My studio 2019

With another decade almost upon us I think this is a good time as any to show you the current state of my studio.

It is, as always in a constant state of flux. Among the things I decided to sell this year, mainly because I wasn’t using it that much was the TB-303 “clone” Xoxbox, the Strymon El Capistan pedal and one or two modules for my modular setup. New stuff in the studio includes the Arturia Beatstep Pro and a CV.OCD which I’m using for controlling my analog gear.

Also I got the HYVE I signed up for during their succesful Kickstarted project. Haven’t used it in my music yet but I’m sure I will find a spot for it in an ambient tune soon. Here is a video from last spring where I’m trying it out.

Another fun little toy, a micro-sampler that I think I actually bought in 2018, but haven’t really used yet is the Teenage Engineering PO-33 KO. Might find some use for it now when I’m working on my next album (More info about that in a later post).

On the same note I also got some stuff to use for voice recording. I have an old Røde NT 2 microphone that I’ve rarely used because it was always such a hassle. A Heavy Duty Studio Arm Mic Stand, a SubZero XLR to USB Signal Converter/Mic Preamp and a SubZero Portable Vocal Booth Isolation Ball makes it super easy now. Whenever I want to add some vocals, words or whatever to a song, I just pull out the Mic Arm, turn on the preamp and I’m ready to record.

And finally I threw out my old, very worn-down chair and got the HÅG Capisco 8107. My back thanks me for it. It’s probably the most ergonomic stylish chair in the world. Got it for a bargain price at an online auction.

Click here to listen to music I made on this eqipment

 

XAKK Studio

XAKK Studio

XAKK Studio

XAKK Studio

December 25th, 2019|Blog, Hardware, Studio|

My latest refurbishing project: The Braun SK-2 from 1955

After completing around 25 projects refurbishing and modding old Gameboys I took a bit of a pause to do something else.

I set my sight on old transistor radios. I previously did a re-capping of the Braun T220 and after that project was done I bought an 1955 Braun SK2 on Ebay that was in need of a lot of love.

I won’t lie, this project has taken forever to finish. I did all the rookie mistakes, but hey that’s the best way to learn something new, isn’t it. Finally it’s completed and I can show you some photos. And if I may say so myself, damn it’s beautiful.

This is what I did:

  • Glued and fixed a crack in the case.
  • Removed all the yellowed paint on the case and front.
  • Removed the original weave on the back of the front.
  • Repainted the front with a semigloss white paint.
  • Spray glued a new fine weave made of white linen on the backside of the front.
  • Repainted the case with three coats of matte white paint, then water-sanded with a 1200 sandpaper.
  • Scanned the original paper dial, which was very yellowed and with almost unreadable text. Cleaned up the image in Photoshop then printed a new one in high quality. I carefully sprayed the paper with a sealer and finally glued it to the front.

 

August 2nd, 2019|Blog, Design, DIY, Hardware, Retro|

Repairing the 1961 transistor radio Braun T220

My blue 1961 transistor radio Braun T220 works pretty good but since I’m planning to put it on Ebay I decided it was time to do the electronics versions of an oil change: The re-cap. Changing all the capacitors.

Opening it up I could find eight metal capacitors and one biggie made out of paper. When old gear is failing, the first suspect is almost always the electrolytic capacitors. I have previously repaired a Samsung monitor and a Samsung TV where the only fault was a couple of bulging caps. Total cost to fix that was under a dollar.

 


All the old capacitors from the Braun T220

In this case where the radio is close to 60 years, there is no reason to keep any of the old caps. If they haven’t completely failed yet it’s just a matter of time and if you would measure their values they are probably all over the place. It wasn’t that much work. It took me around three hours to de-solder all of them and putting in brand new ones. I had to be extra careful not to break any of the many thin copper wires that were soldered left and right in a way you don’t see in newer tech.

 


The inside of the Braun T220, before the re-cap

Powering on the T220 again I was very happy to find that everything was working and the FM signal now was much stronger than before. Also the sound volume was louder and clearer in a way that I had not anticipated. I guess the radio now sounds like it did when it was new in 1961.

All in all the whole process was pretty fun and much easier than what I had imagined it would be. Everything turned out great, which is not always the case when you start poking around in ancient tech.

 

The inside of the Braun T220, post re-cap

March 2nd, 2019|Blog, Design, DIY, Hardware, Retro|

I’m building the BASTL Cinnamon State Variable Filter

This lazy Sunday I’m building the DIY kit version of the BASTL Voltage Controlled State Variable Filter for Eurorack.

It’s one of the missing pieces in my Eurorack system since I don’t have any good stand-alone filter. Actually I bought it about a month ago but I have been setting this aside until the new website was finished and launched. I expect this build to take around 2-3 hours.

Here is a video from BASTL where they demonstrate the Cinnamon.

 

January 6th, 2019|Blog, DIY, Hardware, modular|

My studio right now (2018)

XAKK Studio 2018

Lots of things have happened in my studio the last couple of years. I built a TTSH (Arp 2600 clone) and I also got, perhaps a bit carried away with the whole modular thing. :) Anyways, this is what it looks like now. Many of the hardware you see here was used to make my latest album Focus.

There is a more or less complete list of all the stuff on my Studio page.

How I got rid of high pitched USB noise – once and for all

Something I have been trying to fix for a long time is the annoying high pitched noise that I would hear in the background when recording sounds from my external gear. I guess it has been there more or less since I got my expensive Asus motherboard for the PC. That was years ago but it wasn’t really until I started building and using my modular synth that I started noticing the noise. Somehow it was enhanced by the modular to a degree where I couldn’t ignore it anymore.

I tried a lot of things to solve the issue including buying two kinds of audio ground isolators. They did work. Well sort of… First of all I had to use a lot of them, because I have a big selection of external gear I want to record. Secondly the isolators capped a good part of the lower end spectrum, so a bass sound or kick drum would sound very week. I could compensate with an EQ but it was just too much hassle and I would never get it to sound exactly like it did without the isolators.

Hi-speed USB IsolatorThere is this thing called an USB isolator which you can buy on the cheap from Amazon or from China, or whatever. And they really do work as promised, by removing just the USB noise and keeping everything else. The problem is, until now if you wanted an USB isolator that could be used for Hi-speed USB, meaning it should be able to shuffle enough data for more than two audio channels, they would cost in the range of $250-300. But luckily, technology tends to evolve and today a hi-speed USB Isolator is finally affordable.

HiFImeDIY is now selling a Hi-speed USB Isolator with a price tag of $79. I got mine a few weeks ago and I’m super happy with it. All USB noise is gone and I’ve had no problems like dropouts etc running 16 channels in 24 bit and 96 kHz sample rate.
So.. yeah I’m super happy. One less problem to worry about. :)

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