Obliq Museum: genoQs machines Octopus MIDI Sequencer

The genoQs machines Octopus MIDI sequencer is the all-time KING of step sequencers IMHO.  This hardware-only interface will boggle the mind of any laptop-jock, but for those like me that are into hardware this is probably one of the best sequencers that will ever be made.  This German engineered musical instrument controller is actually quite simple, ergonomic and elegant and packs a ton of power into your studio!  Any feature is less than two clicks away!

My only gripe is I’m not in my studio often enough and I tend to forget some of the steps for functionality; for example I always seem to hit the manual to remember how to put it in MIDI slave mode.  That is what cheat sheets are for.  If you have any handy cheat sheet references, leave a comment as I’d love to include them here.  I’ll upload mine soon.

Black Sea Octopus

The rare, limited edition genoQs machines Octopus Black Sea edition (#8 of 20) – King of MIDI Sequencers

I was so excited when I read about the release of this MIDI controller I contacted the manufacturer in Germany and put one on order.  Contractually I had to purchase through their US distributor but mine was the first one shipped to the USA.  A while later I had the chance to acquire the ultra cool and very limited Black Sea edition.  Although this is a beautiful edition, I ended up trading it and continued to use the original “Classic Legacy” edition in my studio.

Early in 2011 genoqs machines posted to the internet they were going to be going out of business; although they said they’d keep up their website and offer limited support.  Fast forward three years and their website is down and manuals and OS versions are hard to come by.  Often is the case with boutique equipment; I have no clue how many they sold, but with the several limited edition runs I suspect there are 200+ that made it to studios around the world!

UPDATE:  On 2/13/15 on the genoQs_users Yahoo Groups list it was announced that genoQs Mahines have put back up their website at http://www.genoqs.com.  This contains all the latest and greatest information that was there before.  I’ll continue to keep these things up on my site, but great news!

genoQs machines octopus

genoQs machines Octopus (now called Classic Legacy edition) – First one imported into the USA – the brains in my studio (even when I’m there!)

I decided I would post what documentation and operating systems I had to the internet as these are scattered around the web (at best), and may become hard to find in the future.  If you have other documentation that I don’t or OS versions and would like to add to this archive, I’d be glad to include it here, please contact me if that is the case.

Here are a couple of pretty useless videos i shot when I had both the Original and Black Sea versions; more eye candy than anything useful.

Here are some of the files, again if you have files that I don’t, I’d love to improve this archive so please let me know what you have!

Operating Systems

Manuals

  • Legacy v1.62
  • Black Sea v1.62 (NOTE:  The Black Sea and other editions have exactly the same functionality, just different colored LEDs that are described accurately in this version.)

Other

Tutorials

Links

  • Yahoo Groups (lots of documentation and updated OS for Octopus and Nemo)

Roland ProForm Series [TR-606 & TB-303] :: Obliq Museum

Was doing some cleaning and found this ad from an old Roland Users Group brochure.  I had no clue these were from the ProForm Series of musical instruments.  What is lost with time…they don’t talk about what the TR and TB stand for… Transistor Rhythm and Transistor Bassline.  Everything is COMPUTER CONTROLLED !

I love the tagline at the end… Roland :: We Want You To Understand The Future.  I guess they hit that nail directly on the head!

Roland ProForm Advertisement TR-606 and TB-303

Roland ProForm Advertisement TR-606 and TB-303

The new Roland ProForm Series is a group of interrelated products, each providing a specific musical function.  Like individual members of a band, each of the ProForm products can sync with others in the series to produce a totally programmable musical performance.  The first of the products in the ProForm Series are the TR-606 Drumatix and the TB-303 Bassline.

TR-606 Drumatix

The Drumatix is a totally programmable drum synthesizer sequencer.  The Drum sounds available on the TR-606 include: Bass, Snare, Lo and Hi Toms, Cymbal, Open and Closed Hi Hat.  Each sound has its own level control for total mix flexibility.

With the Drumatix, you can program 32 different Rhythm Patterns which can be arranged to play up to 8 complete Rhythm Tracks (songs).  After the Track has been programmed, the TR-606 can easily sync to other ProForm products, or many other products to play the complete drum track of the composition.

TB-303 BassLine

As the Drumatix is to the drums, the TB-303 is to the Bass, a fully programmable bass synthesizer sequencer.  The remarkable stable synthesizer section features full voice flexibility with dual waveforms and controls for Tuning, VCF Cutoff, Resonance, Envelope Modulation and Decay.  The programmable Accent and Slide functions bring true bass technique capabilities to the TB-303.

With the facility to produce up to 64 different Bass Patterns, the TB_303 BassLine allows you to arrange these into 7 different Bass Tracks, which can then be synced with Drum Tracks you’ve programmed into the Drumatix.  The BassLine also can be easily synced with many other products by the DIN Sync jack or the CV and Gate outputs.

The ProForm Series is bound to appeal to any creative person for writing music, practicing, or simply communicating ideas to other musicians.  Each of the products (and their are more to come), is battery operated with AC adapter capability, totally portable, furnished with a carrying case, and also contains a built-in headphone amplifier which lets you plug in a set of phones and write and practice music anywhere.

Roland

We Want You to Understand the Future

Electronic Music Lab from I.W. Turner, Inc. :: Obliq Museum

Recently I was rearranging a bit and pulled down these I.W. Turner, Inc. Electronic Music Lab modules from display in my studio.  I decided it was time to research these further and add some pictures for the Internet.  I have very little information about these modules so far so I’m assuming I.W. Turner, Inc. was a fairly small operation and I suspect these were marketed towards schools as educational modules.  Hopefully I will uncover more information in my search and update this post, and I’ll get a set of 9V batteries I’ll see what kind of sounds I can produce with these unique devices!  Looking into a couple (especially the Sequencer!) they are in a bit of dis-array inside, so I need to do some troubleshooting work as well.  We’ll see what I can come up with.  Contact me if you know ANYTHING at all about this company, these modules, or anyone that might have more information or modules!

I.W. Turner, Inc. Electronic Music Lab White Sound Generator

I.W. Turner, Inc. Electronic Music Lab White Sound Generator

I.W. Turner, Inc. Electronic Music Lab Triangle Wave Generator

I.W. Turner, Inc. Electronic Music Lab Triangle Wave Generator

I.W. Turner, Inc. Electronic Music Lab Square Wave Generator

I.W. Turner, Inc. Electronic Music Lab Square Wave Generator

I.W. Turner, Inc. Electronic Music Lab Sequencer

I.W. Turner, Inc. Electronic Music Lab Sequencer

I.W. Turner, Inc. Electronic Music Lab Sawtooth Wave Generator

I.W. Turner, Inc. Electronic Music Lab Sawtooth Wave Generator

I.W. Turner, Inc. Electronic Music Lab Filter

I.W. Turner, Inc. Electronic Music Lab Filter

I.W. Turner, Inc. Electronic Music Lab Mixer

I.W. Turner, Inc. Electronic Music Lab Mixer

I.W. Turner, Inc. Electronic Music Lab Electronic Switch

I.W. Turner, Inc. Electronic Music Lab Electronic Switch

 

UPDATE:  I did some searching and was able to chat with Donald Tillman who worked for I.W. Turner, Inc. and created several circuits for these modules.  Here is our email conversation:

Dave:  What was the target market and do you know roughly how many were available?

Donald:  The target market was specifically music classes in elementary and middle schools.

At the time synthesizers had just become popular (the development of Moog, Buchla, ARP synthesizers, Switched-on Bach, the synth in progressive rock music, Beatles, the Monkees, the hokey Moog albums, etc.) and this was a way to introduce children to some of the basic concepts in electronic music in their school music classes.  An untapped market.

The “modules” were all self contained, battery powered, very simple.  They usually came in a set of 8 (?) with a wooden rack.  They were sold through music education distributors, and maybe some direct.  They were never intended to compete in the regular synth market, and they were never sold in regular music stores.

 Dave:  Do you still stay in contact with I. W. Turner, Inc. or have contact information so I can reach them for more information?

 Donald:  I don’t, unfortunately.  I really should have stayed in touch.

“I. W. Turner” is a fictitious name; there’s nobody that we know of with that name.

The company was founded by William Fish who lives in Port Washington.  He’s a very accomplished music educator in the Port Washington public schools and community bands.  And he’s a bit of an  an inventor and entrepreneur.  The company was mostly him.  And he hired neighborhood school kids and neighbors to do some of the manufacturing and other work.

The first IW Turner product was an electronic metronome.  Again, intended for the school market.

 Dave:  Can you elaborate more specifically on what you did for them while you worked there?  Can you talk to any of the modules that you designed, or any fun stories from that time working there?   I am starting from scratch and know nothing, so any information you could share would be wonderful.

 Donald: I was a very nerdy kid and pretty accomplished in music and electronics at an early age.  Bill was the band director at the high school, I showed him some cool electronic music thing I built, I think it was a ring modulator, and he hired me part time.  This was probably in 1973.

At the time I joined he had the modules in production, but my ring modulator circuit (based on the Motorola MC1496) sounded much better than his original (a transformer and diode circuit).  Not only was my circuit more accurate, it was an aesthetically more musical sound, and it showed off what a ring modulator does much more dramatically (which was the main point of the product).  And it was a lot less expensive to manufacture.  So he switched to using my circuit for the ring modulator module.  Then similarly with the triangle, sawtooth and square generators.

Basically, if the module has an IC in it, it’s my design.  Otherwise it’s one of the original designs that Bill had some consultant do.

The sequencer was completely mine.  It’s a composing sequencer inspired by an article in either Popular Electronics Magazine or Radio Electronics Magazine (I forget which) about the Triadex Muse, which was an MIT project using digital logic chips and pseudo random sequences to compose weird little tunes.

My sequencer does interesting things by adjusting the weights on a 5-bit binary counter (really four bit, but the clock is a square wave so we can pretend it’s a 5 bit count).  All CMOS.  If you set the top knobs to 5 2.5, 1.25, 0.625, 0.3125 you’ll get an up staircase.  And a down staircase for negative numbers.

It’s simple, but nothing else sounds like it.  There’s usually one note that’s lower than all the others, and so it goes something like “deedle-deedle doodle-deedle deedle-deedle BLAT!”.  And I always thought that the BLAT gave it a ton of personality.

UPDATE: 

A blog reader, Tony Bingham, recently contacted me and shared some photos of his Time metronome from I.W. Turner.  These are great pictures and I wanted to share them as well; thanks to Tony for allowing me to post these photos!

IW Turner Time metronome IW Turner Time Metronome

Selling (or trade?) my analog sequencer genoQs Octopus

This is the king of Analog-style analog sequencers, it is VERY rare and powerful! I actually ended up with two of these amazing sequencers; and that is simply more sequencing power than I need and I’m looking to sell or perhaps a trade is more what I’m looking at. If you are interested, let’s talk!

genoQs Octopus LegacyThis genoQs Octopus Classic Legacy is one of the first ones to make it into the United States. This German sequencer is absolutely beautiful in hardwood and in great condition; its built like a tank! For those unfamiliar with this hardware sequencer, it is currently only a MIDI sequencer but I suspect since the operating system is Open Source (thank you genoQs!!!) that there could be an OSC version coming…we’ll have to wait and see on that.

The sequencer may look intimidating at first; but after you get your head around the workflow it actually is very musical and easy to create great sequences with. It has 2 MIDI ports (A & B) with an In/Out for 16-channels on each port. The circle area controls the transport, chording, transpose, bpm and other various sequencer controls. The rectangle grid are the sequencer tracks. 10 rows of 16 steps that can be expanded to a single track of 160 steps, or any number of tracks/step combinations that you desire. Completely configurable. One way I like to use this is set up a page with each of the 10 rows being a different MIDI note number. Then you can craft your sequence across the 16 steps and always be in key (one thing I didn’t like about older analog sequencers without quantization). Of course, this is just one way to craft patches with the sequencer; there are many many more!

Another cool feature of this sequencer is it is a great hardware sequencer for your software/laptop setup. You can control Ableton, Logic or other sequencing packages and configure all the knobs (which have many banks to extend the amount of knobs) to be real-time control of whatever parameters of your soft synths! So you are in full control of your soft synths with an analog-style sequencer; with plenty of knobs to change parameters in real-time! This is another amazing way to utilize the sequencer.

If you are familiar with Elektron style sequencers and parameter locks; the Octopus can do this too. On any given step of your sequence you can adjust anything of that step (note, length, start, etc etc etc etc); whether you’re hooked to a laptop, keyboard, drum machine, sampler or whatever. The object-based design makes the user interface powerful and you’ll be creating amazing patterns quickly. There are also really great chording features with a “strum” mode and transpose is powerful in performance too. For editing, you can play around in a temporary “buffer” and if you want to revert it is a simply click away! The sequencer then lets you chain with some really sweet chaining features.

You can record from an external keyboard/sequencer/computer to load your sequences. I was able to make it control surround sound using MIDI CCs which is really sweet by recording surround control from my iPad! I suspect with a little work you can control all your Christmas lights with this thing too…it has been a dream of mine to do; but I’m not a Christmas lights kind of guy…

There are 3 general modes, the Grid mode which is mainly used for control of patterns; double-clicking on a button in the grid drills you into one of the 160 pages which is full of your tracks with sequences. You can adjust, create, delete, and generally control your sequences from this mode. However, double-clicking on a button in Page Mode takes you into the step mode on that step where you can see and adjust all the detailed parameters of a given step. The Esc button takes you back out a level; so everything this can do is basically one or two button presses away. Note there is no LED or computer screen; this is a good thing with this sequencer!!! Again, once you understand the paradigm it is a simple and powerful sequencer! I’ve demoed this for very sophisticated software sequencing musicians before and they wanted to write a Max/Ableton patch to give a computer-based representation of the sequencer…I just laugh as they obviously don’t “get it” and are making things way way too complicated!

If you’re familiar with the classic Latronic Notron sequencer, this also has the concept of hyper steps; I believe the Notron was the initial inspiration for this sequencer.

I recommend you visit YouTube and do a search as there are some great instructional how-to videos that will get you up to speed very quickly!
first… http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RzpLp0VNEkE&feature=related
then this one… http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fiK6SCRRMIw&feature=related

This isn’t an iPad or computer; it is hardware, so you will need to take a little time with the manual and/or these how-to videos but I was able to get great music out of this within an hour of opening the box! Heck, the first thing I did was drag your hand across the grid and then sit in awe for minutes on how amazing this sequencer is! Once you have the basics down the unit becomes intuitive and very quick to create music and sequences! For me, only one other manufacturer of gear has ever been as creative (Elektron Sweden).

The unit is in great condition and has only been out of the house once–I used it at an smoke-free venue for an electronic music festival. Laptop jocks take note…with this thing in front of you, there will be a line of people watching you memorized by all the blinking 3 color LED lights, silver ball bearing buttons and custom made brushed bolt/knobs. It really adds a dimension to a live show, especially if you are mainly a laptop jock–it’s the perfect companion (I think watching laptop jocks perform is rather boring; add an Octopus and your audience will be transformed!). There is nothing better, however, than having the Octopus sitting next to a modular analog synthesizer; it’s the perfect compliment for any studio or live rig!

So, why am I getting rid of it you ask? I acquired a limited edition version (Black Sea) and that is just more eye candy (like that is needed as this is already ultra-eye candy, but I’m a guy and a gear nerd, so I had to have it)! I’m actually torn as I really like the Classic Legacy version (this one I’m offering) too; it sits beautifully in my studio that has several synths with wood sides. I guess I _may_ be able to be talked out of the Black Sea version instead; but that will require a lot more in trade/cash to persuade me!

I’m looking for analog polyphonic (or perhaps monophonic?) keyboard synthesizers…Dave Smith, Moog, Alesis A6 that type of thing; but am open to suggestions.

Shoot me an email if you have interest in any kind of trade or cash offers and we can go from there.

Arp 2600 Rev 3 – Classic Analog Semi-modular Synthesizer :: Obliq Museum

Wow, this was an amazing piece of gear. Lots of tracks from the Obliq archives and official releases contained this piece. I sold it to re-gear and bought an Octopus and other gear with it. I miss it; but it definitely made its way into a ton of tracks so I can’t say I’m too sorry to see it gone; but I am!

Here are some tracks that included this beast:
Freq Modif – almost all the early tracks
Freq Modif – Larkspur
Multicast – El Sid (the last Arp 2600 track we did)

arp2600

Arp 2600 Rev 3 + Keyboard

Arp 2600 Rev 3 + Keyboard

Arp 2600 Rev 3 + Keyboard

Arp 2600 Rev 3 + Keyboard

Arp 2600 Rev 3 + Keyboard

Arp 2600 Rev 3 + Keyboard

Arp 2600 Rev 3 + Keyboard

Arp 2600 Rev 3 + Keyboard

Arp 2600 Rev 3 + Keyboard

Arp 2600 Rev 3 + Keyboard

Steiner Parker Synthasystem Modular :: Obliq Museum

What an killer synthesizer. The filter is absolutely piercing, it sounds like it could literally shred your speaker.

This was made in the mid-70’s and only a small handful were produced. I doubt you will see many of these go for sale in the upcoming years (if not decade!) and I would be surprised to see one in better shape. This thing can produce some crazy sounds; great for sci-fi type stuff !!!

I was contacted by David Ingebretsen about this unit over the course of several years as he used to work for Steiner Parker assembling synthesizers. He wanted to find everything he could about building the synth that he always wanted. Well, he teamed up with Nyle Steiner and made Steiners avaiable again!!! Check out his website for more information DIY Synthasystem right now!!!

This exact unit was had a cameo in the 2004 documentary on Haack: The King of Techno; this one came from Stony Brook University in New York and was in some of the archive footage.  Bruce Haack used this modular is his early works!

Steiner-Parker Synthasystem

Steiner-Parker Synthasystem

Steiner-Parker Synthasystem

Steiner-Parker Synthasystem – Back :: Power and Keyboard sockets

Steiner-Parker Synthasystem

Steiner-Parker Synthasystem – Keyboard … I love the design of this modular!

Steiner-Parker Synthasystem

Steiner-Parker Synthasystem – Extra controls for the Keyboard

Steiner-Parker Synthasystem

Steiner-Parker Synthasystem Keys

Steiner-Parker Synthasystem

Steiner-Parker Synthasystem

Steiner-Parker Synthasystem

Steiner-Parker Synthasystem – Front Panel closeup

The following text is taken from The A-Z of Analogue Synthesizers, by Peter Forrest, published by Susurreal Publishing, Devon, England, copyright 1994 Peter Forrest

Modules:
Name: VCO 1
Size (unitwidths): 4

This module is a Voltage Controlled Oscillator, with knobs for frequency (large knob), fine tune (small knob) and pulse width. There is also 4 knobs to attenuate/mix the output levels of each of the four waveforms (triangle, sine, sawtooth, and pulse. Each waveform has two output jacks each. To control the frequency, there are 3 voltage control inputs and one other variable voltage control input. The variable input has a small screw for adjusting the volts per octave. There are also control inputs for phase reset and for pulse width.

Name: VCO2
Size (unitwidths): 2

This Voltage Controlled Oscillator is a simpler in design with knobs for frequency, fine tune, output level of sine waveform and output level of the sawtooth waveform. Sine and sawtooth are the only waveforms available with this module. 3 voltage control inputs control the frequency, one of them being variable with a small screw adjusting the volts per octave. There is an additional control input for phase reset.

Name: VCO3
Size (unitwidths): 1

Simple Voltage Controlled Oscillator with knobs for frequency and level only. There are 2 fixed control inputs and one variable, as well as a phase reset input. This oscillator was probably designed to be used as a control voltage (LFO).

Name: VCF
Size (unitwidths): 2

This is a multimode Voltage Controlled Filter which can be switched via a knob to low-pass, high-pass, or band-pass. There are also knobs for Frequency and for Resonance (Q). There are three signal inputs and two signal outputs. For control voltages, there are two inputs, one of them variable.

Name: Noise
Size (unitwidths): 1

This is a simple Noise Generator with a knob for level, a switch which chooses either white or pink noise, and two signal outputs.

Name: Balanced Modulator
Size (unit widths): 1

This is also known as a Ring modulator with an input for the signal, an input for the carier, and an output for the resulting waveform. There is a knob to adjust the amounts of the signal and the carrier and an adjustment screw (CAR. NULL) for finding the null point. There is also a switch between MULT. and SQUARE.

Name: Input Amp
Size (unit widths): 1

This is an Input Amplifier with three inputs, including one 1/4-inch jack. There is a knob for level 2 switches for selecting low/high gain, and flat/RIAA equalization.

Name: V.C. Trigger Generator
Size (unit widths): 2

This is a Voltage Control Trigger Generator module with a knob for both duration and rate. There are buttons for Gate and Manual, as well as a RUN switch. There are voltage control inputs for rate, duration, and triger gate. There are 4 trigger outputs.

Name: Sample and Hold
Size (unit widths): 1

This module seems to be two Sample & Hold modules in one. It has two knobs for level, two signal inputs, two trigger inputs as well as two signal outs. There is also switch labeled COM.

Name: Triple Envelope Generator
Size (unit widths): 4

“Steiner Parker Envelopes are quite unique. Envelopes 1 & 2 are ADS/ADSR. ADS or ADSR determined by the DAMP switch. Envelope 3 is more complex. It can be either ASD/ASDR or ATD/ATDR (T=Time). Time or Sustain is determined by the EXT switch. Also note that time/sustain segment is before decay.

Details
“The “TRIPLE ENVELOPE GEN.” module has 3 trigger inputs, and 3 CV outputs labelled:
TRIGGER INPUTS Com. 1 2 3
ENVELOPE OUTPUTS Com. 1 2 3
ENVELOPE 1:
(Knobs) ATTACK DURATION LEVEL DECAY OUTPUT LEVEL
(switches) QTN DAMP

ENVELOPE 2:
(Knobs) ATTACK DURATION LEVEL DECAY OUTPUT LEVEL
(switches) CON. QTN DAMP

ENVELOPE 3:
(Knobs) ATTACK DURATION LEVEL DECAY OUTPUT LEVEL
(switches) CON. EXT DAMP

“DURATION = Sustain (I will use S=Sustain and D=Decay in notes below)

“The DAMP feature on Env 1 & 2 dampens the release time. With Damp off, the decay time is also the release time. With Damp on the release time is supposed to be turned off. This is similar to the minimoog’s release on/off (in reverse), but the damp doesn’t work perfectly, so with full decay (about 8 seconds) you get about 1/3 second release time.

“The QTN feature on Env 1 & 2 effects how the envelope responds to a short gate time. With QTN on the Env switches from the attack segment to the decay segment upon release of a note, the decay segment runs from that level. With QTN off the attack segment always completes its full cycle time before the decay then runs its full cycle.

“The EXT feature of ENV 3 determines whether the Duration Time is a fixed duration set by the knob (up to about 3 seconds on mine) or if the Duration Time matches the incoming gate signal.

“The COM. feature on the right side of Env 2 & 3 determines whether the envelope trigger input comes from the respective trigger inputs 2 & 3 or from the Com. 1 trigger input.

“The COM. feature on the left side of Env 2 & 3 determines whether the envelope output goes to the respective output 2 & 3 or to the Com. 1 output. This allows you to layer envelopes to the same destination without an external CV mixer.”
[by Mike Kent]

Name: Tuner Monitor
Size (unitwidths): 2

This module has an input, an output and a mono headphone out 1/4-inch jack. There is a 4 position knob selecting between OUT, MON., TUNE, and T. OUT and a small screw marked REF. TUNE.

Name: VCA/mixer
Size (unitwidths): 2

This Voltage Controlled Amplifier module has three inputs, each with its own Gain knob. There are two voltage control inputs, a knob for overall gain, and one signal out.

Name: ?.
Size (unitwidths): 2

This module has no name. It contains 4 sets of 4 points multiples, two labled for keyboard voltage. The on/off switch is here, as well as connection for power (+12V, -12V, Ground)

Arp 1623 Sequencer :: Obliq Museum

Wow, what an incredible sequencer. The latest version of this great and classic sequencer, the Rev 3. This was a lot of fun and was used in MANY of our tracks. I got it from New Mexico and it came with an Arp Axxe Rev 3; the sequencer was never used! It went to a collector’s home in Europe and I’m sure is still babied!

Arp 1623 Sequencer

Arp 1623 Sequencer

Arp 1623 Sequencer

Arp 1623 Sequencer