All new XMF (multi-multi-mode filter) in Zebra 2.5

Posted in Uncategorized on September 14, 2009 by Howard

Urs Heckmann’s amazing new filter model for the next version of Zebra2, introduced by Urs himself. The video sound quality isn’t the best, and I would have preferred a simple sawtooth as input, but at least the sheer power / flexibility of this module should be obvious from this video:


Classic leads – the Minimoog in your VA

Posted in Uncategorized on August 31, 2009 by Howard

If your VA synth has two or more independant voices i.e. with independant portamento rate etc. or is a multimode synth, you could use this feature to make leads and basses react in a much more “analogue” way to performance controls. For instance, instead of using two oscillators within one voice, use two voices containing one oscillator each. Copy your simple patch to the second voice and VERY SLIGHTLY detune the following parameters against each other…

  • pitch (of course)
  • portamento rate
  • vibrato depth (also via mod wheel)
  • pitchbend range (same integer value, but a bit of offset in one of the voices)

Don’t detune vibrato rate – in fact you should make sure they are in perfect phase by retriggering them – those old synths used a single LFO for vibrato. Allowing vibrato phases/rates to drift apart makes it sound too lush. By the way, I’ve looked at a lot of “Minimoog” patches on a lot of synths, and have never seen this kind of thing done properly. Not even by me until recently! (on MicroKORG XL)

OK, it’s not a synth, but…

Posted in Uncategorized on August 27, 2009 by Howard

The ’70s Denon Elepian is a very interesting Wurlitzer type e-piano. Funky, amazingly fast repetition. BTW I wouldn’t have called it a PAINO!

u-he Bazille

Posted in Uncategorized on August 27, 2009 by Howard

Urs Heckmann’s next monster synth. Still officially in Alpha stage, but feels like a good stable beta to me! The clou is that all modules run at audio rate (except the LFOs), and spaghetti patching is allowed – plug anything into anything (even itself) just like those expensive hardware modular systems. Of course this eats up CPU, but that’s the price you pay for this kind of flexibility and sound quality…


Sneak previews on YouTube: Part 1 Part 2 Part 3

MicroKORG XL: Reducing “Assign” ranges

Posted in Uncategorized on August 26, 2009 by Howard

OK, here’s a simple trick for the MicroKORG XL.

Normally, the 3 control knobs will sweep through the entire range of any parameter assigned to them. On stage at least, I much prefer limited control around a certain predefined value i.e. in the heat of the moment I want an extra controller, not a full-range knob.

Say you are already using the mod wheel for e.g. vibrato, and you want to control filter cutoff between two values that both make sense. Instead of doing this…

Knob Assign 1

you do this:

Knob Assign 2

and these:


Both Attack and Decay of the spare envelope (EG 3) should be instantaneous (0), sustain level (SL) determines the range (40 here). Release is set to maximum and modulation intensity (INT) is zero. See what happens if they aren’t! Any questions?

Zebra 2.5

Posted in Uncategorized on August 25, 2009 by Howard

In case any visitor here hasn’t heard of Urs Heckmann’s Zebra2

IMHO the best synthesizer ever. Pristine sound, incredibly flexible, totally addictive.



This image is a recent beta of 2.5 – more filter models, more modulation matrix, undo/redo and a whole heap “more”.


Posted in Uncategorized on August 22, 2009 by Howard


I recently splashed out on a pair of MicroKORG XL‘s so I can travel to gigs with only a backpack. To me, these tiny machines look, sound and feel INFINITELY better than the original Microkorgs, and I actually find the narrower keys more playable than standard-sized keys – quite a revelation for me, as I’ve been struggling for decades with trills etc.!

Discoveries / examples will follow as soon as I have gathered enough experience in programming them myself. Needless to say, most of the factory presets aren’t particularly inspiring, so my first patch was a personalized “INIT” (template). I plan to post one or two audio examples of more sophisticated patches at some point – we’ll see…