Saturday, December 10, 2016

In the Beginning There Were VCOs, and They Were Good

Sooooo, where do I begin? I've always been a bit of a nerd, I love to geek out, I memorized Radio Shack catalogs in the 80s for fun, and my childhood electronics kit was a most cherished posession. I started jamming on guitar about six years ago but to be honest, I'm awful at the axe. I started keyboard lessons at the end of summer, and while I'm not a natural, it's coming to me easier than guitar ever did.

The reason I started taking lessons was due to the purchase of a Novation Bass Station II on Black Friday of 2015. I had decided that I wanted to tinker with analog synths and Pro Audio Star had a stonking good deal on the Bass Station II. For grins I checked their site on Black Friday 2016 and they had them for 300 bucks, which is mind boggling when you compare the Bass Station II to other 300 dollar synths. The Bass Station II, or BSII as it's often referred to, seems to have started out on the wrong foot with the online community. I suspect the main reason is the lack of adjustable filter tracking. After that a lot of peeps started to claim the Bass Station II sounded vanilla, lacked character, etc. Contrary to the internet's lack of enthusiasm for Novation's synth, I find the Bass Station II sound to be warm, rich in analog character, and flexible. Attack Magazine named it one of the 10 best monophonic synths and Paul Hartnoll of Orbital seems to like it too.

There are a few things I don't like about the BSII.  I'm not a fan of step sequencers where you can't visualize the pattern and mute notes but the BSII's step sequencer gets the job done in a pinch. I also find the distortion a bit aggressive, there isn't a warm sweet spot, but you can always add saturation to the signal externally. I doubt you'll need to do it often as this board sounds warm and analog to my ears. Finally, some of the function key combinations are a bit odd, and I find myself forgetting about some features, the slew feature comes to mind.

The BSII is monophonic, which means you play one note at a time. This may sound limiting but when combined with some external sequencing it can be extremely powerful. Check out some examples of sequencing with Elektron gear.

A lot has happened since I bought the BSII but that's another blog for another day. I have several analog synths now but I just love this thing to bits.

Thanks for Reading

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