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March 11, 2023
Upgrades in the studio - part 2
Genelec - 8341A - SAM Studio Monitor (x2)
I also ordered these speakers a long time ago, but again due to the worldwide shortage of computer chips, many models of the Genelec 'The Ones' were also not available, but... I finally received these too!
Whether this is really an upgrade can be disputed, because they replace 2 Genelec 8351A monitors... The Genelec 8351A was the first model SAM Studio Monitor in the 'The Ones' range from 2014. Three years later the smaller 8331A and 8341A came with improved technology, newly designed drivers and more DSP processing power.
In 2018 I bought:
- 5 x 8331A
SAM Studio Monitor
- 2 x 7360A SAM Subwoofer
- 4 x 8351A SAM Studio Monitor
- and also 2 x 8320A SAM Studio Monitor (but these have nothing to do with this post)
The 5 x 8331A with the 2 x 7360A subwoofer became my 5.1 surround setup and 2.1 setup, these are set up at ear height while you're seated. The problem, however, was that if you stood up, the sound image was partially lost because the 8331As were set up too low. I solved this by placing a much larger 8351A above the left and right 8331A. If I then listened upright I had a full sound image again + due to the much greater power of the 8351A's (together with the 7360A Subwoofers) I was also able to listen at high volume for short periods of time if I wished to do so.
But... it didn't sound the same, the 8351A sounds fundamentally different from an 8331A (I'm not sure if this is better or worse, it's just 'different')... This has little to do with the difference in size, but with the difference in technology. Because the 8331A and the 8431A sound identical as they share the same technology, this is very clear in all kinds of professional online reviews. This fact also helped determine to go for 5 x 8331As in 2018 and not for the much more expensive 8341As because they sound the same after all and 8331As are strong enough for my Control Room according to Genelec's technical information (which is also correct, by the way, the protection circuits in my 8331As have never been activated).
Also important: when I bought the 4 x 8351As in 2018, the improved 8351B (with the technology of the 8331A and 8341A) came out a few weeks or months later and production of the 8351A was discontinued. It goes without saying that I didn't find this funny, because suddenly the value of 8351A's halved and I would have to pay the same amount again to replace the 8351A's with the new 8351B. I did not do this and was also very disappointed in Genelec's strategy of not offering a trade-in program for buyers like me who had bought one or more 8351As 3 or 6 months before the launch of the 8351B...
But of course the problem of the difference in sound image between listening sitting down and standing up remained because I still had the 8351As. After a while I started to consider replacing the two 8351A's above the 8331A's with the 8351B (I don't use the 2 other 8351A's for critical listening because they are aimed at the back of the Control Room, not at the mixing position). However, after doing some online research and reading all kinds of professional online reviews of the 8351B, it turned out that the 8351B... also sounds different than the 8331A and the 8341A! (again I'm not sure if this is better or worse, it's just 'different') This is because the 8351B in turn also uses newer technology than the 8331A and 8341A, namely newly designed drivers and amplifiers (but has the same DSP processing power as the 8331A and 8341A), well...
So... if I want to listen to the same sound image between listening sitting down and standing up, there are only 2 options: replace the 8351As with 8331As or 8341As, because only these 2 models share the same technology and the same drivers. And since I want to be able to listen at high volume for short periods of time if I wished to do so, then the 8341A is the most logical choice...
That is why I state at the beginning of this post that it is debatable whether replacing 8351As with 8341As is really an upgrade... Because you could consider this a downgrade to a smaller model or missing an upgrade to a better and more recent model...
Btw, in the meantime I have replaced the 8351A's with the 8341A's and I have recalibrated all SAM monitors with the GLM 4.3 software and as it turns out:... there is no longer a difference between listening sitting down and standing up, so either it's a downgrade or a miss of an upgrade... at least for me it's a big upgrade and...
March 06, 2023 (updated on March 20, 2023)
Upgrades in the studio - part 1
mioXL - MIDI Interface (x4)
They were ordered a long time ago, but due to the worldwide shortage of computer chips, the iConnecticity mioXL was not available, but... today I finally received them!
In my post of October 30, 2017 you can read how I came to purchase my 2 original iConnecticity mio10s and this was mainly due to persistent USB problems. After a while I bought a 3rd mio10 because I needed more MIDI connections and this worked fine at first. But over time, I started experiencing problems with USB again after trying to connect a few more USB devices to my Mac Pro.
iConnecticity had already come out with the successor to the mio10, the mio XL. The main difference between the two MIDI interfaces is that the mio10 was designed to be connected to a computer via USB and the mioXL via RTP-MIDI via Ethernet with a standard UTP cable. This means that the mioXL no longer needs a connection via USB, with the result that the USB buses of my Mac Pro are completely relieved for sending and receiving all MIDI data. The original mio10 also had RTP-MIDI on board, but only 4 buses, the mioXL, however, works entirely via RTP-MIDI.
I had 3 mio10's in the Control Room but none in the V-Drums Room because the distance was too long for USB cables (especially in combination with the 3 mio10's that were also connected via USB). But since RTP-MIDI can easily run over a 100 m long UTP cable, the distance from the V-Drums Room to the engine room is no longer a problem and I immediately bought 4 MioXL's.
My old, faithful Mac Pro 5.1 also has 2 separate Ethernet ports, one is for the connection to the studio network (LAN) + internet, the other Ethernet port is only used for the AVID S3 Control Surface for operating Pro Tools. There is also an 8-port Ethernet switch in between, so there are still more than enough Ethernet ports available and therefore perfectly suitable for the 4 mioXL MIDI interfaces. And this way RTP-MIDI remains independent of the studio network, something that in itself is not necessary because RTP-MIDI uses very little bandwidth on a network (but I prefer to keep RTP-MIDI + the AVID S3 Control Surface and my LAN neatly separated ).
I'm not going to explain all the differences between the mio10 and the mioXL here, because the only thing that matters is the fact that my entire MIDI setup will work via RTP-MIDI and that's a very big step forward because then I'm finally definitively freed from all that USB stuff.
But... in that post of October 30, 2017 you can also read that it took 2 months to get the original 2 mio10s working because at that time customer support was very slow at iConnectivity, there was virtually no information available online was + the iConfig software to program the mio10 was not yet ready (and was especially confusing). But in the meantime the support department of iConnectivity has been expanded considerably and you now get a quick answer to your questions + the iConfig software was replaced by the 'Auracle for X-Series' software that is much more user-friendly + there are now also a lot of Youtube movies available that step explain step by step how to configure a mioXL. So I'm hopeful that I'll get everything up and running soon...
Addition on March 20, 2023:
In the meantime I had the opportunity to replace the old mio10s with the new mioXLs, something that was fairly easy thanks to my meticulously numbered cabling. Then I had to program the entire TRP-MIDI network with the 'Auracle for X-Series' software... and against all odds that was done in about 2-3 hours! Of courseIn the beginning it was a bit of searching, but once I understood the principle everything went very smoothly.
I can therefore only say that I am very satisfied with the mioXLs and especially with the 'Auracle for X-Series' software, because everything is logical and easy to set up. And I am also very surprised at how well and stable the RTP-MIDI network performs, what a difference with USB! It's like stepping into the 2nd decade of the 21st century... which is also true of course, because MIDI was invented in 1983, USB in 1996 and the mioXL with 22 RTP-MIDI ports only exists since 2021 (but the RTP-MIDI protocol itself has actually been around on Apple computers since 2005 with the arrival of MAC OS 10.4).
But of course it is the iConnectivity mioXL that deserves all the praise here because this is the first MIDI interface in the world that has 22 RTP-MIDI ports, making USB completely unnecessary. The mio10 only had 4 RTP-MIDI ports and was therefore absolutely useless via RTP-MIDI for large MIDI studios like mine... and with three mio10's I bumped into the limits of what is technically possible via USB... I'm very happy to finally get rid of it...
March 03, 2023
New in my synthesizer collection:
KORG - miniKORG 700FS
KORG has released several limited edition FS (Full Size) versions of old legendary synthesizers from the 1970s over the years.
First there was the ARP 2600FS from 1971 to 1975 in 2020:
I had officially bought this synthesizer and also paid in full when ordering, but in the end it was never delivered because it was sold out. There were worldwide misunderstandings about how many aircraft were going to be built, so that more were sold (via pre-order) than could actually be delivered.
The KORG MS-20 FS from 1978 to 1983 followed in 2021:
Originally the KORG MS-20 was black as shown on the top right of the picture, but the KORG MS-20 FS also came in white, blue and green.
I didn't buy this one because I already have a KORG MS-20 Kit that came out as a full size kit a few years before:
And in 2022 the KORG miniKORG 700FS from 1974 followed, the (for now?) last FS version of old, legendary synthesizers:
All 3 FS versions were recreated as authentically as possible, including a large part of it by hand, but at the same time these synthesizers were also equipped with modern gadgets such as MIDI and USB connections and for the miniKORG 700FS also 14 memory locations, an arpeggiator, a string reverb and a keyboard with monophonic aftertouch.
The history of the miniKORG 700FS goes back to 1973 when the first version came out, the miniKORG 700:
This monophonic synthesizer had only 1 oscillator (VCO) and was designed by the Japanese Fumio Mieda who already worked for KORG at the time. The miniKORG 700 was the first synthesizer ever to be designed and built in Japan and was intended to be an inexpensive, simple synthesizer that would be affordable for everyone. This is in contrast to the very expensive American synthesizers from the 1970s from Moog, Sequential Circuits, Oberheim and ARP (the name ARP only recently became the property of KORG).
In 1974 the miniKORG 700 was succeeded by the miniKORG 700S:
This had 2 oscillators, which of course greatly expanded the sound possibilities, it also has some effects such as 3 different ring modulators. The controls for these new functions were not added to the front, but were added to the top left to replace the wooden panel that was present on the 700.
With the new miniKORG 700FS, a joystick has been added to that panel:
But... the original designer Fumio Mieda had already included a joystick in his 1974 design for the 700S, but it was eventually omitted to keep the price down. So adding a joystick to the 700FS is actually finally being able to carry out the original design from 1974. FYI: Fumio Mieda is still alive, still working for KORG and was team leader of a team of young synthesizer designers who designed the 700FS. They could therefore always contact the original designer, to make sure the sound color of the 700FS is 99% identical to an original 700S. As I mentioned earlier, an authentic string reverb was also added to the original design because this type of reverb is so typical of the synthesizer sound of the 1970s and 1980s. On the photo above you can also see the 10 added push buttons at the very top for selecting the 14 memory locations and to operate the arpeggiator + these buttons also serve to change all kinds of internal settings (e.g. all MIDI settings). Speaking of MIDI: to my great surprise all knobs and sliders output real time MIDI data! So anything you do on the 700FS can be recorded into a DAW as MIDI data and reproduced...
The miniKORG 700FS has been on the market for less than a year now and there are only a limited number of copies of this 'limited edition' left on the market (so no major shortages this time as was the case with the ARP 2600 FS). It goes without saying that this type of synthesizer is only interesting for a limited number, mostly older people (especially for collectors), because for a fraction of its price you can buy a modern synthesizer with a multitude of possibilities. As a result, the 700FS has also dropped in price recently and it suddenly became interesting for me to buy, because I found its original price just that little bit too much for what it actually is, namely an ancient monophonic synthesizer with some adjustments that make it usable in the 21st century (especially MIDI and the 14 memory locations).
But I was very interested in this synthesizer from the first day the 700FS was announced because it was so typical of the sound of the 70s and 80s. It was used by Human League, 'Being Boild' is almost exclusively a 700S and the Normal (Daniel Miller's first band) because 'Warm Leatherette' is also almost exclusively a 700S. But also eg by The Cure, the synthesizer line in 'A Forest' is also a 700S.
The 700S was also very popular in the softer genres, for example it was the favorite synth of the Japanese composer Kitaro, and... it was also the favorite synth of Vangelis! Before the Yamaha CS-80 was released in 1978, Vangelis mainly used a miniKORG 700S for all his experimental synthesizer sounds on his first 4 albums 'Heaven And Hell' (1975), Albedo 0.39' (1976), 'Spiral' (1977) and 'Beauborg ' (1978). This was mainly due to the fact that the 700S has 3 different ring modulators that allow you to make those typical metallic sounds that those first 4 albums are so famous for. By the way, it is said that all synthesizer sounds in the famous song 'Pulstar' were made with a miniKORG 700S...
I am therefore very happy that I was able to buy a miniKORG 700FS at a reasonable price, which has expanded the 'Vangelis sound palette' in my studio (especially to be able to quickly and easily make those typical and authentic ring modulator sounds) .
I am also very pleased with the build quality of the miniKORG 700FS as it is heavier and larger than you would expect at first glance. And its sound is very nice and warm, also particularly suitable for bass lines and solos (due to the joystick and aftertouch), the string reverb is also a nice addition to instantly travel to the 70s. But it's really that beautiful and easy to use ring modulator that gets all the credit and praise for me.
BTW, the miniKORG 700FS comes with a nice, retro transport case, which of course also had an influence on the initially very high purchase price. For me, this case was not necessarily necessary, but of course it fits nicely into the overall picture of an old synthesizer from the 1970s...
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