Saturday, November 29, 2008

Pixdix is my New home.

Pixdix is an electronics store, kinda like bestbuy but more concetrated on Cameras and camera equipment, as well as Apple products.

I go there nearly every day for about an hour playing with all the lens options u can try on their Nikon D300, D700, D60, and D40.

Ive been dying to get a decent Nikkor 50mm Prime today but damn... they sold out. ㅠㅠ no prime lens for kyuvo. I will try a few places tomorrow because I am so hyped to have this lens.

Sell the car, and buy a Camera? ㅎㅎㅎㅎㅎㅎㅎ I just might.

and Being in love is the greatest and the worst feelings in all time.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Kintex "My Car Show" + Highway Fun + Dinner

I visited the "My Car Show" (which is actually the name... very creative...) and it was a great chance to see the modifying automobile scene in Korea. Its never as good as some of the shows held in for example Japan or the States, but I didnt come out disappointed. I also went in as an international visitor so I didnt have to pay.
I only took shots of cars that really took my eye, some cars were just... horrendous. Just think 1995 when ebay exploded with replica parts from China.

This is a Hyundai Tibouron Drag car. I didnt really car much for anything other than the gorgeous screamer pipe and exhaust. A/R .70

An orange R34 with a T88. Pictures dont do any justice on how actually huge this turbo is.

The Orange Skyline from K'z Racing. Im not a fan of the painted Nismo wheels.

The really really wide Supra. Work Meisters that could fit a whole family of midgets... Again not a fan of the custom flares, but it was really really wide.

The Samsung SM7. Or should I say the KDM Nissan Maxima? VIP styling was a big one this event.

Another SM7.

This is more like something I'd like. A 180SX with huge flares and Work Meisters. I loved the headlights as well, if you noticed, its a Nissan Cima / President / Infiniti Q45 headlights. Little micro projectors.

Models are a hit everywhere they go. I found Korean models a bit more pleasing to the eye.

One of our friend's cars whom we came to vote for. A guy from LA. Its on airbags. I dont really like the Veilside rims, and I think he should have kept his old set, which were really really wide Work VS-KF. Never was a fan of Korean Domestic cars, but in combination with Japanese parts, they arent too bad.

I dont even know what this car is called. Its Korean Domestic for sure but I think I was more captivated by the wide wheels.

One of my favourites of the show. Junction Produce Hyundai Grandeur. JP OZ Scara wheels are hot stuff.

A spoilerless R34 Vspec. It was packing 2 GT45s. I really like spoilerless cars.

Honda fit with... graphics that strangely reminded me of someone. hahaha.
After the show... This is a Korando. We were just rounding up the guys who were coming for dinner. Im not too sure about the looks, but it is packing up a very large turbo with a straightpipe that puts black pollution on any car that it flys by.

Another one of friend's. I really liked the carbon rear... bonnet. I think the car show was better in the parkinglot...?

C63 AMG was also joining us for a little highway showdown. This car is rediculously fast and loud.

The late comers. Hardtop TT GTO.

Hyundai Tiburon. Garrett T3. Its pretty quick.

575 Maranello. Notice all the swirls on his paint. I should give him a tip or two about washing cars.

We finished off dinner which was... gamjatang, then went to cruise... or more like race on the highway. We met up with a Gemballa GTR750, and gave a good run for the money in the Ferrari. We still lost though. I really enjoyed the aspect that you can have a little more automotive freedom on the roads.
Certainly a whole differnt aspect of car culture here in Korea. Turbo cars are a common place, and you can bet that every modified tiburon is packing a turbo with 300whp.
Mainly its because the labour costs are cheap cheap compared to Canada. Whatever my next car will be, it will be definatly turbo. I dont think I can ever get in a slow NA car again.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Banned: The Dettol ad encouraging mums to spray disinfectant into pianos

If you're a MT reader who has watched UK television in the last week, you've probably already been traumatised by a certain disinfectant advertisement: "The advertisement depicted two children seated at a piano. When one of them sneezed, a concerned mother reached for her can of Dettol and sprayed the keys."
The Music Industry Association (the trade body for music gear manufacturers) called in the Advertising Standards Authority: "The company explained that the idea its product might do harm simply hadn’t occurred to it and agreed not to screen the offending commercial again, pending tests to find out whether, in fact, Dettol did actually represent a hazard to piano owners."


Monday, November 10, 2008

Tom Bugs teaches DIY synth building in four hours

Had a great time yesterday at a synth building workshop in East London hosted by Tom Bugs. We built little one board synths with ten knobs, three oscillators, overdrive, line out, onboard speakers, touch points. Flickr set here. What I learned:

1. Soldering now holds no fear. Get a £5 soldering iron with a pointy tip, a cleaning pad, some skinny solder and some wire snippers. It's fine.

2. Well-designed kits are really easy to make. Tom's kit was perfect - well laid out, nice clear circuit board, great instructions (he should be selling the kits 'soon'). The quickest maker did it in about 3 hours, and that was slow and steady... (The Thingamakit is another really well done kit which is available now)

3. Musical accompaniment is important. We were lucky enough to have the Sun Ra Arkestra soundchecking next door.

4. Good lighting is also important. Soldering by candlelight = atmospheric, but not easy.

5. Tom Bugs has only been building electronics for five years - starting out with circuit bending. He's now at the point where he has an assitant to do the boring bits. He's a bit down on veroboard. He uses Eagle to design circuit boards, which are mass-produced in China. His next thing: modules for Frac-rac modular synths.

Monday, November 3, 2008

Review: Arturia Origin. It's big, it's expensive, it's sexy. Why don't I want one?

This is a difficult review to write. The point of Music Thing over the last few years has been to celebrate hardware when all around were defecting to the sensible, practical world of software synths and in-the-box mixing. Celebrating hardware not because it's better, but because it looks cool and is nice to have around. The best hardware is ambitious, bonkers, knob-covered and over engineered; where no switch is left unilluminated and there's always a joystick. Synths should be modular and/or white. Sequencers should be analog and involve copious blinkenlights. We should remember the mega synths of the past - the Yamaha CS80, the ARP 2600, the Roland Jupiter 8, the Moog Modular, and we should remember the crazy experiments of the early digital era - Dave Smith's gnarly Prophet VS.

Here, then, is one machine that does all that. The Arturia Origin is a big white synthesizer. It has a hand rest like an old studio console or an MPC60 (unfortunately curved steel, not pleather, but still...) It's made in France, of all places. It's a digital modular synth, containing models of oscillators and filters from Moog, Arp, Roland and Yamaha, plus a VS-style wavetable section. Editing is done on a little colour screen surrounded by knobs and buttons - just like the one on the prototype PPG Realizer - the German machine that anticipated soft synths and virtual analog long before it was possible.

So why am I not in love with the Arturia Origin? Why am I writing this, rather than playing with the thing? How come I've already taken the top off to have a look inside and see how it all works? Because the Origin has crossed that line - it's not a hardware synth, it's a computer in a box covered in knobs.

Please remember this isn't a real review. This isn't Sound on Sound. I've lived with this box for days, not weeks. I'm not a real musician, I haven't read the manual properly - most of what I say is ill-informed prejudice.

The trouble starts when you turn it on, after first plugging it in, using the OEM external power supply that must have cost 99p. (Seriously, a £1900 hardware synth only really makes sense if you're playing live. An external PSU only makes sense if you're desperately trying to cut costs. If Behringer can manage a proper internal universal PSU in £70 mixers, why can't you?) Anyway, when you turn it on, it takes 30+ seconds to boot. Because it's a computer in a box.

No, it isn't a literal PC in a box like an Open Labs Neko or a Hartman Neuron, so it will have taken serious R&D investment to design and build. The hardware was designed - in 2005 - by Wave Idea, a French company who make MIDI interfaces. What's frustrating about the Origin is that it's a computer in a box pretending to be an analog synth... and nothing more.

The presets are nice enough, although it's a shame that combining 40 years of synth design produces a bunch of trance noises. The switch-covered interface means its rather too easy to turn off the layers of reverb and chorus on all the presets. It's a bit unfair, but does leaves many of the patches sounding weedy and thin.

The fun bit is building new patches - delving in to that glorious vintage toolkit. And it's easy enough. You control the whole process through one one those big encoders with a push switch. I found it quick enough to patch together a basic VS - four wavetable oscillators, mixed by the joystick and running through (why not?) parallel CS80 and Jupiter filters. I like the little design features - the Yamaha filters look like knobs on a CS80.

The thing is - and here's where I'm so conflicted - I just wanted a mouse and a decent-sized screen (oh, the shame of it). I'd much rather have the beautifully realised screen-based Nord Modular editor - which reproduces the reach-and-grab simplicity of a real modular synth, while allowing for endless complexity. Because patching a modular synth is more than rearranging a few filters and oscillators. It's about weird connections - putting control signals through audio effects, building oscillators from envelope generators. The Origin is not a tinkerer's paradise. Apart from anything else, the modules are so restricted - no sample player, no FM, no granular synthesis, nothing that's been invented since 1986. And it's a completely closed system - it doesn't run VSTs or allow users to develop their own modules.

Perhaps there are hidden depths to the Origin - hidden away in menus I missed, or planned in future upgrades. It does much more than the £190 Analog Factory software/controller combo which presumably contains all the same synthesis algorithms. Unfortunately it costs as much as Analog Factory and a brand new mid-range MacBook Pro. That is a very, very big ask.

The Origin is a wonderful thing. It looks good, it feels good. I'm sure it's not overpriced for what it is - a boutique, limited-run machine with a lot of custom hardware and software. But I can't imagine who would be willing to pay £1,900 for it. It's too digital for an analog fetishist, too analog for a sound experimentalist. The potential of this box is immense - DSP power + screen + knobs + blinkenlights + wooden end panels. But at the moment it's just - tragically - boring.