Akai Samplers and Synths

For a while, Akai was making both samplers (s612, s900, s950) and analog synths (ax60, ax80, ax73, vx90) and they had this proprietary system for connecting them — a 13-pin cable that lets you run multiple channels of output out of the sampler and into the synth, allowing the sampler’s voices to be polyphonically processed by the synth’s analog filters and so on. This sounds like a great setup, so I was surprised when I recently scored an s950, vx90, and 13-pin cable to find very little info on this online, aside from the s612/ax60 combo. After a bunch of experimenting with my setup, I decided to record what I found for posterity.

  • The 13-pin cable is just a multi-channel audio connection
  • Each sampler voice corresponds to a single channel in the cable
  • The s612 has 6 voices, and the s900 and s950 have 8 (not sure about s700/x7000)
  • In the s950, a simple program with one keygroup assigned to “all outs” will get sent out the cable, apparently rotating through the 8 channels. Assigning the keygroup to a specific out will seemingly always send the audio out the corresponding cable channel.
  • In the s950, the individual channels are indeed monophonic (i.e. the do correspond exactly to the 8 voices). A later event will seemingly always cut off an earlier one.
  • The vx90 has six voices and apparently only listens to the first 6 of the 8 cable channels. So if it’s hooked up to an 8-voice sampler like the s950 that’s rotating through its voices, every 7th and 8th note will be dropped by the vx90
  • The s950 seems to have no way to assign a keygroup to a set of outs (i.e. outs 1-6). You can assign to a single out or to all (or to left/right, even/odd, but that doesn’t help).
  • If 2 keygroups are assigned to outs 7 and 8 while a third is assigned to all outs, the s950 is not smart enough to prevent the all group from sometimes using voices 7 and 8 and therefore cutting off those notes. So you seemingly can’t trick it into just using 1-6.
  • Since individual keygroups can be assigned to specific outs, a multi-keygroup program (e.g. a drumkit) could be set up to only use outs 1-6.
  • However, even if you get the s950 to not use outs 7 and 8, there seems to be no way to ensure that, on receiving a midi note, the s950 and vx90 will choose the SAME voice channel to use. So the notes still won’t line up.
  • The s612 and ax60 combo apparently address this by having a midi mode where the voices are controlled on 6 separate midi channels so that the two units can be forced to allocate the same voices. Presumably if you can put the ax60 in this mode, you could do something similar with the s950 by assigning keygroups to multiple midi channels. I don’t have an ax60 and don’t know if this is true.
  • If the vx90 is in unison mode (i.e. all 6 voices stacked), it will pick up audio on any of the 6 cable channels, so that works. Of course, this is just using the vx90 as a single monophonic filter on the s950’s output, which could be accomplished with any external filter.
  • You could also presumably make a cable that would wire a single audio channel to all 6 voice inputs in the 13-pin cable, allowing the vx90 to be used as a monophonic filter when in poly or dual mode, for whatever that’s worth.
  • The upshot is that, as far as I can tell, the whole Akai-sampler-synth connection thing is mostly bogus and unusable, unless you have an ax60, or just want to use the vx90 unison mode.
  • I believe everything I say about the vx90 applies to the ax73. I don’t know about other synths that may have the 13-pin connection.

Adelman Chandelier

A clickable copy of the parts list from the DIY Lindsay Adelman chandelier. Here’s another example with a lot of discussion in the comments.

From grandbrass.com

From indexfasteners.com

  • 2 plug buttons – item 5S48lS4K5900 (not for sale there; I skipped them entirely)

From amazon.com

From mcmaster.com (products not directly linkable)

  • 1 box or wire connectors – item 7108K32 (not shown on the diagram)
  • 10 feet of white wire – item 7587K138 (not shown on the diagram)
  • 10 feet of black wire – item 7587K133 (not shown on the diagram)
  • 1 electrical tape – item 76455A21 (not shown on the diagram)
  • 1 wire stripper – item 7660K14 (tool not shown on the diagram)

Other useful bits

  • Fixture mounting crossbar – item CB1/4
  • Universal mounting plate – item CBU2

Books, August 2012

**** Orson Scott Card – Ender’s Game. I’m not sure how I never read this book before, but it was as good as everyone says.
**** Frank Herbert – Dune. Another one I shockingly never read before, and also really good. Now I have to see the movie, and read the rest of the books.
* Olaf Stapledon – Star Maker – I started this one, forced myself through it for a little while, but could not muster any interest in it.
*** Keith Roberts – Pavane. Good alternate-history story (actually, a collection of interlinked stories), in which the Catholic church still controls Europe and much of the world, suppressing much science and technology, with a coda that has a twist. An interesting exploration, though as a series of short stories, it doesn’t pull the reader into the characters as much as a single novel would. The stories also felt more poetic or fairy-tale esque than realistic, leaving me feeling somewhat disconnected. The twist at the end is thought-provoking but doesn’t really make a lot of sense.
*** Robert Charles Wilson – Spin. An interesting gimmick to build a science fiction novel around, hampered by too much attention given to interpersonal relationships that I had no interest in. Not that I don’t want interesting characters in a science fiction book, but these were neither very convincing nor very compelling. Still fairly readable.
** Peter Watts – Blindsight. I really liked the narrator, a person whose social inhibitions lead him to feel like he is simulating being human and to become an excellent observer. And the classic slow-discovery-of-alien plot was fairly intriguing — until the end, which just didn’t work for me. It was neither very convincing nor very interesting. And there wasn’t enough good stuff that preceded it to make the book something I overall enjoyed.
* Knut Hamsun – Mysteries. What a shitty fucking book. It’s “modernist” and “existentialist” which means that when you read a bunch of nonsensical ramblings from an unappealing, unconvincing, and uninteresting protagonist, you’re supposed to be moved by it and thereby question the underpinnings of society, or something. Or, you know, not.

Books, July 2012

*** Brian Eno – A Year with Swollen Appendices. I got about 1/4 of the way through this book. It’s full of interesting anecdotes and inspiring ideas and thoughts about the creative process, but it doesn’t make for very gripping lie-on-the-couch material. I’d like to get a copy and keep it around to dip into occasionally, but I don’t see myself reading it through in any hurry.
*** George R. R. Martin – A Feast for Crows.
*** George R. R. Martin – A Dance with Dragons. Both of these were a definite step down from the quality of the first three books.
*** Ames & Ilg – Your Three-Year-Old.

Movies, July 2012

*** A Game of Thrones, season 2. Not as good as season 1, but still good. I like that both Tywin and Cersei get some additional depth from the way they’re written and acted here. Arya was better this season than last. On the other hand, Daenerys wasn’t as gripping this season; her kickass moment at the end with the warlocks was too short and disappointing, and otherwise she did a lot of waiting around for other people. Margaery was great, much more sly and clever than I pictured (in the books, I see both her and Loras as young, friendly, and innocent-seeming, however much they scheme; movie Margaery is much less innocent).

Books, June 2012

*** Sir Walter Scott – Ivanhoe. This one starts off pretty slow, and that plus the rampant anti-semitism makes it hard to get into. But the story picks up and ends up being pretty entertaining. Regarding the anti-semitism, my guess is it was fairly enlightened for its time, but it’s kind of annoying to read now.
*** C.J. Sansom – Dissolution. Gotta love a decent historical murder mystery.
** Herman Melville – Moby Dick. I was unable to get into this one and drifted away from reading it.
**** George R. R. Martin – A Storm of Swords.

Movies, June 2012

**** A Game of Thrones, season 1. Most of the casting and characters were great. I liked Tyrion and Daenerys as much as I did in the books. Arya was a little meh, but on the other hand some of the characters (like Cersei) gain some additional depth from being inhabited by an actor.

Books, May 2012

*** Ken MacLeod – The Restoration Game. Huh. Even after reading a description of the plot, I don’t remember reading this. I gave it three stars, so I guess it was at least decent.
*** Murray Leinster – The Pirates of Ersatz, Scrimshaw, Talents, Incorporated. Good, old-fashion science fiction. All entertaining, mostly forgettable.
**** George R. R. Martin – A Game of Thrones.
**** George R. R. Martin – A Clash of Kings.

Movies, May 2012

*** The Avengers. Hey, that was pretty good. Robert Downey Jr. is always good, I thought the Hulk story was handled well, and the action was pretty good. It didn’t make a lick of sense, but what can you do. What a stupid way to invade a planet. Eh, whatever. I’m mildly interested in seeing future Avengers-related movies.

Books, April 2012

Man this was a long time ago and I’ve forgotten some of these books. Very short reviews follow.

*** Drew Magary – The Postmortal. Some entertaining speculative fiction — what would life be like if we couldn’t die? Not so great, it turns out. I enjoyed it.
** Neal Stephenson – Reamde. If this had been a lot shorter, it would have been a good escapist thriller or whatever, but it just went on too long without a whole lot of interesting stuff happening. I also didn’t really enjoy the female lead character who was clearly intended to be the kind of kickass female character who doesn’t just sit around waiting to be rescued — who spent a lot of the book sitting around waiting to be rescued.
** Joe Haldeman – Forever Peace. I don’t think I actually read this. I may have started it.
** John Steakley – Armor. Started this and was unable to be interested.
*** Charles Stross – Halting State. Moderately entertaining, pretty silly. Doesn’t really make me want to seek out more of his books, but I would be okay if I were stuck with it on a long flight.
*** Thomas Marcinko – Astronauts and Heretics. Entertaining short stories, but nothing that really stuck with me.