Novachord #346 Inspection & Initial Wakeup

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Re: Novachord #346 Inspection & Initial Wakeup

Post by HideawayStudio » Sat Nov 21, 2009 4:51 pm

Today's Update:

I've been auditioning the first few sample programs in Kontakt 4 for the Novachord Sample Collection and I must say I'm impressed with Steve's work. There are going to be some cracking programs in this release!

And if this wasn't enough I've received seperate emails from both Jody Wisternoff and Nick Warren from Way Out West this morning excited about seeing the beast in the flesh!!

On the restoration front I finally got round to removing the cover on the side of the vibrato module to try and determine why one of my vib channels is sticking from time to time. To my delight it's in amazing condition under the cover. The mechanism is not quite how I envisaged it. There are basically 6 long 3/4 inch wide metal reeds that have a weight at one end. Quite close to the point at which there are fixed is a set of contacts with a number of delightful lock nutted adjustment grub screws. Each carries contacts for the solenoid feedback mechanism and the vibrato switches themselves. Yet again, I'm amazed by the condition of the soft materials such as felt and cloth inside this thing.

I've gone over the whole thing with copious amounts of Deoxit cleaner and polished the cover plate. It could well be that the only reason why one reed is sticking slightly is due to the fact that the generator chassis is currently in the upright service position.

A Closeup of the Vibrato Reeds & Adjusters:
DW_Nova_VibratoModuleA.JPG
The View Along the Vibrato Module:
DW_Nova_VibratoModuleB.JPG
The Vibrato Schematic (One Channel Shown):
VibratoCircuit.JPG

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Re: Novachord #346 Inspection & Initial Wakeup

Post by HideawayStudio » Sun Nov 22, 2009 4:56 pm

Todays Update:

Both for reference in the making of the Novachord sample archive, and for those wanting to have a go making a soft synth, I have spent some time today characterising both the Attack control rates and the Resonator centre frequencies:

The Envelope Control Curves:
DW_Nova_EvelopeSettings.jpg
Notice how the Attack control influences more than just the attack rate but also the decay rate. The overall amplitude varies too - all attack position recordings were made with the same gain setting.

The Resonator Centre Frequencies:
DW_Nova_Resonator_Centre_Frequencies.JPG
It's now clear why the Novachord is known for sounding very "nasal" - the filter Q's are obviously pretty high. The centre frequencies were determined with each resonator control set to position #3 in turn. Position #3 is where each LC tank circuit is least damped and thus exhibits the highest Q. The lower settings introduce lower resistances in parallel with each LC tank circuit, thus applying further damping and lowering the Q, and in position OFF each coil is shorted out completely. Since all of the filter tanks are in series and wired as a set across the audio output, when all filter controls are set to OFF, there is no output as it is effectively shorted to ground. See filter schematic provided earlier in this thread.

If you look at resonator #2 the centre frequency is 770Hz and this drops to lower -3dB point at around 700Hz and the upper -3dB point at around 880Hz - this is only about 2 semitones on either side of the centre frequency!

I just adore the sheer magic of this thing through outboard... I was playing this chord for minutes whilst twiddling the filter controls!!

AUDIO DEMO: 346's Filters in Action:

http://www.last.fm/music/D.A.Wilson/_/N ... ?autostart

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Re: Novachord #346 Inspection & Initial Wakeup

Post by PolarAC » Sun Nov 22, 2009 6:28 pm

Love the sound of it. Great work man.

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Re: Novachord #346 Inspection & Initial Wakeup

Post by nathanscribe » Sun Nov 22, 2009 7:07 pm

I think the only word I can apply here is "stunning". Superb.

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Re: Novachord #346 Inspection & Initial Wakeup

Post by HideawayStudio » Mon Nov 23, 2009 7:28 pm

nathanscribe wrote:I think the only word I can apply here is "stunning". Superb.
Thanks again for the kind comments...

Todays Update:

I've spent hours today recording hundreds more megabytes of raw sample material now - there are Gigabytes now awaiting Steve's careful attention. Even before I can submit this data it carefully needs to be dehummed, top and tailed and some level matching is necessary too as each note can be quite different in volume. This is not natural tracking but due to some mis-calibration. We have tried our best to retain as much of the Novachord's strange habits as I really think this adds to the instrument's spooky nature.

Steve from Hollow Sun is then painstakingly assembling them and tuning the excessively out of tune samples and putting them together into sampler programs. Again, he is trying not to overly clean/correct the original sound. This is obviously working as some of the programs I've been testing have sounded remarkably like the real thing!

Here is the first spooky demo based 100% on some of the new Novachord samples:

http://www.novachord.co.uk/audio/First_Samples.mp3

I am extremely excited about this - and I can't emphasize more just how rare an opportunity this is. I'm also very honoured to be working with someone as experienced as Steve Howell on this one.

This will permit musicians all over the world to make music with real Novachord sounds. We have not altered the raw material at all - only added effects to the sampler programs. Some of the sounds I've been testing today are just staggering for what has come directly from a 70 year old synth!!

There will be a lot more demos to follow.

On the restoration front, the generator chassis is back in the normal run position. This was a very scary experience as it's SO heavy and yet requires quite a lot of careful movement. In the process of moving the chassis several of the keying springs came off their hooks and when the chassis was in place I had to use a magnet on a stick along with some very long needle nosed pliers to retrieve the springs and fit them back in place. With the chassis back in place I can start to fix the tuning offsets and make my first attempt at recalibrating the worst of the dividers.

I am awaiting some more parts (including, hopefully, some original Novachord resistors) and so this won't happen immediately.

One thing I must point out here. I think I am now in a position to tone down the endlessly perpetuated Novachord instability stories you read on the net a little. In the 20 or so hours I've been running the Novachord now, although it's out of tune, it's not drifted any further out of tune, nor have any of the dividers altered in their calibration. The other amazing thing is that the tuning stability is pretty much there the second the beast has initially warmed up. Remember that I am currently running on over 95% of the original passives here in the main generator! These caps and resistors are 70 years old!!
Last edited by HideawayStudio on Fri Feb 12, 2010 5:54 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Novachord #346 Inspection & Initial Wakeup

Post by hollowsun » Mon Nov 23, 2009 10:59 pm

HideawayStudio wrote:I am extremely excited about this - and I can't emphasize more just how rare an opportunity this is. I'm also very honoured to be working with someone as experienced as Steve Howell on this one.
Shucks! Too kind, Dan. I couldn't do much if the samples were shite! :)

It's worth considering when listening to this audio demo that what you are hearing are the world's first (known) multi-samples of the Hammond Novachord. Also that you are listening to a 70 year old valve synthesiser being played and sequenced using modern, 21st century technology (Kontakt in this case but it will be also available for EXS24, ProTools 'Structure' and, of course Akai S5/6000 (and hence MPC4000, MPC5000V2 and Z4/8) and Alesis Fusion).

That still kinda scrambles my head when I step back and think about it - that the sounds emanating from my fingers are effectively 70 years old and come from a time before WWII, before commercial air travel, before space travel, before the nuclear bomb, before tape recorders, a time when aeroplanes and television and film and audio recording were in their infancy, when a refrigerator cost more than an automobile (and would cost the equivalent of around £20,000 today!!!), a time before stereo, a time (with a few exceptions) before colour movies and photos, a time before computers and calculators, etc.. Sounds from a completely different era, an age of marvels and hope that despite the great economic depression, celebrated and worked relentlessly towards the future only to be quashed by another devastating world war.

For me, this is more than just making some cool sounds - it's more akin to finding some priceless piece of antiquity and capturing and preserving that little slice of history.

Cheers,


Steve

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Re: Novachord #346 Inspection & Initial Wakeup

Post by polardark » Tue Nov 24, 2009 12:11 am

I just started reading this thread. Words aren't enough to convey my feelings. The idea of having multi samples for something like this available is amazing.

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Re: Novachord #346 Inspection & Initial Wakeup

Post by Cycom » Tue Nov 24, 2009 4:48 am

HideawayStudio wrote:
nathanscribe wrote:I think the only word I can apply here is "stunning". Superb.
Thanks again for the kind comments...

Todays Update:

I've spent hours today recording hundreds more megabytes of raw sample material now - there are Gigabytes now awaiting Steve's careful attention. Even before I can submit this data it carefully needs to be dehummed, top and tailed and some level matching is necessary too as each note can be quite different in volume. This is not natural tracking but due to some mis-calibration. We have tried our best to retain as much of the Novachord's strange habits as I really think this adds to the instrument's spooky nature.

Steve from Hollow Sun is then painstakingly assembling them and tuning the excessively out of tune samples and putting them together into sampler programs. Again, he is trying not to overly clean/correct the original sound. This is obviously working as some of the programs I've been testing have sounded remarkably like the real thing!

Here is the first spooky demo based 100% on some of the new Novachord samples:

http://www.hollowsun.com/shop/novachord/sproing1.mp3

I am extremely excited about this - and I can't emphasize more just how rare an opportunity this is. I'm also very honoured to be working with someone as experienced as Steve Howell on this one.

This will permit musicians all over the world to make music with real Novachord sounds. We have not altered the raw material at all - only added effects to the sampler programs. Some of the sounds I've been testing today are just staggering for what has come directly from a 70 year old synth!!

There will be a lot more demos to follow.

On the restoration front, the generator chassis is back in the normal run position. This was a very scary experience as it's SO heavy and yet requires quite a lot of careful movement. In the process of moving the chassis several of the keying springs came off their hooks and when the chassis was in place I had to use a magnet on a stick along with some very long needle nosed pliers to retrieve the springs and fit them back in place. With the chassis back in place I can start to fix the tuning offsets and make my first attempt at recalibrating the worst of the dividers.

I am awaiting some more parts (including, hopefully, some original Novachord resistors) and so this won't happen immediately.

One thing I must point out here. I think I am now in a position to tone down the endlessly perpetuated Novachord instability stories you read on the net a little. In the 20 or so hours I've been running the Novachord now, although it's out of tune, it's not drifted any further out of tune, nor have any of the dividers altered in their calibration. The other amazing thing is that the tuning stability is pretty much there the second the beast has initially warmed up. Remember that I am currently running on over 95% of the original passives here in the main generator! These caps and resistors are 70 years old!!
Wow. The demo with the Novachord samples is freaking stunning. I can't imagine how jaw-dropping it must sound in person. Can't wait to buy this for the EXS24. Great work, guys. Just awesome.
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Re: Novachord #346 Inspection & Initial Wakeup

Post by b3groover » Tue Nov 24, 2009 6:49 am

I want the sample set! :)

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Re: Novachord #346 Inspection & Initial Wakeup

Post by Ashe37 » Tue Nov 24, 2009 8:42 am

Wow, sounds amazing, not at all what i expected... i expected more 'organ' not 'amazing analog synth sounds'.

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Re: Novachord #346 Inspection & Initial Wakeup

Post by adamstan » Tue Nov 24, 2009 9:33 am

Could you possibly release this sample set in a format that has some free player? SoundFont? It seems interesting, but I don't want to buy heavy and expensive softsamplers for just one sample set. In my work I use mostly soundfonts played by sfz.

Or will it have some cut-down Kontakt player included?
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Re: Novachord #346 Inspection & Initial Wakeup

Post by nvbrkr » Tue Nov 24, 2009 11:53 am

The samples sound great - and I know it isn't the best work composition-wise you guys could have pulled off, but it's still one of the most interesting pieces of music I've heard in a while. It's very easy to hear the tone you'd associate with later divide-down synth designs on that material, but of course it's also completely different. Yeah, sounds just so distinctively pre-50s era that I don't know what I would have to use of the more current products to come anywhere near that. [edit: Okay, on a third listen I can put my finger on what the tone resembles me of - it can obviously capture really well some of the feel of an orchestral ensemble, duh]

Personally I haven't purchased any sample sets / sample-based products unless I get plenty of multi-sampled raw audio files on them. I think digital pitchshifting is just about the most effective means to destroy the tone of a vintage instrument (for perspective, I got really disillusioned with IK Multimedia's SampleTron stuff a while ago). But it's up to you guys what you decide is the best. Of course one cannot cater to absolutely everyone's wishes.

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Re: Novachord #346 Inspection & Initial Wakeup

Post by HideawayStudio » Tue Nov 24, 2009 7:33 pm

nvbrkr wrote:The samples sound great - and I know it isn't the best work composition-wise you guys could have pulled off, but it's still one of the most interesting pieces of music I've heard in a while. It's very easy to hear the tone you'd associate with later divide-down synth designs on that material, but of course it's also completely different. Yeah, sounds just so distinctively pre-50s era that I don't know what I would have to use of the more current products to come anywhere near that. [edit: Okay, on a third listen I can put my finger on what the tone resembles me of - it can obviously capture really well some of the feel of an orchestral ensemble, duh]

Personally I haven't purchased any sample sets / sample-based products unless I get plenty of multi-sampled raw audio files on them. I think digital pitchshifting is just about the most effective means to destroy the tone of a vintage instrument (for perspective, I got really disillusioned with IK Multimedia's SampleTron stuff a while ago). But it's up to you guys what you decide is the best. Of course one cannot cater to absolutely everyone's wishes.
OK - I must make an important point here. We are going to great lengths to sample as many notes as possible. Many of the programs make use of a sample per key and they are a minimum of 6 seconds per key. The max transposition range is no more than 3 semitones. In the early days of hardware sampling this just wasn't possible but with so much memory available these days sampling every note - and sometimes with two samples per key is possible.

I can assure you that many of the sounds are remarkably similar to having the real thing :)
Last edited by HideawayStudio on Tue Nov 24, 2009 8:10 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Novachord #346 Inspection & Initial Wakeup

Post by MPS » Tue Nov 24, 2009 7:47 pm

I doesn't "seem" interesting. It IS interesting. The resulting collection of sounds will be well worth whatever the cost. This will be a massive undertaking and many hours of long hard work to bring it to market.

Whenever I see someone posting a "can't you make it cheaper" question I know that they have yet to understand the scope of the work.
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Re: Novachord #346 Inspection & Initial Wakeup

Post by HideawayStudio » Tue Nov 24, 2009 8:13 pm

adamstan wrote:Could you possibly release this sample set in a format that has some free player? SoundFont? It seems interesting, but I don't want to buy heavy and expensive softsamplers for just one sample set. In my work I use mostly soundfonts played by sfz.

Or will it have some cut-down Kontakt player included?
Kontakt4 is available free as a fully featured player albeit time limited. It still lets you make perfectly good recordings.

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