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 D-550 Replacement LCD Display

Roland D-550 Replacement LCD Display
Roland D-550 Replacement LCD Display

With success replacing the LCD screen on my Akai S900, I thought I would try to do the same for my two Roland D-550 sound modules that both are legible, but with no back light. I could get a foil backlight for the LCD, but to me they seem rather expensive. I was able to get the LCD screen for about $10 and if successfully installed could prove better for me than having a foil. The screen on my Akai S900 is amazing now and if I could get the same look for the D-550 that would be fantastic. Right now with what I’ve learned in my research, the actual LCD installation is not the probably, electrically, rather it’s whether the size will fit well or not. Indeed the thickness of the original is about 9mm and the one I purchases is a bit thicker at 13mm. The big hang up will be whether I can fit this into the D-550 or not and if not, whether I could make room for it with some modifications. If so, then the installation should be pretty straight forward. I should get the LCD sometime next week and should then be able to install shortly thereafter. Stay tune for updates and hopefully I’ll have some good results to post. I know a few people are looking to do the same. Thanks!

Roland D-550 LCD Replacement
Roland D-550 LCD Replacement

Loading MSX DX7 Editor using MicroWaver WAV File

Recently I acquired a used MSX Yamaha YIS503II Home Personal Computer with several cartridges and a YK-20 keyboard. I posted an earlier article about the find. One thing that was missing with the package was the Yamaha DX7 MSX Editor, specifically the YRM-103 DX7 Voicing Program. My system also did not come with the MSX Floppy Drive system, however it did have the ability to transfer data using cassette tape. I did some research and discovered that it was possible to acquire the Yamaha cartridges in ROM format. I then found out it was possible to convert those ROM files to WAV format using a program called MicroWaver. I also used another that worked called Caslink2, however MicroWaver was the only program I could successfully convert to a higher bps rate that actually worked. A higher bps rate means a faster rate of transfer.

In the video you’ll see that on my MacBook Air I have a YRM-103 DX7 WAV file opened in Audacity. On my MSX computer I typed the command BLOAD”CAS:”,R and hit enter. I then played back the WAV file. You’ll notice that the MSX responds with LOADING and after about 15 seconds it loads up the YRM-103 DX7 Voicing Program beautifully. My MSX YAMAHA YIS50II has both the SFG-05 FM Sound Synthesizer Unit II module installed which includes both audio and MIDI in/out ports. I successfully was able to connect my Yamaha DX-7 and both edit and transfer data. Cool!

I now have one last potentially major problem to solve. I desperately want to use the DMS1 Mk2 MIDI Recorder for SFG-05 and do have the ROM file for it. However, when I convert it to WAV format it will get recognized and transfer appropriately with my setup, BUT my MSX then reboots at the end of the process. This reboot effectively clears the RAM memory and leaves me with an OK prompt. There is no start command for the DMS1 mk2 program so something either in the original ROM file or something I’m doing incorrect is causing it to not load. I’ve doing a couple of days of intensive testing and research and have come to the following conclusion. The ROM files were intended for Emulator use primarily and not for the use of REAL MSX machines. What I’m doing is out of the ordinary and perhaps not possible. I would love to have the DMS1 mk2 sequencer program working to create some of those old school 80’s tracks. I’m just not sure why the MSX is rebooting on it’s own. I used the blueMSX Emulator and the DMS1 ROM file worked great.

I also noticed that ROM files that contain a “Part 1” and “Part 2”, which is what I presume are two disks, don’t transfer well if at all via WAV format. The MSX Computer recognizes both parts, will load them, however the MSX computer YIS503II will ALWAYS reset or reboot after transfer completion. Again this results in memory being cleared and thus the program is gone. There is something about transferring multiple disks or parts that does not work via the PC WAV method so far. If I have a file with only one disk or part, it works great as with the YRM-103 DX7 ROM file above. It’s only one part and thus loads fine. If I can get the DMS1 to load than I would be set being able to work with the built in 4-OP SFG-05 and the Yamaha DX-7. That would be pretty cool and quite retro considering all of this is 1983-1986 stuff.

I’ll update this article in the comments section as I do more testing and discover more info.

DMS1 Mk2 MIDI RECORDER
DMS1 Mk2 MIDI RECORDER
Yamaha YIS503II MSX1 with SFG-05
Yamaha YIS503II MSX1 with SFG-05

Fender Japan 57 Reissue Precision Bass Disco Music

Fender Japan 57R Precision Bass
Fender Japan 57R Precision Bass

I was looking for a good bass to lay down some decent disco grooves with. This is perfect. A 1962 reissue would have been fine too, but I didn’t see one I liked used. This PB57 sounds EXACTLY what I was looking for with that finger “pop” sound when playing octaves. I’m old school and this thing takes me back to 78. I’m so excited to mix this with my synth sounds. I think it should sound nice in the mix.

Here is a quick video where I recorded the Bass into the Boss RC-300 over a drum groove. I need to work on the bass sound recording a bit perhaps, but it at least give you the idea of what I’m aiming for. I also used a pick with this particular bass line, but often use my fingers or slap. I used to play bass a while back in the late 90’s. Sometimes it’s just easier to come up with a groove on the bass rather than the bass synth. It’s also fun to mix the too of course.

Note that I’m not claiming that a Fender 57 reissue P-Bass is the choice for Disco bass lines, rather it gets me awfully close to the sound I grew up listening to in the late 70’s and early 80’s. I think most will agree that some sort of Precision Bass is good for that old school Disco octave vibe. Although, I know other basses will get you that sound too, plus the fact that DI/Amps, compression, and other things are important too.

Yamaha YIS503II MSX FM Synthesizer Home Computer

This thing is amazing. Only in JAPAN! I bought this used with three cartridges, the YK-20 keyboard, the SFG-05 FM Sound Synthesizer Module, plus all of the original boxes, cabling, and manuals. Everything was in MINT shape too. It works great with my PC monitor and I have a Roland MSX mouse that I use with my Roland S-50. The only thing missing is the Floppy Drive and I’m currently researching ways around that. Sounds GREAT too! It’s kind of fun and nostalgic from 1984.

I’ll add more info once I start working with it. Here is the list of items I acquired for $60 bucks!

Yamaha YIS503II Home Personal Computer
1 FM Voicing Program II YRM-52 Cartridge with Box and Manual
1 FM Music Composer II YRM-55 Cartridge with Box and Manual
1 FM Music Macro II YRM-51 Cartridge with Box and Manual
1 FM Sound Synthesizer Unit II SFG-05 Module with Manual
1 MSX Basic Manual
1 Yamaha Music Keyboard YK-20 with Box.
Plus all cabling.

Everything was in mint shape. I started it up today with my PC monitor via an composite cabling and it worked fantastic. I also checked the sound it was very good. I’m excited about learning more about this old 1984 music making system.

Here’s a photo from my Instagram: http://instagram.com/jimatwood

Yamaha YIS503 II FM MSX Synth Home Computer
Yamaha YIS503 II FM MSX Synth Home Computer

Roland AIRA System-1 Synth Review

Today I picked up the new Roland AIRA System-1 Synthesizer from my local Shimamura Music store here in Nagano-city, Japan. As everyone knows it’s a highly anticipated synth release and likely will be quite popular initially. I also have the TR-8, TB-3, and VT-3 which I’ve enjoyed very much. Thus I had every expectation that the Roland AIRA System-1 would deliver.

Please note that for the sake of this review, I’m not a huge EDM music fan, rather, I’m into the vintage analog 80’s sound being that I graduated from High School in 1986. I’m also VERY fortunate to have a sizable analog synth collection that includes the Roland SH-101, Juno, and JX series synths. I make this point to help everyone understand my initial impressions of the System-1. Also, I did NOT try out the System-1 in the store. I didn’t have time and I there was a waiting list to purchase it. This was a pre-order so I just walked out the door with it, but I knew I’d probably be keeping it regardless.

When I first turned on the Roland System-1 I actually was quite disappointed. I thought the presets where horrible and worse than most any other synth I had heard or even owned. The System-1 did not sound analog at all , rather in fact it sounded VERY digital in a nasty sort of way. So, I decided to put the System-1 in manual mode and create my own patches. That’s when things settled down a bit and I realized there was going to be light at the end of the tunnel. I should say that I felt the presets were mostly EDM “Electronic Dance Music” oriented and I mean 2014 EDM oriented and not the stuff I am accustomed to from the early 80’s on up. I expected EDM of course, but not that much and definitely not bad sounding. That’s subjective though and just my opinion, so if EDM is what you want than the System-1 “initially” may sound good to you. That’s ok!

I also found that when creating patches I got closer to the sounds I wanted by simply working with one OSC first and turning off OSC 2. For those that don’t program synths very often, this can be a good way to start out. Keep it simple and just work with one OSC and then later bring in OSC 2 when you know what you want or when you feel like experimenting more. Otherwise, you might find yourself frustrated and not getting at least the basic sounds you desire.

The LFO section is SUPERB! I love that stuff and it totally reminds me of the Korg Polysix that I have and play often. It’s so simple yet works beautifully. I found myself often comparing the System-1 to my recently acquired Novation Bass Station 2. I noticed right away that the filter, although smooth on the System-1, didn’t do as much as I expected like on the older Rolands, Bass Station, and some other vintage analogs I have. That could just be me, but for some reason there wasn’t much instant gratification in working the cutoff and resonance like on other synths. I will say thought that the filter is smooth and does work of course.

The envelopes are great and all of the sliders are a joy to use. I didn’t experience any problems and I was shape the sound I wanted easily with them.

I also didn’t much like the modulation wheel on the left side. I would have much rather liked a lever/stick or mod wheel found on vintage synths. Again, that might be because I’m used to older gear. The AIRA System-1 mod wheel just didn’t feel natural or easily accessible. It’s there for those that might wonder if a modulation wheel is on the System-1, but it’s personally not that appealing to me.

The keys are different as well, being more flat and slightly wider. However, in this case I rather liked the newly styled keys. They didn’t clack or make any unnecessary noise. They were easy to play fast on and they seemed pretty durable. I think this is a definite plus on the System-1.

Overall, once I started programming my own patches and kept things simple, I was able to feel more satisfied about my purchase. I should stress that I paid regular price for the AIRA System-1 and could very well just have written an article about justifying my purchase. To keep it real though, I must say that initially I am very underwhelmed by the Roland Aira System-1. It’s growing on me as I work with it, but it’s definitely no analog synth or even close to one at this point. I currently own two Roland SH-101 synths, I really don’t see how that new plugout is going to make that System-1 sound anything like my SH-101 synths. I’m really not convinced yet, but I will say it’s only my thoughts and I could perhaps be pleasantly surprised once the plugouts materialize. We’ll see.

Today however, I must say that the Roland AIRA is definitely not worth the money I paid for it. I bought it though and will give it a good run over the next month to see how it goes. I’m on the fence about whether I would recommend it to anyone really. It’s very digital sounding and to me, not in a good way if you are after that analog sound. The AIRA System-1 definitely needs time to be spent programming and trying new things with. That may very well be the most exciting thing to me about the Roland AIRA System-1. I am very anxious about seeing what other people will do with this new addition to the AIRA product line.

The Roland AIRA System-1 is fun to work with and also quite challenging if you are trying to get those old analog sounds. There is no issue if you are into the latest EDM sound as that should be quite easy to capture. I know that’s probably who it was made for so I’m not naive about that. I’m just not convinced on Day 1 here that the Roland AIRA System-1 will be able to travel back that far in time. If the Plugouts are good, then the System-1 may very well be worth it. We’ll see.

I’ll add more comments as I work more with the System-1. I’m definitely also looking forward to seeing what others do with the System-1 as well. I’m actually expecting a fair number of people to say the Roland AIRA System-1 is great but only to justify their rather expensive purchase…laugh. I should be able to sleep well tonight after my purchase, but it definitely took a couple of hours jamming to feel better about it. Tomorrow will be a new day!!

If you have any questions, please let me know and I’ll try to respond asap. Thanks!!

A few video notes:

1. All of the sounds are custom programmed patches for the System-1. I’m not using any presets.

2. I am using the Boss RC-300 to loop my drums and the System-1 bass line.

3. NO external effects were used on the System-1.