Boss MT-2 Metal Zone pedal analysis

Posted by & filed under Distortion, Overdrive, and Fuzz, Stompbox stuff.

The Boss MT-2 Metal Zone distortion pedal is one of the most complex drive pedals there is, and has probably the most sophisticated (and least understood!) tone control circuit on any mass-market pedal. It’s also quite a divisive beast, with some loving it, and others hating it. It’s a great pedal for modifications – easily available, cheap, and rugged. This article is a technical analysis of the different stages in the pedal, finding out what each part does to the tone…. Read more »

Noise Reduction with Companders

Posted by & filed under BBDs+Delays, Chorus, Flanger, Projects, Stompbox stuff.

What’s a “compander”? It’s a simple way to make your circuit quieter! So how does it work? Let’s say we’ve got a fairly noisy effect, like a BBD. The basic idea is that you make quiet signals louder before you put them through the effect, and then you make them quiet again after the effect, and thereby make the noise quieter too. And that’s the clever bit! “Compander” is a compound of “Compressor” and “Expander”, since those are the two… Read more »

MIDI clock to analog gate pulses

Posted by & filed under Projects, Synth DIY.

How do you synchronise your modular synth with MIDI equipment? MIDI provides the MIDI clock message, but you need something to convert this to a format an analog modular synth can understand. Most MIDI-to-CV convertors will do the job, but that can be expensive. Here’s a cheap way to do it. The Druid MIDICLK chip converts MIDI clock signals into 0-5V analog pulses. It provides two separate analog clock outputs, which can be set at various division ratios of the… Read more »

RC Filtering for SSM2164 CVs fed from DACs

Posted by & filed under Filters, Synth DIY, VCAs + Amplifiers.

I typically use the 12-bit MCP4822 DAC to produce a CV for the SSM2164 (or CoolAudio V2164, it’s the same thing) . This is a good, cheap combination. However, the 4822 produces an output of 0-4.095V, whereas the 2164 needs 0-3.3V. It is possible to use a simple voltage divider to reduce the voltage to the correct level, and it is also possible to add a capacitor to give an RC 6dB/Oct rolloff whilst we’re doing it. However, it’s not… Read more »

Investigations into what a BBD Chorus unit *really* does

Posted by & filed under BBDs+Delays, Chorus, Flanger, Stompbox stuff, Synth DIY.

I’ve been curious about Chorus for a while, since I’ve been working on and off with chorus design myself. There were a few things I didn’t understand, like what the relationshp is between the modulation LFO’s waveshape and the frequency modulation of signals going through the chorus. You’d think that if you use a sinewave to modulate the BBD clock, you’d get a sinewave modulation of frequency, right? Wrong! So what do you get? At this point, I realised that… Read more »

Fourier Analysis for non-mathematicians

Posted by & filed under Synth DIY.

Years ago, I discovered that it was possible to analyze a waveform and discover what harmonic components it was composed of, and that the magical technique to do this was called “Fourier Analysis”. I tried to find out all I could, but all the references I could find were aimed at university level mathematicians, and I was only 12 or 13. As far as I could see, none of the books explained the technique, rather they just splurged unhelpful equations… Read more »

Useful design equations for the PT2399

Posted by & filed under Stompbox stuff.

The PT2399 datasheet gives some data showing the relationship between the resistor on pin 6, the clock frequency, and the delay time. Unfortunately, it doesn’t offer any design equations relating these three variables. So, can we derive some? Yes, we can! They’re all included here. First, a quick summary of what I’ve learned, if you want to cut to the chase: Delay msecs = (11.46 * Resistance KΩ) + 29.70 Delay msecs = (683.21 / Clock Freq MHz) + 0.08… Read more »

Single VCA crossfader

Posted by & filed under Projects, Synth DIY, VCAs + Amplifiers.

There are a number of situations where it is useful to be able to crossfade between two different signals with a single control. Examples might be a wet/dry control on a delay effect, or a waveform knob on an oscillator that goes from ramp to square continuously. The simple and obvious way to do this is with a dual-gang pot. Each gang controls one signal, and it’s easy to wire so that as one increases in level, the other decreases,… Read more »

Voltage Controlled Looping Envelope Generator

Posted by & filed under Envelope Generators, Projects, Synth DIY.

This project is a development of my earlier VCADSR envelope generator. Whilst that chip had both GATE and TRIGGER inputs, this chip replaces the TRIGGER input with a MODE CV that allows selection of normal ADSR, Gated looping, or full LFO-style Looping modes. Standard ADSR mode generates the shape you expect, and allows CV control of envelope depth and overall time. Gated looping mode loops while the Gate is high. When the Gate goes low, the envelope goes to the… Read more »

Voltage-controlled digital oscillator VCDO1

Posted by & filed under Projects, Synth DIY.

A single chip 1V/Oct voltage controlled digital oscillator, with 20 waveforms in a scannable wavetable. The VCDO uses a PIC 16F1847 microprocessor to create a versatile and simple voltage-controlled 8-bit digital wavetable oscillator. All oscillator parameters are controlled by 0-5V control voltages. The chip has a native exponential control response, making interfacing with 1V/Oct control voltages very simple, even without an exponential convertor. Scanning through the wavetable with the Waveform knob. Sub Osc is a simple sine 2 octs down:… Read more »