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Making chicken salad out of a transitor organ

D., 20 december 2019
Making chicken salad out of a transitor organ

We have a new free sample library out. Free stuff appears on the Karoryfer site, not in this shop, so grab it from over there. This is an interesting one - it's built from samples of a transistor organ, but tries to be something very different than a transistor organ. The description is over there. This post will go more deeply into why we didn't try to replicate the real hardware's functionality, and instead went off in a totally different direction.

Transistor organs are basically the least beloved vintage keyboards nowadays. They're fairly heavy, not as cool as electromechanical Hammond organs, and not nearly as flexible as old-school subtractive synths. The one we sampled is especially bad - it only has five drawbars, and in an attempt at advanced and revolutionary design, adds a bunch of buttons for "lead" and "tremolo" sounds, which with the unfiltered signal path of a transistor organ tend to sound annoyingly, monotonously buzzy. But...

These organs are fully polyphonic (well, the bottom octave and a half of this one isn't, but the rest is), with a separate set of oscillators for each key. Whether because of age or dubious component quality, they're a little inconsistent - the waveform shapes, tuning and volume vary from key to key. This obviously adds character and variety.

So, what we did was take these samples, add the modulation controls from the synth instrument in our Vengeful Cello, and also make the detune more interesting by adding a temporary detune which drifts back towards the correct pitch. Now we've got buzzing oscillators with characters, with powerful modulations including humanization which causes unison voices to drift apart, and innovative detune.

Is this the best that can be done with an old, unwanted transistor organ? Well, we like it, but you can be the judge.

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