Ultimate Support Apex AX-48B Synth Stand

Ultimate Support Apex AX-48B
Ultimate Support Apex AX-48B

Today I found and purchased a used Ultimate Support Apex AX-48B Synth stand in Nagano-city, JAPAN. I heard a lot of great things about this stand as being really sturdy and kind of cool looking. Indeed for my purposes I thought it would fit nicely into my setup. What I was looking for primarily was a two tier stand for my newly acquired Korg Poly-61 and my Juno-6. I may use my Juno 106 later once it’s fully operational again. It’s currently going through the Voice Chip makeover.

I also thought the Ultimate Support Apex AX-48B Synth stand would be good to easily swap out synths and keyboards that I play or work on. It’s actually quite simple to take a synth off the stand and put another one on. It’s also pretty sturdy provided you don’t lean against a corner with your elbow. The Synth is likely to tip and fall over no doubt.

A lot of people say it’s tricky to put any foot pedals, pedal boards, amps, or other equipment at the base of the stand. Some also say it’s difficult to sit down and play using this stand as well. I haven’t really had a chance to decide for myself about these observations, but for the moment, I’m just happy to have a decent “extra” stand to throw some synths on and perform while standing. If I get tired, I can just down at another set of keys off to the side.

The Ultimate Support Apex AX-48B ( B = Black ) is a mighty fine synth stand at first glance. Yes, it’s a bit heavy but it’s built like a tank. This synth stand is also incredibly easy to transport and throw stuff on at a moments notice. It also has that retro 80’s look and I can’t wait to put my old 80’s synths on it.

I’ll be sure to update this post should I discover more info about the Ultimate Support Apex AX-48B as I perform with it. I should also note that there are newer updated versions of the Ultimate Support Apex AX-48B but since I’m in Japan, they likely cost a fortune buying new. (Ultimate Support Apex AX-48 PRO and AX-90) This used AX-48B works nicely as is, so I’m happy.

Stay tuned!

Roland Juno 106 Synth Spa Voice Chip Restoration

Roland Juno 106
Roland Juno 106

Today I just shipped my two spare Roland Juno 106 Voice Chip PCB boards to the master himself “Allen” at The Synth Spa. I’ve been wanting to do this forever to try and finally get a Roland Juno 106 Synth that I have in storage here running properly once and for all. I actually have two Voice Chip Boards because the one with the Juno 106 I bought was bad, so I found a guy parting his Juno 106 out on Ebay. He sold me the Voice Chip board and this allowed me to have a second shot at getting the Juno 106 fixed.

Allen at the Synth Spa has a very reasonably priced Voice Chip and Board restoration service that I’ve heard rave reviews about. I thought I would give him a try and see if he might have some luck getting my Juno 106 working again. Hopefully one of the boards will work and I can then give him the second one for free as I don’t need that board anymore. I only have one Juno 106 and if I get another one it will be one of The Synth Spa’s “Meanie” specials. The Yellow or Blue ones look cool.

I really like the Juno 106 series synthesizers. I also have a Roland Juno-6 that works perfectly. I recently picked up a Korg Poly-61 mentioned in a previous post as well which compliments nicely the Roland Juno Synths. I’m looking forward to hopefully having an operational Roland Juno 106 so that I can have MIDI control and the ability to save patches. Plus the Juno 106 does sound different than the Juno 6 a little bit. I’m getting pretty fast on the Roland Juno-6, but it will be nice to have the patch save option on the Juno 106. The Korg Poly-61 has patch save but no MIDI.

I know these Juno 106 synths aren’t for everyone, but I sure do like the sound. Plus as a kid who grew up in the 80’s, I love that nostalgic analog synth sound. So it’s fingers crossed that “The Synth Spa” can work some magic on my Juno 106 voice board. Stay tuned!

You can visit The Synth Spa store on Ebay here: http://stores.ebay.com/thesynthspa

This is a cool video for those not up to speed with what the Roland Juno-106 can do.

I had to post part 2 of the Roland Juno-106 demo here because this guy really knows how to get the most out of it. Great stuff here!

Korg Poly 61 Synthesizer is the Grit!

Korg Poly 61 Synthesizer
Korg Poly 61 Synthesizer

Today I found a used but in near mint condition Korg Poly 61 Synthesizer for $50 at a used music shop located a short drive from my house in Nagano-city, Japan. I must admit that I know very little about the Korg Poly 61, but for the price which included a hard case, I had to plug it in and give it a whirl. All of the presets were in the synth and after about 30 minutes of playing it, I couldn’t find one thing wrong with the synth. The sound for the most part was fantastic. I say for the most part because some of the presets were just ok, but with some tweaking I’m sure they would sound great.

It’s hard to pinpoint with just a short time playing this synth, but there was something about it that I really liked. It was a bit annoying about the lack of knobs for editing the sounds, but quickly I was able to figure out how to program what I wanted. The Joystick is an absolute DREAM!!! I love it! That joystick alone can crank out some wicked sound variations. Plus the arpeggiator is a blast as well. Everything about the synth felt good and just felt for $50 bucks I could have a lot of fun with it. I should also note it’s not the “M” version which has the MIDI connections, however, that doesn’t bother me. I rather enjoy playing the keys straight and recording in real time so I actually don’t use midi all that much in my other keyboards to be honest. It would have been a nice addition, but I certainly can’t complain. It’ll be nice to hook this up alongside my Juno 6 or Juno-106 for sure.

Thus for first impressions, I rather like the Korg Poly 61. I heard it’s really cheap, but honestly I have never seen one in Japan. If I check Yahoo Japan Auction, I do see one listed for over $200, so I feel I got a great price on mine. There seem to be a lot of Roland Juno Synths around, but I really don’t see any Korg Poly 61’s so I for the moment, it’s a rarity in my book. There’s only one “working” Korg Poly-61 on Ebay right now as well for $500. Wow, that’s quite a bit.

There are quite a few Youtube videos highlighting the Korg Poly-61 Synth. Below is a video that I think is one of the best I’ve seen of the Korg Poly-61 Synth simply because the guy knows what he’s doing with regards to synths and he pushes it to the limit.

This video showcases more of what the Korg Poly-61 can do.

Yamaha DD-20 Drums for Kids!

Yamaha DD20 Touch-Sensitive Digital Drums
Yamaha DD-20 Digital Drums

I recently picked up a used Yamaha DD-20 Digital Drum machine for my two daughters ages 4 and 6. This week I found them drumming on some cardboard boxes with paper towel tubes as drum sticks. When I saw the Yamaha DD-20 in the used music shop, I thought why not. It had to be much better than the boxes and so far the kids are having a blast with it. They both play the piano with my six year old playing pretty good right now. I thought the Yamaha DD-20, although a toy, might help them in various ways musically with their timing while exposing them to different styles of beats.

Right now I can say the Yamaha DD-20 is fantastic for kids in the following ways.

1. The kids use real drum sticks and can practice striking the the four pads which gives a digital drum sound. It’s quite fun for them to drum away.

2. There are speakers that actually are quite loud. It’s great that the kids can listen to the drum beats and even use head phones if necessary.

3 There are different drum kits from standard to electronic. Plus there are some special percussive sounds that allow the kids to experiment with different sounds in a drum kit.

4. Many different drum beats from rock, hip-hop, rap, pop, etc. allow the kids to be exposed to different genres of music. They can dance listening to the output via the speakers and even drum along with the beat adding additional percussive sounds to the groove.

5. Finally, the Yamaha DD20 Drum Station is very portable. You can use batteries and take it on trips with you to give the kids something to bang on if you can stand the noise. Note again it does have a headphone jack if you need them to tone it down a bit.

6. The Yamaha DD20 also has a built in Metronome that my daughter can use to play along with when playing her keyboard or piano. Of course you can use any of the drum beats as well. The speaker is loud enough to hear over the piano.

7. Gets the kids used to using real drums sticks away from the drums too. They like to hit pillows or the carpet in front of the TV. It’s interesting to watch them keep the beat and mix things up a bit. Kids catch on rather quickly.

Of course for kids older than mine you might want to go with an actual drum set or snare. However, for youngsters in the 4-6 range like mine, it’s a great musical tool to help them experience different types of sounds and beats, while at the same time give them an opportunity to vent and pound away. The Yamaha DD-20 gets their feet wet in the world of drumming. It also exposes them to all sorts of music they can dance to or play along with. I bought it used for $25 bucks and I consider it money well spent and an excellent upgrade from hitting cardboard boxes with paper towel tubes.

4 touch-sensitive drum pads, 4 effects pads
10 assignable percussion sets
3 types of auto roll
Tempo control and tap start
Numerous Drum Styles for playback
Includes built-in speakers, drumsticks, and headphone jack

Yamaha 4 Pad Digital Drum Machine Model: dd-20 4-touch sensitive drum pads, 4-sound effect pads, 54- assignable PCM voices (34- percussion and 20- sound effects), 100- PCM rhythm patterns, tempo control, tap start, 3- types auto-roll, built in speaker, 1 demo song, 2-digit LED readout. Also includes 10-percussion sets 9- pre-programmed and one user assignable, drum sticks included, headphone jack for private practice, Dim: 17.4″ (W) x 9.4″ (D) x 6.4″ (H) Yamaha PA-3 Power Adaptor a $20 Value is Included.

Smartmedia Memory Cards in Japan

Smartmedia Memory Cards
Smartmedia Memory Cards

Today I found a bunch of used Smartmedia clards at the local used music shop I frequent. I was really surprised to find them and figured someone must have only recently dropped them off at the store. For $25 bucks total I was able to get one 128MB card, two 64MB cards, one 32MB, two 16MB, and one 8MB card. I use these smartcards primarily for some of my older music gear such as the Yamaha RS7000 Sampler Workstation, Yamaha CS6R Tone Generator, and the Korg Electribe Sample MKII. Smartmedia cards are still kind of expensive on Ebay. It’s also harder to find some of the smaller sizes such as the 16 and 32MB cards which I prefer for the Korg Electribe MKII Sampler.

What I didn’t really realize or had forgotten was that a lot of Smartmedia cards were used for digital cameras. It took me a while to figure out that I had to look in the digital camera section for the Smartmedia cards instead of near the music gear that accepts them. Duh! It’s still hard to find used Compact Flash cards though which I also use for some of my older Roland gear. However, it was nice to find a cheap bag of used Smartmedia memory cards as I know those can add up in price. Now I’ll just have to keep my eye out more for other Smartmedia cards that may turn up. I’m surprised at how cheap they are sold at this particular place in Nagano-city, Japan.

Boss BX-16 16 Channel Stereo Mixer

Boss BX-16 16 Channel Stereo Mixer
Boss BX-16 16 Channel Stereo Mixer

Today I found a used Boss BX-16 16 Channel Stereo Mixer in excellent condition at the local used music shop. Everything on the unit itself is in perfect working order with very little cosmetic scratches. All of the 16 channels work fantastic and there is virtually no noise with the mixer which is nice. I have heard that the Boss BX-16 can be somewhat noisy or distorted, but my unit is perfectly quiet thus far. On a few knobs you get a bit of static sound when moving them which is normal for the age of the BX-16 Mixer, but once settings are in place it works just fine.

All in all, the Boss BX-16 16 Channel Stereo Mixer is a great mixer due mainly to it’s small size. I also like the fact that it has two effect loops that can be controlled across all 16 channels. Each channel has a Panpot, Effect 1, Effect 2, Bass, Treble, Gain, and Overload. Plus there is an RCA out section and Phone input jack. To get the Stereo effect you have to use two channels, so with regards to stereo, the mixer effectively becomes an 8 channel mixer when maxed out. Running an out from a Yamaha DX-7 for example to one of the channels will result in only Left Speaker Output. Thus I had to use a Y Split Chord to connect the one output jack from the Yamaha DX-7 to two channels on the Boss BX-16.

The Boss BX-16 16 Channel Stereo Mixer is a pretty cool device and I’m sure I’ll get quite a bit of use out of it.