A short history of my obsession with analog electronic instruments

In December of last year, I bought at Volca Beats drum machine. My fascination for analog electronic instruments began a few years ago when I heard about Make Noise – a company which makes modular synthesizers – on a podcast.

So I brought home this 150€ drum machine and started to dabble. Within days, I was consuming every bit of information about how it worked. I watched hours of tutorials, and videos of people playing, read the entire manual, as well as articles about it and other Volca models (yes, there are others). I played for hours. I was hooked.

Upon returning to Europe in January, I wanted to get more Volcas. There appear to be different schools of thought here, about which Volcas one should have in their arsenal. Indeed, many start with the Beats. Leaning how to use a drum machine first seems like a logical choice when one is learning to make music which is mostly about the beat. Some would suggest the Sample as a second unit. I certainly considered it. I chose to go with the Bass and Keys – some might call it a conservative set but one with which I'm perfectly happy.

I love the Volca Bass and Beat combo, so much so that I barely touched the Keys the first week. Syncing the Volcas is made easy with the built-in sync ports. For mixing, a ‘star splitter’ may be used instead of a full-fledged mixing console, which is what I used for the first few weeks. After much research and consideration, I settled on an Allen & Heath ZED-10FX mixing console.

The last piece of the puzzle arrived in the mail today: the Arturia Beatstep Pro. A versatile sequencer and MIDI controller, it is the centerpiece to my setup. I should also mention I'm using a Miditech Midi Thru/Filter to spit the MIDI connection from the Beatstep Pro to the Volcas. It's the only splitter I found which can filter out specific types of MIDI messages, like system messages, which is useful. Thanks to these guys for their great Volca setup video.

v.1.0 of my electronic music setup

Surely this setup will soon be upgraded – I'm already looking at a MIDI keyboard.

Author

Sebastien Couture

Host at Epicenter, a podcast which explores the current state and potential future of the blockchain and cryptocurrency industry.

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