Tackling the build of the Pocket Operator Modular 400 after doing the 170 was a good idea! Whist the build is quite straight forward, there were a few things that I learned along the way with the POM-170 that made it a lot more straight forward the second time around.

To start with, the bending of the metal chassis was more familiar and whilst some of the actual bends were more ‘extreme’, bending beyond 90° angles, I definitely felt that I had developed a good technique, bending against the flat surface of my tabletop, bending the whole surface slowly at the same time, doing my best not to ‘crack the paint’ by doing it too quickly.

The POM-400 build differs from the POM-170 in that you do all the chassis bending as the first step, so once it’s done that, and put together the main structure, really feels like you’ve done the majority of the ‘scary’ stuff.

A should let you know that whilst I was building the 400, I was also watching the ‘POM-400 live build’ video that Tobias and Albin from TE did during Midnight Operator Episode 8. This was a bit like building with a buddy and I highly recommend it!

Putting in the power distribution and modules was really easy and straight forward. I used the technique of attaching the spacers to the chassis first, then attaching to the module to the spacers. I found this easy as I could do the vast majority of screw-tightening by hand. The final *loose* tightening I did with a screw-driver rather than the included tool.

The 400 has a lot of modules, and as such, by the time all were installed, there were cables everywhere! I decided to get some yellow cable ties and organise this prior to attaching the front face-plate with the modules to the back chassis.

The final piece of the puzzle, once everything is screwed together is attaching all of the lego-styled knobs. This takes some time, and precision to ensure that all of them are set to zero in the same place.

I found this a really straight forward build, and even though there are a lot more modules, it probably took me around the same build time as the 170.

Sounds and patch ideas to come!

“I admit it… I’m a total music nerd”

So… I’m a totally sucker for making from kits… I get heaps of satisfaction from putting together all sorts of noise and music making devices including Bleep Labs Thingamagoop 2 RGB and Cat Full of Ghosts Yowler synth.

I even enjoy ripping open old 80’s battery operated keyboards and connecting wires in places just to see what happens. Often nothing, sometimes fun weird things. I admit it… I’m a total music nerd.

I’ve been super excited to get hold of Teenage Engineering Pocket Modular synths, so by the time the PO-400 and PO-170 arrived, I was itching to rip open the ‘flat pack’ boxes and get into it.

I thought I’d start with building the 170, as it’s a bit smaller, and I thought I should document the build process and then be able to give a couple of working tips to help others get their build right the ‘first time’.

The other thing I am a sucker for is a good aesthetic. Teenage Engineering does this down to the smallest minutia…. packaging. leads. font. graphics. dimensions. colour. I love it all.

My first piece of advice for fellow builders is to put all of the screws and small pieces in small containers. I did this to ensure that they didn’t roll of my table or get lost amongst the stuff on my desk.

Second piece of advice is to attach the power distro board first. If you put the modules in to start with, you’ll find that some of the power distro screws are difficult to reach, and you really only want to be putting in these screws once, as they have the potential to thread the metal casing if tighten too much, or are screwed in and out too many times.

FWIW, I attached the spacers to the case before I attached them to the modules. This is different to what the build guide suggests, but I found that it worked really well.

I attached the power distro, modules and speaker before bending the metal casing. The speaker fits pretty snug in the space, so when you’re attaching the modules to the power distro, connect them to the centre plugs, because they won’t fit next to the speaker when you bend the case into place.

The bending itself feels like a critical point in the build that you don’t want to get wrong. I bent by pushing the edges into the table top. I was able to do it slow, methodically, with an even pressure that allowed for good results at the bend points.

After bending the metal frame, attaching the keyboard module with its rubber stopper was really straight forward. A tip for attaching the stick-on key-bed is to spend a little time identifying the horizontal alignment and centre position, because this is a part you are only going to be wanting to attach one time.

Once everything is in and screwed together, you can start putting in all of the lego-styled knobs. Pay attention here to the small indentations in each and align them to the zero-point of the potentiometer. The small ones in particular are pretty fiddly to get on, so it’s good to get it right the first time.

If I was to point you in the direction of the most helpful resources for this build, I found both TE’s PO-modular 170 online guide and Alissa’s build video the most useful.

Last week I did a Live-Stream for Ableton User Group Melbourne, the group that I facilitate with fellow Ableton Certified Trainer Ben Murphy. We usually run once a month In Real Life meet-ups, but have been doing live stream events since Melbourne was locked down a couple of months back.

In this stream I covered a bunch of topics asked by AUGM members, ranging from sound-design to room treatment and what’s on my Master Channel.

Speaking of what is on my master-channel… the plugins I talk about in this video are Mastering the Mix’s Reference and Levels, as well as Izotope’s Tonal Balance Control and Insight 2.

Together, they’re a great combination that allows me to really listen more deeply to certain elements of my tracks, to be able to analyse and reference my tracks against the mix of other tracks I like.

I recently sat down (over zoom) with James Jennings to do this interview about my new “Cinematic Rhythms” course for Melodics, as well as a little about my musical past and things that have shaped my musical path.

If you’re unfamiliar with Melodics, it’s a Music training app for Keys, Pads and Drums. Available for both computer and iOS.

Check it out @Melodics

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Last Saturday I got to walk-through how I set up and connect the Teenage Engineering OP-Z, Faderfox UC-4, iPad and Ableton Live

Big thanks to Yarra Libraries, Ben Willis, Saddiva and Innovative Music for all helping to make a great arvo.

đź“·Ben Willis

I began using the name Winterpark in 2005 for a collaborative studio project that then evolved into a wonderful band featuring myself, Jordy and Karl. As a duo with Jordy we toured internationally, and then as a band with Jordy, Kate and Alice we toured nationally.

After that, I spent some time as a solo project, then started collaborating with Susannah and Dan, did some more collaborations, including an awesome art show to release my Sunday Morning album, so some shows and released more music.

My most recent EP releases have been very much a solo project, and with 2020 and a new decade, it’s time to formalize that change. It’s time to stop making music under the name Winterpark (…for now?!). Watch this space for more music and projects to come out under my actual name.

For posterity, here’s a picture of the first-ever Winterpark show, at a friend’s backyard in Fitzroy.

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Last month I ran a Process Lab workshop at Arts Centre Melbourne as part of Melbourne Music Week focusing on Mobile Music Making. I am pretty obsessed with mobile music-making devices and enjoy the unique workflows that these sort of devices provide you.

There were a number of focuses on this workshop including Sampling in iOS using Koala Sampler, the teenage engineering PO30-KO! and OP-Z, and I went through workflows and techniques on how to integrate these portable devices into your Ableton Live studio setup.

I also showed some of my favourite iOS apps for iPad including AUM, Fugue Machine, Spacecraft, Patterning 2, Eos 2, Enso and Samplr, how you can create a digital connection to route audio directly into Live without the need for an audio interface, and how you can sync it all up using Ableton Link.

Big thanks to The Channel at Arts Centre Melbourne and MMW.

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Some of the workshops I’ve been doing lately have been focused on the unique workflows of Teenage Engineering’s awesome portable devices, the OP-1, OP-Z and Pocket Operator series.

I’ve been a huge fan of Teenage Engineering products for a long time since I first bought my OP-1 seven or so years ago.

So, I’m really excited to now be featured on the Teenage Engineering website as one of their mentors of #ems.

Expect some more Ableton Live x Teenage Engineering things from me soon, including the next Process Lab – Mobile Music Making event on November 15.

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Changes Festival has been a fantastic addition to Melbourne’s musical landscape over the last two years. The focus is on getting a snapshot at what the music industry currently looks like, and is all about having a conversation about where to next… In terms of technology, inclusivity, the environment and basically a big ‘where to?’ for the music industry.

I was lucky enough to be able to check out a bunch of talks, as well as run two Ableton Live workshops with Memphis LK and The Push.

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I am always keen to share my knowledge and passion for creative workflows and music making, so I was super stoked to be able to put on an event the amazing Bargoonga Nganjin community space to run a workshop focusing on Teenage Engineering x Ableton Live workflows called Electronic Music Processes.

This event was supported by Teenage Engineering’s #EMS program and had some serious giveaway courtesy of Ableton and Innovative Music.

It was great to be able to talk in about the workflows of Teenage Engineering’s Pocket Operators, OP-Z and OP-1, and how you can integrate them into Ableton Live.

Photos via @callummis