Toronto, Ontario, Canada

Equivalent circuits

Thinking in terms of equivalent circuits is one of the basic mental skills needed for understanding electronics. I use the concept of an equivalent circuit implicitly in a lot of my writing about other things, but it's probably worth stepping back and learning about equivalent circuits in themselves. READ MORE

Do you really want that scope?

In-rack oscilloscope Eurorack modules come up pretty often on wish lists and ModularGrid fantasy racks. Many people, and especially beginners, seem to think oscilloscope modules are useful, oscilloscope modules may even be must-have modules, and they want those oscilloscope modules. If you are one of those people, I hope you will think carefully before shelling out for an oscilloscope module. They are less valuable for musical performance than you may imagine, and here are some examples pointing at why. READ MORE

A fractal sequencer toy

Here's a fractal chord sequencer you can play right in your browser. READ MORE

All about normalling

If you plug a patch cable into an input jack on a module, the module receives the signal from that cable. What if you don't plug a cable into the input - what will the module do? Let's look into that in detail. READ MORE

MSK 014 release

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE READ MORE

Update on the new checkout

Moving the North Coast Synthesis Web storefront to the new checkout system has been a lot slower and more difficult than I planned or expected. There are still some major issues to resolve. But I have some significant progress, and especially with the Gracious Host release held up waiting for a usable checkout, I can't afford to delay rolling out the parts that do work, even though there's still a critical part missing. READ MORE

Leaving BigCommerce

On October 26 I tried to log into the administrative interface of this storefront to process an order, and I just got a blank screen. After some research and testing of my own, and a conversation with BigCommerce technical support, it is apparent that they have changed their systems - suddenly, without warning - to be incompatible with my usual Web browser. They will not be changing back, and they offer no solution for me to be able to log onto the system except telling me I ought to switch to a different version of the browser. That is a dealbreaker for my continued use of BigCommerce and I am moving the North Coast Synthesis Ltd. Web storefront off of BigCommerce as soon as I can. READ MORE

A stripboard Eurorack power cable tester

Here's a little project I put together to solve a specific problem: checking power cables for shorts. I made it using the parts I had on hand, and if you build one yourself you may well end up wanting to make changes, so I'm not going to prepare a complete set of documentation or sell kits or anything. I don't think it's going to be popular enough for selling them to be profitable. But if, like me, you're in a position of needing to check a lot of power cables, you might find these notes useful in designing your own tester. READ MORE

Fat sounds and thick pads

From time to time we hear people claim that one synthesizer sounds more "fat" than another. For the sound to be fat is supposed to be a good thing. This is often cited as an advantage of analog synths over digital; or of one analog synth over another. Somehow it always seems to be the most expensive equipment that sounds fattest. READ MORE

Gracious Host development adventures

The MSK 014 Gracious Host is planned to be the next new module from North Coast Synthesis, and I've spent a lot of time in the last few months working on the firmware for it. I did most of the hardware design last year, but then shelved it for a while to do more time-sensitive work on module production and custom panels. Here are some pictures and commentary from the ongoing development effort. READ MORE

Marbled and hydrographic panel gallery

As described in an earlier posting a month ago, I've been experimenting with painting and printing on a batch of defective Eurorack module front panels, trying to both salvage them into something usable and develop some techniques that will be useful in my future products. Here are some photos of my progress on marble painting and hydrographic dipping. READ MORE

Aconcagua

Every so often I come back to the idea of generating self-similar or "fractal" chord progressions by recursively applying grammar rules, as in my 2015 composition Dharmapala. I like the general method described in that article, but one thing I don't like so much about the finished piece is that it sounds the same all the way through. There's a little bit of "development" or shift in texture over the course of the piece, largely driven just by my performance-time changes to the synthesizer settings and the fact that I allow the notes to be chosen from a wider range toward the end. READ MORE

Panel painting photo gallery

Last year the contractors who make panels for my products had an issue with some newly-installed equipment and they shipped me a batch of panels with the wrong colours. Here's a comparison of a good panel (left) with one from the bad batch (right). READ MORE

Passive multiples and friends

Passive multiples are often recommended as first synthesizer do-it-yourself projects. There are a few reasons for that: they're simple modules without too many things that can go wrong; they're useful modules that almost everybody needs; the parts don't cost a whole lot; and they're an opportunity to practice soldering. READ MORE

Beware fake parts

There are a lot of counterfeit electronic parts in circulation. It's especially a problem with parts that are obsolete, hard to find, or expensive; sold privately in places like eBay or AliExpress at unusually low prices; and shipped from the People's Republic of China. However, just this week I had to deal with a batch of fake TL074 op amps from a well-known US distributor. Here are some notes that might help others avoid, or at least debug, similar problems. READ MORE

.
.
.

Subscribe to our newsletter