Thursday, January 27, 2005


Clairvoyant, n.: A person, commonly a woman, who has the power of seeing that which is invisible to her patron - namely, that he is a blockhead.

New toy arrived yesterday from Land Of The Rising Transistor, a Yamaha QY70 sequencer/sound module. I installed the file manager software on the PC with the MIDI interface, connected it up, and other than needing to switch the interface type on the box (there's a switch on the side to set it for the serial interface, a Mac interface which I don't see a port for, and MIDI) it connected first time. The filer shipped the Baba O'Riley sequence over in a few seconds, and I plugged in some earbuds to hear the results. The interesting thing is that the QY70 doesn't use Standard MIDI Format internally, so there was some conversion associated with it. The MIDI channel voicings weren't exactly right, although playing with the sounds (there's the usual GM suspects, not to mention Yamaha's XM sounds) got me closer to a synth square wave lead that's somewhat in the ballpark of the ARP 2600 used on the original recording. Only problem is that editing seems to (at least in the mode I'm working in) not save the patch changes the way I want them, but it's not the most intuitive user interface and I've only been playing with it for less than an hour, so I'll RTFM and see if I missed something. Gut check is that I'll probably just reload the sequence over from the PC, and set the voice without scrolling through them during playback.

For grins and giggles I might bring the Conquistador or Walk Away Renee sequences over to the QY70 and play it through an amplifier to see if the XM sound generator is decent (truth be told, it sounded a bit tinny on the earbuds), but one thing that I caught was that there doesn't seem to be a lot of memory in the QY70. It might've been just inexperience with the unit, but a 29K file shouldn't take up 29% of the available memory on the sequencer. I realize this is an older unit, and the QY100 is now the de facto standard for this sort of thing, but I'm going to play with this puppy for a while to see if I can make this happen. There seems to be some demand for them on eBay if it doesn't work out after all, but the alternative isn't that palatable. The alternative is a MIDI filer, in other words, something to just play an SMF file on a floppy into a sound module. Yamaha's MDF-3 runs about $350 from Musician's Friend, although I've seen the legacy MDF-2 on eBay while I was investigating this. Then, you need a sound module on top of that, figure a couple of hundred bucks for a Roland JV synth. Whatever happened to the days of a Tele through a Bassman?


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