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The Old Computer Thread
Old 2nd April 2020
  #1
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xanderbeanz's Avatar
The Old Computer Thread



Hi everybody ,

In the NIN thread it became apparent that we might like a specific place to talk about Digidesign’s Turbosynth, a piece of software from the late 1980’s that gave users some serious synthesis & sample mangling power for the time. It wasn’t real time, and it had to calculate and then preview the patch...but today you could multisample it at a few pitches, or throw pre-generated wavetable into your favourite piece of software.

Turbosynth still has a use today in sound design, and I will be posting about it more once I receive my 1994 PowerBook. Here is a video showing off some spooky Turbosynth sounds:



However, for my inaugural post, I’d like to talk a little bit about the Amiga (pictured above).

I am very familiar with the Amiga, having owned several throughout my life and now have a totally-pimped A500+.

The Amiga has many musical uses. It’s sound chip, capable of playing back 4 hard-panned mono 8bit PCM channels (wonderfully crunchy) has a hidden crossmod feature between channels (you need a machine code program, which I can provide on request, to turn it on) and clever software can even permit real-time synthesis.

Here’s an interview with it’s designer:



If you have an Amiga and want to dip your toes into an early softsynth with drawable waveforms and LFO, then Aegis Sonix is a safe bet, it’s not the most exotic (I have a lot weirder Amiga synth recommendations should you want them) but I sounds nice and will run on an unexpanded machine. There’s also a VST version:



Now, if you want out there, then I would like to point you to a site so obscure, that I only found one reference to it on the web: Lowengard Software.

The Amiga can sample sounds with the appropriate cheap equipment, and there exist a few programs that can actually do real-time effects to your source audio. Yes, a 68000 doing real-time effects at 8bit, 22.5Khz. It’s as awesome as it sounds.

There’s a coverdisk program called “TREG” which offers some of the grainiest, most naive delays and reverbs I’ve ever heard, it’s beautiful...and you can really mess them up if you run that secret machine code script but Henry Lowengard, well, he’s a genius.



https://www.echonyc.com/~jhhl/software.html

His software includes HARM, which is a depraved real-time stereo pitch shifter and I quite like it on guitars, his demo here:

https://www.echonyc.com/~jhhl/Mp3/Ha...20Feedback.mp3

“I went on the air on WBAI-FM on Jan 11, 1993 at the graveyard hours of 1:30-3:30 AM and HARMed listener phone calls. The phone lines were quite jammed.”

Also on his website are a sonogram painting program...



...a MIDI Autoharp, and BITE, an “audio travesty program.”

Which messes with speech recordings ala Eno/Byrne’s “Mea Culpa”.



So I’d check out his website and listen to some of the demos if you’re into weird and whacky sound design.

Feel free to add any old computer music-related stuff to this thread, it could include personal anecdotes, videos, pictures or links about early computer synthesis, soundchips, trackers, sequencing, whatever, as long as it features an old computer.

I have some ideas for future posts, so hit me up if you’d like to hear about any of the following:

- ZX Spectrum sound tricks,
- Acorn’s MUSIC 500 synth for the BBC Micro,
- Yamaha Music Computers.

Thanks

Last edited by xanderbeanz; 2nd April 2020 at 09:39 AM..
Old 2nd April 2020
  #2
Saw this video (not mine)
Pretty cool


Edit : OP hope you are getting well
Old 2nd April 2020
  #3
Lives for gear
 

yeah how's the recovery ?
Old 2nd April 2020
  #4
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xanderbeanz's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by whatever17 View Post
yeah how's the recovery ?
I’m on day 14 or something? I’m nearly recovered, my sense of taste has come back which I’m very happy about.

I’m exhausted though!
Old 2nd April 2020
  #5
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redloheb's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by xanderbeanz View Post
In the NIИ thread it became apparent that we might like a specific place to talk about Digidesign’s Turbosynth
Could you please do not use amazing cyrillic letter И in case of this second hand rock band. It offends lot of Russains.
Old 2nd April 2020
  #6
Gear Addict
 
NY___'s Avatar
Don't know you personally - but I am really really happy you are back with us. One more alive is better than the alternative. Wish you a speedy recovery.
Old 2nd April 2020
  #7
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Rezisehtnys's Avatar
Happy to see you're doing well!
Old 2nd April 2020
  #8
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xanderbeanz's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by Hysplex View Post
Saw this video (not mine)
Pretty cool


Edit : OP hope you are getting well
I’ve spoken to CTrix a couple of times, cool guy.

I’m planning my own Amiga video at the moment, alongside a Vsynth one.
Old 2nd April 2020
  #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by redloheb View Post
Could you please do not use amazing cyrillic letter И in case of this second hand rock band. It offends lot of Russains.
i'm sure you're going to be able to give us an explanation for that all-round surprising statement.
Old 2nd April 2020
  #10
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xanderbeanz's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by whatever17 View Post
i'm sure you're going to be able to give us an explanation for that all-round surprising statement.
Yeah, I was very happy to change it in my initial post but I kind of want to know more.

Do they burn NIN cd’s in Russia?
Old 2nd April 2020
  #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by xanderbeanz View Post
Yeah, I was very happy to change it in my initial post but I kind of want to know more.

Do they burn NIN cd’s in Russia?
It is because it is read as "e", or as "i" in non-english languages.
Old 2nd April 2020
  #12
Quote:
Originally Posted by xanderbeanz View Post
I’ve spoken to CTrix a couple of times, cool guy.

I’m planning my own Amiga video at the moment, alongside a Vsynth one.
Really interested to see your take on the Amiga music making thing
Old 2nd April 2020
  #13
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jbuonacc's Avatar
i’d recommend Steinberg ‘Avalon’ for the Atari ST. from what i’ve seen of TurboSynth it looks similar.
Old 2nd April 2020
  #14
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jbuonacc's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by Mutantt View Post
It is because it is read as "e", or as "i" in non-english languages.
in this case it shouldn’t be read as anything but a stylized capital N.
Old 2nd April 2020
  #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jbuonacc View Post
in this case it shouldn’t be read as anything but a stylized capital N.
There is a huge diffference between a stylized N and a completely different character...

BTW 1337 speak was only "cool" up to about 2 decades ago.
Old 2nd April 2020
  #16
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xanderbeanz's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by jbuonacc View Post
i’d recommend Steinberg ‘Avalon’ for the Atari ST. from what i’ve seen of TurboSynth it looks similar.
Thanks, I’ll look into Avalon. I’ll likely check it out via emulation as 6 vintage computers is enough for me...

From my research, it looks like both the Mac and ST got a version of Turbosynth, and another program called “Softsynth”, which was a bit simpler than Turbosynth, a 32-partial additive affair.

It might sound similar to Activision’s Music Studio, which is an ST/Amiga additive softsynth:



Now here’s a cool book, a 1989 guide to Mac music making.



https://vintageapple.org/macbooks/pd...ntosh_1989.pdf
Old 2nd April 2020
  #17
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redloheb's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by whatever17 View Post
i'm sure you're going to be able to give us an explanation for that all-round surprising statement.
It was a joke about cultural appropriation.
First they were stealing rock-n-roll from African Americans then letters from Russians -- have they ever asked Russians are they ok with it?

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/I_(Cyrillic)
Old 2nd April 2020
  #18
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jbuonacc's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by redloheb View Post
It was a joke about cultural appropriation.
First they were stealing rock-n-roll from African Americans then letters from Russians -- have they ever asked Russians are they ok with it?

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/I_(Cyrillic)
It has nothing to do with Russian, <deleted by moderator>.

Last edited by Reptil; 3rd April 2020 at 12:33 PM.. Reason: -
Old 2nd April 2020
  #19
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xanderbeanz's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by redloheb View Post
It was a joke about cultural appropriation.
First they were stealing rock-n-roll from African Americans then letters from Russians -- have they ever asked Russians are they ok with it?

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/I_(Cyrillic)
Everybody knows that Chuck Berry stole Rock’n’roll from Marty Mcfly.
Old 2nd April 2020
  #20
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jbuonacc's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by Mutantt View Post
There is a huge diffference between a stylized N and a completely different character...

BTW 1337 speak was only "cool" up to about 2 decades ago.
Wtf? It has nothing to do with either of those. Simply a graphic design thing.
Old 2nd April 2020
  #21
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redloheb's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by jbuonacc View Post
It has nothing to do with Russian, you mook.
NIИ -- it is
Old 2nd April 2020
  #22
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jbuonacc's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by redloheb View Post
NIИ -- it is
It’s a ****ing mirrored “N”, nothing more.
Old 2nd April 2020
  #23
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xanderbeanz's Avatar
ok.

Anyone got anything computer-related?
Old 2nd April 2020
  #24
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jbuonacc's Avatar
Can’t link to it right now, but a year or two back they released a program for the C64 that could “sample/remix” SID files. The demo video was awesome.

EDIT: it’s called ‘Patchwork’, available for download on CSDB. You can find the video on YouTube, it’s titled “Patchwork - wip sid sequencer”. Amazing.
Old 2nd April 2020
  #25
DGL
Lives for gear
Of course one of the first pieces of proper music making hardware for a home computer was the Alpha Syntauri which used the Mountain Computer Music System Apple II card as it's basis.
A 16 osc/8 voice polyphonic 8 bit additive synthesizer with a choice of two remote keyboards, a 49 key home model and a 61 key studio/professional model with the extra addiotion of velocity sensitivity.

Used notably by Mauro Sabbione who was the keyboardist in Matia Bazar from 82-84 and as such appeared on some of the songs released whilst he was in the band.

The company didn't last long iirc and getting a working unit is now near impossible as whilst some of teh remote keyboards survive you need the Apple II card to go with it and I guess most of them went when the computer was binned.

http://www.vintagesynth.com/misc/alphasyntauri.php



Old 2nd April 2020
  #26
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xanderbeanz's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by DGL View Post
Of course one of the first pieces of proper music making hardware for a home computer was the Alpha Syntauri which used the Mountain Computer Music System Apple II card as it's basis.
A 16 osc/8 voice polyphonic 8 bit additive synthesizer with a choice of two remote keyboards, a 49 key home model and a 61 key studio/professional model with the extra addiotion of velocity sensitivity.

Used notably by Mauro Sabbione who was the keyboardist in Matia Bazar from 82-84 and as such appeared on some of the songs released whilst he was in the band.

The company didn't last long iirc and getting a working unit is now near impossible as whilst some of teh remote keyboards survive you need the Apple II card to go with it and I guess most of them went when the computer was binned.

http://www.vintagesynth.com/misc/alphasyntauri.php



Cool vids!

So yeah, I knew a little about that system. In fact, there exists an IOS app version, Phosphor 2. It’s capable of serious grunge.
Old 2nd April 2020
  #27
DGL
Lives for gear
Nice seeing it being demoed by an original user.

Oh and there are a few vids he's been part of,



Shows a bit more of what's inside the Apple II to make it work. Plus if you go to his YouTube channel (Mauro Sabbione/sabbione.com) he had more videos of the RAI television recording of the Tango tour where the Alpha Syntauri was part of his live rig.

And if you can understand Italian then there is a video going over both the Syntauri and the recoding of Berlino, Parigi, Londra.
Old 2nd April 2020
  #28
Lives for gear
 
xanderbeanz's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by DGL View Post
Nice seeing it being demoed by an original user.

Oh and there are a few vids he's been part of,



Shows a bit more of what's inside the Apple II to make it work. Plus if you go to his YouTube channel (Mauro Sabbione/sabbione.com) he had more videos of the RAI television recording of the Tango tour where the Alpha Syntauri was part of his live rig.

And if you can understand Italian then there is a video going over both the Syntauri and the recoding of Berlino, Parigi, Londra.
Those exposed boards are making me feel a bit edgy, LOL.

The BBC had a similar music system, Music 500, which i’d like to get hold of, you use some crazy language (that looks a bit like LOGO) to program it and it can do FM with all of the channels feeding each other.
Old 2nd April 2020
  #29
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Rogue Ai's Avatar
The Old Computer Thread-my-old-pc.jpg

Here's my old computer... the 5.25" Floppy drive might seem to be unusable with the lever touching the top of the case but it moves just fine. I couldn't put it under the CDrom drive as for some reason the case is missing the brackets inside that would keep it in place.

For sound it has a Sound Blaster Pro 2.0 which is great. I can play around with Adlib Tracker II for some glorious FM music.
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Old 3rd April 2020
  #30
Lives for gear
 

Not nearly old enough, but here’s an old laptop I keep around for the old Nord Modular.
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