Madrona Labs Soundplane A

November 9th, 2011 No comments

I recently got a chance to play with the Madrona Labs Soundplane A module at this years PNW synthfest.

soundplane A

It is a grid of tactical sensitive and pressure sensitive buttons. The smooth wood finish makes this a wonderful instrument to play. The level of control is amazing, from rubbing of your finger on the wood, all the way down to slamming down on a button.









The software AALTO running on the computer is a quite versatile VST program that was very impressive. it allows for the rearrangement of any of the midi notes on the 150-note array and sensitivity control. The open-source mapping application translates the raw USB signals from the controller into control streams such as OSC and MIDI. There are lots of user-configurable options for mapping the surface of the Soundplane A into different kinds of note and controller data.

This is the direction that midi controllers need to be moving. It has the level of control needed for proper replication of things like drum heads and percussion also the ability to make all kinds of new sounds with a level of nuance that is unmatched. I would like to see developers adopt this kind of scheme in new control surfaces. and price them around a level where ordinary consumers can get their hands on them.

Let us know what you think of the soundplane A and if you have any ideas of a great device that I.S. could feature E-mail us!

here’s a link to the forum devoted to the development of the software for this device.

Happy Hacking


Categories: controller, MAX/MSP, Midi Tags:

What’s in a name (Top 5 strangest names for gear)

September 6th, 2011 No comments

Here at Illuminated Sounds we are big gear heads.  Sometimes the manufacturers of said gear leave us scratching our heads wondering what were they thinking.  So I compiled this list of my Top 5 strangest gear names.  Now I am probably missing some pieces of gears that should be on this list, so feel free to leave some comments of what your Top 5 are.  My honorary mention goes out to the Beat Kangz Beat Thang.

5 -Stanton DaScratch

This product came out while I was working at a major musical instrument retail store, and I’m pretty sure we did not sell a single DaScratch the entire time I work there.  Stanton tried to capitalize on the whole “touch” input craze that was taking over a couple of years ago, but the DaScratch was quickly out shined by iOS devices.  Stanton has since changed the name of the DaScratch to the SCS.3D, and hopefully that will get them to sell a couple more units.  More details and specs

4 -Euphonix Mc Mix

When this product was first announced I was actually excited for it.  I have used the Mackie Universal Control and the M-Audio ProjectMic IO, and honestly I was not really impressed by either.  Euphonix boards were some of the first large format mixers that I started working on, so to my surprise I was pretty disappointed with the Mc Mix.  The Mc Mix is made out of plastic, and it feels like I could break the piece in half with little effort.  The legs are also made of plastic, giving the entire unit a flimsy feel.  Must be a sign for me to move back to analog consoles.  Euphonix is now Avid.   More details and specs

3 – Metasonix KV-100 (The Assblaster)

With gear names like Assblaster, iCunt, and the Fucking Fucker; Metasonix as a company should have made it to this list.  Instead we take a look KV-100 and all it’s assblasting goodness.  The first thing to you should notice about this guy is tubes, and who doesn’t like tubes.  With 5 “real new-old-stock” vacuum tubes you will be able to freak and twist your sounds until they are unrecognizable.  As an added bonus, Dave Lovelace (the Packrat), provides some fun artwork that even the kids can enjoy.  More details and specs

2 -SSL X-Panda

I gotta say that I love SSL.  Their buss compressor will always hold a special place in my heart, but I am not quite sure what SSL was thinking when it came time to name this mixer.  This is a pretty standard expansion mixer.  It was designed to pair up nicely with SSL’s  X-Desk, but the DB25 connection cable will allow it to connect to other analog mixers.  The X-Panda and X-Desk are a nice way to get some SSL in your studio, but personally I will be saving up for my AWS 924More details and specs

1. Evol Fucifier

When I first came across this piece of gear, I thought it was pronounced like “Lucifer”.   To my surprise it is pronounced with an (think luck or duck).  Still this has to be one of the prettiest pieces of studio gear, and I know it would look great in my studio.  I personally would have liked to see a midi input on this guy, but I always want midi input on everything and midi might be overkill for a distortion unit.  If you need a distortion synthesizer to mangle your sounds, then look no further.  More Details and Specs





Link Of The Month

August 9th, 2011 No comments
Categories: Uncategorized Tags:

Link Of The Month voyager spacecraft recordings

August 1st, 2011 No comments

An Ode to Voyager, Humanities furthest explorer from the sun

“At almost 70 times farther from the Sun than the Earth, Voyager 1 is at the very edge of the Solar System. The Sun there is only 1/5,000th as bright as here on Earth — so it is extremely cold and there is very little solar energy to keep the spacecraft warm or to provide electrical power. The reason we can continue to operate at such great distances from the Sun is because we have radioisotope thermal electric generators (RTGs) on the spacecraft that create electricity and keep the spacecraft operating,” Stone said. “The fact that the spacecraft is still returning data is a remarkable technical achievement.”

The spacecraft are now so far from home that it takes nine hours and 36 minutes for a radio signal traveling at the speed of light to reach Earth,”said Ed B. Massey, project manager for the Voyager Interstellar Mission. “That signal, produced by a 20 watt radio transmitter, is so faint that the amount of power reaching our antennas is 20 billion times smaller than the power of a digital watch battery,”

Heliospheric 2-3 kHz radio emissions are produced when an interplanetary shock interacts with the heliopause, which is the boundary between the solar wind and the interstellar plasma. When the shock crosses the heliopause into the cooler, more dense interstellar medium it generates radio emissions at the electron plasma frequency, fp, and its harmonic, 2fp.

Heliospheric Radio Emissions detected by the Voyager Plasma Wave Instrument

Voyager Spacecraft Hits Interstellar Turbulence

Voyager Termination Shock

Voyager’s home page

Categories: Uncategorized Tags:

Android App Music Favorites

April 15th, 2011 No comments

Since Android’s initial release in late 2008 the android devices, software and market have

evolved to something much greater with a more diverse selection of applications. One

category the mobile linux OS has been lacking is in the music making department. Armed with

a new compiler, GPL, and an army of developers, 2011 is finally starting to make some

headway to compete with iOS’s music producing libraries. Unfortunately a publicly published

market is a double edged sword which sometimes forces users to sift through the garbage to

find the gems, which…can be…..taxing.

After purchasing, testing, and more often than not refunding applications, the best of the

best android music making applications:

1.Mikrosonic Sketchpad

This application quickly became my favorite as I found how versatile it is with

manipulating loops and sequences.

The color/light coding make mixing simple with a long press on the selected pad you

can set the volumes. Clicking each pad starts or stops the loop or sequence, and the edit

button allows you to set the sequencers. You edit ‘scenes’, a saved framework of your

imported/saved settings for the 16-pads, which are easily exported to .wav format for your

sharing needs. My only complaint about this application is it lacks a swing setting, but for

$5.50 its a steal.

Musical Features:

-16-pad screen mixes loops and sequences
-Edit feature with 4 variations for each loop pad
-Slicer for recombining loop elements
-Waveform display
-Up to 8-bar long loops
-Samples and sequencer
-4-bar sequencer for each sample pad
-Keyboard for setting note information for each step
-Waveform display
-Gain, pan and tuning knobs
-Envelope control with attack and decay

Technical Features:

-Multi-touch control
-Sample/loop load in .wav format up to 24 bit 96 kHz
-Recording of performances in exportable .wav format
-Direct integration of RD3 – Groovebox loops
-File sharing capability

For those wanting to try the app out:
Demo Version:

SPC – Music Sketchpad

Full version:
2.RD3 Groovebox

Groovebox is made by the same entity as the Sketchpad(SPC) and seemlesly imports any beats

made with this nifty little app into mikrosonics SPC. With eight different drumkits to

choose from it makes beat production less of a headache in SPC.


•realtime step sequencing
•realtime processing synth
•high quality filter mode for powerful devices
•multitouch control
•drum machine with 8 drum kits
•4 patterns per instrument
•3 play modes: solo, loop or random
•load/save sessions
•cut/copy/paste pattern

Demo Version:

Full version:

(sorry couldn’t find an official demo video)

Uloops gets an honorable mention but I cant help but cringe at the fact that you must have

an active internet connection to even render a single midi note on top of having to create

an account. Still, the application is reminiscent of FLstudio in its sequencer and options.

12-channels loop-oriented sequencer:
• Mix up to 4-bar length recordings, synths, drums and modulators
• Apply effects including delay, flanger, chorus, tube distortion, compressor among others.
• 3-band parametric equalizer with configurable frecuency, amplitude and Q factor for each

• Dynamic Pan and Vol, Solo-Mute toggle
• Mixer with vumeters and dB faders
• Export to mp3 or ringtones

Sound Recorder:
• Use built-in mic for live recording
• Metronome during performance
• Apply noise reduction, normalization & effects

Polyphonic synthesizer:
• 7-octave piano roll
• 125 instruments available
• Vcf Cutoff, Vcf Res and LFO effects

Drum Machine:
• 35 drumkits available
• Every drumkit has 17 components, including bass drum, snare, hi-hat, crash, tom-tom, among

• Independent volume, pitch, pan and reverb control for every component

• Analog-like modular synthesizer patched up as an interesting oscillation lab
• Filters: VCO Freq, LFO, VCF Cutoff, VCF Res and VCA
• Modulate your bends using 6 different functions including sample & hold

Song Sequencer:
• Create a song putting together your loops
• Change song tempo, from 60 to 250 bpm
• Mastering Toolbox
• Publish your songs with different licences (creative commons and private ones)
• Receive a full rendered copy by mail

Demo Version:

Uloops Studio Lite for Android on

Full Version:
Categories: Android Tags:

Maschine Tear Down Update

April 14th, 2011 2 comments

By special request here are some close up pictures of the main IC’s on the Maschine.  The request comes from a hacking workshop that will be taking place in Berlin next month.  Here is a link for more information on the workshop.

Check out the datasheet for the Lattice here.

Check out the datasheet for the Cypress IC here.


Categories: controller, Tear Down Tags:


April 9th, 2011 7 comments

I updated the 8 band Graphic EQ for the launchpad! I added a button to get into the DSP settings so u can change the input settings and output settings. Sorry it took so long for this crucial update!

Download 8BandEQ2.0 for the Novation Launchpad for (Windows).

if there are Mac users who want this app just holler and I’ll build it for you guys. 

UPDATE 8BandEQ3.0 for the Novation Launchpad for Windows/MAC

Categories: controller, Downloads, Launchpad, MAX/MSP, Midi Tags:

Link of the Month – Lots of Drums

March 10th, 2011 No comments

I have been getting a lot of emails about that Ensoniq ASR-X sample library I talked about making a while back.  I started doing the tedious task of cutting and bouncing each sample, when one of the other producers I work with sent me this link.

 Now I don’t know who this Ste_clectic person, but many thank yous are in order.  This is by no means excuse for why I have not finished my ASR-X library, but hopefully this will tide you all over until I can finish it up.  So as usual enjoy, have some fun, and make music.

Oh and here is another link to download the library, if ever the link in the forum stops working.


Categories: Downloads, Link of the Month, Samples Tags:

Ever wonder what’s inside a Native Instruments Maschine Controller?

December 22nd, 2010 11 comments

Here at Illuminated Sounds we love things with 16 pads and we love to take things apart. Now personally I’m a fan of Akai MPC’s, but when one my friends got a Maschine I knew it was only a matter of time before I could get him to open it up.



the big pads remind me of the fat pads for the mpc2000xl









Ensoniq ASR-X Teardown/Repair

November 10th, 2010 10 comments

Here are some pictures of me opening and replacing the save button in an Ensoniq ASR-X.  This is one of my favorite samplers to work on do to its design.  The ASR-X also came loaded with some pretty classic sounds, which I’ll post once the samples are all edited.  Here is the demo song that comes loaded on the ASR-X.

ASR-X missing save button


ASR with face plate removed


Up Close


Face plate removed


Backside of Faceplate


Face panel PCB missing the save button


Face panel PCB with save button


Ensoniq ASR-X with save button replaced