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The Miniak Report
#3018368 12/04/19 06:37 AM
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marino Offline OP
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Warning: I am in a talkative mood. grin

So the holiday season is approaching, and there's a whole lot of new and exciting synthesizers around. I have already given a musical Christmas gift to myself by having my tech perform a lot of work and upgrades on my grand piano, but the call of the new, shining electronic instruments remains big.
Unfortunately, I'm broke. A constant of this era... the family troubles from a few years ago, have left me in deep debt, and it will likely stay like that for a few more years. Plus, work is scarce, health is shaky, etc. The last synth which I was able to buy was the little Boog which I got last spring, for my 60th birthday. Quantum, Kyra, Hydrasynth, Udo, and the other sexy machines are out of reach. Not to speak of that Forte 7 which would make my life easier in a lot of ways...

So I bought an Akai Miniak.

Let me explain: I have always had a problematic relationship with the Alesis Ion. A great synthesis engine, a great interface, but not a great sound. I use it to teach the basis of synthesis, both at school and at home, but rarely for my own music. The Miniak shares the same sound engine with the Ion, adds reverb/delay which the Ion lacks, and leaves out the knobs. So I thought, I'd love to hear my Ion sounds with some ambient effects. And bought a Miniak from Germany for 200 Eur.
The first contact wasn't easy: It arrived with no PSU, which was difficult to find; also it had a couple of non-working keys and a horribly scratchy volume knob.

Once everything was fixed, I decided to start from scratch and program a whole new set of sounds for the occasion. I spent a few nights and built 50 patches on the Ion, using most of its synthesis features. In my little elitist mind, I thought, “let's see if I'm able to make this thing sound musical!” grin Then I transferred the sounds to the Miniak, to add the ambient effects.
At this point, I discovered the mad implementation of the effects on the Miniak, their rather scarce quality, the awful response of its keyboard, and other nice things which I won't bother you with.....

Some of the sounds are heard in the video below. It's not for me to say if I was successful or not in making the Ion/Miniak engine sound warm and convincing: What I know is, I had a whole lot of fun from the challenge. It was also tiring, given that I stole some precious hours from my already precarious sleep time... so I think that for now, I'll consider this a closed experience.
It's been an interesting and fun week. I got a new synth for Christmas, a bunch of new sounds, and another little keyboard to take care of.

Sorry for the logorrhea (see”Warning”, above wink )


KC Island
Re: The Miniak Report
marino #3018370 12/04/19 08:05 AM
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Re: The Miniak Report
marino #3018380 12/04/19 12:03 PM
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Nice job Carlo. Warm and convincing? Couldn't say as I was more enamored with the patches showing digital grit. Still you got an impressively wide spectrum of sounds from that little guy. The stereo effects sound very good. like

Re: The Miniak Report
Markyboard #3018406 12/04/19 04:20 PM
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Originally Posted by Markyboard
you got an impressively wide spectrum of sounds from that little guy. The stereo effects sound very good. like

Thank you - especially since I struggled quite a bit with the effects. First, I found the sound of the delay/reverb to be quite weak. Second, the "always parallel" implementation of fx1 and fx2 forces the programmer to go back and forth between two parameters, placed rather far away, to balance the overall response. This was maddening. Third, you have to choose reverb *or* delay, not both (fx1 are modulation effects). So I made a real effort to tweak the effects to maximum, um, effect...
Also, the stereo movement which is heard on some sound is often coming from the sound itself, not the effects. I have made extensive use of the dual filter architecture of the Ion, adding some pan motion to several of the sounds.



Re: The Miniak Report
marino #3018408 12/04/19 04:27 PM
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Cool! thu

Re: The Miniak Report
marino #3018409 12/04/19 04:42 PM
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2thu

It's not the instrument. It's the hands it's in.

Re: The Miniak Report
Tusker #3018427 12/04/19 06:00 PM
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Originally Posted by Tusker
2thu It's not the instrument. It's the hands it's in.

Thank you sir. smile

[Linked Image]

Re: The Miniak Report
Tusker #3018429 12/04/19 06:05 PM
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Originally Posted by Tusker
2thu

It's not the instrument. It's the hands it's in.

Ain't that the truth.

dB

Re: The Miniak Report
marino #3018441 12/04/19 07:15 PM
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When an experienced keyboard player is recorded at work, it's not always easy to know if he is working on the equivalent of an old Steinway, or whether the new Kawai is okay but will never get any better...

Re: The Miniak Report
Dave Bryce #3018443 12/04/19 07:23 PM
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Originally Posted by Dave Bryce
Originally Posted by Tusker
2thu

It's not the instrument. It's the hands it's in.

Ain't that the truth.

dB


yeahthat

particularly in this case. Nice post, Carlo.


A reason why I collect old keyboards is that I feel partly responsible for doing it, responsible for preserving history and being a custodian for these things
Plus, old gear has a story. I like that.
Re: The Miniak Report
marino #3018447 12/04/19 07:32 PM
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Well done, Carlo, and thank you very much for putting to bed once and for all any lingering desire I might have had for a Miniak.

I actually enjoyed working with the Ion, but felt it was way too large and bulky for what it gave me soundwise. I ended up buying a Micron which got a fair bit of use on a couple of my albums, but ended up donating it to a friend in need because it wasn't getting enough love. I thought maybe a Miniak might be a good compromise, but... nah.

mike


Dr. Mike Metlay (PhD in nuclear physics, golly gosh) grin
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Re: The Miniak Report
Dr Mike Metlay #3018480 12/04/19 09:33 PM
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Originally Posted by Dr Mike Metlay
Well done, Carlo, and thank you very much for putting to bed once and for all any lingering desire I might have had for a Miniak.
Wow, I didn't think that my patches sounded *so* horrible! grin grin

Quote
I actually enjoyed working with the Ion, but felt it was way too large and bulky for what it gave me soundwise. I ended up buying a Micron which got a fair bit of use on a couple of my albums, but ended up donating it to a friend in need because it wasn't getting enough love. I thought maybe a Miniak might be a good compromise, but... nah
Well, the Miniak has a more solid feel than the Micron, and it has three wheels like the Ion. On the other hand, programming it from the panel is an exercise in masochism. You either use a computer editor, or you program on an Ion and later transfer the patches to the Miniak, like I did. It's the best compromise, IMO.
The biggest frustration, for me, came from the implementation of effects. They're always in parallel, so you can't even add delay to a vocoder patch, for example, without having the dry, non-vocodered signal leaking into the output. This is absurd: Rev/delay is a later addition to the original (Ion) engine, so it must be a separate software routine, or maybe even an additional hardware circuit. Not having the possibility to send one fx into the other is a silly limitation.

BTW - These are the very first sounds I made on the Ion/Micron/Miniak engine, which I would find good enough to use in some serious musical project.




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