This up to date Instrument gallery showcases adventures into much loved physical and “soft” instruments.

We created it to showcase some of our favourite instruments and software we have used to make our sounds of music!

You will find all the instruments used in the articles plus a lot that aren’t (yet perhaps!).

Our instruments are both hardware (keyboards , knobs etc) and software VSTs (Virtual Studio Technology).

VST plugins are software modules that can be installed and loaded into compatible DAWs.

These plugins can simulate the behavior of hardware synthesizers, samplers, drum machines, and audio processors.

They offer a wide range of functionalities, such as synthesizing sounds, applying effects like reverb or delay, equalization, compression, and more.

Yamaha DX7s

The DX7 is a synthesizer manufactured by the Yamaha Corporation from 1983 to 1989.

It was the first successful digital synthesizer operating Frequency modulation (FM) synthesis and became one of the bestselling synthesizers in history.

Compared to the “warm” and “fuzzy” sounds of analogue synthesizers, the DX7 sounds “harsh”, “glassy” and “chilly”, with a richer, brighter sound.

How did we use it?

We used the DX7 extensively in our earlier tracks.

It was connected to an Atari 1024 midi network and provided driving bases and tingling pianos.

On some occasions we even got some analogue strings out of her!

The DX7 was the first professional synthesiser we used on our recordings.

Yamaha RX5

The Yamaha RX5 is a programmable digital sample-based drum machine built by Yamaha, in 1986.

The RX5 has 24 built-in digitally sampled drum sounds and another 28 on the RX5 ROM cartridge that was included with every RX5.

The sounds include bass drum, snare drum, rim-shot, toms, hi-hat, cymbal (ride or crash), hand clap, tambourine, cowbell, and shaker.

The included cartridge contains mainly Latin percussion instruments.

The RX5 has 12 individual outputs for each vertical drum pad pair.

Each pair has a fixed set of sounds at its disposal, for example, 6 base drum samples at the first two buttons.

How did we use it?

We used the RX5 extensively in our earlier tracks as the drum machine to go-to.

It was connected to an Atari 1024 midi network and provided punchy bass snare and hi-hat rhythms.

On one occasion we swapped it for an RX7 – this has musical samples on it!

The RX5 was the first professional drum-machine we used on our recordings.

Earlier recordings featured the Roland TR-505.

Roland D110 Module

The D110 is a multitimbral expander, using the Linear Arithmetic synthesis method to produce up to eight separate synthesized Parts, together with a separate Rhythm Part and a global reverb on the output to finish the sound.

It is a rack-mounted module which means we had to attach a midi keyboard to it to trigger any of its 8 instruments.

How did we use it?

We used the D110 extensively in our earlier tracks for the beautiful, if not synthetic strings that Roland is famous for.

It was connected to an Atari 1024 midi network and provided lots of different instruments from drums, bells, pianos to strings and pads.

Our Atari Steinberg Pro-24 sequencer could drive all 8 instruments in parallel without any delays or glitches – a dream tool for our compositions!

The D110 was the first professional synthesiser module we used for our instrumental works for example on “100 Lives”.

Steinberg pro 24

Germany’s Steinberg Research launched a 24-track Sequencer program for the Atari that blew away just about anything else on the market in the late 80s.

For those of you who don’t know about the Atari it’s a 16-bit micro with one megabyte of onboard memory and a screen display that utilises a system called GEM.
It uses windows, boxes, pull-down menus etc – and, of course, the famous ‘mouse’.

The Pro-24 uses all of these graphic facilities to their maximum which is stored in about 190K of memory space! and if you’ve never worked with the Atari before, you’ll be pleasantly surprised at how ‘user-friendly’ everything is.

Before you can load the Pro-24, you must first insert a supplied ‘key’ into the cartridge port of the computer.

How did we use it?

We used the Pro-24 extensively in our earlier tracks for all the magical arrangements connecting our analogue and digital synthesizers and drum-machines.

These days its easy to forget all this as everything can be done on a laptop with samples!

The Pro-24 was the first professional sequencer software packaged we used and it beat the competition e.g. Cakewalk hands down!

Alesis Midiverb II

The MIDIVERB II is a 16-bit digital reverb/effects rack-mounted unit, with effects such as flanger, chorus, and reverb/echo, has pre-set programs and 32 MIDI patch locations.

There are 99 pre-set effects supplied (plus defeat), featuring 29 very natural sounding reverbs, 10 gated reverbs, 10 reverse reverbs, 20 echoes, 10 flanges, 10 choruses and 10 miscellaneous effects.

It has a very clean digital sound to it. You can mix up or down the amount of effect and configure the input and output levels.

How did we use it?

We used the MIDIVERB II extensively in our earlier tracks for all the space-like reverb effects.

I recall that using patch 28 was a large hall reverb and seem to go on for ages.

Needless to say patch 29 was an even larger hall effect.

We would listen to some music and shout out “lets go for a 29”!

Roland TR-505

The ROLAND TR-505 is a cheapish drum machine featuring 16 drum tones/samples and with no individual outputs or drum tone editing capability.

Its memory can hold 48 patterns and 6 songs either.

It has good MIDI implementation, for example, the pads will transmit MIDI data.

The TR-505 works well with a sequencer or as a stand alone drum machine and makes a good starter play-along drum machine.

How did I use it?

I used the ROLAND TR505 extensively in our very very earlier tracks with just drums and a 12 string guitar hammering out the tunes.

It was a very capable sound and cost effective in its day and encouraged a certain type of riff.

REAPER Digital Audio Workstation

The Reaper DAW is our Digital Audio Workstation of choice.

I have used many DAWs including the big named ones on Windows and iOS with high purchase/upgrade costs and fixed workflows.

While Reaper may not have the same level of brand recognition as some other DAWs, its combination of affordability, flexibility, and extensive features has earned it a loyal user base and a reputation as a powerful and capable DAW.