’t exact, but very passable.

And the tracks are getting rebuild a little bit each night.  At that time, I had three keyboards and a cheap drum machine: the Ensoniq ESQ1, The Roland Alpha Juno 1, the Oberheim Matrix 6R, and the Yamaha RX21.  The Yamaha is on order now, and I have a slight issue with finding the patches that were on my old Matrix 6, but I am able to map out the ESQ1 and Juno sounds pretty well.  I can do one or two songs in a night and maybe 4 or more on a full weekend day.  Time is the thing that’s holding me back the most, but there’s no deadline, so it’s of little concern.

It is a little concern that with all of my projects, time is important because I need to get as much stuff done as possible before I burn out.  That’s usually the end game.

But it’s promising that I have lots of little projects in the queue that can be worked on independently, so if I feel burnt on one task, I can switch to something totally different.  Just keep moving forward.

You’re Not Ours

My neighborhood has been very busy lately with a lot of people coming and going.  Notably, my neighbors across the street have their house for sale and are moving out.  During the time searching for a buyer, I began to wonder, what about their cat?

The cat was an outdoor cat.  No idea where it came from.  It has one ear clipped, so it’s been processed by some agency.  Whether they adopted it from the county shelter or it just showed up as a feral, I have no idea.  But the point is, this is their cat.  They took care of it and importantly, the cat know that place as its home.  And the cat was affectionate to them, it would greet them when they came home and hang out with them when they were outside.

So my wonder again, what was their plan?  I figured abut a 50/50 chance they would abandon the cat, under the justification that the cat would be more at home on her own territory with different people than new territory with the same people.  Know that I don’t believe in that justification at all, that’s just what I figured their thought process would be, since they never let the cat inside anyway.

As closing day got closer and the house was emptied out, I started to assume the cat would not be going with them.  And a couple days before they finally left, their kid came to the door to talk to me.  I knew what it was about.

As it turns out, he was the one who was adamant about not taking the cat.  Piece of garbage, but I don’t really hold any of the family in high regard.  Anyway, I agreed that I would at least keep the cat fed, but I just can’t have another in the house.  And that was fine with him, as if he really cared.

Moving day came and he stops back over with a container of food that she has been eating.  I send him off with neutral wishes.  After they go, I watch the cat pacing the front of the house, probably confused.

The next day the new owners are coming in and I don’t see the cat at all.  It’s probably all the activity keeping her away.  But the next day, I did see her walking the front of the house, making her way to the garage (that wasn’t hers anymore).

I shook the food container and she immediately came running.  I’m not a stranger to her.  She’s been pleasant and friendly to me and hung out when I’m outside also.  But this time I had food.  I filled a bowl and set it down for her, on which she immediately went to town.  After eating, we just sat and I pet her while she did all the rubbing and purring.  I don’t know if she knows she’s on her own now, but she knows I’m a safe person.

After a little bit, I had to let her go, but left the garage open in case she wanted to hang out in it.  It’s such a shame that people can just dispose of animals that really do care about them and rely on them for food and security.

IMG_20230305_170444

Follow-up: I met the new homeowners tonight when I went out to see if the cat wanted to be fed.  They were all in the garage and it was pretty clear the cat had chosen them as her new owners.  They confirmed they were feeding her and it was pretty clear they had taken her in.  So all’s well that ends well, I suppose.  The cats seems very happy with her new family and they seem pleasant as well.

I’m Getting Too Old For This

It’s been a day.  Like I had just posted, my computer’s main drive went south and I had to do a rebuild.  There was a time that I used to do this almost for fun.  like if your computer was running slow, you’d just wipe it and start over.  But that was before having terabytes of data and dozens of applications and hundreds of online accounts that all need to be handled.

I had gone to lunch and just when I was pulling back into the house, the Amazon driver was stopping in my front yard with my new drive.  Great timing.  While I wanted to do something else with my early afternoon – a casa de chostic worthy post of adding gutter guards – they didn’t work out so well, so I had the day to devote to system restore.

After blowing the dust out of the desktop and installing the new SSD drive, it was off to the races, on crutches.  I wanted to have as clean of an install as possible to avoid any bloated pieces, but unfortunately, that also leads to broken dependencies.  And I’ve been out of the system building game for too long to understand what’s what in Windows anymore.

So I removed everything I thought I could.  Applied all the patches that were available to me, then began the the dual process of installing applications and rebuilding my RAID mirror.  After getting KeePass and Outlook installed, I was able to breathe a little easier.  The bigger headache was setting up Plex again.  I had backed up my old database before wiping, but I don’t think it’s going to be any easier to restore it than it would be to just rescan everything.  Once I saw my new install created a duplicate server instance in my dashboard, I didn’t want to head down that path any further.

So after about 6 hrs., by RAID is about 50% built and I have most of my daily-functional apps installed: Outlook, Vivaldi, Money, KeePass.  And a couple other ones, Open Live Writer (present), 7Zip, Faststone, Image Resizer, CDWinEmu.  The others can wait until their needed, like Visual Studio.  Because that’s going to bring with it setting up Hyper-V for my TFS server instance.  Oh hmmm.  I might have blown away my local SQL server and who knows what in-progress database I might have had on it.  Oh well.  Maybe someday, I’ll need them and I’ll find some way to read a NVME SSD externally.

But back to the point of this post, I am exhausted, and I didn’t even do anything strenuous today other than climb on the roof for about 10 minutes.  Just the mental tediousness of restoring and configuring a system for the hundredth time in your life is draining.  But what’s the alternative?  I’ve never been trusting of system restores, only data restores.  It’s the path I’ve chosen to take.  And I guess it’s probably going to continue every 3 yrs or so.

Etched In Stone

It’s rebuilding day. I can’t recall the last time I had to reinstall my desktop system. I’d have to do a little research, but it was probably when I bought all new hardware and went with two large mirrored drives with virtual disks on it. Feels like that was some time ago. I looked it up. August 2019. So 2.5 years of running non-stop without significant downtime. I guess that’s not too bad.

It’s worked pretty well, until suddenly it didn’t. The machine would reboot overnight for no good reason. When i would look in the event logs, it happened around the time of a Windows update. There were a ton of errors about the Windows Search service not being able to start.

Then I was having trouble installing updates. My Visual Studio was on something like 15.3.3 and I wanted to update to 15.5. It would install the update, then wouldn’t launch. So I’d reboot and I was back on 15.3.3 again and it’s bugging me to upgrade. I planned on just uninstalling and downloading the latest, but then I noticed that my Vivaldi web browser was also bugging me for updates. I had just done that the other day. I installed the update, it wouldn’t launch. This seems familiar. Reboot, back on the old version.

This sounds to me like the shadow copy service is broken. It can’t create any new system checkpoints and keeps reverting to the last version. So I follow the steps to delete all system restore points and move onward with trying to fix the search service. Everything I try fails. System file checker, chkdsk, dism, all have some problem or another. So I guess it’s time to start over.

Ok, then the first thing to do is get a current backup. BUT, Windows File History relies on the Windows Search Service, which is dead. It says my last good backup was October, 2022. Whatever, it’s fine. All my real files are on the mirrored drives anyway. I leave the machine on overnight with plans to rebuild first thing in the morning.

Amazingly, it didn’t reboot overnight, so then I got busy building a USB drive to install from. Shut down the tower and took it outside to blow the dust out of it and set it back up for install. First attempt was booting off the UEFI partition on the USB drive. But then it wouldn’t let me install anything on my internal drive because it was MBR. Ok, reboot again into the MBR USB partition and try again.

I try to delete the partitions and they wouldn’t delete, for whatever reason. Fine. i formatted both partitions and did the install. On first reboot, Windows loaded up and prompted me to log in. Excuse me? This is a brand new install. I type in my pin and I’m back at my desktop.

I have no idea what’s up with this cursed drive, but it’s going in the fire as soon as I can get a replacement. Amazingly, Amazon can have me a new drive, twice as big delivered within a few hours for like only $65. I feel like I paid 3x that when I built this computer.

Until then, I guess I’ll just poke around on the drive that refuses to change, or die.

Painting Looks Fun To Own

The title is a reference to the punchline from an old comic strip where a character wants to get into pottery and buys anything and everything for the hobby, unsure yet of whether the hobby will stick.  With the entire purchase laid out on a large table the question is raised,  what if that hobby fails?  Well, painting looks fun to own.

I’m having a queue problem with my music hobby, and I’m growing the queue for little good reason other than, it looks fun to own.  I’ve purchased a couple more keyboards since the last time I mentioned buying keyboards.  I’m not sure what the total is now.  Barring any "that’d be neat" items I happen across, I only have one more planned purchase to replicate the 700cb studio of the 90’s.  With all those elements, I will be able to work further back in the catalog and rebuild the original songs in higher quality than the old cassette tape of the era.

While that’s the goal in mind, I have a lot of steps I want to complete in order to get there.  i have an actual written list of the things I want to accomplish along the way.  A lot of that list is reducing the stuff I already have, and that’s where the blockages are happening.

I have to sound modules that are just too similar and I don’t need both.  The Yamaha Mu80 and MU100.  However, before I part with the MU80, I decided I should take advantage of the availability of the device by rewriting an old utility program I wrote back around 1996 that would allow the MU80 to be used as an effects unit.  Back then, I wrote it for the PC version, the Yamaha SW60.  I had later advanced to the Yamaha SW1000 in my computer but I never had an MU80 or MU100.  Now is a good chance to do that rewrite.

However, that old utility was written back in 1996, in Visual Basic 6.0.  We’ve moved on a lot since then, so I can only read the code as a guideline and I’m essentially writing the thing from scratch again.  And it’s rather a pain in the ass.  I have no idea how I cranked out that utility so quickly back then.  Youth…

But anyway, writing that program requires my programming desktop to use the MIDI interface, which means I can’t use it for any work on my recording PC.  And I decided I’m going to sell the chintzy novelty guitar I’ve been using for testing the utility, but I can’t really do that until I finish this application.  So it’s blocking me twice.  You know what, i should just use another guitar for testing.  Yes, they’re not as disposable, but they should survive the office environment long enough.

So there, I’ve talked (typed) myself into making a decision.  I can list the dumb guitar on ebay.  And I have CD players and other audio equipment to list as well.  I have a lot of CDs listed and the best have already sold off, so the rest are just taking up time.

In the future, expect something to be said about this dread in the back of my mind.  I have all these devices and nowhere near enough space to store them, set them up, or mixer inputs to plug them in and use them at once.

And also on the hot sheet, one of the devices I bought needs work.  Parts are being ordered and I’ll have another attempt at frustration with soldering.  I went through my pottery stage and I have everything I need to pick it back up again.

So Let’s Do This Again

So, for what seems like the 100th time in my life, I’m getting back into music.  Some things are a little different this time.  The primary difference is $$$.

A quick history of my keyboard collection.  In the 90’s, at the peak of my creative period, I had 3 main keyboards: the Ensoniq ESQ1, the Roland Alpha Juno 2, and the Oberheim matrix 6R.  The Juno and the Matrix 6 were sold off and I added a Casio CZ (varying models over time, but eventually the CZ1, which was top of the line), and later, a Roland RD-600.  A little later on yet, I added a General Music Equinox Pro-88.  I had these 4 boards for a long time, but eventually sold the ESQ1.  Then later, I didn’t think I needed two 88-key boards, so I sold the Equinox.  That left the Casio and the Roland.  And I got by on that.

But, I regret – REGRET – selling every one of those keyboards.  I should have just put them in storage.  I lost a lot of money selling every one.  And that regret has cost me as I try to reclaim those old sounds.

Now to the near present.  I wanted to "remaster" my old recordings and to do that, I needed the original sound devices.  I started from my most recent stuff and am working backwards.  So a lot of my newest stuff, I was using the Yamaha SW-1000 sound card.  This sound card is obsolete for computers now, but there was a professional module called the Yamaha MU-80.  I bought one.  It seemed like it didn’t have the right sounds, so I also bought an MU-100.  That was a wild goose chase, so now I have an extra sound module I don’t need.

Going back further, I needed the sounds from the Equinox.  This synth is quite uncommon.  If it does come up for sale, it ain’t cheap.  I scanned the internet hard, and eventually had to jump on one that suddenly appeared on eBay.  It was only the 76-key model, which was actually better for me.  And that was a big blow to the wallet.  But, it was just what I wanted.

Now inspired, I started seeking out other synths.  I picked up one from Craigslist for $400, a nice sounding Korg I’d never used before.  Then I made a pawn shop run and got a newer Roland synth that needed some help.  That one’s all fixed up and going good right now.  I made another pawn shop run and picked up a dead Roland synth that is queued for professional repair someday.  And along the way, I resurrected an old thrift store purchase that was sitting in my closet.  Finally, I made a long drive to pick up the one synth that started it all, an Ensoniq ESQ1.  Again, not cheap, but still, part of the plan.

I need to be realistic and say I’m probably never going to own another Oberheim.  They are even more expensive than the Equinox I bought.  And the Alpha Juno, I have a great software VST version of it that will suit my needs.

So where am I now?  Let’s take stock (in order of purchase):  Roland RD-600, Casio CZ-1, Alesis QS-8, Yamaha MU-80, MU-100, General Music Equinox, Korg DW-8000, Roland D-70, Ensoniq ESQ-1, Roland Juno Di.  That’s 10 that I count.

And where to put all these?  I only have a stand for two.  They’re in the closet, but they need cases, so now this is my new buying spree.  I’ve purchased 2 used cases in the last few days and I still need two 76-key cases and one more 61-key case.  I have two 88-key cases from when I owned the Equinox Pro-88.

To offset a little of this cost, I’m selling off a lot of duplicate CDs I’ve collected over time.  I also have CD players to get rid of.  Money comes, money goes.  Hobbies keep coming back.

So let’s do this again.