Ghost in the Machine

I’m dusting off my blog a bit. In keeping with the zeitgeist I thought I’d ask an AI for help:

Me: Pretend you’re H. P. Lovecraft. Re-write this biography from my blog to mention that Audio Damage has been in business for over 20 years and that I made fundamental contributions to Max/MSP:

ChatGPT 4: In the obscure and foreboding annals of electronic audio, one chronicle stands distinct – that of Studio Nebula. This enigmatic title cloaks the pursuits of Adam Schabtach, whose expertise as a consultant, software and hardware engineer, and recording musician is renowned in esoteric circles. As the co-owner and chief architect of Audio Damage, Inc., a company that has weathered the tempests of the industry for over two decades, Schabtach has been instrumental in shaping the aural landscapes that haunt our modern world. read more

RIP Donna Summer

I’m terribly saddened by the all-to-soon death of Donna Summer, who died today at 63. Her song, “I Feel Love”, has become one of my all-time favorites over the years. (Yeah, I’ll admit it freely.) While one could accurately say that most of my obsession with this song has to do with Giorgio Moroder’s synthesizer work, arguably this song wouldn’t have happened in the first place if she and he weren’t collaborating, and her vocal talent puts it head and shoulders above any number of other tracks of the era (or since). She was still singing, recording, and performing until recently, and it’s very sad that her life, and her stellar career, was cut short by cancer. read more

x0xb0x For Sale


Anybody need a 303 clone? As described here, here, and here, I built a x0xb0x about a year ago. It turns out that it hasn’t been getting much use so I think it’s time for it to go to a more appreciative home. It was built from a kit with no modifications except that I used green LEDs for some indicators, and substituted longer standoffs so that the LEDs protrude from the panel. (IMHO it looks stupid to mount the LEDs so that they don’t come through the panel, which is how most kits seem to be built.) It’s in basically unused condition and works fine.
Asking price is $400; that includes an AC adapter and UPS Ground shipping within the lower 48 states. If you want a faster shipping method, or if you live in one of the two far-flung states, you cover the difference.
x0xbox for sale
I vastly prefer PayPal. Sorry, no non-USA orders; shipping stuff out of this country has become too much of a hassle to be worth it. read more

Weapon of Choice

I finished my x0xb0x today. Yes, it sounds like a 303.

Finished x0xB0x

Altogether it’s a pretty easy kit to build, although it does have a lot of parts. Building it reminded me how much more labor-intensive working with through-hole parts is compared to building something with SMT. I did make one change: I bought some longer LED standoffs because the 0.25″ standoffs that come with the kit position the LEDs almost flush with the panel, and I personally don’t like the way that looks. I also bought some nicer-looking knobs but they turned out to not work because their D-shaft orientation is opposite that of the x0xb0x’s pots. (Is there a convention for such things? One would think so.) read more

Synthesizer Modules for Sale

I’m running out of cabinet space and want to build some new stuff, so I have a few things I’d like to sell. Prices are based on recent sales of similar items on the Yahoo-groups MOTM list, but I’m open to haggling if I’m wildly off base.

SynthTech Modules, assembled by me:

MOTM-310 uVCO – $290

MOTM-510 WaveWarper – $320

SynthTech MOTM-700 Dual VC Router Kit – possibly the last unassembled MOTM kit on the planet? 🙂 $175. I believe that’s what I paid for it. It’s in the same condition as the day I received it several years ago; never got around to building it. read more

Halfway Between the Gutter and the Stars

Recently I finished putting in all of the components for the analog sections of my x0xb0x. It looks like this means that I’m about halfway through building the thing.

Half-populated PC Board

The fun part of reaching this stage is that you get to hear it play its first note as part of the testing process. Yes, it sounded just like a TB-303.

CV Processor Module Thingy

I seem to always have three or four hardware projects going at once; every now and then I actually finish one. I just put up pictures and a description of the module here.

CV Processor

It’s a utility module that can add, subtract and scale signals. It also generates the minimum and maximum values of a pair of signals. While describing it to Chris I called it a “CV processor module thingy” which he thought was a perfect name, but that didn’t quite fit on the 1U panel.

Some Videos on SMT Soldering

I’ve run across a few videos demonstrating SMT soldering techniques. An online electronics shop called Curious Inventor has a nice collection of videos here which will show you how to solder SMD devices with relatively inexpensive tools. Their most recent video here shows how to drag-solder the pins of a 0.5mm pitch SOIC.

If you want to see how the pros do it, there’s a video here done by a certified instructor of soldering. It’s more of an advertisement than a tutorial, but if you watch closely you can pick up some pointers. read more

Clone of MIDIbox CORE_STM32 Microcontroller

One of my current works-in-progress is a slightly modified version of the CORE_STM32 microcontroller board found at the website. [It’s a frame-based site so that first link won’t give you the site’s navigation links.] A number of years ago I started thinking about building a digital step sequencer, i.e. something that looks and feels like an old analog step sequencer like this one but equipped with modern conveniences like preset storage and recall, MIDI, endless encoders, etc. This project has occupied varying amounts of my spare time over the last five years. I finished most of the electronic design some time ago, but bogged down when it came to writing the firmware for the thing. This problem was fairly predictable: it’s my job to write software, and while I love writing software I do like to take a break from it when I’m not working (“working” in the sense of writing software that Audio Damage pays me to write). Hence I’ve done very little at all with the project for the last couple of years. read more

Lexicon PCM-90 Needs Good Home


I’ve got a Lexicon PCM-90 reverb that needs a new and understanding home. It has a problem that’s either a show-stopper or insignificant, depending on how one uses it: its analog input does not work. Its S/PDIF digital I/O works fine, and this is how I’ve been using it. Some googling suggests that this problem is not uncommon and is usually attributable to a failed ADC chip. Unfortunately that chip is long out of production. It also has some signs of wear and a few odd-looking bubbles in the plastic in front of the display which are faintly annoying but not actually obstructive. read more