CatSynth Pic: Scout with Roland Juno 106, Dreadbox Hades, and more

Scout sits atop a vintage Roland synthesizer. We are pretty sure it’s a Roland Juno 106. In the back, we see a Dreadbox Hades, as well as offerings from Novation and Arturia. From Carl Peczynski via our Facebook page.

CatSynth Pic: Mojo, Arturia Keystep, Moog Minitaur

Mojo the cat looks on as a musical performance with an Arturia Keystep and Moog Minitaur unfolds. He seems to quite enjoy it. Submitted by Bruce Oliver via our Facebook page.

Mojo was my little buddy for 17 years. He loved synth sounds but would vacate the room if you picked up a guitar!

CatSynth Pic: Kasey, Roland, and Arturia

Kasey finds a comfy spot between a Roland Plug-Out system, Roland modules, and an Arturia Beatstep Pro. Submitted by Chris Bentley via our Facebook page.

Kasey the cat. Passed away at the age of 19 back in August 2017 but used to love to hang out on my desk while I was tinkering in the studio.

We are very sorry to hear of Kasey’s passing, and our hearts go out to Chris as the rest of Kasey’s family. A wonderful studio cat who lived a long and loved life 💕

CatSynth Pic: Bonnie in the Studio

Bonnie has definitely found a nice napping spot in this studio. Submitted by David Lemur via our Facebook page.

Bonnie says: ‘More of John Cage’s 4 minutes and 33 seconds of silence please Donny’.

We see an Arturia Keystep, Roland TR-8, a TB-303 clone, a vintage Korg sequencer, and even a bit of Buchla in the upper-left corner.

NAMM 2019: Arturia MicroFreak (First Look)

One of the most talked-about releases at NAMM (at least within our circles) was the new MicroFreak from Arturia. So, of course, we at CatSynth had to check it out.

It is a unique-looking instrument. The panel is etched with a variety of iconography; and then there is the flat PCB in place of the traditional keyboard. No moving parts here. But it is quite expressive, including polyphonic aftertouch.

Beyond its looks and keyboard, the main feature of the MicroFreak is its digital oscillator. There are several different “types” for the oscillator, including wavetable, sampling, physical modeling, virtual analog, and something called “texturizer”. Within each there are selections for parameters labeled wave, timbre, and shape, that do different things in different types. These can be selected in real time via the knobs, and wave and timbre can also be destinations for modulation.

The digital oscillator followed in the signal chain by an analog filter, specifically an Oberheim SEM-style filter, which sounds quite good when the oscillator is set to a rich source. There also the usual array of modulators, including envelope (one-shot and cycled), LFO, and arpeggiator. The sequencer includes a bunch of compositional functions with cute names like “Spice” and “Dice” to help build and modify patterns, which then can be routed via the modulation matrix.

It is quite a powerful instrument, but attempting to play it was a bit intimidating at first. Unlike the MiniBrute (analog) or even the Sequential Prophet 12 (hybrid), the knobs weren’t quite as intuitive for someone used to a lot of subtractive or semi-modular synthesizers, especially the oscillator with its various modes and the composition functions. I suspect it was an easier first-experience for those who use beat and sample boxes like those from Elektron. Indeed, I was able to get more out of it by turning on the arpeggiator and then turning knobs. You can see a bit of my initial attempts in our recent video.

In order to really understand what this little beast has to offer, a deep dive in the studio would be required. We at CatSynth hope to be able to arrange that in the not-to-distant future, and will report back here and on CatSynth TV.

Owlsynth Pics for Superb Owl Day

We at CatSynth feel there is no better way to celebrate Superb Owl Day than with “owlsynth pics”. Here is our stuffed owl atop our main modular system.

And with our trusty Roland Boutique VP-03 vocoder.

And with our Arturia MiniBrute 2.

(Definitely need to tidy up a bit there.)

Owls are quite captivating as they are so different from other birds, even from other birds of prey. We all know their unique front-facing faces and nocturnal behavior. But they also have amazing auditory capabilities.

Both the cat and the Barn Owl have much more sensitive hearing than the human in the range of about 0.5 to 10 kHz. The cat and Barn Owl have a similar sensitivity up to approximately 7 kHz. Beyond this point, the cat continues to be sensitive, but the Barn Owl’s sensitivity declines sharply.

Some Owl species have asymmetrically set ear openings (i.e. one ear is higher than the other) – in particular, the strictly nocturnal species, such as the Barn Owl or the Tengmalm’s (Boreal) Owl. These species have a very pronounced facial disc, which acts like a “radar dish”, guiding sounds into the ear openings. The shape of the disc can be altered at will, using special facial muscles. Also, an Owl’s bill is pointed downward, increasing the surface area over which the sound waves are collected by the facial disc. In 4 species (Ural, Great Grey, Boreal/Tengmalm’s & Saw-whet), the ear asymmetry is actually in the temporal parts of the skull, giving it a “lop-sided” appearance.

Owls and Hearing – The Owl Pages

We at CatSynth hope you all have a fine and enriching Superb Owl Day!

CatSynth TV Episode 99!

It’s the 99th Episode of CatSynth TV, and we have a special treat for all our readers and videos. It combines many of our interests: synthesizers, cats, experimental music and film, and highways.

Video shot along Highway 99 in California from Manteca through Stockton and heading towards Sacramento. Additional video and photography at CatSynth HQ in San Francisco.

Guest appearances by Sam Sam and Big Merp.

Original experimental synthesizer music by Amanda Chaudhary, based on melodies from “99 is not 100” by Moe! Staiano.

Synthesizers used:

  • Minimoog
  • Arturia MiniBrute 2S
  • Big Fish Audio John Cage Prepared Piano Sample Library (Kontakt)
  • Nord Stage EX
  • Mutable Instruments Plaits
  • Metasonix R-54 and R-53 2hp Cat module
  • 4ms Spectral Multiband Resonator
  • Make Noise Echophon

CatSynth Video: Nemo and Modular

Nemo the cat plays a modular synth via Novation and Arturia controllers 😺🎛.  From Stefano Girola (@squarewaves) on Instagram.

CatSynth Pic: Demons of the Studio

The title says it all.  Two laser-eye cats with modular and tabletop synthesizers by Elektron and Arturia.  From blush_response via Instagram.

CatSynth Video: Tom Hall’s Cat on MiniBrute 2S

From Orb Mag on Facebook.

Tom Hall’s Cat Knows the game  😺⚡️

We espy a MiniBrute 2S and RackBrute in use.  We are quite fond of our MinBrute 2 here at CatSynth HQ.