Saturday, September 27, 2008

Machinedrum + Kenton Pro-2000 = fucking awesome

I spent about 3 hours last night and 4 hours this afternoon playing with the MachineDrum + Kenton Pro-2000 and it was even better than I had expected!

First, a bit of background on how the setup works.

The Kenton has two (A/B) "main" CV and gate outputs. These are for the usual pitch and gate CV uses; the pitch can be adjusted for 1v/Oct, Hz/Volt, and even 1.2v/Oct. The gates can be configured as standard V-trig or S-trig. And both A and B can be programmed to respond to any one of 16 midi channels (including the same channel). In addition to those CV outputs, there are 6 additional Auxiliary CV outputs, each one of which can be programmed to respond to any MIDI CC message, again on any MIDI channel. Each Auxiliary output can be configured to be bipolar (-5v to +5v) or unipolar (0 to +5v); I didn't actually expect that and it's incredibly useful. It also has two programmable LFOs which can be controlled by any MIDI CC message on any MIDI channel, but I didn't play with those yet.

Now, on the MachineDrum side. The MachineDrum has a "MID" machine, with 16 different "types". Really, they are the same machine, but there's one for each MIDI channel, so if you want to sequence MIDI channel 1, you load "MID 1" on a track. There's nothing stopping you from loading the same channel MID machine on multiple tracks either (although things seem to act a little weird when you do).

The first page of a MID machine has all the basic MIDI parameters. The pitch (as well as two additional pitches, for chords), the length of the note, as well as the note velocity, and pitch bend, mod wheel and aftertouch amounts. All I was using here was the NOTE and sometimes LEN controls (images courtesy of the MachineDrum manual).

The second page is where you find four of the MIDI CC controls. There's two controls for each CC, the first to set which CC message should be used, the second for the actual value. This is really cool because you could set different CC messages and values on each step of the MD sequencer via parameter locks.

The third page has the final two MIDI CC controls as well as a control for Program Change as well as the depth of the MD's track LFO (oh yeah, that can be routed to control any of the parameters of the MID machine too).

So, what I chose to do was simply sequence a few notes (patched from the "A" CV) as well as patch 4-6 of the Auxiliary CV outs to various other controls on the modular, like the filter cutoff, EG timebase, VCAs for LFOs and FM index. I was having a lot of fun, adding a step on the MD's sequencer and manually setting a parameter lock, or just turning one of the knobs in real time, indirectly controlling the modular. It was a blast. The real fun came though when I remembered that you can set parameter locks in realtime record mode; just twist the knobs and your actions are recorded via param locks. With this feature I was now simply tweaking controls while the sequence played and they were automatically recorded. Sequencing filter cutoffs and FM indexes was extremely immediate and intuitive feeling. It was fantastic!

Now, after both long sessions, I sat down to think about what functions that I would be loosing by giving up the A-155, A-154, and A-190 for the Pro-2000 + MD combo.

I wasn't loosing any glide/portamento as that exists on the MD (and I could patch in the dual bissell anyway).
I wasn't loosing any functionality in trigger sequencing. I'm gaining functionality there.
I was loosing some ease of doing "one shot" sequences. It can be done with the MD though, through song mode/linked patterns.
I was gaining an easier way to implement swing to the sequence. Something I had overlooked until now.

There was more, but it all either came out as a tie, or ended up being better with the MD+Pro-2000.
All of it except for using the A-155 as an 8 input/output switch, particularly with the A-154 random and CV addressing capabilities. That couldn't be done with the MD. But, then I remembered the A-152. It gets me that exact function, and more. And it's only $175.

So what I've decided (or at least almost decided, still trying not to rush the decision) is to part with the A-190, 155, 154 and pickup the Pro-2000 and an A-152. :D

Anyone in the market for a 155 + 154 combo? A-190 MIDI-CV?

[UPDATE]: The 155 and 154 are sold. A-190 is still up for sale though (includes the AD5 5v adapter)


teenageaudio said...

awesome stuff! doing something similar with my pro-solo. how did you screenshot the md interface?

felix said...

The pictures are just captured from the PDF manual (using os x screen capture), they are not the actual settings that I used.

noisesource said...

I TOTALLY forgot about the A-152 functionality.

Thanks for adding ANOTHER module to the list... bastardo! ;)

hpsounds said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
hpsounds said...

Hi Felix,

I'm in the same reflexion now. I've got the Doepfer A-155 trig/seq module which is pure fun to use in my modular setup. On the MIDI side, my main sequencer is a Sequentix P3 with ableton Live as a VST-host and a full feature sampler.

I've spent several nights last week using my P3 Sequencer through a Kenton Pro-2000 mkII : it was a blast ;-) ! I'm not now sure if I will sell the A-155 & A-156 modules. The fact is that using the A-155 is fun and really intuitive and it also sounds not quite the same ... but it will free some more spaces for others modules :-)

Here is for now my own experience.


Hedi K.