Boss RC-3 No Power Problem Review

Boss RC-3 No Power Problem
Boss RC-3 No Power Problem

Today I picked up a Boss RC-3 Loopstation that looks pretty much brand new. The only problem was that it wouldn’t power on using either the Boss PSA adapter or via batteries. I bought it for $10 thinking I might get lucky and be able to get the pedal going but so far I’ve had no luck. Basically the pedal is dead and after some further research on the internet, there appears to be a power issue trend starting with these.

Now, I’ve had a Boss RC-3 before and had zero problems with it before I sold it. I am using the same type of batteries and required PSA adapter to power this newly acquired RC-3. Again the problem is that the RC-3 won’t power on. There are no lights or anything. I do get sound going through the pedal. Meaning I get a clean sound when either the battery or PSA adapter is connected. If I disconnect the PSA adapter or take out the battery, I get no sound. Note that no LED lights or any sign of life appears when trying to power on the pedal.

I’ve also used Mono cables and inserted appropriately the cables to the A output jack which acts as the “power on” to the Boss RC-3. Still nothing. I then took a good hour and dismantled the entire pedal and check for any obvious issues. Again nothing. In addition, I checked for continuity on most of the points and also checked for any cold solder joints. I couldn’t find anything wrong at all.

Thus it’s very strange that this Boss RC-3 won’t power up at all. Others have claimed that the Boss RC-3 while working fine one day will suddenly stop and not turn on. It’s dead! This is a great little pedal, but I’m afraid that unless the problem is found, we could see quite a few more of these “very expensive” pedals crapping out in the future. So I thought I’d post my experience and will update if I make any progress. Beware of possible power issues with the Boss RC-3.

Stay tuned!

Roland JP-8000 Distorted Low Output and Repair

Roland JP-8000 Distorted Output
Roland JP-8000 Distorted Output

Recently I acquired a second Roland JP-8000 that actually was in like new condition, but it had a couple of output problems. The first was that the outputs L and R would no longer work, thus they were dead silent. In addition, the headphone jack would output a good signal but only up to level 6 or 7 and would then crackle or produce a loud distorted sound.

After some reading and research, I first changed the battery and did a memory reset. Nothing changed.

I then ordered and changed all of the OP AMPS on the Jack Board and Board B. Something changed! I now started to get output out of my L and R jacks but only to a level of 2 or 3. I also began getting some very bad distortion at higher levels that was very erratic. The OP AMP replacement seemed to have brought the jacks back to life but only to a point.

Thus I’m still faced with having a JP-8000 that doesn’t really produce any useable output. My next step is to replace the caps. I’ve read that replacing the caps on the Jack board didn’t fix much anything with others who had the same problem. However, I did find that if you change the caps on the Main Board, it does apparently fix the output distorted issue. I am now in search of the replacement caps as shown in the photo attached to the article.

It appears the Roland JP-8000 is one of those synths that is doomed to have some major failures as it ages. Not all synths are like this as some age better than others. I’d say pretty soon we’re going to see more Roland JP-8000 synths on the used market broken. Most likely they are going to have the distorted output problem. Note the JP-8080 rack version uses different caps and components than the JP-8000 which maybe is a hint that Roland knew the components used in the JP-8000 were not all that great. The Roland JP-8080 is pretty rock solid and I would recommend that over the JP-8000 if you are looking to invest in this particular synth.

In any event, once I make some progress on the Roland JP-8000, I’ll update this post. Also note that this again is my second Roland JP-8000. I have another in perfect working order which I may use to swap out boards to try and 100% isolate the problematic board. I did this with a couple of Roland Juno-2 synths I had which saved a huge amount of detective work. That certainly would help great in finding the problem with the distorted outputs on the JP-8000.

Stay tuned!!

Casio FZ-1 Digital Sampling Synthesizer Display Repair

Casio FZ-1 Digital Sampling Synthesizer
Casio FZ-1 Digital Sampling Synthesizer

A few months ago I picked up a Casio FZ-1 Digital Sampling Synthesizer in Nagano, Japan for $10. Yeah, it was 1,000 Japanese yen and I couldn’t believe it. I thought there probably would be a ton of things wrong with it, but to my surprise everything worked great, even the belt driven floppy drive. The minor problem ( so I thought ) was that the display needed a new foil for the backlight. I’ve done this many times on other synths and it’s really pretty straight forward.

NOT SO with the Casio FZ-1 Sampler!!

Unfortunately, there are these really old etched ribbon cables attached ( soldered/taped ) to both the display and LCD board. Altogether there are six cables and boy do they look detailed and complicated. The problem is that when replacing the foil for the backlight, it’s almost too easy for the cables to lose a connection or two. This causes missing lines and even garbled data on the display. In fact for the better part of a day while trying to fix the problem, I had a really nice shiny LCD, but no text!!

After some research, I ran down to the 100 yen shop and bought some balsa wood, metal clamps for paper, and 0.6K insulation tubing I use when I solder wires together. I then proceeded to clamp down all cables attached to the display and LCD board. I managed to clamp all sides and after removing the metal handles on the clamps, could successfully put the display back into the FZ-1. The LCD board I could not fit back into it’s original position, so I just secured it slightly above it’s normal spot. I then closed the FZ-1 back up and the photo below is my FINAL result. No way am I going to go any further as likely it will either result in more missing lines or too much work!!

Casio FZ-1 Display Repair
Casio FZ-1 Display Repair

Are there any alternative displays out there? Not according to my research just yet. You basically have to find another FZ-1 or just cross your fingers and hope that you don’t crimp, pull, or mess up the ribbon cable when changing the backlight. Had I known I would go through all of this trouble, I probably would not have done the change. If you can see your screen reasonably well in your studio, I don’t recommend putting in a new backlight. However, if you need to perform or play in darker venues, then of course you’ll have to just go for it.

Best of luck with your display repair. Be VERY careful with those ribbon cables. The instructions that came with my Backlit foil didn’t say a word about them.

Ensoniq ASR-10 Rack Sampler and SCSI Repair

Ensoniq ASR-10 Rack Sampler
Ensoniq ASR-10 Rack Sampler

Last weekend I picked up a used Ensoniq ASR-10 Rack Sampler in the used music shop here in Nagano-city, JAPAN. It was pretty cheap mainly because the sales clerk couldn’t provide an OS disk, manual, or any other accessory. Thus he couldn’t properly test the product, so he basically sold it as junk and practically gave it away.

I bought the sampler because I’ve always been a big fan of the ASR-10 keyboard, but never found one for a reasonable price in Japan. Although I would have probably preferred the keyboard version, the rack works out well because I feel I already have too many synths and samplers as is. So, this rack shouldn’t take up much extra space.

The condition of the ASR-10 rack is excellent. In fact, inside it was pretty much spotless with no visible signs of wear or dirt. The outside had no scratches, but it was missing the rack ears. I powered up the ASR-10 rack after acquiring an OS disk copy and it booted just fine. I noticed that the OS was 3.53 and the firmware was 1.50. Note I had to create the OS disk using my Windows 98 laptop in DOS using special Ensoniq software.

The Ensoniq ASR-10 rack works fantastic in all areas with the exception of the SCSI interface. Only ONCE, could I successfully boot the ASR-10 rack and get the “searching for SCSI devices” message upon startup. At that time I had my trusty blue Iomega 100MB zip drive with disk inside ready to go. I was able to get to the Format SCSI Drive screen. I proceeded through all the steps even getting past the Interleave screen. When it hit formatting, it just blinked for a second and then reverted to “disconnected SCSI device”. I have since been unable to get back to the “Searching for SCSI Devices” screen during the boot stage. Frustrating! Note I don’t believe I got a light blink which indicates the ASR-10 detected the Zip drive.

I completely took apart the ASR-10 Rack and checked all of the fuses which tested just fine for continuity. I then pulled and reseated all of the cabling which included cleaning. Everything looks amazing inside, but unfortunately, the SCSI simply doesn’t work right now which has left me unsure about what to do next.

Other than the SCSI problem, the Ensoniq ASR-10 Rack works perfectly and it’s really easy to sample and jam with right away. Currently I have 16MB of ram on board, but it will be a chore loading and saving all that data without the SCSI working properly should I choose to utilize it all. The floppy drive works great and I also have a backup HxC Floppy Emulator that works too should I require another drive.

Note that I have tested the ASR-10 rack with a working Iomega 100MB SCSI zip drive, Olympus SCSI MO drive, 2GB SCSI hard disk, and an old SCSI CD Rom drive that all work with all of my old samplers. I don’t believe I have an SCSI cable, drive, or media problem. The issue resides somewhere inside the Ensoniq ASR-10 rack.

No doubt I’ll be making great use of the ASR-10 rack as it’s extremely easy to use and sounds amazing. It’s so much easier to use than my old Akai gear in fact. I just wish I could get the SCSI to snap out of it and start working. I’ll update this article should I find a solution. Stay tuned!

NOTE #1: A few times I got the infamous ASR-10 “Error 129 reboot” message. To fix this you need a 100% working OS floppy disk. There are some bad OS images floating around including those on sites where everybody gets them. After using a quality floppy disk and image, I was able to completely eliminate the 129 reboot message. I haven’t had it all week, not once. I have about 3-4 bad image disks from various sources and they literally flood my ASR-10 with 129 reboot messages. The error is a software one, which means you need a decent software image.

Chicken Systems Fantom Creator Software Review

Hi everyone,

I’m a big fan of the Roland Fantom X series keyboards. I currently own the YASE software and while it has worked well, I’ve grown tired of the activation process when moving to different computers. I also find it to be a bit clumsy in performance as it’s quite an old piece of software now. While I have had lots of issues with Chicken Systems software before with working as advertised, I often am able to get it to do what I need for most of my sampler needs. Recently the Creator series of software products was announced and being a user of the successful Motif Creator, I was excited to see the Beta version of Fantom Creator released. However, I’m sorry to say that it probably should not have been released as I don’t consider it to be ready at all for Beta stage.

It simply does not work at all.

Recently, I made the blunder ( although I knew it could happen from experience ), of buying into the Fantom Creator for MAC waaaay before it was finished. It’s now November 16, 2015 and while the sale is still going on, the Beta version is absolutely not ready at all for prime time. (More like still in Alpha ). Note I wrote the date because it will be interesting to see how long it actually takes for this software to get corrected. The original announcement of the Beta was back in August 2015. It’s now three months later and nothing new.

I found after purchasing that there is absolutely no difference between the paid and free versions other than the price. You cannot save samples, documents or anything in the paid version so don’t do what I did and buy the darn thing until it’s ready. In fact, I’ll update my post here when you can finally start saving patches. Right now, the only good thing is I got the software for half price, but I can do absolutely zero with it. It’s a brick sitting on my computer right now.

Yes, I perfectly knew it was in Beta and I expected it to work VERY little quite frankly with regards to format importing, editing, and a few other things. However, I didn’t expect that the software wouldn’t at least save a basic patch. I simply wanted to import a Wav file, create a multisample, then make a patch for saving to the Fantom. Nope! No can do I’m afraid, not even in Beta.

I have MVkit, Motif Creator, and Translator. They all work pretty well and I can recommend them so there is some hope here in the distant future.

Thus I cannot recommend Motif Creator for the Fantom yet. Save your money, and I mean even if it’s 50% off. You won’t get anything different than the free version ( I’m on Mac btw and it could work on Windows but I haven’t tested that yet. ).

I feel bad for anyone who bought this three months ago when this was originally posted. Hopefully not many did. Note that when this software is ready, it will definitely be worth the original price even. It’s a good idea and I know with my experience with the Motif Creator it will eventually work. It’s just not ready to even be in Beta much less sold to the public.

Again, I’ll update this post once my copy of Fantom Creator can actually do something. If anyone else has purchased this software and has it working, please let me know. I desperately am hoping I’m wrong about something setup wise. So far, no go though.

Jim

Note I know this is a tiny bit of a rant, but when we buy software we at least expect even in Beta to have the product start and finish with problems in between. That seems reasonable to me. To have a product start but not finish with making a simple patch is crazy. I’ve never had that happen before.

UPDATE #1:  I tried installing and registering with my Windows 7 computer.  Unfortunately I can only install and run one instance of the program.  So I’m back to square one.  The program simply doesn’t work on a Mac yet and probably Windows as well.  We’ll wait and see.

UPDATE #2:  Chicken Systems Fantom Creator Version 0.9 Build 25 now allows for saving documents but literally breaks everything else.  You cannot edit, import, audition (via midi), or key map anything in the program.  Yay, I can save now, but it seems easier to just import directly to the Fantom X or G.

UPDATE #3:  I have all but given up on this software.  It simply does not work at all and I’m tired of submitting bug reports that should have been found and fixed from the very beginning.  At this point, Fantom Creator is a waste of money.  We’ll see what 2016 brings.  Stay tuned!

UPDATE #4:  Version 1.2 Build 27 has been released on 12/18/2015!  What’s new is posted in the comments.  I’ll run through the fixes and let you guys know if things are working better.  Hopefully this update will at least allow me to use the software in basic form.

UPDATE #5:  After some additional lengthy testing with Build 27 over the Christmas holidays, I can now say with 100% the following:
It simply does not work at all.  Sorry folks!  Fantom Creator is still a waste of money.

Update #6:  Here  we are in January! 1/18/2016.  It’s been exactly one month and Fantom Creator Build 28 was released.  It’s now broken!!  Hopefully you saved the Build 27 update, because the multisamples are no longer attached at all to the patches.  It’s just one more thing you have to do manually.  Plus nothing stated above has been fixed either.   Whatever you do, don’t update to Build 28.  It will break the multisample section.

Update #7:  I received my Fantom Creator CD Rom in the mail on 2/8/2016.  The CD Rom contains Build 28 so I’m glad I kept the Build 27 to revert to.  I’m still using Build 27 as Build 28 breaks things.  No new updates yet.  I’m anxiously awaiting Build 29 that hopefully will fix Build 28 issues and more.

Best Yamaha DX7 TX802 TX816 iPad Patch Editor Librarian App

Best Yamaha DX7 TX802 TX816 iPad Patch Editor Librarian App

Lately I’ve been working with my old Yamaha TX816, TX802, and DX-7 synthesizers from the early 1980’s. I’ve been a long time fan of MidiDesigner for the ipad which is an app that allows you to create layouts or custom editors to help with creating patches for popular keyboards. I recently found one for the Yamaha DX-7 that works fantastic and I highly recommend it. You first need Midi Designer but along with it you’ll get a collection of other layouts so in the long run the initial investment in Midi Designer will quickly pay off.

Here is a great resource for Yamaha DX7 patches and information:
http://bobbyblues.recup.ch/yamaha_dx7/dx7.html

First Choice in iPad App Editors for the Yamaha DX7, TX802, and TX816 would be Midi Designer. ( About 30 bucks but has many layouts! )
http://mididesigner.com/qa/3160/layout-yamaha-dx7-tx7

Yamaha DX7 iPad App
Best Yamaha DX7 iPad App

You can also find a nice second choice iPad editor for the Yamaha DX7, TX802, and TX816 using the TBMidiStuff App. It works great also!

http://www.thiburce.com/TBStuff/forums/viewtopic.php?f=19&t=49&sid=f3aab03174628673426515680b6932b5

Yamaha DX7 iPad App
Popular Yamaha DX7 iPad App

For use with Lemur
Lets you edit the patches of a Yamaha DX7, TX7, TX816, TX216.
All voice and performance parameters are available.
https://liine.net/en/community/user-library/view/465/

iPad Editor DX7 TX816 V5
iPad Editor DX7 TX816 V5

I also use this editor for my Yamaha TX816
http://m.bareille.free.fr/synlibdxtx/synlibdxtx.htm

SynLib YAMAHA DX7-TX7-TX816
SynLib YAMAHA DX7-TX7-TX816

Or the SoundQuest Yamaha DX7 Editor and Librarian which is also great.

Yamaha DX7 Editor and Librarian
Yamaha DX7 Editor and Librarian

In addition, there is also another option for the computer:

This great VSTi can be used both as a DX7 librarian to edit patches and send them to your DX7 synth (if you own one) but also as an emulator as it’s built in engine recreates quite faithfully I think the sound of the DX7 synth.

Visualize, edit, and organize Sounds for your Yamaha DX7, DX7II, TX7, TX802, or TX816 synthesizer. Yamaha Dx7 for iPad.


Patch Touch for the Yamaha DX7 is also now available.  You might want to wait until it goes on sale though as the price is steep for an iOS app, but it’s a good one so far.  See comments for video and some initial thoughts.  https://coffeeshopped.com/patch-touch-for-yamaha-dx-tx

Dual Boss RC-300 Loop Stations

Dual Boss RC-300 Loop Stations
Dual Boss RC-300 Loop Stations

This week I found another Boss RC-300 at an old secondhand shop in Nagano-city. I actually use my first Boss RC-300 quite extensively and probably will never sell it unless something better comes along. Although I love the RC-505 Loopers, you can’t effectively use it with your feet. So the Boss RC-300 is still “the Boss” for the floor..laugh. What I wanted to do was understand better how to sync the two RC-300 Loop Stations together as explained in the manual. After working with the pair for about an hour I discovered some important points about this setup.

Most importantly is, YES, two RC-300 Loop Stations sync perfectly when setup exactly as indicated in the manual. Set the slave to sync via midi and make sure the Sync All Start/Stop is set to Start/Stop. Also make sure of course that your midi cables are setup properly with the Master out going to the Slave in. You only need one connection from the Master to the Slave.

One MAJOR omission from the manual is that you cannot have the master in “Singular Track Mode”. Singular Track Mode is where you run each of the three tracks in singular fashion rather than layering them. The reason is that when you press the “All Start/Stop” on the Master, it will NOT start the Slave RC-300. You must have it in Layer “Multi” Mode and THEN it will start the Slave RC-300. Now the Slave RC-300 can either be in Track or Layer Mode. It doesn’t matter which, so this is nice as you can then use the slave for your Track Mode if necessary.

On the other hand, you CAN set the Master to Singular Track Mode and it will send the midi clock signal to the slave RC-300. It just won’t start playing any of the tracks. This isn’t a problem if you don’t mind starting the tracks on your own. If you then press “all stop” on the Master, it will successfully stop all tracks.

Basically, my initial plan was to put three different drum loops on the Master RC-300. I then wanted one Bass Loop running on the Slave. I wanted the Track 1 drums to start and have the Track 1 bass start at the same time, however this won’t work as the Master RC-300 is in Singular Track Mode. If I set it to Multi Mode, then all three drum tracks will start playing along with the Track 1 Bass on the Slave. So I basically have to start the drums and THEN step over and start the Track 1 of the Slave if I want it to work my way. Indeed it all will be in perfect sync but it literally means I have to add an extra step…laugh.

Everything else so far works great and MUCH better than trying to sync a Boss RC-50 with the RC-300.

Stay tuned for further updates as I research this setup a bit more.