Saturday, August 17, 2019

The Expanding Studio

I'm going to stop saying that I'm not going to add anything else to my studio.
Every time I say that it's complete I find something else to add. This time it was a reconditioned Lenovo laptop. I installed Ubuntu Studio on it so that it has a real-time kernel. That means much less latency when I'm running multiple pieces of software.
I'm adding it to the hardware studio because although all my old kit is wonderful the MIDI implementation isn't. Fortunately the MIDI routing in LMMS is wonderful and I can't keep adding software to my everyday laptop because it's filling up with stuff that should reside elsewhere. Hence the new laptop which is basically a glorified MIDI controller and patch-bay.
Because it does so much else it'll also be a staging post for new tracks on their way to the software studio. The workflow will allow me to get ideas off the QY10 and into a MIDI file, something it can't do as a stand-alone unit. Other tracks will stay on the hardware side and be recorded into the R8.
I'll hopefully have everything installed by this time tomorrow so I'll post a picture then. In the meantime I have to sleep before a rare day out.
There may well be a post on that also.

Sunday, August 11, 2019

Downtime Uptime

It's been a strange week.
Early on Tuesday morning two of my wisdom teeth decided that they'd have another go at pushing through. This is probably one of the most painful things I've experienced and requires hardcore painkillers. Luckily I had some codeine from a previous prescription and that with some paracetamol knocked out the pain. It also knocked me out for decent periods also.
By Thursday morning I was just on the paracetamol so I decided to do some reading. I read the QR10 manual about 5 times so that it was implanted in my brain and on Thursday evening I ran through the "How To's" and I can now fully operate this very useful bit of kit. On Friday evening I hooked it up to my laptop and ran it through LMMS to re-voice my trial file and to save it as MIDI. Everything went without a hitch.
The MIDI file imports into Bitwig studio and I can expand my ideas in there. Tonight was all about arranging a track I've been working on for a few weeks (pictured above). It's 90% done which is about done as it can be at this stage. There's always room for improvement before mastering.
So that's it. Normal start to the week, sudden drop and then a flourish to finish. Tomorrow it's back to normal which is bad because I'm on a roll but good because I need the head space before I start mixing. I might leave it until the Bank Holiday because I'll need some afternoon hours.
Some things just can't be done with just headphones.

Sunday, August 04, 2019


Here it is.
The reason I've just spent the last hour with screwdrivers, wire strippers and a soldering iron. Back in the nineties someone somewhere was producing button batteries with machine soldered circuit board connectors. Yamaha in their wisdom bought thousands and installed them into units like the QR10.
They make the circuit board look tidy and they probably earned a few quid for certified Yamaha repair shops. They take about half an hour of a technicians time to replace. In all honesty I imagine Yamaha didn't think anyone would be using the units past the internal battery's shelf life. They would have produced something better and more capable in that time.
If you started out in the nineties with a QR10, chances are that these days you're shelling out around £2000 for a Tyros 5.
I do love Yamaha for their dedication to producing hardware. They've never ventured into creating a software DAW and I'm glad they haven't.
These music composition machines from the early nineties onward have a bit of a cult following and people such as myself collect them, and mod them to extend their life. The QR10 I've just modded is perfect if you can't play keyboards, or bass or drums. Everything is there to get some kind of musical structure to your own tunes. It has features for creating tracks from scratch, something I'll get round to one day. In the meantime it's great for just getting a basic idea of the ground and running.
I'm glad I spent the time elongating this particular QR10's timeline.

Saturday, August 03, 2019

Two Steps Forward...

The Yamaha QR10 is here and I've already had the back off.
In the middle of the picture is a CR2032 battery. I need to replace it or anything I try to save into memory will be lost when I turn off the unit. Like the QY10 I had in pieces recently this battery is also soldered in place. I suppose that saving on the cost of a battery holder was something that Yamaha had in mind when these units were first in production. I don't think they reckoned on them being so popular 26 years later. I have ordered a battery holder and I'll have to add it so that the battery can be swapped out easily in the future. There's a space above the yellow circuit board underneath where the battery sits now.
The mod is worth doing because this unit can sample up to 2 sounds for use as either instruments or percussion. The massive sampling time is up to 3 seconds. I'm not sure if that is per slot or total. I intend to find out. The sampler can take its input from the onboard mic or a line in. That's not bad for a machine from the 90s.
Other than needing a new battery the QR10 is in great condition and is the fantastic scratch pad I wanted it to be. I'm already messing about with a chord sequence which I shall record to my DAW as soon as everything is working properly.
I'm really glad I've added this musical ammunition to my arsenal.

Saturday, July 27, 2019

Just One More

After the purchase of the RM1x I did promise myself that that was it for studio hardware. That was a duff promise.
Tonight I bought a Yamaha QR10 online. I had looked at one a while ago but there was some intense bidding going on so I didn't bother. The one I've just bought was available to buy immediately, so I did. Why do I need another Yamaha product? The reason is I need a scratch pad. Something to flesh out ideas without having to start connecting audio and MIDI cables. I need a one-button-and-go machine. My phone is very good for that. Above is a screen capture from Chordbot. If you don't own the app I can highly recommend it. It's been on my phone for years. If you have an inkling where you're going musically it'll get your ideas saved in no time at all. Its only weakness is that if you're staring at a blank canvas getting going is a little slow. Once you've started though it's good at moving on.
The QR10 is another matter. Turn it on and press buttons until something sounds OK. From there add a style or create your own and get your track structure recorded. The only downside is that there is no way of getting the track off the machine except via MIDI cables. Having said that, once I have a chord sequence done I can copy the chords into Chordbot and mail myself the MIDI file.
That's what I did tonight. The chords above now reside in Bitwig Studio as the start of a track. It'll take a few weeks to finish but as ever, no rush.