Size Matters

Mini keys and knobs are not performance enhancing

Many things being relative, this is my perspective. For adults done with their upward growth cycle, certainly for those of us old enough to be having our second mid-life crisis, small keys and controls are not a bonus. Note, I’m speaking of the size of the keys not how many there are.

I have to imagine the 50+ years old set are an important part of the market. Manufacturers need to cut this mini craze out or offer better options. I love electronics miniaturization as much as anyone, but keyboards and controls need to be adult human-sized. I’m a 6 foot tall male with normal sized untalented hands and 60+ year old eyes with bifocal glasses like most of my contemporaries.

At least offer a desktop of reasonable size so people can pick their own keyboard. No, I do not want to waste the space in my already space-constrained studio with a mini-keyboards I’ll never use. However, saving space and decreasing usability are not good either.

Decent sized knobs and controls with appropriate space between them are essential. In my opinion you should be able to grab any knob with 3 fingers. If you have to use two fingers like human tweezers, a compromise has been made.

And what nut engineer or designer came up with the idea of black or whatever knobs with no visible position indicator? At least put dang white lines, visible white dots, lights or something visible on the knobs! I shouldn’t have to draw or paint lines on even a less than $500 synth.

Not to pick on any one brand, but how do you think sales and customer satisfaction would have been if the Korg Minilogue had 25 full sized keys in the same size format (with white lines on the knobs) like the Novation Bass Station II or scaled up to a full sized 37 keys format for $100 more?

The biggest key word here for me is performance

I’ve been an IT professional for decades. I’m quite comfortable clicking and command lining my way through things. When I play musical instruments, it is not what I seek. I want to play an instrument not a calculator or a computer. Speaking of computers, I don’t use mini-keyboards on those either, do you?

I’m not real gung-ho on playing a DAW live, but when I program a sequence or tracks in a DAW, it may be a different thing. Eurorack could be a different issue as well.

As a side note, in addition to real sized keyboards and controls, adding screens that further detail what the controls are set to, with mostly single level diving like the Sequential Prophet X/XL does, or even more so, touch screen capabilities like the Waldorf Quantum does… that is using your noggin manufacturers.

Full size should dominate

I find it hard to imagine it would add more than $100 or $200 tops, to any mini synth or desktop, depending on how many keys, to put full sized keyboards with the appropriate real estate for normal sized controls on them. There shouldn’t be a $300+/$1000+ difference between full sized and mini-sized.

3/4 sized should be the secondary option, not the full sized version. Look at other instruments, like guitars. 3/4 sized are available but full sized dominates the market, even the entry level ranges. Synths and other electronic gear should be the same.


Be sure to join the Uptown Oscillators Facebook Group!

Novation Bass Station II joins my synth ‘studio’

Can you have too many paraphonic synths?

I think the answer is no, you cannot have too many paraphonic synths, however I do believe my next one will be a polyphonic.

From this point forward, I will have to get creative fitting more hardware into the space I have, ha!

Look forward to more BS2 posts and added information on the Uptown Oscillators Novation Bass Station II page.


Be sure to join the Uptown Oscillators Facebook Group!

A musician supportive sober home

My home

I started to think about a Facebook group I am a member of, Sobriety and Synthesizers and how fortunate I am to live in a musician supportive sober home.

As I mentioned in another post, Drugs, Synthesizers, Drum Machines and Jesus Christ, I have been drug sober 12 years, and the last nearly 3 years living in an intentional community that resides mainly in a 10 story former hotel in the Uptown Chicago neighborhood. There are also a number of adjunct buildings including an auditorium and a homeless shelter. I included a video about the general non-musical setup near the end of this post, in case you are curious.

I think my home has about 5 sizable places for concerts, from basement to auditorium. Often people gather in one of the many living rooms for group playing/singing, as well as are even likely to plunk down in a hallway for an impromptu acoustic jam. I spend most of my music time in my room listening to my gear on headphones, but if I chose to take it up a notch, there are all those places for concerts, areas for practices, plus a recording studio and music company.

The first 9 years of my sobriety were rough, I really did feel like I was living a day at time or less. Sometimes it was minute by minute torturous, boring and chaotic.

The last 3 years, different story. No longer do I feel like I am living a day at a time. I know I am, but I doesn’t feel that way. I owe much of that to living in a musician supportive sober home.

Musicians face difficult choices

Occasionally I think how rough it must be for others and especially musicians in non-sober environments.

I know some professional musicians who have had some incredibly hard times trying to maintain sobriety. I’m imagining the lone one in the group, continually thrust into a party atmosphere, or who knows what…

Most sober living places I know of are frankly, perhaps initially useful and life-saving, but long term fairly undesirable. I’m grateful and blessed to have an alternative choice.

The main reason I blog is to encourage discussion and mutually share experience, success and failure.

I hope on shares of this post, you’ll share your challenges and successes, whether you have seen any other musician supportive sober homes of any size or configuration out there, etc.

Invitation to visit

People from all over the world visit my home. Couch surfers to extended stay (sorry no actual couches, just standard guest rooms) If you’re on tour or a bedroom producer and need a sober place to stay in Chicago for one day, a few days or an extended visit, if you are traveling for any reason, doing the tourist thing or considering a new chapter in life, don’t hesitate to holler at me.


Be sure to Join the Uptown Oscillators Facebook Group!

Extracurricular videos and links

Leper 9 years ago

Leper bandcamp with current albums

My home

OMG!!! Can you believe a 16 voice Moog One is $3000 more than a $4995 Monophonic Moog Voyager XL?

SHOCK! Per oscillator cost drops from $1665 for the Moog Voyager XL to less than $167 for the Moog One 16 voice

I’ll be the first to admit, I will probably not be able to afford the Moog One in the foreseeable future. I’m planning on picking up a poly next year, G-d willing. I’m currently looking at the Sequential Prophet X and the Waldorf Quantum, both in the $4k range. Even purchasing one of those synths will be a disciplined experience for me, but bar unforeseen changes or wishes, I’ll get there next year.

I would have been thrilled if Moog had decided to price the 16 voice in the $4k range to join my deliberations, BUT I am not surprised nor am I offended or delusional. Among my current gear, I have a Moog Subsequent 37 and a Dave Smith Pro 2. I am blessed to be able to afford gear of this caliber sometimes.

Moog owns their mojo, gained from years of business. For much of the world, Moog is synonymous with synthesizer. It would be silly to expect them not to capitalize on it.

It would be a lot easier to have rational discussions about a wide range of synthesizers in the Facebook synth groups if there wasn’t a subset of Behringer users interfering with every single post. Don’t get me wrong, I have been known to buy Behringer products on occasion. If it was all I could afford for everything else, I’d be right there. But I would know it is what it is. I would not have to delude myself and annoy everyone else that there is no difference between Behringer and higher end products or that there is no value to R&D budgets and original designs…

There is no mature reason to not be respectful of others like some Behringer users are. Everyone has their own path and resource/needs matrix. Some Behringer users need to grow up and grasp that not every post or synth is about them.


Be sure to Join the Uptown Oscillators Facebook Group!