Features of the Lintronics Advanced Memorymoog Update 2.3
of the German Keyboards magazine (January 1991)
- MIDI IN and OUT
- additional stereo output jacks
- special MIDI processor
- special System processor
- stable tuning
- improved Autotune function
- Pitch Bend, Modulation, and Octave Transpose add to CV output
- Filter Input (optional)
2. Software (operating system)
- twice as fast
- improved Keyboard and Arpeggiator modes.
- Split function in Arpeggiator mode*
- New Pot Lock function (to increase CPU speed)
- Key Hold*
- programmable Octave switch*
- Omni/Poly Mode
- separate MIDI channel settings (IN and OUT)
- MIDI Filter (Controller, Program Change, SysEx,Wheels)
- Local on/off
- MIDI Clock (to synchronize the Arpeggiator)*
- Aftertouch, Velocity and Modulation reception (assignable to any pot)*
- System Exclusive for single sounds or 100 sounds
- realtime transmission and reception of all pot- and switch changes through MIDI controllers
- play while receiving System Exclusive dumps
* = storable per sound
Almost every Memorymoog owner has likely developed an ambivalent relationship to his or her instrument over the last few years. On the positive side are, without a doubt, the instrument's fat "analog" sounds, its enormous versatilityand sonic resources. On the other hand are the Memorymoog's almost legendary (and often nerve-wracking) unreliability and susceptibility to breakdowns. The user often becomes a regular guest at the local repair center (even if he or shedoesn't want to be). Can this frustration ever cease?...
Yes. The Lintronics company in Nuremberg (Germany indeed) presents with its ADVANCED MEMORYMOOG product an upgrade for the Memorymoog that is so comprehensive that it catapults the Memorymoog back to the forefront of polyphonic synthesizers. The retrofit covers both the hardware and software and (how could it be otherwise?) adds MIDI functionality to the good old axe.
However, in the eyes of the Advanced Memorymoog's father, Rudi Linhard, the MIDI upgrade is of secondary importance. Linhard's priority in designing the Advanced Memorymoog was to correct conceptual weakness in the original Memorymoog design, and to transform the Memorymoog into a reliable and tuning-stable (!) instrument. Many hardware modifications were undertaken to accomplish this goal, and the operating system was rewritten from the ground up. As I don t have space to describe the function and architecture of the "old" Memorymoog here, I will limit the discussion to a description of the differences between a stock Memorymoog and the Advanced Memorymoog.
The Memorymoog hardware is modified in the following ways by the retrofit:
* four new jacks are fitted into the rear expansion slot's cover plate; two MIDI ports (IN/OUT),
* one 1/4" stereo output jack and one 1/4" mono output jack. The stereo jack accepts a pair of high impedance headphones. If the second (mono) output jack is used simultaneously with the stereo jack, then the Memorymoog's six voices are spread across the stereo field (the placement of the individual voices is fixed internally). The volume of the stereo output can only be adjusted with the programmable volume pot, and the value can bestored with each individual sound.
* the power supply is checked for cold solder joints and is made readworthy.
* the six voice cards are removed, checked, repaired if necessary and modified for Auto Tune. This modification guarantees the longterm stability of the oscillators.
* the Demux Board is removed, checked for cold solder joints and modified for Pitch Bending, Modulation Wheel, Foot Pedal 1 and Octave board.
* the Common Analog Board is removed, checked for cold solder joints, repaired if necessary and modified for Pitch Bending, Modulation Wheel, Foot Pedal 1, Stereo Output and Transpose. After this mod, the cutoff frequency in Keyboard Tracking mode is not only controllable by keyboard position, but also by the transpose switch, tune control and pitch wheel.
* the Octave Board is modified so that the setting of the octave switch can be stored on a per sound basis.
* the Digital Board is rebuilt so that the reset switch functions reliably.
* all of the pot knobs and both front panels are removed, and all of the pots are checked and replaced if necessary. The front panel is cleaned, missing or defective knobs are replaced with original Moog parts (as availability permits).
The Advanced Memorymoog's rewritten operating system greatly simplifies the operation of the Memorymoog, as the display now shows much more information than before. In addition, the many enhancements to the operating system offer possibilities that were sorely missed in the original Memorymoog, as well as removing blemishes from thestock Memorymoog operating system. Among the major differences are:
* the Octave switch setting can now be stored on a per sound basis.
* a change in the keyboard mode causes the display to show the current mode instead of just the word "EDIT". In addition, the selection of the operating mode and number of voices has been simplified by the omission of the need to hit the ENTER key for these choises.
* the Pot Lock function is new, and allows the user to prevent the Memorymoog's central processor from continually polling the positions of the potentiometers. This prevents the accidental "editing" of sounds (e.g. during a live gig), and also frees up processor capacity, enabling faster arpeggiation and MIDI processing.
* a Split function has been added to the arpeggiation section, which allows the lower two octaves of the keyboard to be played normally, while the upper three octaves are used for arpeggiation. All arpeggiation modes (UP, DOWN, UP/DOWN), with and without splits, can now be locked with the Key Hold function.
* the stock Memorymoog's operating system would crash when the program sequencer was called up with an empty sequence. The Advanced Memorymoog now simply displays "CLEARED" in this case.
Here is an overall view of the menus:
The Advanced Memorymoog has now a rich MIDI implementation. OMNI and POLY Mode are available, Local Off issupported, and the MIDI send and receive channels are freely selectable. Six data filters are provided:
Wheels on/off, Potentiometers on/off, Program Change on/off, System Exclusive on/off, Switches on/off and remaining Controllers on/off. All of the filters with the exception of Wheels on/off (MIDI IN only) operate on both incoming and outgoing MIDI data streams. System Exclusive supports the transfer of either individual sounds or complete banks of 100 sounds.
The Advanced Memorymoog receives Program Changes, Channel Pressure (Aftertouch, affects Modulation), Controller 1 (Mod.Wheel), 2 (Breath Controller, interpreted as Foot Pedal 1), 4 (Foot Controller, also imported as Foot Pedal 1), 5 (portamento amount) and 7 (volume, understood as Programmable Volume). Polyphonic aftertouch and velocity messages are ignored.
All pots, switches and buttons on the Memorymoog can be addressed via MIDI, so that, for example, controller movements can be recorded in real-time with a sequencer. This makes the dynamic control of sounds from within a sequence possible.
4. Bankloader/Manager Software
An Atari ST Bankloader/Manager program (called L.A.M.B.) is included with the Advanced Memorymoog retrofit. It supports the up/downloading and management of sounds, but not editing. The program is divided into four main work areas (pages): the Main Page, Folder Page, Help Page and Multi-Wave Page.The naming, categorizing (eleven categories are available) and sorting of sounds takes place on the Folder Page. The sounds can be sorted by name and category, and printed if desired. The Help Page displays an English summary of the program, as well as a list of supported keyboard commands. Data transfers between the computer and Advanced Memorymoog are done from the Main Page. The copying and swapping of sounds is also done here. The copy and swap operations proved to be troublesome, as the 100 sounds in a bank are only represented numerically here, in contrast to the use of names on the Folder Page. A more elegant solution would have been to place the swap and copy operations directly on the Folder Page itself. The Multi-Wave Page is an especially interesting feature. The user can assign a character to each sound, and then create a "playlist" in the form of a character string. Playing a key on the Memorymoog then calls the individual sounds from the memorymoog at a user selected speed. This allows the creation of jam-loops a la Roland D-50, sonic transitions between sounds, wave sequences etc. Almost no limitations are placed on the user's imagination, although good results are only attainable through a careful selection of sounds.
The author of the Bankloader/Manager, Franz Branntwein, deliberately omitted editing facilities in the program, saying that "the Memorymoog itself is the best editor imaginable." This is, in my opinion, certainly true, but this overlooks the fact that algorithmic patch generation facilitities would have been useful in a synth with such complex voice architecture as the Memorymoog.
5. Using the Advanced Memorymoog
Working with the Advanced Memorymoog proves to be much easier than with a stock Memorymoog. Operation is much simpler and faster because of the greater amount of information presented in the display, and sound management becomes child's play with the Bankloader/ Manager software and MIDI.
These things aside, the stability of the oscillators is what will likely impress Memorymoog connoisseurs the most. In the two months that I worked with the Advanced Memorymoog, I had, believe it or not, absolutely no tuning problems!
As with every piece of new technology, there are some points on the Advanced Memorymoog which could be improved. For example, it would be nice if the arpeggio in Split Mode could be placed on either the right or left half of the keyboard at will. The Bankloader/Manager software could be made a bit more convenient. The fact that MIDI velocity data cannot be assigned to various internal parameters is unfortunate, as it would make the instrument even more expressive. On the last point, Rudi Linhard has informed me that a software update this spring will allow the assignment of each of velocity, aftertouch and modulation to any pot, making this criticism unfounded.
Rudi Linhard has actually succeeded in transforming a good but unreliable instrument into a much better and trustworthy instrument. It seems that the Memorymoog has a special place in Rudi Linhard's heart, and that he will listen to user requests and continue to develop and improve his Advanced Memorymoog. But even his first version of the refit is a definite must for every real fan of the Memorymoog.
written by : Matthias Becker (Keyboards Magazine, Germany)
translated by: Michael Lyons (a good friend)