Toronto, Ontario, Canada

Transistors for the Perplexed

Most transistor circuits are quite straightforward.  If you look at the schematic of something like the North Coast Transistor Mixer, you can easily recognize common patterns - an emitter follower here, a common-emitter amplifier there - which are in every textbook and really are just transistorized versions of vacuum-tube circuits going back generations.  The new Transistor ADSR gets a little more complicated, largely because of its use of two-transistor circuit blocks such as multivibrators, but there's still nothing really weird in it.  But every now and again you'll see something in a schematic diagram that isn't in the textbook, seems like it makes no sense... and yet, it works.  This article covers a couple of those non-traditional ways to use transistors - as well as some simple, obvious questions that smart beginners are likely to wonder about but which aren't usually answered in introductory presentations. READ MORE

Tools for getting started with SDIY

Visit the North Coast Synthesis SDIY page! READ MORE

Walking the hypercube

Here is the skeleton of a four-dimensional hypercube, or tesseract, with the vertices labelled by musical note names. READ MORE

State of the store

In the last couple weeks, since the storefront move, I've been busy with a lot of store and non-store issues and haven't had much time to update here.  Sorry about that; here are some notes on what's going on. READ MORE

Modular synthesis intro, part 14: Multiples

This is Part 14 of a series that started with Part 1.

Continue With The Operation, II

So, here we are. READ MORE

Modular synthesis intro, part 13: Envelope generators

This is Part 13 of a series that started with Part 1. READ MORE

Behind the scenes

A few days ago I suddenly found myself unable to log in to the admin section of this Web site. That's understandably a problem when I'm running a business through the site. Upon investigation, it turns out that my e-commerce provider had made some kind of internal change which rendered the site no longer compatible with my preferred browser, and the best they could offer me was to say I should switch browsers. For this to happen at all is a dealbreaker, let alone with no advance notice, and so I will be migrating the North Coast Synthesis Web storefront elsewhere and ending my relationship with these people as soon as possible. This is the kind of behind-the-scenes issue that sometimes comes up when running a business online. The Web pages you see as a member of the general public are the proverbial tip of the patch cable; there's always a lot of unseen work and a lot of unseen business going on to support the part you see. READ MORE

Modular Synthesis Intro, part 12: Sequencing

This is Part 12 of a series that started with Part 1. READ MORE

Alternate harmony with additive synthesis

Much of musical harmony comes down to combining notes that share harmonics. Sounds produced by (some...) physical objects typically have consistent waveforms, where each wave is the same shape as the last. That is also typical of modular-synth oscillators; and its consequence is that the spectrum always consists of a sum of sine waves all at integer multiples called harmonics of one frequency called the fundamental. The proportions and phases of the different harmonics determine the shape of the waves, and those can vary a lot, but the general pattern of integer multiples is fixed. If you play a note like D with a fundamental frequency of 293.7 Hz, it will have its harmonics at 293.7 Hz, 587.4 Hz, 881.1 Hz, 1174.8 Hz, 1468.5 Hz, 1762.2 Hz, and so on. READ MORE

Modular synthesis intro, part 11: Digital oscillators

This is Part 11 of a series that started with Part 1. READ MORE

Frequency, latency, and uncertainty

Some wigglers want "fast" envelopes that will turn a signal on and off without any delay and without any perceptible clicking sound. Some wigglers want spectral effects, like frequency shift or vocoding, without any latency between the input and output. Some wigglers just want accurate pitch tracking of external inputs. All of these wigglers are doomed! None of those things can ever work perfectly. But the funny thing is that they're all doomed for the same reason. There is a fundamental principle that limits the performance of all these seemingly different things, and I'll try to explain the connection in this posting without resorting to any particularly complicated math. READ MORE

Transistor Mixer press release


Modular synthesis intro, part 10: Analog oscillators

This is Part 10 of a series that started with Part 1. READ MORE

News, reviews, and demos

We're coming up to the end of the first quarter of 2018, and I'm happy to note that based on the current projection, it looks like the company will actually have a profit this quarter - probably about $10. (Edit: Well, not quite. The quarter ended about $6.50 in the red. Still the best quarter on record, though.) Even if sales continue to increase, it'll still take a long time to pay back the losses of previous quarters, and since I'm living on savings now with no real income since Fall 2016 and the company owes me personally a few tens of thousands of dollars, I'm conscious of needing to keep pushing for more sales at North Coast if I'm to stay in business at all, continue releasing new modules, and keep up activities like this Web log for which I don't actually get paid. よろしくお願いします, as we say in Japanese; I hope for your favour. READ MORE


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