samedi 9 septembre 2017

Volkaoss video demo

Thanks to Lucas, a lived video demo of the Volkaoss...

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mercredi 28 juin 2017

I bought recently a Roland  SP 555 SAMPLER.   I like this specific model, because it has a "loop capture" feature making sampling live more easy.  But guess what ?  DRIVERS ARE NOT WORKING UNDER WINDOWS 10.

Why do I need drivers you think ?  THE SP 555 can be used as a sound card with a specific USB driver, and it works with ASIO also.  So when  you play a sound file on your computer, you can sample directly via USB, without degrading the quality of the sound.  On the other hand, it is more usefull than filling the CF card in "blind" mode.
+ the USB can be also used as MIDI IN/OUT.
+ updates  need USB MIDI

Spending one hour to test all drivers versions, WIN7, WIN7 64bits, VISTA, XP, WIN8,...nothing worked.  The SP 555 was here in the device manager, but with the infamous question mark...

So I spent one more hour to modify the .INF files of the WIN7 64 bits version, disabled the driver protection mode of WIN10, and everything is now working like a charm !!!

- SP-555 is recognized by Windows
- The SP-555 is seen as a sound card
- I can use the windows mixer to set the default output to SP 555
- MIDI IN and OUT is perfectly working with USB : I did the update to 1.4 version

Procedure to install drivers on Windows 10 - 64 bits:
  • Turn OFF SP-555 and connect it with a USB cable to your computer
  • Open a CMD window in admin mode and accept the warning from Windows (type CMD on the search bar and use the right click to launch in administrator mode)
  • Give the following 2 commands:
    bcdedit -set loadoptions DISABLE_INTEGRITY_CHECKS
    bcdedit -set TESTSIGNING ON
  • Reboot your computer
  • Turn on SP-555 and open device manager and look for SP-555 "unknown device"
  • Download drivers modified by me HERE
    (ignore the error message if you have one and click on Download)
  • Unzip files with 7ZIP in a directory of your choice
  • On the device manager, on SP-555 device,  right-click->properties->driver->update->don't search->have disk and goto folder where you extracted the driver. Ignore the warnings in RED and install.
  • Return to the initial state of signed drivers by opening again a "cmd" as admins and give the following 2 commands:
    bcdedit -set loadoptions ENABLE_INTEGRITY_CHECKS
    bcdedit -set TESTSIGNING OFF
  • Reboot the system
    Done !
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jeudi 16 février 2017

Hi all Roland fans,

After collecting all sort of things and tips for my vintage Roland gears, and to preserve availibility of some drivers, updates and documents, I made all my stuff available for download here !!

You fill find in that Google drive share :

Gear Comments

Sampling Groovebox.  All docs, drivers, firmwares, manual, y.c. service manual, and softwares. + a Cubase txt mixermap I made for the last firmware version (more sounds)

Sampling workstation. All docs and special drivers for WIN 64. Drivers tested with Win 10 64. Fully works including USB audio IN !

DSP analog Synth. All docs and special drivers for WIN 64 (tested for Win 10 64 with USB Audio Out). VST editor plugin des not works properly with 64 bits VST hosts,even with JBridge;; + a Cubase mixermap (txt) I made for that synth.
JX 305

Groovesynth. Very good synth. The MC 505 sounds but with a keyboard and a split/dual mode. All docs and firmwares.+ a working Cubase txt mixermap I made.
MC 307
This groovebox is really underrated. It is exactly the same sounds as the famous MC-505 but in a smaller size. All docs and firmwares ! + a working and complete Cubase mixermap txt.

Looper and TB-303 DSP emulation. This little box is really fun !
I love it. All docs, software and the rare service manual.

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vendredi 2 décembre 2016

"Volkaoss" (VK if you don't speak Klingon) is a MIDI controller / converter allowing you to play MIDI notes on your Kaossilator Pro 3 as a mono synth, and to use the Volca Sample as a GM drum machine on the MIDI channel 10.   This is a totally plug and play solution, without soldering, based on the famous Arduino platform.

Quick setup :

Arduino hardware

You can search on Ebay for "Aduino Uno" and "Arduino MIDI SHIELD".
For example : Arduino Uno from UK  and Arduino Midi shield from HK .
It should cost less than 15 €, shipping included.
You simply have to put the Midi shield into the Arduino Uno socket. That's all you have to do !!

Firmware (sketch) download and uploading to the Arduino.

Download the Volkaoss binary firmware BETA1 for Arduino Uno here.  This is a beta version, so you know what it means !   To push the bin firmware to the Arduino, you will need the excellent XLOADER utility , from Russemoto.  Arduino is usually found on COM 4 or COM 5 after you have plugged the USB cable.

I don't publish the sources because that was a lot of work, and it needs cleaning and formatting. I will probably do in a next future, if users like Volkaoss. For the moment, if you want to support Volkaoss, you can donate !

MIDI setup

The kaossilator must be set to 4 octaves, scale must be chromatic. The Key is usually better fixed to C minus. The receiving MIDI channel is 11 by default. It must be set to 11 in Midi / MSSG / GL.CH else the koassilator will not receive messages from Volkaoss.  The bank A,B,C,D buttons must be configured to  C2, C#2, D2, D#2.  This is the default configuration.
Kaossilator pro Control change # are (corresponding to Kaossilator default factory) :
  • 92  pad on/off control change
  • 12  pad X control change
  • 13  pad Y control change
  • 90  GATE ARP on/off control change
  • 91  GATE ARP speed Control change
  • 93  GATE ARP time  Control change
You can change these in the Kaossilator Midi setting menu.
    TIPS : If you want to store permanently your Kaossilator configuration,  set your key, scale, and range , and store them in to a program bank.  Then save programs to bank 0, and again ALL to bank 0. At the next boot, you kaossilator will be ready to use with Volkaoss.

    The firmware covers both Kaossilator Pro 3 / Pro 3+ and the Volca Sample. You need a splitter cable to control the 2 devices at the same time. Otherwise, simply use a classic midi cable if you own only one of these devices.
    • Plug the MIDI OUT of your keyboard to the Midi IN of the Volkaos. 
    • Plug the splitter cable to the MIDI Out of the Volkaoss.
    • Plug first out of the splitter to the Midin In of the Kaossilator pro, and the second one to the Midi IN of the Volcasample.
    • Plug a +5V power supply or a USB cable to the Arduino board, then choose some samples on parts 1-10 of the Volca Sample.


    On the kaossilator, choose the piano patch (A42), and send notes to the channel 1, beyond C1. You should hear a piano sound and see the green light on the pad.
    Send notes from C2 to the channel 10 : you should hear the Volca sample sounds.

    VK global commands

    You can use the following commands on the channel 16, dedicated to VK configuration.:
    • Save current configuration permanently to the EEPROM
    • Reset to factory default : Midin 1, Out 11, transpose 36, PAD Y 64 for the Kaossilator. No activated midi in channels for the Volca sample. Debug mode off.
    • Toggle Debug : activate/ inactivate debug mode. The debug mode sends messages to a terminal connected to the serial port at 115200 bauds.  If you need to boot this debug mode activated, you must save the current configuration.  When debug is on , your midi equipment could react to what is sent to the serial port, especially at boot time, because midi out and terminal are sharing the same serial port.  So don't forget to set debug OFF in normal conditions.
    • Soft reset : reboot Volkaoss (soft reboot is not exactly the same as pushing the reset button).  You can use this command to apply what you saved, or simply to reset the Volkaoss remotely from your MIDI keyboard when necessary.
    Debug mode display at boot time on terminal, 115200 bauds :
    Build number : 1.071216.0040
    Parameters retrieved from EEPROM
    Version                             : 0.00
    Debug Mode                          : 1
    VK Midin                            : 16
    Kaossilator Midi In                 : 7
    Kaossilator Midi Out                : 11
    Kaossilator transpose               : 36
    Kaossilator  PAD default value      : 64
    Volca Sample midi in channel status : 0

    VK for the Kaossilator Pro 3 / Pro 3 +

    • Map midi notes to specific pad press and X, Y control changes 
    • Manage holded note on while playing another as a mono synth do 
    • Pitch bend handling relatively to the note currently pressed on the keyboard 
    • Map Cutoff, Reverb level or Modulation Wheel to PAD Y 
    • Map Resonance to a totally free PAD X 
    • Velocity sensitivity 
    • Commands on the C0 octave (C0 beeing the "command key") : 
    • Start/stop bank A, B, C, D. 
    • All banks on / off (2) 
    • ARP/GATE start / stop 
    • ARP speed increase / decrease (cyclic) 
    • Change Midi In channel (between 1-15.  Beyond 15 stays at 1 whatever the #)
    • Change Midi out channel

    To enter a command, you must hold both the command key (C0) and the key corresponding to the function you need to use. If a midi clock is received, the banks, and the ARG/GATE are started synchronously with the BPM. The ARP/gate speed increase/decrease are cyclics.
    If you need to change the midi in channel for the Volkaoss, you must tap the "Change midi in key " a number of time corresponding to the channel number.  Beyond 16, it stays at 1. The channel will change only after you release the command key. So, don't forget to adjust the midi out channel in your midi keyboard.  Same behaviour for the Midi out change.

    VK for the Volca Sample :

    • Map notes on channel 10, C2 octave to Volca Sample parts on midi 1 to 10, and play chromatically the last part played (not used for recording) beyond C2 
    • Velocity sensitivity 
    • Commands on C0 to toggle midi IN for parts (5-9) to use them for specific Volca controls or playing chromatically when recording with a DAW 
    • Reset controllers values 

    Notes are starting with part 1 at C2, part 2 at C#2, etc... on the channel 10 (as the General Midi drums standard). All commands must be sent from the channel 10, at the C0 octave.

    Enabling MIDI IN channels will allow you to tweak part in real time, like the knobs of the Volca Sample. Only channels from 5 to 9 can be enabled. To activate/inactivate (toggle) the part midi in channel, you must first select it, by emitting the note on the channel 10 corresponding to that part. For example, if you need to tweak a Kick drum, choose a sample at the part #5, press the corresponding note on the midi keyboard (E2) at the channel 10, then Command key + Toogle Midi In.  You just enabled the midi in on channel 5.  Then use your midi controller to tweak values.

    The "Reset all CC" command will initialize all CC values to their original value for the selected part.

    Issues reporting

    If you find any issue, you can report it here, in the comments.

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    mardi 29 novembre 2016

    Since a few months, I use more and more hardware gear and synths, and a little less frequently software like VST plugins, the urge to touch buttons, turn knobs, plug and unplug cables. Thus, my setup is becoming a patchwork of "old" analog synths, sequencing softwares, sampler, and other more or less recent gears ...
    The common point of all this: MIDI (not always). And in the world of MIDI, it is sometimes complicated to talk to each other.

    The Korg Volca Sample :

    I like very much this small white box capable, for a very low price, to spit sounds really percussive, if you make the effort to process samples correctly. The big catch is that it is not really usable on a MIDI chain, because it monopolizes 10 channels, one per sample part, from 1 to 10.   In addition, the samples loaded in the beast can not be played chromatically with a MIDI keyboard. To change the pitch, you have to manually adjust the Speed knob (or send the ad-hoc MIDI controller).

    See also my previous post on the installation of a MIDI OUT on that box.

    The Korg Kaossilator pro 3 (KP3) :

    I also have another kid from Korg, a little bit older, but, with huges sounds and an X/Y pad : the Kaossilator Pro 3. This device is also not easily integrable in a MIDI setup, simply because it does not recognize MIDI notes, but only non standard midi CC controls.  For sure, some will tell me the KP3 is a pad and is finally more a surface controller rather than a synth. I absolutely disagree !! Some patches are so clean and cool, especially bass, most others are good, drum kits are very dynamic, the vocoder is a nice feature, and there are still 4 banks to record and play samples.

    BUT, anyone who has tried the Kaossilator knows that : playing a precise note on the PAD is almost impossible (sorry I have big fingers !!), even using the SCALE function. Second problem, the recorded samples are difficult to synchronize with the BPM because there is no Start / Stop MIDI implemented in the KP3. To start a sample, you have to press the "Bank n" button on time : it is more tricky than you think. Better to be awake ! It is a serious issue.

    Despite the big potential of the KP3 unfortunately constrained by Korg's design mistakes, after a few months to play with, it finally remains in the closet, and slowly takes the dust before being sold a misery. While precisely I was thinking to sell mine, I renounced after played a "last time" with it because it sounds so good.

    Something to do or just drop it to the trash ?

    I had already seen projects, quite experimental on all kinds of platforms, to map the notes in MIDI controls and to trigger the sounds of the Kaossilator. Likewise for the Volca sample, a company is selling a special MIDI cable embedding a MIDI powered microcontroller for about € 35 + delivery that allows to operate the Volca Sample with only the channel 10 / as a GM module. I watched the demo video on their website : this is close to what I imagined doing when I thought about it, and it's rather well done, but that is a little too dedicated to the Volca in my opinion...

    Volkaoss : keep these gears boys !!

    Because developing software is a part of my job, I therefore started the development of what I called the "Volkaoss" (VK if you don't speak Klingon). I wanted to make VK a MIDI controller / converter that is both the most universal and the most economical possible... I happen to have an Arduino Uno at the bottom of a drawer!

    I wanted a plug and play solution, without soldering, so I ordered an Arduino MIDI SHIELD for less than 10 euros, and after several rather intense weeks of development, I produced a firmware which runs quite well in the Arduino Uno.

    I used a master MIDI keyboard and to get 2 midi outs, and simultaneously drive the Kaossilator and the Volca sample with KV , I used a "midi splitter" cable. You can find some on Ebay for few euros. You can also make one easily with 3 midi cables by connecting all RX, all TX, and all ground together.

    KV receives usually on channel 1 for the KP3 and channel 10 for the Volca Sample.

    It is a real pleasure to play on the KP3 with a keyboard, at the right pitch, transforming it to a very powerful mono synth at a price defying competition and to be able to use the Volca Sample as a real drum machine, managing velocity, and Compatible GM / channel 10 !!

    VK features for the Kaossilator Pro 3 / Pro 3 +
    • Map midi notes to specific pad press and X, Y control changes (1)
    • Manage holded note on when playing another as a mono synth do
    • Pitch bend handling relatively to the note currently pressed on the keyboard
    • Map Cutoff, Reverb level or Modulation Wheel to PAD Y 
    • Map Resonnance to a totally free PAD X
    • Velocity sensitivity
    • Commands on the C0 octave  (C0 beeing the "command" key) :
      • Start/stop bank A, B, C, D.  (2)
      • All banks on / off (2)
      • ARP/GATE start / stop (2)
      • ARP speed increase / decrease (rotate from max to min and min to max)
      • Change Midi In channel
    (1) The kaossilator must set to 4 octaves, and scale must be chromatic. The Key is usually better fixed to C minus.
    (2) If a midi clock is received, the banks, and the ARG/GATE are started synchronously with the BPM

    VK features for the Volca Sample :
    • Map notes to channel 10, C2 octave to Volca Sample parts on midi 1 to 10, and play chromatically the last part played (not used for recording) beyond C2
    • Commands on C0/ Channel 10 to toggle midi IN for parts (5-9) to use them for specific Volca controls or playing chromatically when recording with a DAW
    • Velocity sensitivity
    Download here :

    Comments are welcome !!

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    dimanche 20 novembre 2016


    Oh yeah !!

    When I realized that Roland was re-editing the TB 303, I was delighted. Finally I was going to be able to play with a TB (3) 03 made by the master : Roland itself.

    I therefore expected that the builder of the TB303 in 1983 would be able to make the best model on the market, allowing us, to own a new TB 03 for 400 euros only,  rather than 3000 € for a used and very old TB303.

    I was waiting sound that kills;  improved ergonomics, and especially something better than the clones (Xoxbox, TT 303 And other VST).

    Well no. That's not it at all.....

    The sound is a bit too metallic and especially on the slides : It was impossible to reproduce well known patterns with the TB-03 while the TT 303 can do it too easily.

    ABL3 , a very good VST plugin from Audiorealism, which is the best software emulating the TB 303  can also do better .. And, as in the TB-03, it is a software emulation.  Maybe Roland labs should give a call to the ABL3 team....

    The TB-03 does not compare one minute with my TT 303.
    By dint of looping and looping again my patterns during my tests, I ended up believing it was me...
    I did not unconsciously want to return this gear because that was a pretty one with a big Roland logo in my set, letting me think, at a 3 meters distance, it was the true TB 303  !!!

    So I finally asked to other ears around me: the TT was the winner without a doubt... We all agreed.

    The TB-03 sound seems a little muffled while it bites with the TT, a pure analo". The slides are a marvel of modulation, while it is a bit flat on the TB 03.
    The TT 303 groove, the TB-03 slaps.

    Even with a fine adjust with my fingers poked on the knobs in all directions, impossible to have that fluidity I have with the Cyclone analogic TT 303 ... and this modulation in the slides.

    Adding  delay or distortion (very good idea from Roland to integrates these quite goods effects),  didn't help.  Nothing and nothing.  The sounds were close, but it was like watching a great movie in its screener version !!!!

    Before trying the TB 03, I was thinking to sell my TT 303, not without regrets, to pay the bill if the the promise was kept.  I still own the TT 303.

    About ergonomics now : why Roland want us to return to the 80s  and is forcing us to use the horrible step by step mode of the TB 303,  on that modern machine ?

    To propose the original TB 303 step by step mode OK, but the second mode is also a step by tep one...and is not much better.  Roland could have trampled a bit by offering for example a real time mode recording, a TR mode, the spirit of the new JD-Xi I own also (better purchase between us, for almost the same price).

    There were so many things possible, which would have added value to this machine IF the sound was here obviously,...if one believes the promise of Roland on its website.

    On the TT 303, you can generate patterns randomly,  can make copy/paste, change the color of the LED according to the pattern category, etc ...On the TB 03 nothing at all. Back to the 80's

    One really positive thing is the very good quality of manufacture. We find Roland at the top on this point, contrary to what I could read. The case is made of metal, the knobs are straight. The TT is beaten, by far,  with its plastic case...

    The choice of  supplying  power via a micro usb plug is debatable and especially fragile on the long term in my opinion. We're not always connected to a computer. So you have to buy a phone charger and a micro USB cable not provided with that gear.

    The TB 03 was returned to the seller (Thomann) after 4 intensive days of testing, comparing patterns on TT 303 and ABL3 (démo version).

    A real disappointment. Almost a heartbreak, I waited the delivery more than one month....

    Hoping that Roland will quickly release a firmware update, otherwise, the amateurs of  ACID bass will stay on the clones, which are doing the job finally.

    Paradoxically the  TT 303 clone costs more than the Roland TB 03!

    Note : it seems that the TT303 is not sold anymore by Cyclone. They stopped the production.  I can sell you mine for 20 000 euros right now :-) !!!

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    samedi 26 mars 2016

    I own since few months a ROLAND MC 505 Groovestation.  I love this synth (YES ! it is a true synth not dedicated to DJs !!!) because there are a lot of knobs and buttons you can interact with.

    Since I own this device, the LCD has some missing lines and dots, and that is because the original LCD screen from Roland is a very poor quality one.  So, after reading many posts about how to DIY, i did it, and that was not so much a pain...

    You have to buy a LCD Display Character Module 2 lines / 16 characters, compatible with the HD44780 protocol.  You can find this kind of parts on Aliexpress for few euros, or around 10 euros with Europeans electronics resellers. 


    Then you have to remove the existing one.  Start by unmounting the back cover :

    You can see the LCD white flat cable, on the right of the two blacks.
    Carefully unplug all flat cables using a small screw driver. Go slowly as sometimes it is not so easy. Do not force anything.

    Then remove the motherboard. You must loosen all plastic bolts at the back of the MC 505 plus some screws. Again, stay cool !!  Plastic bolts are fragile.

    So you should be here.  No you can push carefully on the window covering the LCD screen from the inside with a small plastic tool, then finish the job from the outside with the same plastic tool.  The LCD window is stuck with adhesive double sided tape. I prefer this aproach rather than trying to take off the window only from the outside at the risk of damaging the case.  More work, but less risks.

    Then you have access to the LCD screws, and you can remove it.

    As there is not enough room to place the generic LCD board, you will have to cut some small pieces of metal.  Use a metal saw blade. not cutting pliers !! And again, go slowly....

    The schematic below shows the connection mapping between the generic LCD and the MC 505.
    With a good solder iron, desolder the flat cable from the original LCD screen and resolder, wire by wire to a flat cable, like those used for IDE hard disk.

    Before remounting you new LCD screen, make some tests with the contrast (screen tested and connected to the MC). It is possible you will have to change the 10K resistor value to another, depending on your screen ratio.

    The final result with a blue LCD  :


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