Roland JV-1000 Workstation Red Epoxy Strikes Again!

Roland JV-1000 Workstation
Roland JV-1000 Workstation

Today I brought home an old vintage Roland JV-1000 workstation given to me free by a guy at a local second hand shop. The keys were leaking the infamous red epoxy from the weights mounted underneath the keys. The sales clerk didn’t know what to do with it, but remembered I took the Roland XP-80 off his hands a while back with the same problem. I gladly accepted the keyboard and after removing the keys at home I found the red epoxy leak to be luckily in it’s early stages. This means that I really only have to clean the keys, remove and re-glue the weights, and clean a bit of epoxy off the metal chasis. No red epoxy was found on the felt strip or on any of the PCB board components. In about a week I should have it up and running as good as new. Inside the Roland JV-1000, I also discovered it was equipped with the VE-GS1 Voice Expander card which increases the polyphony and multitimbral parts available for sequencing.

Overall with the exception of the epoxy key issue, the Roland JV-1000 is in near mint condition. There are no scratches, dings, or any bad markings on the keyboard. I powered it up before I removed the keys and the everything seemed to work perfectly, so I’d say it was a pretty good day today. It’s amazing how this morning I had no idea I would be walking into a store and walking out with a free Roland JV-1000 Workstation. You never know what you’re going to find in these used music shops here in Japan.

UDPATE #1:

I successfully removed the keys and soaked them in a solution bought in Japan called Magic Cleaner. It’s orange scented and after a couple of days it dissolves the epoxy without causing any damage at all to the keys or other parts of the key bed. I used the exact same stuff with my Roland XP-80 so it’s pretty much my go to solution for cleaning the red epoxy. I then cement the weights back onto the plastic keys. I also use another super glue to seal the grooves around the weights to ensure they stay in and nothing else gets out. Finally I have this super ultra thin felt that I cut strips and layer over the original. It’s super thin so it doesn’t cause any noticeable difference in the action. I only layer the felt to cover up any epoxy spots to avoid sticking. It works really well. I can use white for the top and green for the bottom if necessary. Finally I put everything back together and use Super Lube PFTE grease for the areas that require grease or where I removed it. Once put back together, everything works good as new.

Here’s a quick video I found on Youtube of someone giving the Roland JV-1000 a quick demo.

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Aapproach.com Review – Total Access Premium Lessons

Aapproach Vocal Lessons
Aapproach Vocal Lessons

UPDATE: I have cancelled my Aapproach account due to an unauthorized transaction, lack communication with anyone working as a vocalist instructor with the site, AND having no information about how to cancel anywhere on their website. In fact if you search in the FAQ you’ll get a person asking how to cancel on the AApproach forums but with no response. I absolutely do not recommend the Aapproach system. There are much better systems out there that offer good vocal training in addition to a solid business support foundation. My experience with Aaproach during 2012-2013 was that they were ONLY interested in money. After the sale, you are ON YOUR OWN! Buyer beware!!

For a long time now I’ve been adding my own vocals to songs and singing in projects that I record. I have always been very interested in singing and have felt it has been a necessary ingredient to my musical work. Singing for me really helps build confidence and adds a lot of passion and feeling into the music that I play. Although I have never had formal voice training, I’ve always been interested in learning more about techniques and ways to improve the power, range, and versatility of my voice. Not to mention as I get older, to find ways to help keep my voice healthy. I feel the strongest aspect of my voice is the tone. As a big fan of Synthpop, I’d say my voice is similar to that found on the Thompson Twins albums. I can sing “Hold Me Now” perfectly, but would like to add some range and improve my falsetto. Who knows, perhaps additional vocal instruction will take me in a new direction of singing such as RnB and Jazz which I’m also very fond of.

Today I signed up for a Total Access Premium Membership with the website Aapproach ran by the vocal instructor Eric Arceneaux. You can find some excellent vocal tutorials by Eric using the Aapproach method on his Youtube channel for those who wish to learn more about what sort of content is in the Premium area. I thought I would write some comments about the program as a new member for those interested in knowing more about it. I have found it difficult to find any concrete info about the Aapproach program from anyone in the program, so hopefully vocalists on the fence will find this info useful. Feel free to comment of send me an email if you wish to know more info about my Premium Membership experience and I’ll do my best to answer your questions quickly and as honest as I can.

The package I signed up for was the Total Access Premium Lessons. This gave me access to ALL of the Premium lesson videos and the discussion forums for six months. Despite sales on some of the videos I’ve seen in the past, I feel I got a pretty good deal with respect to having access to all of the videos produced. I’ll also be able to have access to everything on the site for six months so I can see any and all updates as they progress. There is also a discussion forum where you can meet other vocalists and ask or answer questions about various subjects ranging from vocal reviews, techniques, health, and view other member performances. The videos are all top notch quality with respect to the vocal lessons and techniques. At this point I am 100% confident that Eric Arceneaux knows what he is talking about and that if I DO THE WORK, I’ll see improvement. It takes me a while to makes decisions to sing up for online websites, so when I do, I know I “most likely” have the right coach and material. Granted that view may change, I’m confident initially that I’ve made the right choice for the first six months in working with the Aapproach Vocal Method. Thus I highly recommend giving Eric Arceneaux and the Aaproach a try.

My only big negative point about the Aapproach Vocal system is the lack of personal involvement by Eric and his staff with pre-existing members. When you check out the forums, there are posts, but almost all of them have no replies and there virtually is no clear presence of the Aapproach staff. You see the usual marketing “fluff”, but not any real attempt by staff to follow-up and help out or at least make things clear to existing members about policies or directions. For example, there is a whole list of people wishing to have their vocals reviewed in the aptly title “Voice Review” forum, but nobody responds to the members. I frequent forums A LOT, and the first red flag for a bad forum area is when there are no replies or guidance. Thus it’s clear the forums are not a strong point of the Aapproach system and I wouldn’t recommend signing up for that. The forums appear more neglected, but perhaps that may change in the near future. Let’s hope so.

I also find the common problem with “What do I do know?” or “Where do I start now?” being asked quite a bit among members of the Aapproach vocal system. I even found myself asking the same thing, BUT, after watching some videos and taking a lot of time search around for stuff, I finally found some sort of direction to take. It could be made more clear, but there are paths outlined in the program if you just take the time to look for them….laugh. You just have to figure things out for yourself at times with the Aapproach. I actually find that the most successful Aapproach Vocal members are likely to be those who take things into their own hands and make things happen themselves. Eric Arceneaux and his staff appear to be very successful and BUSY! So to be honest, I really feel they don’t have time for members as much as they claim, but I understand that and likely will just stick to the videos. Private lessons are available anyway for those who want specific questions answered or require one to one help. I may try them shortly.

In conclusion, my final thoughts about the Aapproach Vocal Lesson are positive. I believe the content is excellent and have found many other vocalists around the internet who have nothing but positive feedback about Aapproach and Eric Arceneaux. I am confident I’ll be getting some good advice and will be learning proper vocal exercises and techniques. If you are a person with lots of questions and are looking for a large vocalist discussion group, then I wouldn’t recommend the Aapproach. Brett Manning’s Singing Success I think has better support and discussion activity for singers so you might want more feedback and support. If you’re just into the nitty gritty and need confidence right away that what vocal instruction you’re getting is good, then Eric Arceneaux is fantastic.

I’ll update this article with further thoughts and comments as I progress with my vocal instruction at the Aapproach website. I’ll also post videos of my singing here shortly for reference and so you can see how I progress. That might be interesting not only for me, but for those who are thinking about whether to start singing or add more techniques to their style.

Here is an example video of Eric Arceneaux and the Aapproach vocal style lessons.

UPDATE: Boy did I make a mistake with this vocal website. SAVE YOUR MONEY!!! I do not recommend this site anymore! This site is all about getting your money and that’s it! The forums are very inactive and the newsletter emails cut you off shortly thereafter. The Youtube videos are all you really need. Watch those and get help elsewhere after that. Aapproach.com was not worth it at all I’m sorry to say. I stand by my initial findings posted above that are mostly positive, but about a month later things crashed and burned from there. I have since found other vocal coach locally and I’m extremely happy with my results. Just stick to Youtube videos from inspiration and tips. From there get connected locally with a good vocal trainer. Online vocal lessons are not that great especially with people who can’t take care of their members like on Aapproach.com.

Roland VP-9000 VariPhrase Processor – An underrated Gem!

Roland VP-9000 VariPhrase Processor
Roland VP-9000 VariPhrase Processor

I’ve always wanted a Roland VP-9000 but here in Japan they have always been quite expensive and elusive to find. Especially way back when the Roland VP-9000 was first released it was a VERY expensive sampling module. Nowadays it’s quite cheap but still a little hard to find here in Japan. Luckily one popped up on Ebay from a friend I frequently buy from and it’s now on the way! I’m quite excited about it because although the technology is not that unique or new anymore ( software has replaced a few functions ), it still is quite a useful sampler to plug into my Roland A90 for sample manipulation. I am particularly interested in the real time pitch and tempo change ability, especially adding harmonies in real time. That legato mode sounds really cool as well. If you watch the video below you’ll know what I mean.

Manipulating vocal performances is my primary interest but I understand being able to manipulate drum beats is also quite interesting. I was also able to acquire the V-Producer and V-Trainer software for the Roland VP-9000 which allows you to edit and import files much easier as well. I’m not really excited about using a Zip drive again, but I’m not sure I’ll pumping that many samples in and out of the VP-9000, rather just work with a few on projects to start out with. I’m also curious about the “alternate” method of creating multisamples across an octave or two which apparently works pretty good.

The Roland VP-9000 is one of those unique or one trick pony sort of devices that I think will be quite fun and useful to add to a sort of minimal band performance. There are some limitations to the Roland VP-9000 but coming from the likes of the Roland S-50, W-30, and a few other samplers, I don’t think it should bother me much. I enjoy thinking outside the box with such devices and I know at the end of the day I’ll “make it work” as they say.

I’ll update more here in the comments section when I get the VP-9000 probably early next week. Stay tuned!

UPDATE #1

The Roland VP-9000 arrived today and I had a chance to load some samples into it and give it a test run. It’s fantastic!! It connects really easy to any midi keyboard controller and is very useful to play once you have some good samples loaded into it.

On Windows 7 I have a program called V-Producer with V-Trainer for the VP-9000. The V-Trainer allows you to batch encode WAV/AIFF samples and then save them to a Zip drive. Ecoding the Wav file is necessary to allow you to play the file in a polyphonic manner without it changing the tempo when plyaing it up and down the keyboard. I took some voice samples from the Datafile Series 1 Cd-Rom and quickly encoded the voice wav files in a few seconds. I then put the zip into the VP-9000 and encountered my first real annoyance. The VP-9000 so far doesn’t allow you to bulk load or select several samples at a time to load. Instead you have to load each one. A work around though is that you can save all the samples in memory with a performance. Performances are kind of like projects as with newer samplers. So you only have to load one at a time only once.

After you get the samples loaded in, you then need to do a couple of tweaks:

1. First go to MODE > PLAYBACK and set the parameter to “RETRIGGER”. This will allow you to play up and down the keyboard without samples having a delay in triggering. By default, the playback is set to something different which causes the sample triggering to operate in a sort of glitch manner.

2. Second go to MODE > AMP and set the parameter “FADE” to something like In = 3 seconds and Out = 10 seconds. This will eliminate all of the pops and crackles you hear when playing a particular sample across 2-3 octaves. The FADE parameter is kind of a crude way of setting the attack and release for a sample although it’s not quite the same. Note that the VP-9000 does not have envelopes on board so the FADE parameter is the best bet for removing any unwanted noises.

Another tweak is to add multi-effects to the sample. I particularly like the tap delay which gives the sample a sort of synthetic sustain or release. It’s a very cool effect as with most all effects on board the VP-9000. Sure, a few necessities like envelopes were forgotten on the VP-9000, but the effects processor will likely make up for it for some users.

I have found the key to getting a good set of sounds on the Roland VP-9000 is to use short samples. The internal 8MB memory is fantastic coming from 720/1.44 on the Roland S-50. I found pulling vocal samples from old Roland, E-MU, Akai, and Ensoniq sample libraries to be awesome for the VP-9000. They pitch excellent up and down the keys and with 6 note polyphony with the VP-9000 you can record pretty much play any one track “piano type” groove with any sample. The polyphony is a drawback but if you record to an audio recorder, loop station, or just play one track you’re perfectly fine.

The Roland VP-9000 is an absolute creative monster and a very underrated machine. I’ll write more once I further explore the Roland VP-9000. Thanks!

UDPATE #2
I figured out that you can load multiple samples by pressing the VALUE dial and adding a “+” next to each sample. Excellent!

Here is the Roland VP-9000 Promo Video found on youtube.

Roland MV-8000 and Akai S2000 Sample Import

Roland MV-8000 Sampler
Roland MV-8000 Sampler

Recently I picked up a used Roland MV-8000 at a small second hand shop in a remote area of Nagano-city, Japan. I actually had my eye on this for the past two years and gradually watched the price hit rock bottom and to the point where I thought it was only a matter of days before someone saw the great deal. So I snagged it while I could and I must say it’s been a blast working with it. So far it does just about everything I’ve asked it to do and what it does, it does very well.

Working with phrases, the pads, and sequencer are all pretty straight forward. What particularly interested me was the ability for the MV-8000 to work fully with creating instruments using multisamples imported or created by sampling. Not only could I create a beat, or loop a phrase, but I also could playback any sort of Akai, E-MU, Ensoniq, or Roland multisample from a collection of sample CDs that I have acquired. I also mentioned the Akai S2000 in my title because I have also found a new way to work with importing samples to the S2000 which in turn I can create a CD-Rom for import into the MV-8000 which works flawlessly. Thus I thought I’d outline my workflow below in case it helps give ideas to others interested in doing something similar with either of these devices.

I must stress that the main task I am trying to achieve is to import samples into the Akai S2000 / Roland MV-8000 as instruments for playback using a midi keyboard controller. In my case I usually use a Roland A-90 Expandable Controller.

The Akai S2000 is a fun sampler and I’ve always liked the sound, BUT, it’s never been easy to import and map samples across the keys. I finally found a solution that works incredibly well and I’ll use my “Universe of Sounds” for the E-MU Emulator II series as an example. A while back I successfully converted the E-MU Universe of Sounds CD Roms to Emulator X2 format on my computer. I then found that if I did the following I could import these into the Akai S2000 perfectly.

1. Convert the Emulator X2 Universe of Sounds patches into Akai S5000 format using Extreme Sampler Converter. I’ve used Awave Studio and Translator 6 without success. They alter the patch settings too much, but ESC keeps them virtually untouched.

2. For the second step, I translate the Akai S5000 files into Akai MESA format using CD Xtract 4. Again if I use Awave Studio or Translator 6 it alters the patch files and they don’t sound correctly. Translator 6 works fine if I import into the Akai S2000 only, but later when I want to import into the Roland MV-8000, I notice major patch issues which I isolated to Translator 6 changing the original patch attributes.

3. I now take the AKAI Mesa files created by CD Xtract 4 and import them into Millenium Pro which is a program I found on an old hard drive from WAAAY back. I can’t remember where I got it but I remember a guy named Jan used to program it. It works perfectly for importing MESA patches into the S2000. It’s VERY stable and most importantly it keeps the true nature of the multisample patches in tact. It’s amazing how well it works. Note that I use a Windows 98 computer with an INTERNAL SCSI card connected to an Akai S2000. I found that using any sort of PCMCIA SCSI or USB SCSI will not work. It must be a card slotted inside the computer. I can also use Windows XP which works fine too, but like Windows 98 a little better. In both cases you need an internal SCSI card and not a PCMCIA card SCSI device.

4. Once I have the sample imported into the Akai S2000, I can stop there, OR, I can import them into the Roland MV-8000. What I do for that is first save the multisampled patches from the Akai S2000 to an MO disk drive connected via SCSI. The Akai S2000 can only use 230MB MO disks so I can only create a maximum 230MB CD-Rom.

5. I then have to rip an image of the MO drive using again the highly useful “Extreme Sample Converter”. It creates an exact image of the MO disk with which I can then use a image burner and create an Akai S-1000 formatted CD-Rom. I found that saving the patches FROM the Akai S2000 and then ripping the MO image to be the BEST way to keep all the settings safe and untouched. Any use of a software application like Awave Studio or Translator 6 alters the files. I have done this extensively and on my computers they 100% change the files so I can’t comment anymore than the fact that something is changed and I can’t explain it. An Akai S2000 created MO disk works 100% perfect so I’m all over that…laugh.

6. Finally I insert the newly created Akai S1000 CD-Rom into the MV-8000 and import the patches into the instrument area of the sampler. PRESTO!! I now have my E-MU Universe of Sound instrument collection mapped perfectly with pitch, root notes, envelopes, and names all appropriately placed. I literally don’t have to change a thing, but of course the MV-8000 is different than the Akai S2000 so I naturally tweak things a bit to my liking.

I can now use the Akai S2000 to effectively create a working and very accurate Akai S-1000 CD-Rom full of multisamples that can be perfectly imported into my Roland MV-8000, S-760, Yamaha A3000, etc sampler. The Akai S-1000 is still pretty much a universal format for most samplers and by being able to create multisample instrument CD-Roms in Akai S-1000, I can fill up other brand samplers quite easily.

Note that there is an MV Kit Creator program that I hear works very well with the Roland MV-8000, BUT it cannot handle the creation of multisampled instruments. I primarily use samplers for creating patches or instruments most of the time. I should also note that Translator 6 can translate samples into MV-8000 instrument format, but honestly that doesn’t work for me. I have to spend WAAAAY too much time tweaking the result. By using ESC, CD Xtract, and Millenium Pro in the manner above, my success rate is near perfect which allows me to “Tweak to play” rather than “Tweak to fix” a patch. I would LOVE for Translator 6 to work but it doesn’t. I did however register Translator 6 so that hopefully an update will work, but until then I have found a suitable workaround.

I really enjoy tinkering with hardware samplers. I recently also just picked up a Roland VP-9000 and am anxious to dive into that as well. It should be fun. EnjoY!!