Audio test files

Drum room test audio file processed through Alesis Micro Limiter and a modified Alesis Micro Limiter

This test is anything but definitive: levels have not been matched and it’s extremely hard to match settings on these units

Original file

File through modified Alesis Microlimiter

File through unmodified Alesis Microlimiter

Misc SR-JV80 links & info

A growing collection of miscellaneous info about Roland SR-JV80 synths such as the JV-1080


Expansion boards for sale


List of expansion boards


Compatibility Guide for expansion boards


Roland main SR-JV80 page


Don Solaris


Gearslutz Favourite SR-JV80 expansion boards poll


Nathan Sheldon patches page



Dolby Noise Reduction

Professional Dolby Noise Reduction

Dolby A noise reduction (NR) was used on millions of 16- and 24-track 2″ multitracks and 2-track masters. It’s a 4-band compander which boosts levels on recording, and compensates on playback, thereby reducing noise

Dolby SR, the successor to Dolby A, offered around 10 dB more noise reduction. Tapes encoded with SR require an SR card for decoding

Domestic Dolby Noise Reduction

Dolby B was a domestic NR commonly used on cassette recorders. In many ways a simplified version of Dolby A, B was s single-band NR system, boosting high frequencies on record and reducing them on playback. As with Dolby A, B required accurate level & frequency response matching for best results. It had the happy by-product of making B-encoded tapes sound brighter on non Dolby-equipped playback systems

Dolby C and Dolby S were later domestic systems

Professional Dolby hardware

Dolby hardware separates the host and NR card. The host typically provides audio input / outputs (via transformers on the 361), power supplies and remote switching whilst the NR card performs audio functions only

Dolby produced hundreds of card types for audio, film, broadcast & etc. In single- and dual-channel models these fell into two main categories, first- & second-generation models.The noise reduction specification (A, SR, etc) remained constant across hardware generations but cards & hosts are not interchangeable between generations as Dolby changed connector standards

First-generation hardware (supports Cat 22 (A) and Cat 280 (SR) cards)

  • 360 – single-channel interface in 1U
  • 361 – single-channel, updated version of the 360
  • 362 – dual-channel in 1U, electronically balanced, front-panel trims
  • 365 – dual channel in 2U, electronically balanced, front-panel trims

Second-generation hardware (supports Cat 350 (SR), Cat 450 (A) and Cat 300 (SR / A) cards

  • 363 – dual-channel in 1U, supports SR & A

For multitrack systems Dolby produced the ubiquitous M16 (16-channel) rack and the later 8-channel expansion. The M16 used standard Cat 22 cards with separate Cat 44H i/o interface cards. The M16 was superceded by the 24-channel XP24 SR rack


More info from Sound on Sound


Reverbs & Effects for sale are here

Page under construction

Before there were digital reverbs there were reverb plates, springs, mechanical reverbs  and – of course – reverb chambers

A reverb chamber is a simple idea – take an empty room, fit a speaker and a pair of microphones and create natural reverb. It’s simple in theory, and hard to do in practice, but there were (and are) some great chambers in larger studios

The plate reverbs was invented by EMT in 1957 and used a suspended steel plate with a transducer and a pickup (later, two pickups for “stereo”). The transducer energised the plate and reverberation was created by the sound waves travelling around the plate. Plate reverbs are still in use, and in production, 61 years later

In the late 1970s EMT began research into digital processes to quantify & generate reverberation. This led to the 1976 EMT 250, still one of the most feted reverbs in the world

The other pioneering reverb company at that time was Lexicon in Waltham, Mass. Lexicon and EMT had one thing in common – Dr Barry Blesser, a founder of Lexicon and designer of the 250 for EMT.

EMT had a background in broadcast and high-end audio products whereas Lexicon was a typical high-tech company which grew in the shadow of MIT


Reverb Top Ten

  1. Lexicon 480L
  2. Lexicon 224XL
  3. EMT 240
  4. Lexicon 224
  5. EMT 250
  6. AMS RMX16
  7. Lexicon PCM70
  8. EMT 244
  9. Quantec QRS/L

Modifications, Upgrades & Recapping


We do a number of modifications including a high-pass filter mod for the Cloud CX335. Email for details


We can source output transformers for dbx compressors. We can supply dbx 160X or dbx 160XT compressors with the transformer fitted or retrofit a transformer to your dbx. Email for details


We can recap most pieces of gear. Equipment we’ve recapped to date includes:


In Preparation

We have quite a list of gear in prep. When it’s complete it will be for sale in the shop. Till then you can fin it on our In Prep page


Equalisers for sale are listed here

In theory, equalisation is one of the simplest audio tasks. That doesn’t stop there being thousands of EQs to choose from, using hundreds of different approaches to a couple of of basic topologies

The earliest equalisers were used to flatten the frequency response of fixed telephone lines. They were typically LC (Inductor / Capacitor) equalisers followed by a valve gain make-up stage. They were designed for permanent equalisation and would have a fixed HF boost matched to the line

The advent of equalisation in sound recording and cinema audio playback led to variable equalisers like the legendary Pultec EQP-1A. The development of transistors led to equalisers with more frequency bands and greater flexibility

Cost is a big factor. Cheap EQs can work well but are likely to be limited in flexibility and precision. They are also unlikely to be easy & enjoyable to work with

At the other end of the scale, high-end equalisers like the GML 8200 and Massive Passive offer great flexibility, accuracy & repeatability – at a price

The middle ground is where the price / performance ratio works best. Great affordable, usable EQs include


Equaliser Top Ten

  1. GML 8200
  2. Pultec EQP-1A
  3. Massive Passive
  4. Neve 8108 console EQ
  5. Klein & Hummel UE400

Honourable mentions



Shop Update January 2018

Here’s to a successful New Year!

Incoming 2018:

* Empirical Labs Distressor EL8X (pair)
* Empirical Labs Fatso EL7X (stereo)
* MXR Dual Limiter (stereo)
* dbx 160XT (pair) with sequential serial numbers, mint
* dbx 160A (pair) with sequential serial numbers, excellent
* dbx 160X (pair) with output transformers, excellent
* dbx 163X (pair) modified, recapped, rebuilt power supply
* NTP 179-500 Limiters (pair) in NTP 1U rack
* Aphex Dominator cards (pair) for dbx rack, NOS (New Old Stock)
* Valley People Dynamite (stereo) original version in 1U rack, recapped, rebuilt PSU
* SPL Transient Designer (2-channel)
* SPL Transient Designer (4-channel) with XLRs

* UREI 546 Stereo Parametric Equaliser
* UREI 530 Stereo Graphic Equaliser, rebuilt, new slider pots
* UREI 535 Stereo Graphic Equaliser, rebuilt, new slider pots
* White 4100A Stereo 10-Band Equaliser, inductor EQ
* White 4000 Stereo 10-Band Equaliser, inductor EQ



Rhythm Roulette


My latest obsession: Rhythm Roulette. DJs & Producers take three records – or CDs – and chop them to make a beat. The level of talent is amazing – here 9th Wonder shows us how it’s done

Boss Micro Rack Effects

Boss Micro Rack – 12-Bit effects from the 1980s:

Boss RDD-10 Digital delay
Boss RDD-20 Digital delay
Boss RSD-10 Sampling delay
Boss RPS-10 Pitch shifter / delay
Boss RPD-10 Panning Delay
Boss RCE-10 Chorus
Boss ROD-10 Distortion / Overdrive
Boss RPQ-10 Preamp / Parametric EQ
Boss RBF-10 Flanger
Boss RRV-10 Reverb
Boss RGE-10 graphic eq
Boss RCL-10 compressor / limiter
Boss RPW-7 Power supply unit

Roland Boutique SE-02

Roland has partnered with Studio Electronics to produce an analogue synth with all the facilities of a modern digital synth. It sounds great in this clip

Shop Update June 2017


On sale now:

In the workshop:

Shop Update May 2017

New arrivals tested, modified, packed & ready to ship:

In the workshop:

Long-term projects

Shop Update March 2017

New arrivals tested, modified, packed & ready to ship:

In the workshop:

Long-term projects

Black Friday Sale

10% off everything in the shop till November 30th. Use the coupon code “blackfriday” in the shopping cart

And, from today, there’s an automatic 4% discount for all orders paid by bank transfer. Avoid  Paypal fees!




Leon Theremin

Robert Moog, Roger Linn, Dave Smith, Don Buchla, Tom Oberheim, John Chowning, Leon Theremin, Olga Theremin

Robert Moog, Roger Linn, Dave Smith, Don Buchla, Tom Oberheim, John Chowning, Leon Theremin & Olga Theremin at Stanford University’s centennial celebration, September 1991

Leon Theremin was born on 15th August 1896. In this photo Theremin is surrounded by the most influential synthesiser designers & inventors of the last hundred years


Photo © Bob Moog Foundation Archive

OSCAR – Open Source Console for Analogue Recording

A recent idea inspired by the success of the 500-Series format and the continuing popularity of analogue consoles. OSCAR is a an open platform for building analogue consoles, based on buckets of eight channels with simple metalwork and – as far as possible – standard parts

One possible path is to size the bucket so that 500-Series modules can slot right in. They’re 1.5″ wide as standard. Other options include modules 2″ wide (actually 50.8 mm). This fits in with the Eurocard standard

Both 500-Series and Eurocard have a standard 3U (5.25″) module height, but Eurocard also allows for a 6U (10.5″) standard which is a far more usable size for a channel strip

I don’t see 500 modules as the perfect solution. A taller channel strip would allow greater flexibility and reduce cost and allow the format a wider appeal

Metalwork represents a sizeable proportion of the total cost of a console but it’s possibly the most difficult thing for DIY builders to create. Constructing a console out of standard parts, each built to close tolerances and with a good finish, would leave the DIY builder free to concentrate on electronics

There’s a thread running about the idea over on the Group DIY Forum


First sketch of OSCAR


First sketch of metalwork ideas





What has Roland ever done for us?

Whilst writing the description of a Roland delay line, I thought about the various devices they’ve produced down the years. It’s a long list, littered with products almost every musician knows: TR-808 – is there anyone in the world who hasn’t heard one? RE-201 Space Echo – one of the hottest vintage items around. SH-101, JX-8P, D50 – the list is long & glorious

So, here’s my abridged list of “What has Roland ever done for us?”

RE-201 Space Echo

JC-120 Amplifier
Boss CE-1 Chorus

Roland System 100 synthesiser
Roland System 700 synthesiser

Roland GR-500 Guitar synthesiser
Roland MC-8 Microcomposer Sequencer

Roland CR-78 Drum Machine
Roland Jupiter-4 synthesiser

Roland Dimension D
Roland VP-330 Vocoder Plus
Roland System 100M modular synthesiser

Roland TR-808

Roland Jupiter-8
Roland MC-4
Roland SDE-2000 (first digital effects unit)
Roland TB-303
Roland TR-606

Roland SH-101
Roland Juno-6
Roland Juno-60

Roland TR-909

Roland MKS30 rack synth (version of the JX-3P)
Roland MKS-80 rack synth “Super Jupiter”
Roland JX-8P
Roland TR-707
Roland TR-727
Roland MPU-401 PC Midi interface

Roland MKS7 rack synth
Roland Alpha Juno
Roland Octapad

Roland MKS-70 rack synth (version of the JX-10)
Roland MKS-50 rack synth (version of a Juno)

Roland D50
Roland D550 rack synth (version of the D50)
Roland MT32 synth module


Roland JV880 rack synth (version of a JV-80)
SR-JV Expansion Boards

Roland JV-1080 rack synth “Super JV”

Roland JV-2080 rack synth

DIY Audio Electronics


Hand-built Neumann W492 Stereo Equaliser clone

DIY Audio Electronics

There’s lots of interest in DIY projects at the moment. Many pieces of vintage gear have been recreated and schematics, circuit boards, bills of material (BOMs) and build logs abound

I have a number of projects underway – probably too many – and locating components is a major part of the build process. Below is a list of links to some of the better known resources

In a later blog post I’ll detail some of the more popular DIY projects


GroupDIY Forum
A friendly forum with some real experts on hand

diyAudio Forum
Rather more esoteric forum with a wider purview


Audio Maintenance Ltd
UK-based parts supplier, also high-quality kits. AMEK specialist. Authorised Penny & Giles sales & service

Hairball Audio
US-based kit & parts supplier

Prolific designer, DIY creator, forum contributor

Jacob Erland’s boutique pro-audio manufacturer, also has DIY project info

Schaeffer AG
German enclosure & front panel manufacturer
German case manufacturer, specifically for DIY projects

Italian case & enclosure manufacturer

Front Panel Designer
Software to design front panels, suitable for printing & engraving

Component Suppliers

Rapid Electronics
RS Components
Don Audio

Herbie Hancock & Quincy Jones, Fairlight CMI

Quincy Jones hanging out with Herbie Hancock as he’s jamming with the Fairlight II. The Fairlight was an 8-Bit sampler with twin 8″ floppy drives. No mouse, just a light pen to use with the green screen. Vintage gear watchers will spot the Fender Rhodes, JBL monitors and what looks like a Commodore computer, probably for an editing program. Circa 1985

Roland SR-JV80 Compatibility Guide

List of synths & modules compatible with SR-JV80 Expansion Boards. A list of all expansion boards for sale is here

The boards plug into the synth modules & keyboards listed below.  They are easy to fit – a screwdriver is the only tool required

Compatible Synth Modules
Compatible Synths
Fantom FA76

Roland SR-JV80 Expansion Boards

Roland produced a wide range of expansion boards for the JV-Series synths. Many were developed in conjunction with Spectrasonics, a company set up to sample sounds & map them across a keyboard

Some expansion cards were outside the traditional numbering scheme and were only sold bundled with keyboards. Below is a list of Roland board numbers & names with links to items in our shop

A list of all expansion boards for sale is here

SR-JV-01 Pop
SR-JV-02 Orchestral
SR-JV-03 Piano
SR-JV-04 Vintage Synth
SR-JV-05 World
SR-JV-06 Dance
SR-JV-07 Super Sound Set
SR-JV-08 Keyboards of the 60s and 70s
SR-JV-09 Session
SR-JV-10 Bass & Drums
SR-JV-11 Techno Collection
SR-JV-12 Hip Hop Collection
SR-JV-13 Vocal Collection
SR-JV-14 World Collection Asia
SR-JV-15 Special FX Collection
SR-JV-16 Orchestral 2
SR-JV-17 Country
SR-JV-18 Latin
SR-JV-19 House
SR-JV80-96 World Collection Latin
SR-JV80-97 Experience III
SR-JV80-98 Experience II
SR-JV80-99 Experience

For more information on SR-JV synths see here

1176 / 8 Compressor Ideas


Original render with old Urei 1176 knob design & VU meters

Hans on the GroupDIY Forum posted an idea for a multichannel compressor based on the 1176 reboot by Gyraf

Enthused by the idea, here is my rendering of an 8-channel version in a 3U case. I call it the 1176 / 8

I quickly (and, looking at it again, fairly inaccurately) modelled an 1176 input knob for the bottom of the panel to get the genuine 1176 vibe. The meter is a generic VU meter, 48 wide x 40 tall, designed to fit in a 1U case. The other knobs are Sifam 14 mm

After playing with dimensions, and mocking up a front panel with real knobs, it became obvious that there’s insufficient space for a meter in a 3U version. Then I had a brainwave – why not use a separate, optional meter bridge in a 1U box? So here it is

1176/8 version 4 with separate meter bridge

1176/8 version 4 with redrawn UREI input knobs and separate meter bridge

See the thread here

Gyraf site


Compressors for sale are listed here

Compressors are odd things. Some see them as a way of controlling levels, of preventing overloads and as a utility device for audio. Others see them as the ultimate tool for changing dynamics, for creating excitement and for their audible effect

I fall into camp #2. For me they are like temporal equalisers – a good compressor lets you change the dynamic shape of sound in a way that nothing else can

After spending some time with the Empirical Labs Fatso and Distressor, my Favourite Compressor list has been revised to make a Top Ten. And there are plenty of compressors in my list of recapped & refurbished devices

Compressor Top Ten

  1. UREI 1176
  2. UREI LA-2A
  3. dbx 160XT
  4. SSL 4000E Bus Compressor
  5. Fatso EL7X
  6. Distressor EL8X
  7. Valley People Dynamite
  8. Gain Brain
  9. dbx 163X
  10. FMR Really Nice Compressor


1. UREI 1176

Nothing sounds like an 1176 – it’s a one-off, a freak, an outlier – and that’s why it’s stood the test of time. For vocals and bass guitar, nothing betters it for a punchy, aggressive sound. Set it for a fairly slow attack, fastest release and 4:1 compression then just ramp up the input level till the vocal sits where you want it. A little tweak on the attack time, a hint of EQ and job done


In some ways the polar opposite of the 1176, the LA-2A is a more laid-back device with markedly slower attack & release times. It’s amazing when just tickling a signal but also shines when driven hard. It’s a subtler device overall and more about final polish than pure attitude

3. dbx 160XT

If, like me, you must tweak attack & release times to suit tempo & dynamics then, in theory, the 160XT falls at the first hurdle. It has no attack or release controls, just threshold & ratio, and the only other option is an Over-Easy / Hard Knee switch. Fortunately for the 160XT, theory is dead wrong – it’s a hard-charging, attitude-loaded punk of a compressor that’s as subtle as a car crash. The 160XT won’t work in every situation but, every time it does, you’ll wonder how you lived without one

4. SSL 4000E Bus Compressor

The SSL 4000E came with a four-channel VCA compressor as standard across the Quad Bus output of the console. It’s a magic switch which, when pressed, opens up a whole new universe of sound. As heard on 95% of all hit records from 1985 to 2000, the SSL Bus Compressor is really rather good

5. Empirical Labs Fatso EL7X

The Full Analogue Tape Simulator and Optimiser is a combined compressor / harmonic generator designer to warm up spikey digital sources. It’s fantastic

6. Empirical Labs Distressor EL8X Compressor

The best-selling Distressor combines traditional compression styles with super-modern controls & massive flexibility

7. Valley People Dynamite

As its name suggests, the Dynamite exists to smash things to pieces, violently and comprehensively. It’s capable of the most pumping, squashing compression you’ve ever heard but still manages to maintain fidelity while doing it. Designed by Paul Buff, the Dynamite has a raft of devious sidechain filters, keys, RMS / Peak switches & etc and can be used as a gate / expander. Always a nightmare to set up, the Dynamite is nevertheless utterly brilliant

8. Allison Research Gain Brain

More insane compression from Paul Buff. Loud, nasty & vicious

9. dbx 163X

Filthy, dirty, nasty compression with loads of vibe. I love it

10. FMR RNC Really Nice Compressor

Clean, cheap, effective, brilliant

Honourable mentions

A few other compressors deserve an honourable mention for their notoriety, amazingness or sheer subtlety

  • SSL 4000E channel compressor – can be setup to be the best de-esser you’ll ever hear
  • Orban 424A Gated Compressor Limiter – Mojo, mojo, mojo. Smooth & tasty like honey
  • UREI / JBL 7110 Compressor – punchy, adaptable, ballsy compressor from the Masters of the Compression Universe
  • Aphex Dominator – unusual, inaudible in operation, brilliant
  • SPL DynaMaxx 9735 – very, very subtle, can be inaudible in operation, brilliant
  • Aphex Compellor – confusing, inaudible in operation, brilliant
  • Fairchild 670 – extraordinary mojo machine
  • Alesis 3630 – hard to get it in the sweet spot, but it’s quite a piece of kit for the money
  • dbx 160 (wooden box) – a true classic. The 160XT is a descendant and, IMHO, a better compressor
  • dbx 160SL – the flagship dbx is a powerhouse of super-clean compression
  • Valley People 610 stereo compressor – rare, wonderful, super-fast compressor. Wish I’d kept the one I sold!


Chorus Pedals

Chorus pedals – how can you not love them? They’re so raw, so unpolished, so direct, so easy to fiddle with…

I love using chorus pedals when mixing as they sit the sound in a different perspective to that created by a plugin or a polished, hi-tech piece of outboard gear. I have a decent collection of chorus pedals (see chorus pedals in my shop), and have owned quite a few more, but some stand out more than others

My All Time Top Five Chorus / Flanger / Phaser list:

  1. Boss Chorus CE-1
  2. Roland Dimension D
  3. Eventide Flanger
  4. AMS Flanger
  5. Yamaha SPX90 Symphonic


1. Boss CE-1

What makes the CE-1 sit at the top of the list? It’s not because it’s a swirly, deep, flangey chorus, because it’s not. It’s subtle, smooth, refined and rather special. It adds depth and subtle movement, so it’s superb for widening keyboard pads and giving depth to a mix. It does all this without any downsides at all – it’s quiet (or quite enough), it’s mains-powered so no batteries to worry about, and it’s absolutely incapable of sounding bad

2. Roland Dimension D

The Dim D sits in a class of its own at the top of the rack-mounted chorus tree. It’s super-simple with four settings, each of which seems to be perfect, but one is always slightly more perfect than the rest. Again, it’s not a deep, swirly device, but it does a great job of adding subtle movement and widening sounds

3. Eventide Flanger

Eventide is one of my favourite manufacturers. They haven’t made a bad piece of gear since they started in New York in 1971 . The Eventide Flanger, and it’s sister, the Phaser, are old-school rack devices which will do deep, resonant flanging, subtle movement and anything in between. My favourite trick is to feed the whole mix though it, slowly cross-fade with the original mix and switch back on a downbeat. Sounds great on headphones, sounds great on the radio

4. AMS Flanger

If you could imagine a slightly more British, slightly more buttoned-down version of the Eventide, you’d get something like the AMS. Great audio quality, very smooth in operation, great controls with more finesse than the Eventide, the AMS is a killer flanger

5. Yamaha SPX90 Symphonic

When you trawl through factory presets on outboard gear it’s rare to find a sound that jumps out at you that also works in a track. Symphonic is one of the few. Unlike the other chorus / flangers in my list, Symphonic is the only one from a digital device with presets. All the others predate the digital era and use analogue, bucket-brigade delay lines. The SPX90 may be digital, but someone at Yamaha engineering spent time creating a killer flanger which someone else from marketing named Symphonic. Whatever – it’s great

Honourable mentions

A few other Chorus pedals & rackmount devices stand out:

MXR Phase 90 pedal – fabulous stomp-box phaser

Any MXR Flanger – I haven’t found a bad one yet

Any Electro-Harmonix Chorus or Flanger – I haven’t found a bad one yet

Yamaha Rev 7 – Symphonic, just like the SPX90

The final word – Marshall Time Modulator

There’s one more device that would sit on top of the pile if it could be described as a Flanger. It will do Flanging, but I don’t really think of it as one. Maybe my mistake

The Marshall Time Modulator is possibly the weirdest, most wonderful piece of outboard gear ever devised. Most engineers I know steer clear of it but I have to say I love it