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Re: How Many Are Into "Vintage Digital"? [Re: Mike Rivers] #3027968 02/07/20 03:55 PM
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Originally Posted by Mike Rivers
Originally Posted by KuruPrionz

My humble contribution to the is thread is that I own and use a vintage Sharper Image Saxxy, which was a digital kazoo.


I have a vintage Bath House Brass. All analog. I also have a collection of vintage kazoo reeds to go with my vintage tin kazoos.

[Linked Image from i.imgur.com]



Awesome, thanks for sharing!!! A friend bought a display box of vintage kazoos and gave me one - it's black, thin sheet metal with the mouth end bent over so you don't cut your lips off. It has 3 embossed "soundholes" to make it look official. That is the kazoo of my childhood, a different tone than the new plastic ones. A friend adds a piece of clear tubing and an oil funnel to his, another tone too.

Kazoos rule!!!! :- D


There is never enough time to be in a hurry...
Re: How Many Are Into "Vintage Digital"? [Re: Anderton] #3027989 02/07/20 06:18 PM
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I started buying analog synths in the 1980s when everyone was dumping them over DX7s samplers and "me too" digital keyboards.
I started buying digital FX and mixing consoles in the early 2000s when everyone was going ITB.
I'm a little late with vintage 50s sunburst Les Pauls...

Re: How Many Are Into "Vintage Digital"? [Re: KuruPrionz] #3027992 02/07/20 06:53 PM
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Mike Rivers Offline
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Originally Posted by KuruPrionz
A friend bought a display box of vintage kazoos and gave me one - it's black, thin sheet metal with the mouth end bent over so you don't cut your lips off. It has 3 embossed "soundholes" to make it look official.


That's the real deal. A trick I used to do with mine was to attach a hose to it and run it into a canteen full of water strapped to my waist to make it gurgle. I have some vintage jews harps, too.

The Bath House Brass came from a very creative friend and sometimes music partner, Jonathan Eberhart. He was into unusual instruments and when he saw the Bath House Brass and discovered that it was a very good kazoo, he wrote to Mattel and asked if they'd send him a couple of dozen for a local classical music ensemble to work with. They did, and as part of a concert program they played the last movement of Beethoven's 5th symphony on 24 Bath House Brasses and a wash tub bass.

They actually made three different sizes of the Bath House Brass differing only in the length of tubing between the ball and the bell. The pieces all fit together, so after the concert, Jonathan took a bunch of them apart and assembled one with enough tubing to wrap a couple of times around his body. Too bad we didn't have handy cameras and recorders in that day (late 1960s).

But I digress, since this discussion is about vintage digital products.

Re: How Many Are Into "Vintage Digital"? [Re: The Real MC] #3027996 02/07/20 07:01 PM
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KuruPrionz Offline
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Originally Posted by The Real MC
I started buying analog synths in the 1980s when everyone was dumping them over DX7s samplers and "me too" digital keyboards.
I started buying digital FX and mixing consoles in the early 2000s when everyone was going ITB.
I'm a little late with vintage 50s sunburst Les Pauls...


And $80 1952 Teles with "Leo" written in pencil in the neck route? Don't get me started!!!! Gah!!!!!!!!


There is never enough time to be in a hurry...
Re: How Many Are Into "Vintage Digital"? [Re: The Real MC] #3027997 02/07/20 07:03 PM
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Anderton Offline OP
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Originally Posted by The Real MC
I started buying analog synths in the 1980s when everyone was dumping them over DX7s samplers and "me too" digital keyboards.
I started buying digital FX and mixing consoles in the early 2000s when everyone was going ITB.
I'm a little late with vintage 50s sunburst Les Pauls...


LOL! I followed a similar path. I bought a beautiful Minimoog when digital started happening. People thought I was nuts ("drift? only one note? no velocity? are you nuts?"), but I said it was going to be the arch-top Les Paul of the 21st century. I'd say that was pretty close to reality.

At the time, there was a company in LA that rack-mounted Minimoogs. I asked what they did with the cases and wheels, and they pretty much just trashed them. I said "if you ever find a cherry case and pitch wheel, let me know and I'll pay whatever you want." Nothing happened, until 6 months later, when a box showed up. All they asked for was shipping, and I was able to restore the mini to cherry condition. It also has the buffer boards for better pitch stability.

When Bob Moog stayed over at my place for a couple days after his divorce, I asked him to autograph my Minimoog. He normally didn't like to do that, but I was annoying enough that he made an exception smile If I lived in ancient Egypt, I would have that Minimoog buried with me so I'd have it available in my next life!

Last edited by Anderton; 02/07/20 07:04 PM.
Re: How Many Are Into "Vintage Digital"? [Re: The Real MC] #3028001 02/07/20 07:14 PM
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Originally Posted by The Real MC
Early PCM60s also had discrete ARU, later ones shrank it all in a 40-pin custom IC. '60 also had custom ICs for MMU and CMU. Blow them and you have an instant doorstop.


A friend of mine in Holland who repairs synths said that vintage digital is much harder to repair than vintage analog. One reason is what you mention - with analog, you can usually figure out a workaround or replacement. But so much vintage digital used custom components, so good luck finding them.

Re: How Many Are Into "Vintage Digital"? [Re: Mike Rivers] #3028005 02/07/20 07:25 PM
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Originally Posted by Mike Rivers
Originally Posted by KuruPrionz
A friend bought a display box of vintage kazoos and gave me one - it's black, thin sheet metal with the mouth end bent over so you don't cut your lips off. It has 3 embossed "soundholes" to make it look official.


That's the real deal. A trick I used to do with mine was to attach a hose to it and run it into a canteen full of water strapped to my waist to make it gurgle. I have some vintage jews harps, too.

The Bath House Brass came from a very creative friend and sometimes music partner, Jonathan Eberhart. He was into unusual instruments and when he saw the Bath House Brass and discovered that it was a very good kazoo, he wrote to Mattel and asked if they'd send him a couple of dozen for a local classical music ensemble to work with. They did, and as part of a concert program they played the last movement of Beethoven's 5th symphony on 24 Bath House Brasses and a wash tub bass.

They actually made three different sizes of the Bath House Brass differing only in the length of tubing between the ball and the bell. The pieces all fit together, so after the concert, Jonathan took a bunch of them apart and assembled one with enough tubing to wrap a couple of times around his body. Too bad we didn't have handy cameras and recorders in that day (late 1960s).

But I digress, since this discussion is about vintage digital products.


Sweet, I'll bring it back around then. The Saxxy Synthesizer Kazoohas 3 "voices" - Sax, Tuba and Clarinet. They are all an octave apart. There is a pair of Pitch switches that provide another octave up and down for each "instrument." So the Saxxy has a 5 octave range. If you can hum 2 octaves you have 7 octaves. There are 2 switches for = / - volume and 3 switches for horrendous backing tracks, plus a pathetic built in speaker. There is an 1/8" "stereo" headphone jack so you could jam out with yourself on a city bus and engender discomfort in your surroundings. :- D

All that said, I am not actually sure if there is any digital or if it is just all analog. It does track pretty weill and sounds more or less somewhat like the person humming. Maybe just a crappy analog mic running into crappy analog octave shifters? Still, it does have the backing tracks, those are probably ROM. So, it squeaks by and adds an aura of ultra low budget shameful goodies to this lovely thread. I paid $50 for it new.

When I got mine I took it and some crappy Radio Shack adapters over to a friend's house. He had a 1,600 watt bass guitar system with two full range cabs including folded 18" woofers. We plugged it in and he set the Tuba an octave down. When he hummed down low you could see the woofers moving but could barely hear them - subsonic. The dog ran out of the room and hid in the farthest corner of the backyard.

I recently went through all my audio cables and found a cord that is 1/8" stereo to two mono 1/4". Tomorrow I am working on an opening set for a local show. My singer is down for anything, she loves to go outside the box.

There will be gnashing of teeth and rending of sackcloth!!! Cheers, Kuru.


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Re: How Many Are Into "Vintage Digital"? [Re: Anderton] #3028042 02/08/20 01:57 AM
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Originally Posted by Anderton

A friend of mine in Holland who repairs synths said that vintage digital is much harder to repair than vintage analog. One reason is what you mention - with analog, you can usually figure out a workaround or replacement. But so much vintage digital used custom components, so good luck finding them.


A related problem with maintaining or resurrecting vintage digital gear is documentation. When you got an Ampex MM1200, you got a 2-inch thick loose leaf binder with schematics of every circuit board, wiring diagram of the chassis, a text description of how each circuit works, and how to adjust all the mechanical parts. The parts list listed every part both by Ampex part number and commercial part number. There are some ICs that are obsolete today, but fortunately there are a couple of companies who have accumulated a stock of obsolete ICs where you can buy one for an inflated price if you need it.

But manufacturers of digital gear hold their technical documentation pretty close to their chest. There's a good amount of scanned schematics on the web from people who had them because they were authorized service shops, but the quality varies from blah to good and the cost ranges from free to outrageous. And if there's firmware or an EPROM involved, or application software, the manufacturers never released the code. And while you can trace a signal through most analog devices without formal documentation, there's no real "signal" in a digital device so you can't isolate the problem to a particular circuit or component.

Re: How Many Are Into "Vintage Digital"? [Re: Mike Rivers] #3028055 02/08/20 06:03 AM
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Originally Posted by Mike Rivers
there's no real "signal" in a digital device so you can't isolate the problem to a particular circuit or component.


That's what logic analyzers are for, and I have one for my bench.

Re: How Many Are Into "Vintage Digital"? [Re: The Real MC] #3028076 02/08/20 01:49 PM
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Originally Posted by The Real MC
Originally Posted by Mike Rivers
there's no real "signal" in a digital device so you can't isolate the problem to a particular circuit or component.


That's what logic analyzers are for, and I have one for my bench.


Awwww . . . you're just braggin' wink.

But along with that logic analyzer, you need enough documentation to know what's supposed to be happening at that point in the circuit, while much of the time you can trace an audio signal through an analog circuit using something as simple as an earphone and a couple of clip leads.

[Surgeon General's Warning] When working with tube equipment, it's a good idea to put a capacitor in series with the headphone when working with tube equipment, to keep plate voltage off the earphone.

An oscilloscope is a better tool, but you don't need a fancy digital one. You can find old analog 'scopes with plenty of bandwidth for audio work for under $50, or even sometimes free at hamfests. And a 'scope is fun for looking at waveforms even when things are working, and checking phase relationships, and looking for distortion, measuring gain, so much great stuff.

Logic analyzers are for designers and people who can make a lot of money fixing "unfixable" digital gear. They're not cheap, and not something you use every day unless it's your job. And there's no fun in looking at numbers. wink

Re: How Many Are Into "Vintage Digital"? [Re: Mike Rivers] #3028099 02/08/20 06:11 PM
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Originally Posted by Mike Rivers
Originally Posted by The Real MC
Originally Posted by Mike Rivers
there's no real "signal" in a digital device so you can't isolate the problem to a particular circuit or component.


That's what logic analyzers are for, and I have one for my bench.


Awwww . . . you're just braggin' wink.

But along with that logic analyzer, you need enough documentation to know what's supposed to be happening at that point in the circuit, while much of the time you can trace an audio signal through an analog circuit using something as simple as an earphone and a couple of clip leads.


They are invaluable for troubleshooting hybrid synths, and once you learn one architecture the rest are pretty much the same.

Quote
An oscilloscope is a better tool, but you don't need a fancy digital one. You can find old analog 'scopes with plenty of bandwidth for audio work for under $50, or even sometimes free at hamfests. And a 'scope is fun for looking at waveforms even when things are working, and checking phase relationships, and looking for distortion, measuring gain, so much great stuff.


How do you trigger a 'scope on a multiplexed analog signal in a hybrid synth? Answer: configure the word recognizer on the logic analyzer, then route the WR output to the trigger input of the horizontal amp of the 'scope. That tool pinpointed an intermittent malfunction with a data latch affecting a synth function. The combination of a logic analyzer and analog scope is a powerful one.

Quote
Logic analyzers are for designers and people who can make a lot of money fixing "unfixable" digital gear. They're not cheap, and not something you use every day unless it's your job. And there's no fun in looking at numbers. wink


You can pick up a 7xxx or 5xxx Tektronix mainframe and 7D01 logic analyzer for peanuts. 7D01 displays up to sixteen channels are logic waveforms, the optional DF1 adds many functions like memory storage to catch intermittent RAM or corruption of data buss. If you get the 7xxx mainframe, you can add vertical and horizontal plugins for an analog scope and L/A all in one chassis. Not just for designers.

My emphasis in college was digital electronics and microprocessors, so I know these circuits very well.

Re: How Many Are Into "Vintage Digital"? [Re: The Real MC] #3028170 02/09/20 01:41 PM
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Originally Posted by The Real MC

My emphasis in college was digital electronics and microprocessors, so I know these circuits very well.


When I went to college, DTL was just emerging but we didn't have any ICs in our lab. All of the logic I got to work with, we made out of transistors on a breadboard. The closest thing to a microprocessor was a DEC PDP-8, which was launched in 1964, the year I gradualted college. Maybe that's why I'm stuck in the analog world. wink

Surely you need some documentation to figure out where to connect the logic analyzer. How difficult is that to obtain? I'm not trying to give you a hard time - I admire your knowledge of hybrid synths and their inner workings. But this is service shop level equipment. I have signal generators and distortion analyzers (mostly old H-P stuff, older than the gear that I work on) here that are appropriate for working on analog audio equipment. Nowadays, however, a computer, a decent audio interface, and a copy of Room EQ Wizard, together with a $20 multimeter, will get you through a lot of diagnosis of a mixer or amplifier and you don't need to strain the brain beyond Ohm's Law math. .

Re: How Many Are Into "Vintage Digital"? [Re: Mike Rivers] #3028180 02/09/20 03:28 PM
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I'll join in this geek-fest. I think you both have valid points. If the digital CPU and related parts are off the shelf parts and labeled then I can see MC's point. Most of these synths share similar architectures, some even "suspiciously "so. The problem I've come across is custom parts and other parts I just can't identify. Japanese synths are notorious for this. Then you also have the unavailablity of parts even if you do figure out the problem. The 2000-ish Korg CX-3 motherboard was such a case where I had to sell it for parts because just no way to fix it. This was the "door stop" point made above.

I too spent years with a logic analyzer as part of my job 25 years ago or so. Got really good with it - but this was for troubleshooting my own ASIC and FPGA designs. Even with familiar analog synths under CPU control I don't know how much use an analyzer would help me. I use a scope to detect data, address and various enable line activity. I've even checked certain timing relationships with just 2 scope probes but if the RAM or EPROMS are corrupt I'm screwed. I'm actually wrestling with this now looking at a friend's Prophet 5 rev 2. I have schematics but that's it. Personally I'd need timing diagrams to make sense of what I'd be seeing on an analyzer. All the more power to you if you can get by with out these. For me I'll get by with a scope...or not.

Btw I once actually hooked up a logic analyser to by brain. I couldn't find a trace. freak wave

Re: How Many Are Into "Vintage Digital"? [Re: Anderton] #3028192 02/09/20 05:38 PM
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True my logic analyzer is no good for some situations. There is little to no documentation available for custom ICs, often nothing more than a block diagram and names for each pin. If they're generous enough they'll include a timing diagram. Unless there is a debugging port on the PC board, my logic analyzer is no good with SMT. The probes can't be attached to them. Almost all new gear is made from SMT anymore. I'd need bench measurement tools designed for SMT, and now we're talking expensive.

Custom ICs do make many things possible at reduced cost and size, but at the risk of premature obsolescence. After production is stopped on a product, often the custom IC is stopped too. OEMs only keep spares around until the warranty period expires (warehousing is expensive and cuts into revenue). When gear starts dying after the end of warranty, that is a real problem...

...and today you can't avoid gear with custom ICs unless you're buying simple analog synths or processors. I have plenty of old gear with custom ICs, but the worst loss was a CEM part or two (knock on wood). I haven't had the (mis)fortune yet to probe a custom IC, but I can get a general understanding of its operation from the block diagram.

I'm not fond of the repair situation with a lot of modern gear, but you can't avoid it. For analog synths I happen to prefer the sound of vintage gear. One reason why vintage gear retain their value is that they are built from parts that are STILL made today. I'm amazed I can still buy TTL and CMOS ICs in through hole DIP format, as well as opamps. Sure you have to look around harder for ua726s or SSMs but they're much easier to scavenge from a PC board than a 200 pin SMT custom IC with fine pitch pins.

Too easy to go off on a tangent so I'm going to stop there.

Re: How Many Are Into "Vintage Digital"? [Re: The Real MC] #3028205 02/09/20 07:11 PM
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Documentation of obsolete ICs is one thing - you can usually find that on the 'net. Lots of good stuff out there about the 4004 CPU. Documentation of custom ICs is another thing. For some reason it seems to disappear from the manufacturer's library too soon - and even after the product is obsolete, they don't want to make it easy for someone to study their code.

But the documentation that I was talking about is about the product itself, the equivalent of a block diagram and a schematic. It doesn't do much good to watch bits go in and out of a chip if you don't know what function that chip has in the circuit. If something's going in and nothing's coming out - or there's a stuck bit - you can change the part if you have a replacement. but without knowing at least what circuit blocks do, you can't get a clue of what's not working by what's not working.

When you bought a piece of H-P test equipment, or an Ampex AG440, you got an inch-thick binder that had enough information in it to build at least the electronics from scratch. In the 1990s, every Mackie mixer instruction manual had a schematic, but no more, not even the analog mixers.

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