Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Elusive Technics WSA1R Expansion Card Exposed

This shot is of the expansion card for the Technics WSA1R. Sound on sound had this to say about the synth at name for the technology employed by these synths -- Acoustic Modelling Synthesis -- really does promise a lot. Anything with 'modelling' in its name implies some sort of DSP-based physical modelling system, such as is found on Yamaha's VL series. To a certain extent, this is true of the Technics synths, although their physical modelling sections are simplified and more accessible.

The WSA1's architecture works like this: at the start of the chain is a sampled PCM waveform, or Driver, which forms the attack portion of a sound; there are 307 waveform samples available, including raw synth waveforms, real instruments, percussion, and various useful samples of fret and breath noise. The Driver is treated by a Resonator, the modelling section of the synth, with models including string, cylinder, cone, flare, plate, membrane, and others. The Resonators are provided in several different flavours -- bright, mellow and soft, for example -- and can be modified quite drastically, courtesy of a comprehensive range of parameters; Resonators can even interact with each other. The Driver/Resonator combination is further processed by a traditional synth section, offering control over Pitch, Filter (a choice of 12dB low- and high-pass, and 24dB low-, high- and band-pass are provided) and Amplitude. Each of these 'synth' blocks has a full range of envelope and LFO parameters. What Technics term a Sound -- a patch to you or me -- is made up of four of these Driver/Resonator/synth collections (or Tones), plus routing to the three effects processors.

The next stage up is the Combination -- up to eight Sounds that can be split or layered. Here, the workstation and rack diverge slightly: the WSA1 has a 16-part multitimbral section to go with the 16-track sequencer, but both it and the rack have a 32-part multitimbral mode which is accessed via two sets of MIDI sockets, and controlled by a comprehensive mixer section. This is used for assigning Sounds, and controlling volume, pan position, effects and output routing to the main and subsidiary outputs, and so on.

BTW this is a shameless plug for my eBay auction at

No comments: