Saturday, January 3, 2009

Changing OS on your Korg ES-1

(My Korg ES-1 MKII)

[Korg ES-1 MKI]

I had my good old friend David over one night to talk about good old memories, play old video games and jam on my gear. He got really into my Korg ES-1 MKII which is a drum sampler with a similar interface to the old TR drum machines from Roland. I showed him all the functions on it and by the end of the night he had made a really cool dub track. Some weeks later he bought one of ebay. He had bought the MKI version which is basically the same except that it has a plastic case instead of the MKIIs metal one. But they're was also another exception with the MKI version which I hadn't been aware of until I talked to David about his purchase. On the MKII they had replaced one of the onboard effects. On my MKII I had a mod-delay and on Davids MKI there was a wha-wha effect. The mod-delay had been quite useful for David when creating his dub beats earlier and now he was stuck with the wha-wha effect. At least I thought so until I joined this Yahoo mailing list about Korgs Electribes and found out that you can put the MKII OS on a MKI and the other way around. Electribe is the name of Korgs series of desktop drum machines, synthesizers, samplers etc.

To check which OS you have on your ES-1 hold down REC and STOP while powering up the machine. Mine showed 1.00 which I believe is the latest one for the MKII.

This is how you update your OS on your Korg ES-1 MKI/MKII

1. Join

2. Download the appropriate OS from their Files section.

3. Put it on a Smart Media card and make sure its in the root directory and not in any folder.

4. Put it in your Korg ES-1.

5. Hold down Sample and Global while powering up the machine.

The display will now show "IPL" and start counting from 000 to 048. After that it will restart counting from 000 to 048 and the write button will flash for every step. After that the display will show "END" and you can now turn off your machine. The upgrade shouldn't take more than ten seconds. Now hold down REC and STOP while powering up to make sure it´s showing the new OS digits. If it does you're upgrade was a success. If not make sure you downloaded the right OS, check so its in the root directory on the card, make sure the Smart Media card is inserted properly.

Remember to NEVER turn off the machine while the WRITE button is flashing during the upgrade

I downloaded the 1.04 OS for the MKI under the file section on the mailing lists page. I don't think its the latest one for the MKI but it seems to be the most common. I also found a 1.06 in the file section and I have read about a 1.07 but never found the actual file. I downgraded to 1.04 for MKI just to try out the wha-wha effect and the compressor. There has been some posts on the Swedish music forum 99musik mentioning that the MKI had a bug in it´s algorithm for the compressor effect that made its sound really rough and that this was corrected in the MKII.
I tried it out and to be honest I couldn't hear any difference. But keep in mind that I only tested this briefly with a pair of ordinary PC-speakers and didn't do any proper A B comparison. So there might still be a difference in sound but in that case its a minor and hardly noticeable one. When I have the time I will investigate this further and not just by ear.

Friday, January 2, 2009

Norberg Festival 2008 documented with a Game Boy Camera

Norberg Festival is a festival located in Norberg, Sweden and is dedicated to alternative electronic music. I was invited to play there last summer with my Game Boy-based project nordloef. I also decided to document the festival with a Game Boy-Camera which is a monocrome camera released in 1998 for the early Game Boy models. Most of the people on the pictures are lovely members of the great swedish music-forum 99musik, which im also a member of. So I had the opportunity to hang out with these awesome people in real life and listen to loads of great music.

New Digital Camera - Samsung Digimax 630

I got a new digital camera this Christmas from my girlfriend. A Samsung Digimax 630. My old digital camera was very glitchy and needed very good lighting to be able to get sharp pictures (It was very old!). But now I got a new camera so expect the following posts to have much better pictures ;). Although I have documented a couple of projects with my old camera that I haven't posted yet so those pictures will of course not be as good.

You can find the specifications here.

Thursday, January 1, 2009

Game Boy pirate carts

I was opening a couple of game boy games because I was after a case to use with a project. (I will make a post about that project later.) I noticed that I had a couple of pirate carts so I decided to photograph their pcb´s because they looked a bit different compared to the official game boy carts pcb´s. You can often recognize pirate game boy carts by the text at the top of the cart. Official carts should say "Nintendo GAME BOY ". If it says something else than that its most likely a pirate cart. They sometimes only have the word "GAME" or "GAME BOY" at the top.

The grey one at the top here is the game "Mortal Kombat 4" which is probably one of the worst games ever made for game boy. The yellow one beneath the grey one is the game "The Mummy". I can´t recall ever playing it though but movie based games are hardly any good, but of course there is a few exceptions. It also came in a different shape of yellow compared to nintendos original yellow carts like Pok√©mon Yellow, Donkey Kong Land 2 etc...)

Friday, November 28, 2008

Getting the Elektron Sidstation to play back .sid-files

The Elektron Sidstation is a synthesizer with the MOS6581 sound chip from the old Commodore 64 (also called C64) computer but it can also be used to together with a Windows application called Asid XP to playback .sid-files, which is the most common format for C64 songs. The bad thing that neither the Sidstations manual nor the Asid XP documentation reveals how to enter the sid playback mode on the Sidstation. And since I don't use it that often I keep on forgetting it I thought that I might dedicate this post to it.

First download the sid-player software from the Sidstations support page and unpack it. Then download some sid-files from The High Voltage Sid Collection or any other site containing sid-files. Connect you computer to your Sidstation via MIDI and hook up your Sidstation to an amp of some kind. Turn on the Sidstation and wait for it to show the normal startup screen with OS version etc. When you see the words "Patch" and "System" press the down key twice so you will see the word "Asid" on the lcd. Press "D" to enter it. The lcd will now go blank and wait for incoming signals. Now load a sid-file into Asid XP and press play and enjoy the sweet sounds. The name of the sid-file will also appear on the Sidstations lcd. Don't forget to set up the proper midi configuration in Asid XP. No midi channels need to be configured on the Sidstation when using the Asid mode.

Nothing fancy really but since the manual doesn't cover how to enter it and the Sidstation doesn't show that you actually can go one step lower on the startup screen its easy to forget.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

The MSSIAH has arrived

My MSSIAH cart has finally arrived. The long awaited MSSIAH cart has been released by 8bitventures. MSSIAH is a new music program for the old Commodore 64 computer. It was supposed to have been released in early 2008 but now almost a year later its finally here. MSSIAH is an updated version of the previous program called Prophet64. The biggest difference between the programs in that MSSIAH can be controlled via the MIDI IN input on the cart. With Prophet64 you had to buy a third part device from firestARTer that could convert MIDI signals to signals that the Prophet64 actually could understand. Looking forward to integrate it in my home studio.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Setting up a Doepfer MCV4 for a Realistic Concertmate MG-1

Today I got my Doepfer MCV4 in the mail. It is an interface that converts MIDI to CV/Gate. CV/Gate was what was used before MIDI to control synths externally. I got this Doepfer interface to finally be able to control my Realistic Concertmate MG-1 synth. MIDI is a standard for every machine but with CV/Gate most manufacturers had their own standard just for their own synths. With my MG-1 it was "Volts per octave" and "S-trig". To get S-trig i had to remove the four screws at the sides and open up the Doepfer and remove a jumper that controlled which kind of trig version that you were using and completely removing the jumper set i to S-trig. After that I reseted it by pressing the Learn button on the doepfer while i powered it up and then hold it until it started to flash and after that press it once. Now it was set to its factory settings which were.

• MIDI channel 1
• reference note 36 (i.e. the lowest "c" on a standard 5-octave keyboard)
• trigger polarity: normal (non-inverted)
• retrigger: off
• CV3: volume (controller #7)
• CV4: modulation (controller #1)
• CV1 characteristics: V/octave
• key assign mode: highest note

One thing left to make it work properly with my MG-1 and that was to change the trigger polarity to inverted since the default mode set it to normal and the MG-1 uses inverted. So I hooked up my Korg EA-1 to it since I was to lazy to hook up it to may computer. To change the polarity to inverted you hade to send a Program Change message to it while it was in Learn mode. I configured the midi filter on my Korg EA-1 so I would only send Program Change messages since ive noticed that all the other midi messages it sent out messed up the Doepfers settings. I pushed the Learn button on the Doepfer so its red diode began showing red and then changed to pattern 8 on the Korg EA-1 which also sent out a Program Change with the value 8 which was the one that I needed to change the trigger polarity from Normal to Inverted. Now it was set up perfectly for my old synth.