The electronic musical instrument world is littered with cases of one person, individually solving a problem. This one gets even more specific. There’s some beloved MIDI gear out there that’s just a bear to program. Yes, you can use various knob boxes – but because some of the programming requires archaic System Exclusive messages, prepare yourself for some work.
The Stereoping device adds knobs and custom firmware for that hardware. Amusingly, the product is available as a kit, but maybe that’s perfect – you spend a bit of cash and devote that time to the soothing task of soldering rather than the hateful task of mucking about with old SysEx commands. Frankly, it looks like a fun build. Being able to work on the JX-8P alone could make you happily cough up the change. (Pre-assembled versions are planned.)
The video series Electronic Beats caught up with the creator, a one-man shop in Germany. Call it a documentary on a labor of love.
I have to admit I’d never seen these before. Devices it supports – in case you were wondering:
‘Microwave’ for Waldorf Microwave 1 (Software V 2.0)
‘1006r’ for Oberheim Matrix 1000 / 6 / 6r
‘AlphaJ’ for Roland Alpha Juno 1/2, MKS-50
‘8P’ for Roland JX-8P
‘8000’ for Korg DW-8000 / EX-8000
‘K3′ for Kawai K3 / K3m
’81Z’ for Yamaha TX-81Z
‘K1′ for Kawai K1
‘Mirco’ for Alesis Micron / Akai Miniak
‘Microwave 2′ for Waldorf Microwave II
‘Qfeld’ for Waldorf Blofeld / microQ / Q
‘Puls’ for Waldorf Pulse 1
‘Revolver’ for DSI Evolver
No Yamaha DX-7 yet, unfortunately (they explain why on the site – basically, it’s hard to do).
At first, this may seem redundant, but there are loads of little details. For instance:
“Some Synthesizers allow to change the patchname by midi sysEx-data. We added a special “Letter-dial”-Mode allowing you to dial the pots for selecting letters – saves time, is funny”
It’s not inexpensive by any means at €225,00, plus another 10€ for a full set of extra faceplates – but if that saves an investment, I imagine it could be worth it. (This does seem ripe for a tablet app to cover these use cases, though.)
Clarification: Yes, the store is a bit confusing. But here’s how the system works: you only need one box. Presumably, you buy the kit for the gear you most need to control – it already comes with a faceplate. You can load other firmwares onto the hardware, one at a time, and for another 10€ buy a set of faceplates for those other templates. Now, it is a shame there’s no way to quickly swap between layouts, but yes, this one box can support all the hardware listed above (with maybe some additions soon). I’d love to see an update that allows you to change firmwares with DIP switches or a knob rather than re-flash the unit, though.
Others have pointed to similar solutions on Lemur and Livid controllers. Most notably, though, the Kiwi 3P programmer covers the one piece of kit missing from this list – the JX-3P, notorious for being cheap on eBay before you get absolutely killed for the (rarer) programmer accessory.
You might actually find his Eurorack creations more interesting, depending on your tastes. There are some nice-looking delays, plus a spring reverb. I know what you’re thinking — “spring reverb,” in quotes. But this is the real deal, a Eurorack module attached to a tank big enough to hold an actual spring.
And I’m looking forward to seeing what Electronic Beats does next with this new video series they’re calling Audio Intro-vations (this is only the first episode). The focus is on lesser-known tech; this certainly qualifies.
All images: stereoping.com.